Smart thermostats have become an important part of managing your home's energy use along with optimizing indoor temperatures year around. Ecobee has introduced their latest smart thermostat called the ecobee3, which is designed to maintain your comfort regardless of where you are in the home. The ecobee3 is designed for homes with more than one room, where the temperature can be controlled using multiple sensors. These sensors can be strategically placed in areas you often occupy, allowing the system to detect your location and control the temperature in the active areas. The system can also be configured to take the average temperature of all the sensors within the house. The ecobee3 thermostat ($249) ships with one free wireless remote sensor and can support up to a total of 32 sensors. Additional remote sensors can be purchased in a package of two for $79. The more you add, the smarter your ecobee3 will be at optimizing temperatures and delivering comfort and savings.
The ecobee3 thermostat has a contemporary design with a sleek black finish with rounded edges, features a user-friendly 3.5" capacitive touch screen display and comes with a 3-year warranty. The unit is currently only available in black with a white mounting interface to the wall. The ecobee3 has built-in WiFi (B/G/N) allowing complete remote access control of your heating and air conditioning from a computer, smartphone or tablet. Users can also access the thermostat with current outdoor temperature and humidity through the Ecobee website.
The Smart Home/Away is a feature that applies to all of the sensors in the network (including the sensor in your thermostat). Smart Home/Away will work by following your schedule unless any sensor in your network is in conflict with your schedule. In other words, if your ecobee3 senses that you are home during a scheduled Away period, or vice-versa, it will automatically override your schedule by placing you in Smart Home/Away mode to maximize comfort (Smart Home) and savings (Smart Away).
When the Follow Me feature is enabled, your ecobee3 will look for motion triggered in any of the sensors that you selected in your network and decide when to operate your heating or cooling system in the rooms that you are occupying. If more than one sensor detects motion, the average of these sensors will be used. The ecobee3 software makes changes gradually when many sensors are detecting motion to ensure your HVAC system does not make sudden and large changes to your system.
While some users may opt to have a professional install the Ecobee3, it is not difficult to do it yourself. Ecobee has a comprehensive Installation Manual making it a snap for do-it-yourselfers. However, if you are not comfortable with the installation, Ecobee highly recommends that you hire an experienced HVAC technician. If you connect your equipment incorrectly, it is possible to damage your system. We found it useful to take a picture of our previous thermostat to identify the wiring for the new Ecobee3. Our system uses a single stage heat/cool interface that is connected using 5-wires. In this case, the installation took just a few minutes using the spring loaded connection terminals. The wiring diagrams in the manual give excellent examples of various HVAC systems and how to connect them.
Users can login to Ecobee’s website and gain full access to their thermostat. Users will need to register their thermostats to gain access. Once logged in, users can change modes and settings, and adjust the temperature by simply dragging and dropping the temperature control. Vacation dates can also be entered to make sure the system is not wasting energy while you are away. Like other Ecobee remotes, reminders can be set up to let you know when you should change filters or service you HVAC system. The Home IQ screen provides historical data that can also be downloaded (CSV format) for analysis using applications like Microsoft Excel.
The Home IQ screen contains a history of temperature data collected from the user to help understand heating and cooling patterns. Indoor as well as outdoor temperature is graphed along with humidity. Home IQ will also show you when the heater and air conditioner is active.
The Ecobee3 thermostat is a stylish design that is both affordable and easy to use. The unit can be operated remotely without a subscription, so there are no hidden fees to worry about. The apps that are available for both Android and iOS tablets and phones work well and provide an easy way to manage your home's heating and cooling whether you are at work, home or on the go. The wireless interface worked perfectly in our house and we never had any issues controlling the device. The touch screen worked well and although the buttons can be small, they are responsive. The Ecobee3 does such a good job managing your power usage that it will likely pay for itself in short time. The street price for the unit is around $225 and is well worth it given the amount of features the product provides. This comes highly recommended.
- Kevin Nakano