ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
We picked the ecobee4 as the best smart thermostat because of its versatility, expandable extra room sensors, and its ability to work with both Amazon Alexa and Apple’s HomeKit protocol. We also think the user interface is the most intuitive of all the smart thermostats we’ve used – something most people will appreciate.
- Features a built-in speaker and microphone that can be used to converse with Amazon's popular Alexa smart assistant.
- Compatible with HomeKit and can be used in the Home app and Siri.
- Comes with one remote sensor that can help keep your home more comfortable. Additional sensors are sold separately but definitely worth the investment.
Why the ecobee4 Smart Thermostat is the best?
The real flagship feature is built-in Amazon Alexa capability. There are currently more than 12,000 different skills that can be accessed from the thermostat – everything from ordering pizza to playing games and more. Offering the same far-field voice recognition technology as Amazon’s Echo device, you can interact with Alexa or change the thermostat temperature from across a loud room with no issue.
As far as sound quality goes, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it is a small unit and is not going to offer top-notch sound, but it’s easily on par or even better than what is available by using an Amazon Echo Dot.
Another great feature of the ecobee4 is the use of remote sensors, which serve two functions. Along with telling the thermostat when someone is in a room, the sensors communicate the room’s temperature. This means it has finer control as to which rooms are hot or which rooms are cold, something that other smart thermostats cannot do.
Because you can add up to 32 sensors, this means that ecobee4 is going to be the best at learning the temperature and habits of the people living in your house. The Follow function polls the thermostat and your wireless sensors to determine where motion is detected. It will then average the temperature of the occupied rooms to help make your house more comfortable. And it works very well.
Our experience with the ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
The thermostat itself sports a 3.5-inch touchscreen. It’s basically an old-school iPhone mounted to the wall. The UI is simple and easy to use and should be obvious to pretty much anyone who has ever used a smartphone. The main screen shows your home’s current temperature, the thermostat’s setting, and a slider for adjustment. The display is always on and will show your home’s temperature and the weather outside when not being used.
Along with being able to schedule your home’s air conditioning or heating to turn on and off at a specific time, the thermostat can be used with remote sensors. One is included with the thermostat. Each sensor acts as a small temperature reporting station in your house and can also detect any motion. That’s a great way to help keep your house comfortable while saving energy, and cash.
The UI is simple and easy to use and should be obvious to pretty much anyone who has ever used a smartphone.
The most difficult part of the entire experience comes at the start of installation. Easily put, if you have basic DIY experience around your home, actually getting the thermostat installed can be a quick and simple process. Ecobee includes everything you’ll need to do the work, short of a screwdriver and drill.
But the big issue is a c-wire, also known as a common wire. Not to get extremely technical, but the c-wire is a low-voltage wire that provides constant power to the thermostat.
Full-time power is needed by the ecobee4 for Alexa and HomeKit support while the display will constantly show the current weather conditions outside and the temperature inside your house.
And your heating and cooling system may or may not have a c-wire. The only way you can tell for sure is to remove the front housing of your current thermostat and check the wires. If a wire is connected to a port with “c” you probably don’t have much to worry about. Ecobee says 95 percent of heating and cooling systems are compatible with the thermostat, and you can find out more with a compatibility checker on the company’s site.
If you have no c-wire at all, Ecobee includes something called a power extender kit. With it installed, the existing wires can power the thermostat.
Along with Alexa capable, being able to control the thermostat and more with Siri is really fun. Ecobee has the complete list of Siri commands you can use with the thermostat. It might take a bit of learning, but after a few days, you can easily adjust the thermostat from anywhere with an iPhone. And if you have a fourth-generation Apple TV, you can control the thermostat with Siri away from your home network. It was also easy to control with Siri on my Apple Watch.
Speaking of the wearable device, the watch app is a great way to keep track of your home’s temperature. A third-party complication can show what your thermostat is set to on your watch face. Opening the app itself will show the temperature at your home. A Force Touch will allow you to set the thermostat to home or away and turn the fan to automatic or on. Just turn the Digital Crown to adjust the temperature.
The watch app is a great way to keep track of your home’s temperature
So if you’re looking to start building a smart home – and you’re an iPhone or iPad user – the ecobee4 is definitely recommended. Siri support is a natural addition to a smart thermostat, and the sensors and scheduling features are something that should eventually pay for itself. That’s not a bad deal at all.
A Beautiful, Well-Designed Smart Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat is certainly the sexier, better-looking thermostat with its beautiful round design built using aluminum and glass. The device many functions including the ability to learn your schedule and preferred temperatures in about a week. It has apps for every major platform and is easy to install.
It is missing a few nice features, though, when compared to the ecobee4. The thermostat doesn’t use additional sensors so it can’t take temperature readings from other rooms in the house. It also doesn’t support HomeKit. While you’ll still be able to change the thermostat with the well-designed app, not supporting Apple’s protocol means it can’t be used as part of a larger smart home system.
- Learns the temperatures you like and programs itself in about a week
- Automatically turns itself down when nobody’s home to help you save energy
- Connect your thermostat to Wi‑Fi to control the temperature from your phone, tablet or laptop
- Check your Energy History in the Nest app to see how much energy you use and why
- Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control
The iDevices Thermostat doesn’t offer some of the more advanced features of the ecobee3 – like remote sensors and the built-in Alexa support – but it makes up for that with an inexpensive price tag and support for HomeKit.
Featuring a standard size and shape, there’s no fancy touch screen or other controls, but you can still interact with the thermostat using one of four control buttons. As usual for a smart device, it can also be controlled with an app. It’s a solid choice if you’re interested in building a smart home but don’t want to deal with the hassle of a difficult to learn control system.
- Works with both Apple's HomeKit and Amazon's Alexa.
- No hub needed to control the thermostat.
- A simple control scheme that mimics a regular thermostat.
- Can be controlled from anywhere with the companion app on an iPhone, iPad, and even Apple Watch.