Ecobee3: If you're crazy enough to want a smart thermostat – but not too crazy – this is for you

A cuckoo in the Nest


The one big issue

There is one potential big issue with the Ecobee - it needs to be powered. And that means your system needs a 'C' wire - typically the blue one in a bunch of five. Many older homes do not have one.

Nest got around this issue by having a big battery and using "sipping" technology to pull very small amounts of current through existing wires. The Ecobee is having none of that; it wants a C wire. And so it ships with every thermostat a little box that lets you send power through your existing system.

It's actually a very simple wiring project and in homes that don't already have a 'C' wire, it would take you 15-20 minutes to do. Of course, you can also pay someone to do it for you - and they would no doubt love to take your money for something so comparatively simple.

It may mean an extra hassle though. The plus side is that being a powered thermostat gives Ecobee a lot more leeway and that allows for the fancy touchscreen and so on.

And the big question

The big question of course is: is the Ecobee still on the wall and the Nest still in the box?

And the answer is yes and no. After lengthy testing, the Ecobee has in fact retained prime position on the wall. It is simply too good and too useful to be replaced.

But. The Nest has also made its way out of its box and has been installed downstairs - even though that required buying and running a new piece of cable from the HVAC system through the walls and connecting and installing a new thermostat.

Why? Well, as the ecosystem of smart-tech products keeps growing, we intend to keep testing them with the two smart thermostats leading the market. That at least is the professional justification.

The Ecobee with sensor and apps. The tablet app contains more information than the smartphone app.

The truth is that the Nest has a better look-and-feel, and its smartphone app provides more detail. Plus even the Nest's small product range offers an interoperability that makes the Ecobee's slight advantages seem smaller. (In addition, you can use the Wally system of sensors to achieve the multi-sensor setup of the Ecobee.)

So currently there is both a Tesla and an Aston Martin in the driveway. One of them is clearly going to have to go. But why rush the decision? ®

Ecobee3: If you're crazy enough to want a smart thermostat – but not too crazy – this is for you

A remarkably good and useful product. Better than the Nest? Incredibly, yes. If you are looking to test out smart-home tech, this is a great place to start.
Price: $229 RRP

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