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Style: ecobee4|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
After trying and using the other popular smart thermostat in my home I learned many things. The most important was that no matter how basic the thermostat that came with my home HVAC was, it worked for the simple functions it was intended to do. When I installed my first smart device I got a lot of all new features and functionality but the reality of running a day-to-day schedule of heating and cooling my home actually got more complicated and in some ways not any more improved.

When ecobee came along I was an early user of their solution including zone sensors, which seemed to be a good idea for my multi-level open-architecture home. But again, in real life there were instances of the more sophisticated system introducing new problems that never existed before. It took me weeks to get things to settle down and even to this day the simple act of operating my HVAC system is less automated than it was with a simple programmable thermostat

But with the smart features there were things I learned to like, and high on that list was the ability to control my HVAC system from my phone, whether at home or not. In some ways that capability started becoming the number one reason for owning an smart thermostat. But there was definite room for improvement and among them was a tighter integration with Alexa/Echo to allow for more automation and easier control, especially by voice.

I have had Echo sensors at the two places at home (now 3) where I spend the most time and they are “connected” to my ecobee but this newest , latest version takes that another big step forward and actually builds an Echo right in the thermostat hardware. One advantage is obvious; generally our thermostats are not located anywhere near where it would be logical to have an Echo plugged in. In my case the thermostat is on a wall between the bedrooms on a staircase landing … the last place I would ever have an Echo. By having the voice control of Alexa in that location I can simple speak to my thermostat as I walk by. The included remote sensor of my thermostat is located in an open section between my kitchen, dining area and living area, also a location I am very unlikely to plug in an Echo, so it would have been nice if the remote sensors acted as mini-Echo’s with microphones in each. They don’t, so let’s list that as suggested improvement #1.

If nothing else, getting this unit gave me most of the functions of having another Echo, which can be a big cost savings over buying more Echo units (I already had two Dots).

KEY FEATURES OF ECOBEE

Before going into features (and differences), if you are new to the whole concept of smart thermostats, here is a run-down of what this is all about:

- The ecobee not only turns your A/C on when it’s hot and your heat on when it’s cold but it actually works (via internet) with your local weather service in real-time so it knows what’s going on outside your home as well as inside

- Its key difference is that you can place sensor is different zones of your house which not only helps balance out the efficient use of heating and cooling but can sense which room you are in and control your preferences for that room, not the entire house. It even knows when you go to work, or to bed or on vacation

- The newest feature, Alexa control, let’s you use the thermostat as a timer, to check the news, turn lights on and off, play music and something like 10,000 other “skills”. Of course you will need various other accessories to make some of that happen.

- You can check and change the temperature of your HVAC using a smartphone from anywhere in the world. To me this is the number one reason I like this system

- The software builds usage reports over time which can be helpful in managing your energy usage for maximum economy

THE GOOD AND THE BAD

Let’s start off with what was probably the biggest complaint about earlier versions … they didn’t work well with heat pumps. That’s probably because heat pumps aren’t very common where the company is based. When I first got mine I was on the phone for hours with the tech people (I have to give them credit, their tech support was great). They really couldn’t solve it over the phone so they send a professional tech out to complete the installation for me. Compared to installing an old style mechanical thermostat by connecting two wires and turning it on that would have been a major strike against smart thermostats but I was forgiving because we were dealing with some very cutting-edge technology. The good news is that my installation of the new model was butter-smooth, it seemed to know exactly what HVAC gear I have and fine-tune itself accordingly.

WHAT IS CHANGED FROM THE ECOBEE 3 TO THE ECOBEE 4?

- The new model much larger in every dimension

- The new model is “rounder” – the old design was essentially square with rounded corners, the new model is somewhere in-between a square and a circle

- The new model is substantially thicker, it sticks out from the wall almost twice as far

- The new model has a completely flat face, whereas the older design’s face was slightly convex like the face of a clock. The advantages of a flat face are less glare on the screen and it is easier to touch-activate the icons without accidentally brushing against the wrong one

- The pseudo button has been redesigned. The so-called button is actually a sensor but on the older design it looks like a push button. The manufacturer doesn’t mention it anywhere in their documentation and I understand it was a common complaint from users who tried poking it and nothing happened.

