ecobee SmartThermostat Review: Still the one

Ecobee SmartThermostat
(Image: © Christopher Close / iMore)

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: ecobee's SmartThermostat is not just one of the best thermostats available, but also one of the best smart home purchases that you can make today. Convenient controls, easy installation, tons of smart features, and the innovative SmartSensor, make it still the one for just about everyone.


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    Easy installation

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    Room sensor included

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    Sleek, modern design

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    Includes occupancy and motion sensing

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    Supports HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant


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    Privacy concerns with on-board microphone

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    Occasional loading issues with ecobee app

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Throughout the years and a rapidly evolving smart home market, ecobee remains as one of the industry leaders thanks to the ability to deliver incremental but impactful hardware and software upgrades. The company's latest SmartThermostat, while sporting a similar look and feel to its predecessors, still offers the best mix of convenience, compatibility, and smart features.

I recently made the upgrade to the latest SmartThermostat from an ecobee 3 Lite, and while the core features remain the same, adding a SmartSensor and Alexa to the mix definitely made me appreciate the new hardware. While I wouldn't say that it is worthy of an upgrade for those with previous versions, I can say that it is still one of the best options around for those new to the smart thermostat game.

Same, but different

ecobee SmartThermostat: The features

Ecobee SmartThermostat SmartSensor on a shelf

Ecobee SmartThermostat SmartSensor on a shelf (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

The latest ecobee SmartThermostat retains the familiar look of past offerings, with an all-black front with a touchscreen display positioned in the center. The 3.5-inch color LCD screen boasts a resolution of 320 x 480 and it acts as the on-device command center, with no additional hardware buttons to be found. The display portion attaches to a white base plate which houses the wiring terminals with a simple click.

Included with the SmartThermostat is everything needed for installation, except for actual tools. The SmartThermostat is compatible with the majority of HVAC units today, whether it's oil, gas, electric, conventional, or heat pumps. Unlike some competitors, ecobee includes a power extender kit that makes it compatible with homes that do not have a common wire right in the box. ecobee's flagship also works with HVAC accessories such as humidification systems and ventilators.

Ecobee SmartThermostat App Installation

Ecobee SmartThermostat App Installation (Image credit: iMore)

The SmartThermostat connects to home networks directly over Wi-Fi, without the need of an additional hub. In addition to Wi-Fi the thermostat has radios for Bluetooth, and 915MHz RF which facilitates connections to accessories like the included SmartSensor. The SmartSensor is a compact, completely wireless sensor that runs on a single coin battery, and has an equally modern design, complete with a metal stand. The SmartSensor is capable of temperature and motion monitoring, which allows it to work in-tandem with the thermostat to offer greater levels of comfort through averaging or setting which room takes precedent.

Just like with the SmartSensor, the thermostat portion packs in motion sensing, as well as occupancy sensing, and all sensors can integrate with ecobee's recently launched, Haven Home Monitoring service. Haven aims to make home security easy by automating arming/disarming the home based on presence, and can alert users to any unusual activity captured while out and about. Presence detection also works with ecobee's latest accessories, the SmartCamera, and the SmartSensor for doors and windows,

Ecobee SmartThermostat App Ecoplus

Ecobee SmartThermostat App Ecoplus (Image credit: iMore)

Both the Haven service and controls for the SmartThermostat happen through the ecobee app, which is available on iOS, Android, and via the web. Smart controls include staples like adjusting temperature, setting schedules, and reviewing usage trends. Adjustments can also be made via voice through integration with HomeKit, the Google Assistant, and Alexa.

Amazon's Alexa integration is deeper than mere account linking though, with an on-board microphone and speaker enabling the thermostat to make adjustments with just a shout. Alexa also allows the SmartThermostat to make/answer calls, act as an intercom to other Alexa devices in the home, and even play music through services like Spotify.

Thoughtful touches

ecobee SmartThermostat: What I like

Ecobee SmartThermostat Wiring

Ecobee SmartThermostat Wiring (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

Installation of the ecobee SmartThermostat was incredibly quick and easy, especially since I was upgrading from an ecobee 3 Lite. ecobee has always included several thoughtful, installation-friendly touches in their thermostat line, and they are indeed present for the latest and greatest. These include clip-in wiring terminals, a built-in level, a power kit for installations without a common wire, and a trim plate.

