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Most smart thermostats, including the Ecobee 3, can only connect to external smart assistant through other devices like Apple’s HomeKit and the Amazon Echo.
The Ecobee4 is different: it’s the first smart thermostat to integrate Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and Alexa’s intelligence directly into it.
As a result, the Ecobee4 with Alexa is not limited to just adjusting the temperature; it can also do anything that other Alexa-enabled devices can do, including access to all Alexa skills.
The Ecobee 4 smart thermostat combines the Ecobee 3 and Amazon’s Echo smart speaker system into one slick-looking device, saving you time and simplifying your smart home setup.
• Compatible with most HVAC systems.
• Built-in Amazon Alexa voice assistant.
• Easy to use.
• Plenty of smart integrations.
• Bright and responsive display
Expensive, if you don’t need or want the Echo/Alexa integration.
The speaker could be better
Basically, the Ecobee4 is a smart thermostat plus an Amazon Echo, in one device.
Compared with the Ecobee3, the built-in voice assistant is the only real improvement.
If you have yet to buy an Echo smart speaker, then the Ecobee4 will save you money and simplify integration. Spend $249 on the Ecobee4 and forget about the Echo.
If you are still not sure it’s what you need (see the full Ecobee4 review below first), read our smart WiFi thermostat roundup for more options.
Ecobee 3 vs Ecobee 4
There is plenty that the Ecobee 3 and 4 have in common.
They both come with an external sensor that you can place in different parts of your home to eliminate hot and cold spots.
They are both also compatible with various smart devices and systems including Apple HomeKit, Wink, Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT.
They both have the same 3.5-inch LCD screen, remote control capability, and smart energy optimization.
They also measure roughly the same in size with the Ecobee 4 being just slightly bigger. But the shape and design are similar in both versions.
The most significant upgrade in the Ecobee 4 is the integration of Alexa into the thermostat.
To support the voice assistant feature, Ecobee added an indicator light at the top, a rear speaker, microphones with far-field voice recognition and the ability to remotely control Alexa from the Ecobee app.
Apart from the built-in voice assistant, Ecobee 4 is essentially Ecobee 3.
If you already have an Ecobee 3, there is no need to upgrade. Remember that you can also control Ecobee 3 using Alexa using an Echo Speaker or the new Echo Show.
If you are buying an Ecobee smart thermostat for the first time, however, the Ecobee 4 is a good buy.
HVAC System Compatibility
First things first, head over to Ecobee’s compatibility page at before you even buy the thermostat.
It will take you through the process of checking the wires on your old thermostat. Depending on the number and type of wires you have, you’ll be able to tell whether your HVAC system is compatible with Ecobee 4.
One of the most important wires you need to have is a C wire. This is a low voltage wire that delivers constant voltage to the smart thermostat.
Most modern HVAC systems have it. If yours doesn’t have one, use a Power Extender Kit (PEK) in its place. There is a PEK included with every Ecobee4 thermostat sold.
Both Ecobee 3 and 4 work perfectly well with many different kinds of systems including heat pumps systems, 2-stage heating and 2-stage cooling systems, boiler systems, oil systems and forced air systems. So chances are that you can safely install Ecobee 4 without any compatibility issues.
The only exception is high voltage systems. Most smart thermostats are not compatible with such systems. A high voltage system will usually have the warning ‘High Voltage’ and will be labeled with the voltage rating 110V, 120V or 240V.
The ability to connect external sensors has always been the unique selling point of Ecobee smart thermostats.
Most smart thermostats have an internal temperature sensor that ensures the thermostat maintains the optimal temperature. So if you set the temperature at 72 degrees, the thermostat continually makes small automatic adjustments to maintain that comfort level.
But this doesn’t always work out correctly. Since the thermostat’s sensor is reading temperature at only one point in the house, some areas may be misrepresented. This creates uncomfortable hot and cold spots around the house.
The Ecobee 3 introduced an external sensor that you can place in a different part of the house to guide the thermostat in setting the comfort level in a better way. The Ecobee 4 too comes with the external sensor.
For larger homes, you can buy extra sensors separately and place them at different points. The thermostat can get a more accurate temperature reading of the entire house, thus eliminating uneven hot and cold spots.
Additionally, the external sensors can also detect movement, which enhances the thermostat’s smart temperature control feature. If the sensor detects the room is empty, the thermostat will focus on that room less and spend more energy in the occupied rooms. This can be a big energy saver.
A pair of external sensors costs $79. Note that you get one free when you buy an Ecobee 4, but you can buy extra ones for better comfort control throughout the house.
You can pair up to 32 sensors with a single thermostat. And you don’t have to worry about battery power. Each sensor has enough power to last four years.
Easy Remote Control
The Ecobee app makes it easy to control your thermostat even when you are away from home. Whether you are on the job or vacation, you can see what’s going on with your heating and cooling and change the settings if you want.
There are three ways to remotely control the thermostat: via the Ecobee smartphone app, via the web app and the Apple Watch app.
