When the world-class smart home experts at ecobee revealed that a brand new device in the company’s Smart Thermostat lineup was on the way dubbed the ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium and that units were available for review, it wasn’t an opportunity to be missed. The company has been at or near the top of the market segment almost since its inception in 2007.
Moreover, the new devices promised to be the best ever. Not only in terms of design and build quality but also in terms of features.
Now, it is worth pointing out from the start that the unit I received was the finished product, now shipping to customers. But I installed and integrated it into my smart home using a beta test version of the app. In fact, that’s a not-insignificant part of why this thermostat earned our highest marks. It didn’t fail to impress at any point. And all features worked exactly as I expected or better in spite of the use of a test version of the app.
But that’s not saying much without diving into what sets this thermostat apart from others in the category. So let’s dig in and see just how the ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium performed under review.
ecobee spared no expense on the Smart Thermostat Premium hardware
Typically, the hardware segment of any review I’m writing starts with an explanation of materials and build quality. But the ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium sent to me for review requires something of a different approach. And that’s not least of all because of all of the additional hardware and features bundled with this product.
To begin with, Smart Thermostat Premium includes a power extender and adapter for homes that need one. That’s something not included with most competing devices. For example, Nest requires a similar unit in some homes but it’s sold separately.
Tying back into that, ecobee includes a secondary sensor for placement in a second room. That lets the thermostat take note of areas where temperature changes are more likely. Summarily, allowing the thermostat to better control the temperature for a happy medium between the areas. And making the bedroom where the sensor was installed much more comfortable than with a traditional thermostat. And that can be wall-mounted with the included bracket or installed on a surface with the cone mount.
Ecobee built additional hardware right into the main unit as well. Including a reasonably-loud speaker, sensors for volatile organic compound and carbon dioxide measuring, and easy-to-use clips for the thermostat wiring.
Ecobee built the hardware itself mostly from plastics but with some metal in the frame and, of course, glass for the screen. All of the components here, even the polycarbonates, feel premium in hand. They also look premium on the wall, with the easy-to-install wall plate adding a white accent tone to the darker hues in the main unit.
Once installed, the unit doesn’t wiggle too much either. In fact, it’s similar to a standard thermostat — installed properly — in that regard. But with a buttery smooth interface and responsive touchscreen for deeper control via taps and swipes.
Installation was an undeniably great experience with the ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
Installing the ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium for my hands-on preview and review was unbelievably easy. However, it did take quite some time since I’ve never installed a thermostat before and the steps provided are explained in the most minute detail. In total, it took me approximately 30-minutes to install the gadget, including the time taken to remove the old one.
The time involved was not a bad thing, though. As noted, that came down mostly to the detail of the in-app installation instructions. Which even helped me to troubleshoot the one error I encountered while installing this ecobee device. Namely, during installation, one of my wires was not installed in the proper place because of how the wiring had been done on my previous thermostat. Ecobee’s app caught the error and helped me to fix it.
So, among the many other smart home systems that require wiring that I’ve used or tested, it’s fair to say that this one was the easiest and not by a small margin.
As with the instructions, ecobee included all of the necessary hardware and not just the drywall anchors, either. Ecobee packs small stickers into the box too. And it labels those stickers to be wrapped around wires before unplugging them from the old thermostat. Namely, to mark those wires’ position in the system.
Ecobee included a power extender in the box at no extra charge too. Making this one of the most cost-effective smart thermostats for just about any smart home installation. In addition to the easiest that I’ve encountered.
Software and integration are great with this system, too
In terms of ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium software, there’s quite a lot that could be discussed in a review. But, perhaps surprisingly, it would all be positive despite having received the device with test-level software before it launched. In fact, this thermostat worked exactly how I’d have expected a final product with final software to work. Not at all like it was still using pre-launch test software or firmware.
But, among the most interesting of the software inclusions on this particular device — setting aside the VOC and CO2 indicators for a moment — is its wide compatibility. In fact, that alone makes this a five-star product. Even without consideration for the fact that it worked so well pre-launch.
Not only did ecobee work to ensure this product was compatible with Google Home and Assistant. And that’s how I used it in my smart home setup. Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium also integrates cleanly with an Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, or a standalone smart home ecosystem. With direct built-in support for Alexa and Siri.
Moreover, it integrates with Spotify playlists, for those who subscribe to the music streaming service. And it also integrates with IFTTT and other automation systems as a result.
All while the software itself is as easy and intuitive to use as the setup guide. Ecobee effectively leaves no guesswork at all. There’s even a short on-device tutorial — at the thermostat itself — after the initial installation and app setup. And there were no hangups or laggy experiences during my review either.
Special features make this already brilliant smart home thermostat even better
Now, as noted above, one of the best on-device features of the ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium, during my review, was the indoor air quality measurements. That not only tracked volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as those found in plastics, cleaners, and other products. It did so in near-real-time.
That way, while I was cleaning the home, for instance, I was able to see the quality drop. And although the ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium will never activate your HVAC system in response to low air quality, seeing that it had dropped meant that I could manually turn on the fan to run the air through a filter. It also measures carbon dioxide.
All are visible at a glance, with active alerts. The company could also potentially add some automation to that part of the system later on via an update. That’s not guaranteed, by any stretch of the imagination. But it is something that could probably be accomplished.
Additionally, the system’s home screen doesn’t just show the temperature and available adjustments. It also shows the time and the current humidity. With current weather and a deeper forecast available at a touch, I was never in doubt about what the day was going to be like. All without the need to pull out my phone at all in the morning.
Moreover, the built-in speaker was better than just acceptable and far better than expected given this device’s size. It additionally integrates directly into the rest of my smart home ecosystem. So I was able to play music on my smart speakers in the kitchen and in my bathroom. And then to have the audio extended into the hallway as well.
All of that means that there is a veritable wealth of extra features with this thermostat. This system will even remind you when it’s time to change the air filters, with alerts when the system is running for unexpected periods. Just like many of its top competitors. And that’s all to look past a few other features too. Such as money-saving built into the system. For instance, it allowed for inputting my “utility provider” for better management of on/off times and away or home detection. Both of which helped the system run more optimally for when I was home and away.
And all of that works as well or is better than expected. Even given the premium price bracket.
Of course, that’s also setting aside the above-mentioned included room sensor. Which itself performs a similar set of functions in terms of taking measurements. That allows more granular automation of temperature keeping. For instance, I placed the sensor in my bedroom. And, placed there, it helped that room to stay more comfortable than might have been the case if I had only used a set of thermostat sensors in the hallway.
Should you buy ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium?
Now, it’s fair to say that there are some missing features with ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium. Not least among those is the fact that it doesn’t turn HVAC fans on automatically when air quality is low. Despite that dedicated standalone air monitors more often than not do feature that functionality.
Installation can take quite some time too, as I experienced during my review of ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium. Although that mostly comes down to just how in-depth the in-app instructions are. So it isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you happen to have a lot of experience installing thermostats already. At which point it could become incredibly annoying.
In every other regard, this is arguably going to be the best smart home thermostat money can buy. At least for the time being. Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium not only accomplishes delivery of a similar set of features to its primary competitors. It accomplishes that with gusto. Bringing simplicity and ease of use with a wealth of added features.