What the Smart Thermostat Can & Can’t Do

Home thermostats have not been very smart. Not only did thermostats of old not connect to the Internet, not respond to voice, and not calculate outside weather conditions into home heating and cooling, but they only had one temperature sensor!

Ecobee3 smart home thermostat Review

  • Calculates input from up to 32 remote sensors reporting conditions throughout the home
  • Includes Amazon Echo (compatible with Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, and others)
  • Provides detailed reports of energy usage patterns and suggested savings
  • C-wire or Power Extension Kit gives ecobee3 its own reliable power source


  • Installation may be slightly more complicated if your system lacks a C-wire
  • Geofencing feature is designed to follow movements of only one smartphone
  • Occupancy sensors can be fooled by lack of movement, when watching movie for instance


Quick Facts

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What’s the cost of getting Ecobee3 into the home?

Available without any remote sensors as the ecobee3 Lite: $169.00.  You can compare it to the Nest thermostat here. Below are other popular packages.

Packaged with three sensors in the ecobee3 Smarter Bundle: $349.00

Sensors in packages of two: $79

How hard is it to install a Smart thermostat?

Many people considering a smart home thermostat worry that installation may be complicated and might require a professional to hook the control unit up to the heating and cooling system correctly. The truth is, it’s not that tough for most average homeowners.  It is a bit harder than a DIY security system which is stick and peel sensors.  Compared to smart doorbell cameras, it is about the same level of difficulty and requires some hands on wiring.

Remote Room Sensors

When ecobee introduced its first smart thermostat in 2007, it included a revolutionary idea: room sensors in other parts of the house. With the obvious but overlooked insight that we don’t live in homes of just one room, why do we have just one temperature sensor for all the multiple rooms of the home? The ecobee3  allows users to add more sensors for other rooms of the home.

Is it Compatible With My HVAC?

The ecobee3 is designed to be compatible with nearly every major HVAC system. On the company’s website, ecobee.com, is a feature allows you to check your system’s compatability with the ecobee3.

The C-wire Issue

c wire shown on honeywell thermostat

C wire shown on a Honeywell device.

If you have looked into a smart thermostat and researched the issues a bit, you have probably heard something about a C-wire. The C stands for control, and it is basically a power wire devoted to the thermostat controller. Systems that don’t use a C-wire need to power the device on your wall somehow, so they draw or “borrow” power from the HVAC system itself. While this usually works okay, it can cause problems and overdraw power from your home’s energy system.

The C-wire is really designed for reliability and peak efficiency of the system, so it is actually your friend. If your system doesn’t have one, the ecobee3 has already solved the problem (or at least provides the way to solve it) by including a Power Extender Kit in the box. This process involves some fairly simple wiring that you can do if you are comfortable, or get an expert involved.

Adding Extra Remote Sensors

Among the many great features of the ecobee3 is the expandable sensor network. While it comes with one additional sensor included (unless you get the ecobee3 Lite package, which is sold without a sensor — but come on, the sensors are one of the best parts of the whole thing!), you can get additional sensors in packages of two for $79. While they are not cheap, when you consider the potential energy savings of a home thermostat that is finely attuned to the temperature variations, occupancy, and uses of each room in your home, they may pay for themselves before long.

Additional remote room sensors available in packs of two for $79

Voice Control

Introduced in 2016 as the first smart thermostat with voice activation included, the ecobee3 includes Amazon Echo built in, so you can communicate with Alexa directly through it. If you’re not an Amazon voice user, the ecobee3 supports Samsung SmartThings, Apple HomeKit, and others as well.

Customer Support

Known for a decade as a customer friendly company, ecobee provides a full 3-year warranty on their products as well as help online and live with questions or technical issues about your smart thermostat. Reviews from satisfied ecobee users across the generations of their products indicate that the company cares about customers and works to provide satisfaction.

Detailed Data Included

There is no subscription fee for detailed data reports that ecobee provides through your smart thermostat. You can use the app for iOS or Android, or go online to check your power usage statistics over the past 18 months and compare to other similar homes, confirm weather conditions that may have had an impact on your home heating or cooling bill, and discover ways to improve your home’s efficiency and energy use patterns.

A Smart Way to Combine Comfort and Energy Savings

The ecobee3 is a smart thermostat that works well with other home devices and systems. Voice activation is built in with Amazon Echo, or you can use the system of your choice. The company predicts energy savings up to 23%* off your power bill when you switch to an ecobee3 thermostat, which helps pay for the cost of the switch to an ecobee smart thermostat pretty quickly.

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