Ecobee missing manual: Everything you need to know

Smart thermostats, sensors and more – your ultimate Ecobee guide

Ecobee missing manual

For a long time, Nest was the big name in smart thermostats. While that company is still a titan of its industry, little upstart Ecobee has risen up to become a worthy challenger in its own right.

Ecobee is a plucky Canadian company that was founded back in 2007, but it gained some real steam thanks to the Ecobee3 thermostat in 2014. Since then, it's upgraded the device and added even more third-party support for it.

Read this: Getting started with Nest: Your missing manual

Last year, the company announced a new flagship device, the Ecobee4, which adds built-in Alexa voice support. Yeah, Ecobee takes some big swings, and those bets – plus an emphasis on compatibility – have helped it break through against Nest and its Works with Nest program.

But that's only a brief rundown of what Ecobee is. There's a whole lot more you should know about. Let's go.

Ecobee: The compatible services

Ecobee missing manual: Everything you need to know about the buzzing smart home company

First things first: compatibility. Different people live in different technological ecosystems, whether that's because they chose one smart home product and built around it, or they wanted to pledge allegiance to a platform.

Nest has its Works with Nest program, which allows other companies to tap into its products to deliver some interesting capability. However, Nest's compatibility isn't as impressive when you try to command the devices with other services. Sure, you've got the now-standard Google Assistant and Alexa compatibility, and there's also IFTTT, but nothing more than that.

Ecobee devices are compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Microsoft Cortana, Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT. No matter which ecosystem you're using, you'll be able to use the Ecobee devices.

That not only means that HomeKit users will get a smart thermostat they can use easily, but if you ever decide to switch devices (like from a Pixel phone to an iPhone) you won't have to worry about breaking your smart home.

Ecobee: Voice everywhere and the future

Ecobee missing manual: Everything you need to know about the buzzing smart home company

Everyone in the smart home world believes in voice. Amazon, Google and Apple all have speakers aimed at making their voice assistants the main hub in your home. There are also many devices that are building Alexa or Google Assistant right into them.

Ecobee wants to take that all a step further. The idea, which the company calls 'Whole Home Voice' is to put an Alexa-enabled Ecobee device in pretty much every nook and cranny of your home.

That means an Alexa-enabled Ecobee Switch+ in every room and an Alexa-enabled Ecobee4 in your hallway or living room. Ecobee wants you to be able to command your home from anywhere in your room with just your voice.

In that way, you don't have to put forth any effort or whatnot. You just speak a command anywhere and you control anything. Want to know the weather while you're in your room? Want to control the temperature from the kitchen? Want to get a news bulletin in the bathroom? Have at it.

Ecobee isn't planning on stopping there either: the company recently received an investment total of $155 million from Amazon's Alexa fund and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. The company plans to use that money to double down on its smart home efforts, building more kinds of devices and truly taking the fight to Nest.

Ecobee: The devices

Ecobee's devices are mostly smart thermostats, but that is surely set to change. The company recently launched a smart light switch, which we'll get to in a bit. That's not where it's resting either.


Ecobee missing manual: Everything you need to know about the buzzing smart home company

Ecobee4

$249.99, ecobee.com | Amazon

The Ecobee4 is a smart thermostat, but with Alexa built in it can do things that rivals cannot. The added voice ability will let you get your news, shopping, information, music and whatever else Alexa delivers to you on other Alexa-enabled devices.

As a thermostat, the Ecobee4 isn't dumb. You can control everything from your smartphone app, but it'll also learn your home/away schedule and can make changes to the temperature on the fly should you be home when you're supposed to be away. Once it learns how your home warms up and cools down, it can pair this info with local weather reports to do a better job.

If you don't have a dehumidifier, the Ecobee4 can use your air conditioning to overcool your home, acting as a makeshift dehumidifier. Plus, you can tell it when you're going on holiday and it'll handle things by itself. We'll get to this in more detail shortly, but the Ecobee4 also comes with a Room Sensor, which allows the Ecobee4 to measure the temperature in specific rooms and adjust the AC to target specific areas of the home.


Ecobee missing manual: Everything you need to know about the buzzing smart home company

Ecobee3 Lite

$169.99, ecobee.com | Amazon

The Ecobee3 Lite is essentially the budget version of the Ecobee4. If you don't think its added features, like the Room Sensor and Alexa, are worth just under $100 more, then you should opt for this.

You're still getting some smarts here, as Ecobee3 Lite will learn your routine, how your house warms up and cools down and combine that information with your local weather reports to more effectively condition your home. Plus, there's that holiday mode which will keep things more efficient while you're gone – along with alerts to let you know if something malfunctions.

If you do eventually decide you want to upgrade the Ecobee3 Lite, you can purchase the Room Sensors separately to enhance its functionality. Speaking of which…


Ecobee missing manual: Everything you need to know about the buzzing smart home company

Room Sensors

$79.99, ecobee.com | Amazon

For the most part, smart thermostats are built to measure the air and temperature in the spot they're installed – which is usually a hallway or living room or something like that. This means that your thermostat is adjusting the temperature for that location.

Unfortunately, not all rooms are the same. Some are cooler or warmer than the area your thermostat is in. This means that your room could become uncomfortable as your thermostat is adjusting itself based on a different environment.

Let's put it this way: Say your hallway-equipped thermostat is reading 75 degrees, but your room is actually at 70 degrees. You see that and turn your thermostat down to a cool 65 degrees, but your room is also going to cool, taking it from 70 down below what you wanted.

Ecobee's room sensors aim to solve that by checking for the temperature in specific rooms and building that into the main thermostat's smarts. Oh, and they can also sense whether people are in the room thanks to motion sensors. This way each room is getting cooled or warmed to the level that's specific for it, and not the empty hallway. Plus, it can know not to heat or cool a certain room because no one is there.


Ecobee missing manual: Everything you need to know about the buzzing smart home company

Ecobee Switch+

$99.99, ecobee.com | Amazon

The Switch+ is Ecobee's first attempt at a smart home product that isn't built to regulate your home's temperature. Instead, it's focused on lighting your home – and it comes with Alexa built right in.

The Switch+ also comes with built-in motion sensors so it can be set up to turn on the light when someone walks by. It's also smart enough to know when there's daylight outside thanks to scheduling. Or, you know, you can just press the button to turn on or off the lights.

And if you want to, you can ask Alexa to turn off the lights, or get your latest sports scores or weather report. And yes, there's a speaker and far-field microphone technology so that it all works right there on your wall.

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