The ecobee4 is an exceptional smart thermostat that builds on ecobee's previous successes. It's the first thermostat we've tested that directly incorporates Amazon's Alexa service. This means you don't need a separate Amazon Echo device to get the benefits of voice control. The ecobee4's slick design is very attractive, and its remote sensors give it a couple advantages over the Nest Learning Thermostat, which doesn't include a remote sensor. In addition, the company includes solid customer support and a long three-year warranty.
Among smart thermostats, the ecobee4 has few equals. It holds up well against the Nest Learning Thermostat in every category we tested. Both units cost around $250, much higher than the average of $180, making them the most expensive smart thermostats we've tested, but the compelling features are worth it.
Starting with the ecobee3 in 2014, ecobee has used the same display for each of its thermostats. It has a slick square design you can navigate quickly. The ecobee4 added a microphone icon to the screen that lets you control the Alexa functions as well. One of our favorite things about ecobee’s thermostats is that the company’s mobile app looks identical to the on-unit controls, making it very intuitive and easy to use.
The ecobee4 works with smart home platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, SmartThings, Wink, IFTTT and others. In our test group, only the Nest Learning Thermostat is compatible with more smart home systems. During our tests, we connected the ecobee4 to an Amazon Echo Dot, Apple HomeKit and Wink, and we found that it functions well with all three. However, the ecobee mobile app is still the best way to control the thermostat, since some features, such as scheduling, are easier to use there than in a smart home system.
This smart thermostat is slightly easier to use than the ecobee3 lite, thanks to its voice control via built-in Amazon Alexa, which also helps make the ecobee4 as user-friendly as Nest. With this feature, you can tell Alexa to adjust the temperature without using the mobile app or the thermostat's screen. While built-in voice control is useful, you can get similar performance using an ecobee3 lite and an Amazon Echo Dot for about the same price.
In our tests, the installation process went smoothly. The ecobee mobile app has a walkthrough that is very easy to follow and includes useful video tutorials that show every step. If your home doesn’t have a C wire, which powers Wi-Fi and other essential features, installation can take a little longer because you also have to install the included Power Extender Kit. With the Power Extender Kit, you don’t have to completely rewire the thermostat hookups in your home to use the ecobee4.
We still think the Nest thermostat is easier to install than the ecobee4, but the gap between the two is very small indeed. The main difference comes down to the tools that Nest includes and ecobee doesn't.
ecobee has the most comprehensive customer support of the thermostat manufacturers we tested. The three-year warranty is the longest we've seen on a DIY-installed thermostat and is a full year longer than Nest's. You can contact ecobee via every support channel we looked for, including social media, phone, email and live chat. The ecobee website can also help you find a professional installer in your area.
Of the thermostats we tested, the ecobee4 is one of only three that has all the energy management features we looked for. It auto-schedules using ecobee's DataRhythm Technology, which analyzes your usage patterns, local weather conditions and humidity to build a schedule that fits your home's unique profile. Unlike the Nest thermostat, the ecobee4 doesn't fully automate scheduling, but setup isn't difficult and provides much of the same functionality.
This is the only thermostat we tested that comes with a remote sensor that monitors the motion and temperature in another room. This is a big advantage over our top pick, the Nest Learning Thermostat, which requires you to buy a remote sensor separately. It allows the ecobee4 to make more areas in your home comfortable, not just the thermostat’s immediate surroundings, which in many cases is a hallway. You can buy more sensors as well.
The main unit’s motion sensor and the remote sensor also allow the ecobee4 to detect when someone is home so it can react accordingly to create the most comfort or best energy savings. You can also set up geofencing to activate the thermostat based on your smartphone's location.
The ecobee4 supports four-stage heaters as well as two-stage cooling systems. This is typical for most of the thermostats we tested, and it works with most HVAC systems. Most HVAC systems only have a single stage, but it's nice to have the flexibility to upgrade to an efficient multistage system without replacing the ecobee4 too.
This ecobee model keeps your home within 0.9 degrees of your target temperature, which is an average temperature swing among thermostats. If your home has a ventilator, the ecobee4 can use air from outside to help cool the inside of your house in a process called free cooling. This can save on cooling costs during the summer, especially at night. The thermostat also uses fan dissipation to make your heater or air conditioner more efficient – it runs the fan a short while after the main system turns off so all the heated or cooled air gets used instead of just sitting in the duct work.