- One additional faceplate icon added (for the Alexa/Echo controls)

- Different mounting plate – the mounting plate is what screws to the wall and the wires from you HVAC attach to it, then the thermostat faceplate simply snaps on to it. The older design had a two-piece mounting plate that was a bit cumbersome. The newly designed plate is much smaller and one piece instead of two. IMPORTANT: the location of the wiring terminals has been switched up for no apparent reason. If you are replacing a previous model with the new design read each terminal label carefully, they are not where they used to be. The mounting plate still has a tiny built-in bubble level which is incredibly useful in mounting the thermostat so it doesn’t lean to one side or the other on your wall.

- Different remote room sensor is pictured on the retail box than what's inside – this one is something I’m working on getting an answer for, the packaging shows a newly redesigned room sensor that looks more attractive and eliminates the pseudo button mentioned above, but what is actually in the box is the old sensor. This could just be because I was testing an early unit. By the way, the remote sensor can either be mounted to your wall or placed on a desk/tabletop using a little acrylic stand.

- There is now a blue LED light bar on top of the thermostat but when the unit is mounted at the usual height most people won’t be able to see the light itself, only the glow from it on their wall. So my second suggestion is maybe that light should have been on the bottom of the thermostat and serve double-duty as a path light when the motion sensor senses someone walking by (this is a feature I love on my nest smoke detector … I have it mounted at the top of my stairway and whenever someone walks under it at night a soft nightlight comes on to illuminate the first couple of stairs).

- Staying on the topic of that blue light, one thing I find very distracting is if you prefer to turn the auto-voice-recognition microphone off on the thermostat’s main unit for any reason, that light turns bright red whenever the microphone is turned off. That looks like it is warning me of a danger situation (turning the microphone off is not a danger situation to me). Suggestion three, please change that setting to be able to turn the LED light off!

- And, Amazon Alexa built in, of course (a few words on that later in this review)

- The Power Extender Kit (PEK) has been completely restyled with bigger terminals, larger buttons to clamp the wires and a handy magnet on back so it can stick to the inside of your HVAC main unit. Thoughtful.

- Back trim panel has been redesigned – the use of this trim plate is optional to cover screw holes or unpainted walls behind your old thermostat. The new design is rounder which some people may prefer but the larger advantage is that the hole in the back for the wires to pass through is much smaller, which means less air from inside your wall can rush through and affect the accuracy of the thermostat

- There is no way to save your settings when you upgrade from a previous model – this of course only affect users who are upgrading from the previous model but is a missed opportunity for the manufacturer. You should be able to save all of your settings to your online account so when you install the newer model it automatically recalls them. Instead, they do something unexpected … when you uninstall the old thermostat your account is automatically deleted and you no longer exist to them. You have to start from scratch to set up a whole new account. By the way I’m not talking about 2-3 personal preference settings, there must be at least 50 settings buried deep in the setup menus!

- New model is not listed yet at registration page – this is not an issue or a problem, remember I looked at an advance unit several weeks before it was announced to the public. So when I had to set up a new account the latest model was not listed as one of my options. Hint: I said that I have an ecobee 3 and it accepted that.

ALEXA/ECHO FEATURES

Okay, let’s talk about the most exciting new feature … it has a built-in Amazon Alexa Voice Service. In theory that means if you don’t own an Echo, you do now, and if you already own one or more Echo’s it adds another one (which is essentially similar to the Echo Dot). It has built in far-field voice recognition microphones and (like other Echo devices) theoretically only the closest Echo will respond to your voice. I say in theory because the Alexa portion of the thermostat is very slow to wake up. It turns out my thermostat is located almost exactly midway between my upstairs Dot and my downstairs Dot and even if I am standing with my face a foot away from the thermostat it takes so long to realize I’m talking to it that either the upstairs Dot or the downstairs Dot respond first. Sometimes BOTH respond so I have Alexa jabbering at me from all over the house. Then when it finally wakes up and goes “huh?” (it doesn’t really do that) now I have THREE Alexa voices talking to me. What's really weird is that while my two Alexas are saying one thing, the one inside my thermostat is saying something totally different. Obviously this isn’t ideal and I’ll report back once the manufacturer gets a chance to work on this for their final version.

One more thing about Alexa/Echo integration … so far it hasn’t been working out so well and apparently that’s not new (there are way too many unhappy users commenting about controlling the previous models with Alexa). Not to be one-sided but it works 100% of the time for me with Siri, but most of the time Alexa won’t/can’t acknowledge that I even have an ecobee device connected let alone control it.

