ecoBee3 Lite Smart Thermostat
Slick smart thermostat with high level of customization
RubberCheese Summary – I bought this and used it for around 4 months before writing this review. I recommend it as my favourite all-around smart thermostat.
Amazon product link: (currently disabled)
I bought this thermostat locally for a crazy clearance price and wrote this review 4 months after installation. My house has a standard efficiency gas furnace and AC unit from the 1980s. I previously had a Honeywell Lyric T5, but I bought this after getting fed up with the constant wifi disconnects with the Honeywell. Swapping thermostats was straightforward and took about 10 minutes.
After installation, the ecoBee prompts you to select your wireless network and enter the password.
I then installed the ecoBee app and opened a free account, and associated my thermostat with the account.
THE APP – It is the primary way I make adjustments to the thermostat and it offers almost all functionality of the base unit. The app shows outside weather, current inside temperature and humidity and allows good adjustment and scheduling as listed below:
HEAT/COOL – allows you to select between OFF, heat, cool, or heat/cool. The selected setting icon is displayed on the main page.
THERMOSTAT DIAL – at the right of the app is an old-school thermostat control. Tap or drag the dial to the setting you want to adjust the set point. Once you’ve made a change from the schedule, the ecoBee can be set to ask you how long to hold for (2 hours, 4 hours, until next scheduled time, or until you change it), or you can set the thermostat to default to whichever you prefer. If the schedule has been overridden, there is a cancel box allowing you to revert back to the schedule.
SCHEDULE – allows you to set schedule. There are some limitations (maximum of 3 settings – home, away, and sleep). Each setting allows you to customize heating temperature, cooling temperature, and fan mode when heating or cooling. If you have room sensors, you can also specify which sensors to optimize to. I’d like the ability to create additional setting types to easily and automatically turn on the fan for a portion of the day (i.e. during shower time if your house doesn’t have bathroom fans) without heating or cooling. There are ways to get around this, but it would be nice to simply make an additional setting type.
QUICK CHANGES – Allows you to temporarily override the schedule setting. It also allows you to manually select fan mode – can be set to auto (on when heating/cooling) or always ON. Finally, this dialogue box shows what is running now.
WEATHER – Displays current outside temperature and the forecast for the next 4 days.
GEOFENCING – This thermostat supports geofencing which automatically changes set point based on the location of your mobile device(s) from the home. Enabling this setting allows you to force schedule changes based on your location, but doesn’t otherwise impact your pre-defined schedules. Although I like the idea of geofencing, it doesn’t work well if your “Home” setpoints are far different from your “Away” setpoint. For example, during the winter, I like our house at 72°F while we’re home but 65°F while we’re at work – regardless of how well I set my geofence, it takes me far less time to drive home than it does for the furnace to heat the house. There is no cap on the radius you select, so you could use this as an automatic way to enable ‘away’ mode any time you go on a trip far from the city you live in.
ALERTS – This allows you to cause the app to notify you if your house gets too cold, too warm, too humid, or too dry. I have my alert set a few degrees cooler than my coldest set point… if my thermostat ever sees a temperature this low, it means that the furnace is not working and gives me an opportunity to correct it before things start to freeze.
REMINDERS – You can program the app to remind you to change furnace filter (based on calendar days/months or number of hours of runtime), schedule service (based on calendar months), or change UV light (based on calendar days/months or number of hours of runtime). Reminders are emailed to you.
CONNECTIVITY – The app can be used within your Wifi network, or anywhere that you have data access. The app connects to my thermostat quickly and reliably. Keep in mind that if your phone updates the app, you MAY need to re-enter your password – so make sure you keep that handy when on vacation if you want access to your thermostat.
ADDITIONAL FEATURES ON BASE UNIT – The base unit provides essentially the same adjustment as the app but in a less user friendly fashion. Additionally, some settings can be changed only from the base including:
- Display settings (12h vs 24h clocks, Celsius vs. Fahrenheit, thermostat name)
- Allowable heating/cooling temperatures (i.e. prevent the ability to overheat/overcool)
- Select default hold action (2 hours / 4 hours / until next schedule / until change / prompt at time of change)
- Smart recovery (thermostat learns how long it takes to heat/cool, allowing it to begin early to get your home to desired temperature when the schedule kicks in)
- Heating/cooling deltas – allows you to set how much variability in temperature you’ll allow. Small delta settings mean more controlled temperature but requires more furnace or AC compressor cycles. I prefer less cycling so I allow a greater delta.
- Minimum cycle times – Allows you to require the furnace or AC to run for a minimum amount of time, or stay off for a minimum cool-off time.
Ecobee sells room sensors to detect temperature and occupancy in the room the sensor is installed. When being used, the thermostat uses average temperature across occupied rooms. While this is a cool feature, I don’t see the value since we can easily adjust temperature on our phones if we are uncomfortable. These sensors currently sell for $90cad for a two-pack.
POWER EXTENDER KIT (PEK)
Each ecoBee comes with an extender kit to allow you to use your ecoBee without a ‘C’ wire. Unlike Honeywell’s solution, using an ecoBee without a ‘C’ wire doesn’t prevent you from using the fan on its own (without also heating or cooling).
WHAT I LIKE
- Basic capabilities – handy to adjust temperatures remotely so that you can always come home to a comfortable house… when travelling, no worries about forgetting to dial back the thermostat before leaving since it can be dialed back from anywhere
- Improved access to settings – One of our bathrooms is lacking a fan. Before getting in the shower, it is easy to turn on the furnace fan to move air, preventing excess buildup
- Adjustable threshold settings – allows me to allow more temperature variation before AC compressor kicks in, reducing the number of times my equipment cycles
WHAT I DON’T LIKE
- I wish there was a way to add schedule types aside from the 3 available – home, away, and sleep
COMPARED TO MY PREVIOUS SMART THERMOSTAT (Honeywell Lyric T5) – The normal retail price on this ecoBee3 Lite is approximately twice the price of my old Lyric. With the ecoBee, you get more refined software that contributes to a more reliable connection. I really appreciate the extra options available with the ecoBee (such as adjustable threshold settings and individually customizable days of the week) which I was disappointed to not be able to customize with the Lyric. I think the ecoBee justifies the higher price, but honestly most would likely be happy with the Lyric.
WHAT’S MISSING? Although the Lite doesn’t include room sensors, it does support them. The primary difference with the Lite is that it doesn’t support some advanced equipment such as humidiers and ventilators that are supported by the normal ecoBee3 and ecoBee4. The ecoBee4 also adds built-in Amazon Alexa voice support.
OVERALL – This is a great thermostat for a good value. After owning a Lyric and playing with some friends Nest and Nest E, I believe this smart thermostat provides the best functionality for the price.