Smart thermostats have been all the rage for a few years now and it doesn’t look like demand is dying down. Between the added convenience, the ability to reduce energy consumption, and the availability of rebates, they’re a great decision for pretty much every home.
Typically, HVAC-related expenses aren’t the kind of things that homeowners get excited about. Sure, everyone loves having a more comfortable, efficient home, but most HVAC purchases come with a four-digit price tag and a good amount of them are following the failure of existing equipment. All of that is to say, when a product like the smart thermostat comes along and excites homeowners, it’s important for the industry.
Here at Able, we’ve always been big supporters of ecobee as they provide support and resources for contractors. In a world where consumers can pick up a smart t-stat at a big box store and attempt to install themselves, ecobee recognizes that contractors represent the best opportunity for their products to be installed and configured correctly.
This dedication alone would be enough to make ecobee stand out, but they also happen to make the most robust, reliable products in the marketplace. Their design chops, industry understanding, and passion for comfort are all on full display with their latest product: the ecobee4.
The New Stuff
The ecobee4 diverges from previous iterations in one significant way: it includes Amazon Alexa Voice Service.
For those unfamiliar, Amazon’s Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant that can be controlled through simple voice commands. Previously, Alexa Voice Service was limited to Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot products. However, recently it was opened up to new connected devices.
The ecobee4 is equipped with powerful microphones, far-field voice technology, and the Sensory TrulyHandsfree Wake Word engine. This combination means that users can activate the thermostat’s voice services simply by saying “Alexa”. The far-field voice technology allows the ecobee4 to recognize a user’s voice from across a large room.
So, what exactly can one do with Alexa Voice Services that warrants a thermostat upgrade?
Control thermostat settings – Full, hands-free thermostat control with simple commands like “Alexa, set the temperature to 70 degrees.”
Manage daily life – Set alarms or reminders, create to-do or shopping lists, check or adjust personal calendars.
Play media – Start and control music, audio books, or digital radio with a simple voice request near the ecobee4.
Provide basic information – Users can ask Alexa almost anything. Have her search Wikipedia, check the weather or traffic, or define and spell words, whatever is needed.
Kitchen assistance – Alexa can check recipes and convert units of measurement, making the ecobee4 perfect for Kitchen installations.
3rd Party Skills – Skills are basically apps for Alexa. There is a Logitech skill that enables TV control and a Capital One skill for checking the balance of accounts. There are even skills for things like finding a wine pairing or ordering delivery pizza.
All of the above can be done 100% hands-free.
Between the native functionality and the 3rd party skills, the ecobee4 and Alexa can make any home smarter. The ecobee4 has Apple HomeKit compatibility, allowing it to make smart homes even smarter. If your client already owns an Alexa-enabled device, that device can also be used to provide voice commands to the ecobee4 from wherever it is in the home.
The ecobee4 shares a lot of DNA with previous models, specifically the ecobee3. As such, many of the best features from that model are present and refined in the ecobee4.
Mobile Control – Easy access to all of the thermostat functions through a smart phone or computer. Users can even utilize an Apple Watch to control their comfort.
DataRhythm Technology – ecobee’s proprietary algorithm for reducing energy use without compromising comfort is the basis of the ecobee4’s economy. It can reduce energy use up to 23% annually.
Wireless Room Sensors – The killer feature of the ecobee3 is back. The ecobee4 includes one sensor in the package and the ability to expand up to 32(!) total sensors. These allow the thermostat to adjust operations to ensure that every corner of the home is comfy.
Follow Me – Only uses data from sensors that are actively detecting occupants.
Smart Home/Away – Uses motion detection to activate or deactivate the system based on whether anyone is home.
Smart Recovery – Customizes equipment run times based on historical rates of temperature change and local weather to ensure that the home is the right temperature at the right time.
Home IQ – This feature provides a monthly energy audit that allows users to adjust their behavior to save even more energy.
Accessory Support – The ecobee4 can be connected to a humidifier, dehumidifier, HRV, ERV, or ventilator.
Optimal Humidity – If a humidifier is connected, the ecobee4 will automatically prevent frost buildup on the windows.
Free Cooling – If a ventilator is hooked up, the system will use cool outside air instead of calling for cooling if the setpoint allows.
Robust Staging Options – 2H/2C for conventional systems with two stages of auxiliary heat available for heat pump systems.
Rebate Eligibility – Between ComEd and the local gas companies, the ecobee4 is eligible for rebates of up to $150.
The Bottom Line
The ecobee4 smart thermostat is the natural progression of the ecobee line. It is designed with energy efficiency and convenience in mind. If your clients aren’t tech-savvy, they can enjoy the simple voice control and traditional smart thermostat benefits. If your clients want a connected home, the ecobee can integrate seamlessly with most systems.
This is, without a doubt, the most full-featured thermostat we offer. With Alexa Voice Service and 3rd Party skills, it can be developed into not just an HVAC control, but an essential tool for streamlining home life.