I recently installed 6 “ecobee smart thermostats with voice control” and I love them! It was a bigger project than anticipated, but well worth the effort. My Five Favorite Features
1.The ecobee comes with a remote temperature and occupancy sensor. My ecobee reads the temperature in the living room where I sit and ignores the temperature in the hall where the thermostat is.
2. The design of the ecobee touch screen is elegant. A dark rounded square screen displays the room temperature in large numbers along with the time of day, outdoor temperature, and a weather icon. When you walk up to the ecobee it comes alive and displays a slide for the setpoint and icons for quick Home/Away, detailed weather, voice control, and menus.
3. My six networked ecobees can be monitored and adjusted from an app or a web portal.
4. Ecobee lets you display helpful graphs of, for example, room temperature over time along with setpoint, outdoor temperature, and an indication of when the thermostat was calling for heat. See pictures at the end of this post.
5. Voice control is more useful than expected. I don’t have to be in a room to change the temperature. I just say “Hey Google, warm up the Master Bedroom” from anywhere.Comparison Shopping
I bought the ecobee instead of the Nest Learning Thermostat because it includes a remote sensor and can produce energy reports and graphs. The ecobee thermostat dedicated power approach is more reliable than the Nest’s power stealing scheme. With the ecobee schedule, I am in control and I know what is going on. In contrast, a learning thermostat like the Nest could learn a wrong schedule or hide what it has learned.Installation and Setup
The ecobee requires a “C” wire for 24 VAC power, which many HVAC systems already have. My old thermostats did not have a C wire.
My five heat-only zones each had two unused wires running from the basement to the thermostat. With the help of tech support I bought two 24 VAC transformer and ran power to the ecobees on the C and Rc terminals. (Max 3 ecobees per transformer)
For my one heat plus AC zone I found the C wire on the AC air handler and ran it to the ecobee on an unused white wire to the C terminal on the thermostat. I sent a photo of my air handler wiring to tech support and they sent it back annotated and talked me through it. See photo. Tech support was excellent - patient, knowledgeable, and helpful.
Mounting the ecobee is simplified by a built-in bubble level. I used the optional back plate to cover over unpainted areas from the old thermostat.
Setup was easy. The ecobee senses which terminals are in use and shows you a diagram to confirm. The hardest part was typing my WiFi password on the small screen. To pair the smart sensor with a thermostat use the app to scan a QR code on the sensor.Twelve ways I am Saving Energy
I am running a schedule to turn down heat when rooms are unused. My old thermostats were so hard to program that I did not run a schedule.
I am tweaking the schedule to turn down heat. It is so easy to program the schedule that I’ll jump in and tweak it if I see a chance to save a half hour of heat.
I am turning down heat when I leave a room or when someone leaves the house. I just say “Hey Google, cool down the Living Room” even if I am already in another room.
I am overriding the schedule. If we go to bed early, I say “Hey Google, good night” to turn down all zones. If we leave the house, I say “Hey Google, I’m leaving.” to run the “Away” settings.
Ecobee senses if a room is unoccupied for a couple of hours and then runs the “Away”settings.
I am warming rooms up just as I need them and only for as long as I need them. For example, before shower time “Hey Google, warm up the master bath” and after “Hey Google, turn on the master bath schedule.''
Constant monitoring allowed me to realize rooms were warm when they should not be - a problem with my flow-check valves. I will replace the flow-check valves on my boiler and eliminate this unwanted heat.
I am not overheating rooms that are otherwise warmed up by human activities and electronics. The remote sensor reads the occupied room, not the unoccupied hallway.
I am not relying on too-generous guesses about preheating. The ecobee learns how long it takes to bring a room up to temperature and if you say you want 65F at 6:00 am, the room will be at temperature then.
By observing when the thermostat calls for each room and watching the outdoor temperature I am identifying which rooms lose heat the fastest and considering insulation.
If I forget to turn down the heat, I can do so remotely anywhere and anytime from the app or the web portal.
I can easily check if the heat was unnecessarily left on by asking "hey google, what does master bedroom say?Five ways I am more comfortable
The remote sensor delivers the heat I want at my location.
I can remotely preheat such as warming up the office from the gym as I finish my workout.
“Smart Recovery” preheats a room so it is at temperature when the schedule calls for it.
There are no longer hot spots in the house.
I have the comfort of knowing what my system is doing when and seeing as much detail as I want.Voice Control: the Good and the Bad
I was not excited about voice control when I bought the ecobee but it has turned out to be much more useful than expected. The ecobees have Alexa built in so you can talk directly to the thermostat and get a voice response. Alexa is a bit of a nag. The day after installation the I found the ecobees flashing turquoise and blue. I asked “Alexa, what’s up?” and she said there were new albums released by two of my favorite bands. So I turned off “shopping notifications” and the next day I got a different alert, this one green and relating to a news report. I just don’t want my thermostat to alert me unless it is HVAC related.
I was already using Google Assistant so I use it instead of Alexa. As a result, I must speak to one of the smart speakers I have in my home or speak to my phone. I also find the language more natural: “Hey Google, what does kitchen say?” versus “Alexa, ask ecobee the kitchen temperature.” Finally, Google Assistant lets me group commands into routines. For example, when I say “OK Google, I’m leaving” it turns down all six thermostats and turns off two lights.
The ecobee is the best product I’ve bought this year and I recommend it to anyone who does not mind doing a bit of wiring. Who knew you could love a thermostat?
AC Air Handler Wiring Annotated by Tech Support