Pairing the SmartThermostat was equally as easy, with just the ecobee app required to get things up and running. During the process, ecobee walks you through account registration, Wi-Fi setup, and asks series of questions related to your HVAC unit and your home. In total, with wiring, I estimate that installation and pairing took around 20 minutes, but of course this may vary.

Ecobee SmartThermostat App Controls

Ecobee SmartThermostat App Controls (Image credit: iMore)

The SmartThermostat has also been incredibly reliable, with adjustments never failing to take affect.

Once paired, ecobee's app interface mimics the on-device display, making adjustments instantly familiar. Both the app and controls on device are responsive, reacting to taps and swipes with ease, and the decision to go with an entirely touch-based interface keeps things simple. I also like how ecobee's app provides an overview of the temperature in every room where SmartSensors are positioned, and how the thermostat can be set to average measurements to decide when to begin cooling or heating.

Ecobee SmartThermostat Integrations

Ecobee SmartThermostat Integrations (Image credit: iMore)

Just like with my previous ecobee 3 Lite, adjustments made remotely via apps or voice control are executed within a matter of seconds on device. The SmartThermostat has also been incredibly reliable, with adjustments never failing to take affect, and there has never been an instance where I was unable to access it at all. Speaking of access, I absolutely love that ecobee takes an agnostic approach to smart home integrations. While Alexa is built right in, users are given the ability to connect it to the Google Assistant or HomeKit, if desired.

Even though I prefer using HomeKit for everything, I do enjoy having Alexa available without having to devote precious counter or table space to another device. The on-board microphone is surprisingly effective, picking up Alexa commands from lengthy distances, and the speaker, while not the greatest quality, is enough to deliver easily identifiable responses.

Price and privacy concerns

ecobee SmartThermostat: What I don't like

Ecobee SmartThermostat App Scheduling

Ecobee SmartThermostat App Scheduling (Image credit: iMore)

Compared to other smart thermostat options, the ecobee SmartThermostat is a little on the pricey side. The higher price tag also does not guarantee that remote access will always be available, as with a lot of smart home accessories, there is always the threat of server down-time. I would definitely like to have seen local control options for Android users or those that do not use HomeKit available.

ecobee's app, while familiar and easy to use, does suffer from some strange hang-ups on iOS every once in a while. Through testing, I have ran across several instances where the app just simply fails to load any data when launched, which can be frustrating. While not necessary, creating and editing schedules in the app is equally frustrating, as I could not find a way to delete all of the pre-programmed times/comfort settings or start from a blank slate.

As great as having Alexa baked right in to the SmartThermostat is, its presence will definitely scare some away. ecobee handles the integration well by making Alexa an opt-in experience, providing quick controls to disable it, and features the familiar blue light to indicate that Alexa is listening.

Ecobee SmartThermostat Alexa Linked

Ecobee SmartThermostat Alexa Linked (Image credit: Christopher Close / iMore)

However, just having an internet connected device with a microphone on-board will always be a little worrisome for many, and I would have liked to have seen a model that forgoes the mic. Sure the ecobee 3 Lite is still available, but it doesn't include compatibility with certain HVAC accessories, and lacks an included SmartSensor.

Something for everyone

ecobee SmartThermostat: The Bottom Line

Even with a slightly higher price tag than others, and some occasional app oddities, the ecobee SmartThermostat is simply one of the best thermostats on the market today. A sleek, modern design, easy installation, included SmartSensor, high levels of reliability, and compatibility with all of the major smart home platforms makes it easy to recommend to just about anyone.

ecobee's included SmartSensor continues to be one of the best innovations within the thermostat category, and when combined with a suite of smart features, enables the ability to just set it and forget it if desired. Power users retain the ability to set custom schedules, and can decide which room in the home is the most important to keep comfortable. All of this adds up to ecobee's SmartThermostat being one of the best smart home investments that you can make today, and still the one option that I do not hestitate to recommend.

Christopher Close

Christopher spends most of his time writing and dreaming about all things HomeKit and the Home app. Whether it is installing smart light switches, testing the latest door locks, or automating his households daily routines, Christopher has done it all.