BOTTOM LINE

If you don’t yet have a smart thermostat this new model is the one to get for dozens of good reasons (besides being Alexa/Echo enabled). It smarter and does almost everything I could ever want a thermostat to do. My only downside with smart thermostats is related to my particular climate which is not like most places that have winter settings and summer setting where you can let the thermostat run on a schedule most of the time. Where I live there are two transitional seasons in which we open the windows and doors part of the day and then turn on the heat or A/C the rest of the day. I would love a simple system on/off button on the main unit and on the app that lets me do that and I would really like a system that has window/door sensors that automatically turn the HVAC off whenever a window or door is opened for ventilation.

If you do already have a previous model should you replace it with the newest model? Well, personally I think the improvements are all positive and if I didn’t already own an Alexa Echo Dot I would definitely do it. Otherwise, the improvements aren’t a quantum leap in features or technology so I would say it is a personal decision if you want to be at the cutting edge with your home gadgets.

Overall I have a high opinion of the newly improved model and none of the quibbles I mentioned should count against that until the final production models hit the mainstream and any bugs are worked out. So for now my score is high based on my own personal user satisfaction.
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964 people found this helpful
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on May 20, 2017
This is my first smart thermostat. I've been waiting for a long time for something truly compelling to hit the market. I like the aesthetic of the Nest, but it lacked features. I especially wanted something that could account for temperatures in the back room upstairs which tends to get hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I have SmartThings, but didn't want to rely on a cloud service for controlling my thermostat, too unreliable. I'm also a regular user of Echo/Alexa, so this seemed like the best option.

As far as thermostats go, it is outstanding. It has all the capabilities you could possibly want. Like you would expect, you can program modes (home, away, sleep), schedules (what time to trigger modes), and remote access using the app. It also seamlessly integrates with my other automation systems like SmartThings and IFTT. You can also fine tune lots of little aspects, like the ability to run the fan for so many minutes every hour or how long to run the fan after the AC turns off to help circulate air.

The remote sensor is also very useful. You can set the main temp on the thermostat to be the average of all the sensors combined. This allows the thermostat to base it's heating and cooling cycles on all the rooms. I plan on adding a Keen Smart Vent to one of the rooms that gets too hot, but now the thermostat will never over heat or under cool that room.

It's not perfect though. These are the reasons I took away 1 star. Hoping they can fix some of these things in the future.
- Presence sensors aren't very effective. You need to have one in every room to use this feature. It seems to lose track of you when you're sleeping.
- Far field microphones aren't as good as the Echo's. It hears you no problem if it's quiet, but seems like you need to speak loudly if there is any noise in the room. Echo is much better at hearing you through ambient noise. I am sometimes standing right next to it and it misses the wake word.
- It seems strange that when I finished the intial setup and tried to adjust the temp via Alexa, she had no idea what I was talking about. Out of the box, Alexa didn't know it was a thermostat. Beyond the initial guided setup process on the thermostat, there was additional setup needed in order for Alexa to be able to find the thermostat on the Alexa app. This setup wasn't referenced anywhere in the manual or the guided setup. Seems silly that a thermostat with voice control doesn't know it's a thermostat from the get go.
- Alexa isn't fully functional. She is missing certain capabilities. You can't change her name on the thermostat, she must be called Alexa. You can't play some 3rd party music apps like Pandora or Spotify, but most seem to work. You can't receive or send messages. You can do all of these things on the Echo.
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on December 17, 2017
I purchased two of these to replace my Nest 2nd Generation and 3rd generation (I have upstairs and downstairs units). The original reason for the purchase was because nest did not offer a sensor and because of the open layout of my downstairs to my upstairs. Because of this the bedroom temperatures would be drastically different in the hallway than in the bedrooms. After one night with the ecobee and putting the sensor in the bedroom my daughters were able to tell a huge difference, the Ecobee kept their rooms at a 70 degree temp all night!

Another great feature, that I did not even think I would use, is the Alexa portion of the thermostat. I can be downstairs and tell alexa to change the upstairs temperature to whatever I decide. No walking upstairs, no getting out my phone and changing it on the app, just tell Alexa what I want it to be. My daughters also enjoy the built in speakers that allow them to play music upstairs, yesterday they used it to play christmas music while decorating the house.

