Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control Review
Pros: Integrated Alexa voice assistant, easy to install
Cons: Lackluster performance in our accuracy tests, could be more intuitive to use
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Our Analysis and Test Results
While the SmartThermostat couldn't quite claim one of the top spots overall, it did stand out by its more impressive set of smart features. This thermostat features Amazon's Alexa calling, messaging, and Drop-In features, putting it at a comparable level to other Echo Devices or Alexa-enabled home speakers. We also liked that this thermostat can connect to both 2.4 GHz. and 5 GHz. wireless networks, allowing you to take advantage of the added speed 5 GHz offers when calling or streaming music through this device.
We have been testing and reviewing smart thermostats for over three years, buying and comparing all the top models and updating our review as new models have been released. We divided our various assessments into four weighted rating metrics, with the Ecobee SmartThermostat's performance in each outlined below.
Ease of Use
The most important of our testing metrics overall, the ease of use performance for each thermostat is responsible for 40% of its overall score. In this metric, we compared the difficulty at setting up each thermostat for the first time, as well as how intuitive it is to set up a schedule, adjust the temperature, hold the temperature at its current level, and set the date and time. We also compared the ease of manipulating any advanced settings and scored each product on how clearly it displayed information. The SmartThermostat did fairly well, earning a 6 out of 10 for its results.
This thermostat is one of the easiest to get up and running once you have it installed on a wall. It prompts you through the entire process, guiding you through each step. It automatically sets the date and time as soon as you connect to your network, though it does require you to manually select the time zone you reside in.
We found the various settings and options menus to be very intuitive to navigate through and we particularly liked that you have the option to adjust the brightness of both the active and standby screens.
Unfortunately, we didn't find the scheduling and temperature adjustment functions to be particularly user-friendly. You still can't set a specific temperature for blocks of time in the schedule, only "comfort settings". You do set what temperature the comfort setting for home, away, and sleep correspond to, but it still feels more confusing and restrictive than thermostats that let you set the temperature for each block of time in the schedule.
We also weren't very enamored with the slider interface to adjust the current temperature.
It only lets you adjust with four degrees on the screen without holding to expand the range and the layout and font size make it just a little harder to read from a distance than many of the other models we have tested.
Install & Support
In terms of significance, the actual installation and quality of the customer service and support came next, with these tests accounting for 30% of the final score. This metric focused on the difficulty of the physical installation process for each smart thermostat, how easy it is to connect to a network, and the quality of the supplied instructions and manuals. Additionally, we also anonymously sent a technical inquiry to each of the manufacturers and graded them on their response time and the quality of their response. The Ecobee SmartThermostat did exceptionally well, earning an 8 out of 10 for its helpful support team and pain-free installation.
We received a response from the support team exceptionally fast that was also extremely helpful when it came to solving our hypothetical issue. We asked what to do if the old thermostat was gone and there were only bare wires protruding through the wall, with the Ecobee team walking us through the solution and responding quickly to any follow-up questions we had.
You have the option of following either the app or the paper installation guide when installing the SmartThermostat. Both are fairly thorough but we found the paper guide to be a bit more verbose than the app, with the app occasionally glossing over some steps.
Finally, the actual installation process is a snap, with the trim plate having an integrated level so you can be sure it isn't installed crooked. The quick-connect terminals are easy to use and don't require a screwdriver and there are plenty of helpful instructional videos if you need some extra guidance. The thermostat also includes a power extender kit if you don't have a dedicated "C" wire, increasing the ease of installation and a standalone room temperature sensor. This sensor can be placed away from the thermostat if it is installed in a location that is significantly warmer or cooler than the rest of the room to try an even out your heating or cooling.
Once it is installed, it's quite easy to connect the Ecobee to your network simply by selecting your network and typing in the password, though it can be slightly tedious if you have a longer and more complex password.
Our next metric dealt with the ease of connecting to and controlling your SmartThermostat remotely, which constitutes 20% of the Ecobee's overall score. The score for each model is based on its performance in a trio of tests: the intuitiveness of the app, the ease of changing the schedule through the app, and the ease of adjusting the temperature remotely. The Ecobee SmartThermostat again delivered a solid performance, earning a 6 out of 10.
The companion app for this thermostat is decently intuitive, being an interface that is just a tad bit more user-friendly than on the actual device. It feels a bit more responsive to use your phone than the touchscreen on the device but you are not able to adjust any of the settings remotely.
Remote scheduling is very similar to scheduling on the thermostat itself but we vastly preferred using a phone to do this. You have a larger amount of the schedule on the screen at a time and the color coding for heating and cooling is much easier to differentiate.
It's a similar story when it comes to adjusting the temperature, with your phone offering a much larger range to choose from because of the larger screen.
Our final metric focused on the accuracy of each of these products. For this test, we used a lab-grade calibrated thermometer to measure the ambient air temperature and compared it to the reading on each thermostat, making sure to keep both out of direct sunlight or drafts that could skew the results. This accounts for the remaining 10% of the Ecobee SmartThermostat's final score, which earned a 5 out of 10 for its so-so results.
Out of the box, we found this thermostat to vary from our control thermometer by about two degrees. However, it was fairly consistent and you do have the option of adding an offset to this thermostat to mostly account for this. This wouldn't make it perfect, as the Ecobee wasn't always off from the control the same amount when we measured but would get it closer.
On its own, this model is a so-so value and there are other products out there that give you a better bang for the buck. However, it makes it a decent value if it saves you having to buy a separate smart speaker for Alexa capabilities for your home.
Overall, the Ecobee SmartThermostat is quite a good wifi thermostat that should disappoint. It can't quite match the sleek and stylish design of certain round models but it's a great option if you love the idea of having an Alexa device right on your wall and value increased smart home functionality over looks.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise