- built-in Alexa voice-control support
- Connect up to 32 remote sensors for true zone control
The feature of this Ecobeee model that seems to get all of the press these days is the built-in Alexa. For those of you who are new to smart devices, Alexa is Amazon’s version of your personal assistant at home. Normally Alexa is accessed through an Amazon Echo device (an Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Show). With this voice controller built into your thermostat, you can adjust the temperature by simply talking to Alexa.
Perhaps the greatest feature of the Ecobee4 is its ability to be paired with remote sensors. The package comes with one remote sensor but you can connect as many as 32. It is also compatible with the remote sensors that came with the previous generation. This is very useful with different rooms or sections in your home. It is possible to have colder or hotter rooms, and with the remote sensors, it can detect where you are and adjust the temperature to your preference. Both the remote sensor and the Ecobee4 can also detect whether you are away or at home, which can help save on your energy consumption.
This thermostat is a great addition to almost any smart home system because it is compatible with many smart home hubs such as the Wink, Apple Home Kit and Samsung SmartThings. It is also compatible with other smart home devices such as Haiku fan, Logitech Harmony, and many others through IFTTT recipes. Devices like this that play well with others always get a thumbs up from us.
The Ecobee4 also includes a geofencing feature, which helps it determine when you are within a certain radius from your house. When you are within the set radius, the Ecobee4 will instruct heaters to heat up in preparation for your arrival. However, this only works directly for Android users. If you are an iOS user, you’ll need to activate this feature through IFTTT.
Using the Ecobee4
To use your thermostat, you first have to set it up and install it. Unlike other smart home devices, thermostats can be harder to install because three and four wire systems must be handled differently.
One trick I learned as a renter who always changed out standard thermostats for timers was to take a picture of the wires as they were connected to the old thermostat. That will serve as a guide when attaching them to your Ecobee 4 if you find their instructions don’t cover your configuration or if you don’t normally read instructions. They also have a very capable tech support team available by phone if you need help during installation.
Once it is mounted and the wires are connected, the Ecobee4 boots itself and can now be configured. You will also be asked to set up your temperature preferences and to have an online account. You will also be guided on how to connect it to your available Wi-Fi. This is also the time to connect the remote sensors.
More ways to control and schedule temperatures
You can control the temperature using the Ecobee4 in several ways. First, you can manually set the temperature by using the touch-sensitive screen on the Ecobee4 thermostat. If you are not in the same room as the thermostat, you can also make use of your phone through the app to control the Ecobee4. You can also use voice commands to change the temperature in any zone you are monitoring with its built-in Alexa support.
Just like the programmable thermostats we used back in the olden days, you can schedule predetermined times and temperatures with your Ecobee4. You can also customize one of the four “modes” that are basic in the Ecobee: Home, Away, Sleep and Vacation. After you’ve set a mode, you also have a choice in how you activate it. You can tap its icon on the Ecobee’s touchscreen. You can also integrate a mode into your schedules. Instead of customizing a time period, you can simply specify that you’ll be “away” between 8am and 5pm.
Things that need Improvement
Don’t think you can use the Ecobee4 as a voice controller though. Its speakers aren’t even a match for the Echo Dot(which isn’t nearly as clear and crisp as the Echo or Echo Show). It does sound clear enough to understand what Alexa says, and it does register your commands without you having to over-enunciate.
Sure, you can ask Alexa to tell you the weather, or read you a recipe through the Ecobee, but is that something you’re likely to want to do while standing in a hallway (where most thermostats are mounted) or near enough for the speaker to hear you? Also, you can’t control any other devices with your voice using it, so forget about requesting a change in the musical playlist while you change the temperature.
Another thing about the Ecobee4’s Alexa is that it will still respond to your command even, if another Amazon Echo is near you. It doesn’t support the Echo’s Spatial Perception feature, which enables only the closest speaker to respond and do your commands. It can quickly become annoying to hear two speakers talk at the same time.
What others have to say about it
Most reviewers point to the Alexa integration as the best feature of this system. They say that you get value for your money because you have a thermostat with the ultimate convenience of voice command at the same time. We’re not fans of duplicating systems, however, and find that there’s no real substitute here for a full Amazon Echo voice controller.
The Ecobee4 thermostat is the simplest smart device we found for you to control your home’s temperature hands free. By simply talking to it, you can change the room’s temperature to your liking. Although you can also schedule when the house should be heated, it offers a simple way to manually control the temperature when you desire temperature other than what was previously set. Remote sensors that extend your personalization commands make the Ecobee4 an extremely smart choice in thermostats as well.