The new Ecobee Smart Thermostat With Voice Control is the company’s fifth-generation model, and as is the case with each Ecobee release, this new model offers more features than its predecessor, the Ecobee4.
Enhanced Alexa and multimedia support, more powerful audio components, and dual-band Wi-Fi is just a few examples of what this thermostat has to offer.
Throw in a user-friendly app, lots of third-party support, and an easy installation process, and you’ve got our new Editors’ Choice for smart thermostats.
Design and Features
At first glance, the Smart Thermostat With Voice Control looks just like the Ecobee4. It’s the same size (4.2 by 4.2 by 1.0 inches, HWD) and has a glossy black screen/bezel over a white enclosure.
You wouldn’t know it from looking, but the new thermostat uses a glass screen to cover the 3.5-inch, 480-by-320-pixel color touch display.
The two microphone holes on either side of the screen cover a pair of digital microphones that offer echo cancellation and more advanced audio processing than the analog microphones used in the Ecobee4.
The new thermostat is equipped with a speaker (at the bottom of the enclosure) that is twice as powerful as the one used in the previous model and also offers a wider dynamic range.
There’s an LED strip on the top of the device that glows blue when you use an Alexa voice command and red when the built-in microphone is turned off.
The backplate contains 12 terminals for connecting to heating and air conditioning, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air ventilation devices, and other HVAC accessories.
Ecobee includes a single remote room SmartSensor (pictured below) that helps keep temperatures uniform throughout your house, especially in rooms that are far away from the thermostat.
The new sensor offers extended range and longer battery life (up to five years) than the previous model. Extra SmartSensors can be purchased for $79 for a pack of two.
The thermostat is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, 4GB of flash memory, and 512MB of DDR4 RAM. Inside are temperature, humidity, proximity, and occupancy sensors, as well as far-field voice technology.
The proximity and occupancy sensors tell the thermostat if you are home or away and allow it to switch to a preset target temperature in order to conserve energy, and the far-field tech lets you issue voice commands from across the room.
Also under the hood is dual-band Wi-Fi circuitry that allows you to connect the thermostat to a 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-Fi radio band (the Ecobee4 is limited to the 2.4GHz band).
As with the Ecobee4, the Smart Thermostat With Voice supports Amazon Alexa voice technology, which means you can use it as you would an Amazon Echo device, but this time around Ecobee has added support for Alexa Calling, Messaging, and Drop-In.
In addition to Amazon Music, iHeart Radio, and Pandora music streaming, you can now stream Spotify music and play it directly from the thermostat or stream it to a Bluetooth speaker.
The thermostat also works with Apple’s HomeKit platform, supports Google Assistant and Siri voice commands, interacts with other smart home devices that support IFTTT (If This Then That) applets, and can be added to the SmartThings, Vera, and Wink home automation systems.
You control the thermostat using the same Android and iOS mobile app as the Ecobee4. It can also be controlled using the touch screen, the above-mentioned voice services, or from a PC using a web console.
The app’s home screen shows the current room temperature and has a slider for setting the target temperature.
Below the temperature readout are four icons. The Settings icon offers multiple tabs for configuring the thermostat.
Use the System tab to enable and disable heating, cooling, and fans. The Sensors tab is where you go to enable the Smart Home/Away feature, which adjusts your heating and cooling settings if the thermostat sensors detect that nobody is home, and the Schedule tab allows you to create daily and weekly heating and cooling schedules.
In the Comfort Settings menu, you can set temperature thresholds for when you are home and away, and you can have the thermostat switch temperatures for when you’re asleep or on vacation.
The Reminders & Alerts menu lets you configure low and high temperature and humidity alerts and set maintenance reminders.
To see the current weather conditions and five-day forecast, tap the weather icon.
The gear icon takes you to the Quick Changes screen where you can switch from Home to Away modes, and the microphone icon opens a screen where you can adjust speaker volume, enable or disable the microphone, link Alexa to Spotify, and pair the thermostat with a Bluetooth speaker.
You have to use the web console to take advantage of the Home IQ feature, which provides efficiency reports, historical data of HVAC usage, and how outside conditions have impacted your HVAC system.
Installation and Performance
The Smart Thermostat With Voice comes with a detailed installation guide and is easy to install, but if you’re not comfortable working with electrical wires (even low-voltage wires), you should have a professional handle the installation.
I started by turning off the breaker for my thermostat circuit and took a picture of the existing wiring.
As with other Ecobee thermostats, this one comes with labels that you can use to mark your wires, which makes things easier when it comes time to wire up the Ecobee backplate.
I disconnected the old thermostat, fed the wires through the backplate, and attached the plate to the wall using the built-in level to ensure a straight installation.
My system has a C wire so I was able to attach my wires directly to the backplate terminals.
If you don’t have a C wire, use the included PEK (Power Extender Kit) and follow the wiring instructions in the printed guide.
Once the backplate was wired, I snapped the thermostat onto the base plate, registered it using the mobile app and the supplied verification code, and installation was complete.
The thermostat reacted instantly to my temperature change commands regardless of whether I used the touch screen, the mobile app, the web console, or Alexa and Siri’s voice commands.
I created a daily heating schedule that followed to a tee. As with the Ecobee4, the thermostat worked wonderfully with a HomeKit scene to turn off a porch light when it switches to Sleep mode, and an IFTTT applet to have a TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip HS300 outlet turn on when the humidity hit a certain threshold.
The SmartSensor did a great job of maintaining a steady target temperature in a basement bedroom, and push and email alerts arrived instantly when the temperature and humidity levels reached my configured thresholds.
Alexa’s functionality was equally impressive in testing. I had no trouble playing songs from my Amazon Music account or receiving the latest news and baseball scores.
Moreover, the thermostat had no trouble processing voice commands from across the room, and I was able to control devices linked to my Alexa account just as easily as if I were using an Echo device.
Audio output is noticeably louder and fuller than that of the Ecobee4, but still not quite as robust as the output from a dedicated Amazon Echo Plus speaker.
With the Smart Thermostat With Voice Control, Ecobee improves upon its predecessor by adding a more powerful speaker, digital microphones, dual-band Wi-Fi radios, and enhanced Alexa capabilities.
Like the Ecobee4, it works with numerous third-party smart devices and hubs, supports Apple’s HomeKit platform and Alexa, Google, and Siri voice commands, and performs wonderfully.
At $249 it’s a bit pricey, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a thermostat that offers this many features, including the popular Nest Learning Thermostat. As such, it earns our Editors’ Choice for smart thermostats.