For those of you trying to decide which Smart Thermostat to get, there is no question that the Ecobee4 exceeds what Nest has to offer today. More features at the same price? What is there to question? Both are easy to install, both interfaces are easy to use, the Ecobee4 just has more to offer!
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on May 29, 2018
I, as I'm sure many folks do, went back and forth over purchasing an Ecobee or a Nest. 12 months later, I'm still not sure I made the right choice.

The remote sensors were a major tipping point in my decision, however, you have to know what you are getting into. The sensors are useful, true, but take some getting used to figuring out how they work and effect the function of the thermostat. Your thermostat will treat the average of all active sensors as the overall temperature that it will react to. You can set whether each sensor participates in a particular 'comfort setting' / schedule and will be included in the average. Of course the sensors only contribute to the average when they have recently detected motion, or when none of them show 'occupied'.

This sounds good, but in effect it means number of sensors and their placement become very important. The fewer sensors, the more a single sensor can swing the 'average'. I quickly found I needed more sensors to have any sort of balance and effective heating / cooling in the house. So, if comparing the price of this thermostat with others, keep in mind you will probably end up buying more sensors, which are frankly, overpriced. Only available in 2 packs, that average $60 or more, when the sensors should really be $20 each at most. And regardless of seasonal promotions that regularly offer the thermostats on sale, I've yet to see extra sensors offered on sale.

I expected the thermostat to be smarter, really. Once sensors were set up, smart home / away, geofencing, etc etc. I thought it would be set it and forget it. But ended up spending the first few months bumping temperature settings up or down, adjusting schedules, tweaking settings. So right away was wondering if I should have gotten the Nest instead, since it's whole thing is that it gets trained by those changes, and figures out your comfort settings for you. Instead, we were constantly making those tweaks and corrections, and the thermostat was learning nothing.

I was excited about the usage reports, the data and feedback on our usage and savings. So, after installing the thermostat on June 2, 2017. I was thoroughly disappointed to find that after 30 days, I had no data. Then to realize it required a complete 'Calendar' month of usage to get any data. So all my June usage was tossed, I had to wait through July, and then another week or two into August before any reports showed up. After all that wait, I found the reports were basically useless fluff that just stated our usage vs. if we had the thermostat set at a different temperature. Yes, we saved energy vs if we'd had the AC cranked up all the time. Okay thanks.

The data was also skewed, as within the first month or so of ownership I realized that the outside temperature reading on the thermostat (taken from internet weather reporting) was wayyyyy off. Tracking it for a bit, I realized that it was lagging about 3 hours behind. So of course any 'learning' the thermostat was doing about inside temp and heat pump usage vs the outside temp was all wrong. Contacting support, they just suggested I change weather stations, even though the entire list of 10 local stations they sent me showed temperatures that were 3 hours off. Had this problem come and go for some months, pretty sure I ended up on a weather station that's about 15 miles away, not optimal, but apparently more stable than the closer ones. I haven't noticed problems in a while, though I stopped paying much attention to the data reports after realizing their relative uselessness. So maybe their weather service got their act together, maybe not.

But, the biggest problem came at 11 months in, when I walked by my thermostat one evening and noticed the 'Setup' screen was showing. After 11 months of tweaking settings and schedules, figuring out heat pump compressor / emergency heat limits and thresholds over the winter when it kept swinging between really cold house and overly using the expensive resistant heating element... all of my settings were gone. Are gone I should say.
After weeks and weeks of long silences from support, tickets being closed and re-opened, 'our team is looking into it', etc. Not surprisingly the final answer was 'there's nothing in our logs to indicate what happened'. No answer, no reassurance that this sort of thing might not just happen again at any time. No backups of settings, etc.

So, 12 months later I'm back to square one. No sensors, no custom settings, no heat pump thresholds tweaked to perfection, nothing. Just an expensive thermostat that's not very smart, and a handful of overpriced sensors that don't want to re-associate it with it. Awesome.

Not having used the Nest, I can't say for sure that it's better, I can only say the Ecobee has been less that awesome. When I get it all set back up I will definitely be writing down all the settings as I go, now that I know they can be lost completely at any time. Despite having an online account and the company surely collecting data from all our thermostats all the time for their own use, none of that data is really of any use to the customer when we need it.

Also, I didn't buy the Ecobee for Alexa. We used it some initially, found it more amusing than useful, but in the end Google Home won our hearts and we've since filled our house with that particular assistant. So another knock against the Ecobee4 is that if you decide to disable Alexa from listening to you all the time, your thermostat then has a permanent red glowing bar across the top of it. Supposedly a better solution is being worked on, but has never materialized.

