Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium is a cool evolution

The world of smart thermostats, once a hot space, has mostly cooled off in recent years. Nest thermostats, for example, have not moved the needle for a long time and have remained stable. Ecobee is trying to change that by introducing two new models: Smart Thermostat Enhanced and Smart Thermostat Premium. The end result is a predictable upgrade that now makes them the best thermostats on the market.

Overall, the two new models are very similar. The Enhanced model sets a solid baseline for all customers, while the Premium adds an extra layer of functionality and design for those who are truly enthusiastic about the latest smart home gadgets.

The Premium model being a little more interesting, I focused on this one for this review. If you don’t want some of its extras, like an indoor air quality sensor or a built-in speaker that can play music from Spotify (seriously), then you’ll be a strong candidate for the Enhanced model. entry level.

TL;DR

Advantages:

  • New design is sleeker than previous models
  • Easy to understand and navigate touch screen interface

The inconvenients:

  • A single color and/or material

Buy from Ecobee.

What’s new?

Ecobee Premium Smart Thermostat
The Ecobee Premium smart thermostat has a touch screen 50% larger than the last generation thermostat.
Tyler Hayes

The new and improved smart thermostat features an occupancy radar sensor, 50% larger screen, new touchscreen interface and better Wi-Fi connectivity. of a solid smart thermostat product with HomeKit support. This should probably be the default for most people right now.

If you want your thermostat to do more, there’s the Smart Thermostat Premium. It’s got all the upgraded features plus an indoor air quality sensor, smart speaker with your choice of Siri or Alexa assistant, and zinc around its exterior. The Premium model also includes an additional sensor in the box that can be used to monitor the temperature upstairs or in a remote part of the house.

Ecobee thermostats have always seemed OK, but now they look good. The larger touchscreen area makes the interface easier to use. I like the larger size, but also hope that future models won’t be larger than this. It’s borderline gigantic, especially when directly compared to the Nest Thermostat. The brushed metal look on the side of the Premium model adds a touch of sophistication over the plastic of the previous Ecobee model.

While Ecobee is only going to make one color in each model, the ones it has chosen are quite pretty and neutral. I like how Nest offers different colors to better match a home’s interior, though. Hopefully Ecobee will also follow this path and introduce these new thermostats in additional materials or colors at some point.

Thermostatic sensors

Ecobee Premium Smart Thermostat
The Premium model includes a sensor to detect indoor air quality.
Tyler Hayes

The main function of the Smart Thermostat Premium is the indoor air quality sensor. Ecobee says it’s a first of its kind. Seems like a good idea to include this type of sensor, but I wonder if most people will need it. I have never seen a message other than clean indoor air. One notable exception is that this new sensor could be especially useful during California fire season. For now, though, it’s clean air all around.

The indoor air quality sensor also estimates VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and CO2. They are combined on a sliding scale that uses color to make information available at a glance.

There’s a new radar sensor that the thermostat uses to wake up the display and detect occupancy. Ecobee says it can work from further away and even around corners. I noticed that the sensor did a good job of always illuminating the screen when approaching. I found occupancy detection to be more random, or at least much harder to test. Once, for example, with no one home, I opened the Ecobee app to see that it said “Busy” even though I had been gone for 20 minutes or more.

Personally, I tend to rely on the manual setting of my home thermostat instead of letting it guess. However, I went with the Eco Plus feature to test in order to get the full experience. This is where Ecobee will detect whether you’re home or away and adjust settings based on humidity or usage time based on peak electricity costs. I haven’t noticed much help, but if you live somewhere that has more extreme weather than Southern California and it changes quickly, you’ll probably appreciate letting the thermostat drive the temperature control .

The Eco Plus feature can also tap into many utility provider systems to change your thermostat based on hour of use costs. I noticed this adjusting regularly on the screen as the acceptable temperatures shifted. Overall, the option worked as advertised during my testing time.

The Premium model comes with a SmartSensor in the box, but this can be purchased and used with the Enhanced model. My house tends to have a temperature difference of 5 degrees or more between high and low in the summer, so I’ve come to believe that the additional sensor is essential for whole house monitoring.

Thermostat voice assistant

Ecobee Premium Smart Thermostat
Siri (or Alexa) can be used on the thermostat without the need for an additional smart speaker.
Tyler Hayes

It makes sense to have a voice assistant built right into the thermostat itself. Asking an assistant to set the thermostat to a specific temperature is surely a common use that people call for. Now, with the Premium model, no additional speakers are needed to do so.

You can use Alexa or Siri on the Premium Thermostat. I chose to use Siri because you can’t have both active at the same time. Siri works just like on your phone or rather on a HomePod mini. So while I like the idea of ​​including this feature, I also have four ways to summon Siri within 200 square feet. It seems too redundant.

Siri comes with all of its personal limitations and accuracy issues, but as far as I can tell, it did a competent job of hearing me talk to it.

A smart speaker on the wall

If you include a smart voice assistant that will talk to you, the product must have a built-in speaker. Ecobee goes further than I think and allows the speaker to be an AirPlay speaker or a Spotify Connect device. Even after extensive testing, it still sounds crazy that the Thermostat Premium can stream music like any other Wi-Fi speaker.

I’ve used it a few times as a novelty, but I don’t think it sounds good enough for playing music to use it regularly for that purpose. The speaker sounds hollow and strained at more than about a 30% volume level. Of course, its music functionality is a bonus feature that doesn’t make the product worse if you never activate it. Above all, I find it humorous.

Ecobee Premium Smart Thermostat
Ecobee’s new thermostats include a redesigned touchscreen interface.
Tyler Hayes

Should you buy an Ecobee Premium smart thermostat?

The hardest choice here will be deciding whether you should get the Enhanced or Premium model. Want to know more about indoor air quality or need another voice assistant? Either way, Ecobee’s excellent mobile app, HomeKit integration, and large touchscreen make these models an easy choice for an overall recommendation.

It’s mostly a matter of aesthetics, but I found the refreshed design played a big part in my switch from Nest to Ecobee. Once I did, I was blown away by the simplified, yet comprehensive, software the company offered. And, for me, I like the additional air quality sensor, an upstairs sensor in the box, and even the ability to use Siri on the wall as well.

Buy from Ecobee for $249.99.

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