Ecobee3 Lite ReviewPrice: $170 List | $169.00 at Amazon
Pros: Stylish, remote sensors
Cons: Expensive, average to use
Bottom line: Remote sensor makes it the best for homes that have large temperature gradients throughout
Battery Backup: No
Learning/ Adaptive Controls: Yes - "DataRhythm Technology"
Originally, we thought the Ecobee3 Lite and the Nest would be the top two products vying for the Editors' Choice award based on the user reviews, but we just weren't terribly impressed with the Ecobee3 Lite. It performed just about average across the board in our tests, and was outscored by models that cost considerably less. The main benefit to this model is the presence of remote sensors, making it a good choice for those who have their thermostat in a place that is a drastically different temperature than the rest of the house.
RELATED REVIEW: Best Wifi Smart Thermostats of 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This model has a sleek, modern appearance and looks to break the mold of traditional thermostats. Originally thought to be a contender for the top spot, especially with its unique features and functions, this model fell a little flat. It was the lowest scoring products in our tests.
Ease of Use
We rated the Lite about average when it came to ease of use, scoring it a 5 out of 10. Our tests looked at all commonly used aspects of thermostats, from initial setup, adjusting and holding the current temperature, implementing a schedule, as well as the various advanced settings that these products have.
This device came with somewhat detailed installation instructions, but didn't quite stack up to the Nest or the Honeywell Smart. We found it really confusing when setting up the schedule, as one had to set the schedule independently of the desired temperature. You can only assign a "Comfort Setting"The temperature is set under a different menu, assigning a different value to each of the three "Comfort Settings" for home, away, and sleep. Setting the time and date was similar to an iPhone, changing the advanced settings was run of the mill, and the display was alright at conveying information, white font on a black background.
Install & Support
The Lite did a little better when it came to this category, earning a 6 out of 10, helped by the amazing response from the customer support team. This team responded to our email with a question on wiring sent in at 4pm by the next morning. We asked for help as if the existing thermostat had been removed, leaving no trace as to the function of each wire. Their responses were extremely helpful and guided us through the process of opening the furnace control panel and identifying which wires were which throughout the course of our email conversation.
The quick start guide referred us to their series of how-to videos, that we would say were probably the second best we saw. This thermostat did include a built-in level, making installation a snap.
It took a little bit longer to connect to WiFi, as it was a little confusing to actually connect. The menu gives an option for connecting directly to an iPhone, but our phone struggled to connect, instead we connected the device directly to the network in the building.
One caveat we found that was somewhat of a deal breaker for us on this product was the thermostat would not automatically reconnect to the router when the router went out, and had to manually get on the thermostat to reconnect it.
This could be extremely frustrating if the thermostat was installed in a vacation rental, second home, or another location that was not occupied completely.
The Lite scored slightly below average on our tests when it came to remote access, earning a 4 out of 10. We did like that there was a tutorial dedicated solely to showing you how to use the app, and the various things you can change on it..
This phone has a slider to control the temperature, making it easy to change to temperatures within 10 degrees of the ambient, but then much slower for a larger adjustment than that.
This model does have an auto mode, allowing the device to make the decision on whether or not to heat or cool to keep the temperature between a specified range. There is also a weather forecast that can be accessed by hitting the "Sun" button.
We gave the Lite a score of 5 out of 10 when comparing it against our lab-grade thermometer to check the accuracy of each model in our tests. It was decently consistent with the other thermostats, averaging about a degree off of the control thermostat.
This model was the lowest scoring and one of the highest prices, needless to say, we would not recommend it for those looking for the best value.
While the addition of external sensors is intriguing, we felt that this model fell a little short when compared to its competitors. We can really only think of the situation where you are forced to install the thermostat in a location that has a drastically different temperature than the majority of the house. Even if that is the case, there are ways of adding external sensors to some of the other models that scored higher. All in all, the bottom line is we would recommend checking out a different model, particular our award winners instead of this product.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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