I'm still hoping that the Ecobee will eventually redeem itself when I get further into my smart home / home automation adventure. I haven't checked recently, but at the time of purchase, the Ecobee had a much more robust API open to users, allowing the more robust smart home hub / controllers like openHab to get data from the sensors and thermostat, and possibly trigger various actions on the thermostat. If this ends up working as I hope, it may all be worth it. Of course, if I just end up using it as a networked thermostat that's controlled by a smart controller based on various other (lower priced) sensors throughout the house, well, there's probably cheaper thermostats that allow that sort of external triggering. But hey, they probably don't look as nice!
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on April 22, 2018
Ordered a 2-pack, one works just fine. But one fails to recover whenever WIFI signal is lost. I often find it "disconnected" OFF!!!... I have to physically pull it off the wall, and plug it back it, wait 5 minutes for it to reboot before my heat comes back on.

How do I get a replacement? Its only been 6 months!

Thanks
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on May 15, 2017
Just installed the EcoBee4. It was easy to install and setup and works very well. My only complaint is that the Alexa service built in doesn't integrate with other Echo devices in my home. If I give Alexa a command, the nearest "real" Echo responds as it should but the Ecobee4 responds as well. This makes for multiple answers and a race condition about which device starts streaming music first. It's very annoying to the point that until it's fixed I'm going to have to disable Alexa, which was the whole reason I bought it in the first place.
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on November 24, 2017
I was really looking forward to this product, and was excited to receive it after reading reviews and comparisons to our current Nest 2nd generation. I went to hook it up, but it would not power on. No problem, I thought.. a quick call to technical support (as I had done with Nest) should get it going. I was instructed to plug in a wire that my nest didn't use. When that didn't work, I called back and got what I would almost have to say is the rudest customer service rep I have dealt with in at least a year. It wasn't enough that they had me crawl into the attic to verify the wire was connected to both sides, but she actually argued with me that it must be broken and asked me to go out and buy a multimeter to test it. After several tries to explain to her it was connected properly, I finally decided to unhook the Ecobee and hook my nest back up. Guess what? It worked perfectly. I did finally go get a multimeter, to find that the wires they were insisting were bad did in-fact carry the 24v current. A few hours after boxing it all back up and processing the return from Amazon, I got a email from support telling me they had marked my issue as solved, so I responded telling them it was not solved and I was returning the item. I then got a reply back from the customer service telling me that my wire was damaged and arguing that the problem was not the thermostat and telling me I should not have rated that I was unsatisfied.

I would have probably just replaced the defective one, except their customer service was appalling and rude and killed the entire experience for me.
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on January 6, 2018
Worst support on the planet .3 hours and 6 minutes on hold waiting for tech support ,no one ever answered.After 2 hours and 6 minutes got a voicemail asking me to leave a message. Was on hold 1 hour before that and was disconnected,Most would have given up. My phone started dying, I plugged it into charger. Won’t connect to Alexa and sensors always say occupied regardless if room is occupied or not. Buy a Nest.NOTHING could be worse than this level of customer care. Don't believe me? Before you buy try calling Tech Support, If your on hold less than 2 hours I say go ahead and risk buying it....... if you like to gamble.
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on November 11, 2017
Just got this installed today, and so far so good. Our old thermostat had five wires running to it, but a blue wire was not used for the "C" connection, but rather as "W2" due to our HVAC system being two-stage for heat. As such we needed to use the included "PEK" device for power, which worked fine after we figured out which connection on the HVAC control board was for "C" (we had to look up the board online to get a schematic, as the "C" connection label was obscured by a transistor on the board).

The ecobee iOS app was a great resource for installation (with videos)...much easier than following the printed booklet.

We lived with our old thermostat for over a decade, so looking forward to the benefits of this new smart appliance.
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on January 17, 2018
Beware: device does not control variable speed fan. also, remote sensor did not read right temperature and there is no way to calibrate. tried to call support, waited on hold, dont have time for "higher than average call volume" does anyone believe that? so a brand new product showed up broken, returned and went back to my "dum"b thermostat. lastly, while not a normal request...there is no way to disable the power saving features. i do not care about energy savings at all...i just want comfort and reporting. most of the reports are not available from the app, only online. and the reports that are available online, they are delayed by an hour.
8 people found this helpful
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