The Smartphone app is the easiest to use. You can quickly change the temperature and configure other comfort settings.
Everything you can do on the thermostat panel you can do on the app. You can even switch Alexa to privacy mode. This turns off the listening microphone.
The Apple Watch app offers fewer settings, but you can still change temperature and other essential comfort configurations.
The web app offers the most comprehensive remote control capabilities. In addition to accessing all thermostat settings, you can also view Home IQ, a collection of energy reports from the thermostat.
When you configure the thermostat during installation, you can set a custom schedule for when you are home and when you go off to work. The thermostat will automatically set your preferred comfort level, based on that schedule.
So what happens when you call in sick or when you come home three hours late? Do you have to keep changing the thermostat settings?
The sensors can tell when you are home during your usual ‘Away’ schedule and when you are away from your usual ‘Home’ schedule. They then adjust comfort accordingly without requiring you to do anything.
The main thermostat and the external sensors have motion detection sensors embedded in them. These are used to determine whether there is someone in a room or not. They can also tell when you are home and when you are away.
If you own a pet, his/her movement can trigger some smart thermostats to switch from ‘Away’ to ‘Home’ comfort settings, needlessly wasting energy.
Thankfully, the sensors in the Ecobee 4 are smart enough to tell the difference between humans and pets.
You can also keep an eye on the thermostat through the smartphone app or web app.
System Protection via Alerts and Reminders
The Ecobee 4 is always on the lookout for anything out of order such as overheating or unusual temperature fluctuations. It will send you an alert in case it senses something is wrong.
You can also get reminders for filter changes, and other maintenance runs through the smartphone app, Apple watch app or web portal.
Ecobee has a free feature called Home IQ, only accessible via the web portal.
It’s an energy audit that provides you with data about your heating and cooling energy usage and tells you how much energy you have saved, each month.
Compatible with smart home systems
As with the Ecobee 3, the Ecobee 4 is compatible with a broad range of smart home devices and systems including IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, Apple HomeKit, and Wink.
You no longer have to integrate with Amazon Echo, since the Ecobee 4 is basically an Echo as well as a thermostat.
- Frost Prevention – useful for homes with dehumidifiers. The thermostat prevents frosting on the windows when it’s cold outside.
- Fan dissipation – another intelligent feature that improves performance while reducing how much energy you use.
- AC dehumidification – if you don’t have a dehumidifier, the Ecobee4 can use the AC to lower humidity.
- Free cooling – another energy-saving feature that uses cool outdoor air instead of your AC to maintain indoor comfort. It kicks in when the outside has cooled down such as during summer evenings.
- Multistage heating and cooling optimization – this smart staging-control mechanism reduces energy expenditure in multistage HVAC systems.
- Smart recovery – this feature utilizes local weather reports to reduce your HVAC system runtime while still making sure your home is comfortable when you arrive.
If you are short on time, you could call a pro to install the Ecobee4 for you.
But, honestly, you can do it yourself if you have an hour or two to spare.
First, make sure you everything that is supposed to be in the box is there.
Check for the thermostat itself, a single external sensor, a Power Extender Kit, a back plate, a trim plate, screws and drywall plugs, wire labels and an installation guide.
You will also need a drill, flathead screwdriver, and Philips screwdriver. You may also need a pencil, hammer and wire stripper.
Use the installation guide to remove the old thermostat and install the new one properly.
If you don’t have a C wire, the installation will take more time since you have to install the PEK.
Ecobee provides installation videos on its website that can help.
Network Connectivity and Alexa Setup
When you have successfully connected all the wires and screwed everything in tightly, your thermostat should light up with a welcome screen. The Ecobee 4 screen will guide you on how to connect to WiFi (necessary for remote control and weather report access) and set up Alexa.
If you run into trouble, check the troubleshooting section of the installation guide or contact customer support.
The thermostat’s home screen shows a snapshot of the most important information and comfort settings.
That big number you see at the center is the current temperature. Use the sliding menu on the left to increase or decrease temperature.
Above the temperature reading there is a smaller number showing humidity level, and above that, there is an icon indicating the current system mode.
At the bottom, there are buttons for accessing the main menu, local weather forecast, quick changes and volume control.
- Compatible with most HVAC systems.
- Built-in voice assistant.
- Easy to use.
- Plenty of smart integrations.
- Bright and responsive display.
- Quite expensive especially if you don’t care much for the Alexa integration.
- The speaker needs some improvement.
- Dimensions: 4.29 inches by 4.29 inches. The sensor measures 1.7 inches by 1.7 inches.
- 3.5-inch LCD touch display.
- Sensors: humidity, proximity, occupancy, temperature.
- Uses WiFi for connectivity.
- C wire or PEK required.
- 3-year warranty.
Nest is no longer the king of smart thermostats.
The Ecobee 4 cements Ecobee’s lead in the industry by adding Alexa integration and the same powerful features that made Ecobee 3 a favorite.