Ecobee SmartThermostat review

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review

The Ecobee4 was one of the first best Alexa compatible devices that wasn't a smart speaker first. It was a clever idea, one that several other companies have adopted. 

However, that thermostat lacked some of Alexa's core functions, and the speaker wasn't all that great. Ecobee has fixed both issues with the Ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control — yes, I wish they simply called it the Ecobee5 — and the company added a few more features, too. As the top shelf pick of the best smart thermostats with Alexa built in, this Ecobee (5th gen) review explains why it's the one to get.

Editor's note: Ecobee has a newer model, the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium, which has a better design with a larger screen and a built-in air quality monitor. Check out our Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium review for more.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: Price and availability

The Ecobee SmartThermostat was first released in June 2019. Its price then — as it is now — is $249, though you can often find it on sale. 

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: Alexa features

Like most third-party Alexa devices, the Ecobee4 didn't support Alexa callingmessaging or Drop-In. The new Ecobee SmartThermostat, however, includes all those features. That's a welcome improvement, which will make this device more handy when you're calling the family to dinner.

Credit: Ecobee

(Image credit: Ecobee)

When you wake Alexa, a blue bar on the top of the Ecobee lights up, awaiting your command. Even with music playing through the Ecobee, I was able to speak in a conversational voice from 15 feet away and still have Alexa hear me and interpret my voice correctly.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review

However, I'm surprised that Ecobee hasn't developed a smart thermostat with Google Assistant built in. I get that it's not easy — Sonos took a year to figure this out — but I would hope that it's on Ecobee's road map.

Still, you can pair the Ecobee with Google Assistant (it's one of the best Google Home compatible devices). It's one of the best Homekit devices, and is IFTTT and SmartThings compatible, too.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: Siri compatibility

An update to the SmartThermostat in October 2021 added support for Apple's assistant Siri. However, it works a bit differently than with Alexa. Unlike Amazon's assistant, which is built into the thermostat itself, all Siri commands spoken to the thermostat have to get routed to a HomePod or a HomePod mini on the same network. 

Setup is fairly straightforward and should only take a few minutes, though you have to disable Alexa in order to use Siri. In my case, I had to detach and reattach the Ecobee from my wall to get things finally working, but this shouldn't be the case for most users. 

Once up and running, Siri responded promptly to my commands when I spoke to the thermostat. Cleverly, the LED bar at the top of the Ecobee, which lights up blue when using Alexa, instead turns a variety of colors similar to the top of the HomePod mini.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: Audio

The speaker on the Ecobee4 was pretty tinny, so other than asking Alexa questions, you didn't want to do anything else with it. The Ecobee SmartThermostat's speaker is a bit beefier, making this a passable entertainment device. It's on a par with a very good clock radio or somewhere between the second- and third-generation Echo Dot. You're not going to use this thermostat to entertain guests at a party, but it's good for playing music in the background while you're doing something else, like cooking or reading a book.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review

Ecobee also added Spotify support; Spotify joins Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and SiriusXM as music services supported by the thermostat, a very welcome addition.

The new remote sensor has a slightly smaller design, improved battery life (up to five years) and a longer range (up to 60 feet).

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: New remote sensor

Alexa is nice and all, but the best parts of Ecobee's thermostats have been the remote sensors, which can detect both temperature and occupancy. With these, you can do some pretty smart things, like tell the thermostat to make sure even the coldest parts of your house get warm, but only if there are people in that area.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: remote sensors

The new sensor, one of which comes with the SmartThermostat, has a slightly smaller design, improved battery life (up to five years, thanks to a much larger battery) and a longer range (up to 60 feet from the thermostat). The latter improvement is especially handy for me; when I tried to put the previous sensor in my attic, it went out of range of the thermostat. I had no such problems with the new sensor. You can purchase additional sensors in a pack of two for $79, and older sensors are also compatible with the new thermostat.

The Ecobee now supports both 2.4- and 5-GHz Wi-Fi, which is nice but not a huge deal. On your home network, devices, like the Ecobee, that require little bandwidth should be relegated to the 2.4-GHz network. Devices, such as streaming sticks, that require greater throughput should be assigned to the 5-GHz network.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: Design

While its face is now glass instead of plastic, the newest Ecobee smart thermostat looks the same as previous versions: a square with rounded corners and a rectangular touch screen in the middle. When the Ecobee debuted, I thought its design was a nice departure from Nest Learning Thermostat's circular design. 

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: design

Over the years, though, I think the look of the Nest has held up better than that of the Ecobee. For one, the Nest is more compact, and there's much less of a bezel around its display. On the Ecobee, it now just feels like there's a lot of wasted space.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: Security monitoring

Since the launch of the Ecobee SmartThermostat, the company has expanded its offerings to include the Ecobee SmartCamera, a home security camera with Alexa built in. The SmartCamera has a 180-degree field of view and can digitally zoom in and track individuals. 

The Ecobee SmartThermostat can be integrated with the camera in a number of ways. For starters, the camera has a thermometer built in, so it can be used as a remote sensor for the thermostat. Additionally, when the SmartThermostat enters Away mode, it can send a signal to the camera to activate. To enable these features, as well as save cloud recordings of videos, you'll need to subscribe to Ecobee Haven, which starts at $5 per month. 

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: Energy-saving features

Similar to Nest, Ecobee uses the sensors in its thermostat to detect if you're home and then adjust the temperature accordingly. I only wish that you could tie the Ecobee's Home and Away states to other smart home devices, as you can with the Works with Nest program.

MORE: Best Smart Thermosta

Ecobee's other smart feature is called Follow Me, which takes advantage of the device's remote sensors to detect which rooms people are in and then adjust heating and cooling accordingly.

Ecobee SmartThermostat review: Verdict

The Ecobee SmartThermostat improves nicely upon the two core features of its predecessor. I like that it now has the full functionality of Alexa paired with a better speaker and that its remote sensor has a better range. I wish it had Google Assistant built in, though.

If you're in the market for a smart thermostat and use Alexa a lot, then you'll want to check out the Ecobee SmartThermostat. If you're an occasional Alexa user, the older Ecobee4 should suffice. And if you don't use Amazon's assistant at all, then the Ecobee3 Lite or the Nest are the best options for you.

The changes that Ecobee made to its latest smart thermostat aren't radical, but they are welcome. Now, about that name ...

Credit: Tom's Guide

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.