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The Ecobee4 is the best smart thermostat money can buy

Published Nov 18th, 2017 12:15PM EST

It’s the 21st century, which means it’s time to start regulating your home’s temperature in style with a smart thermostat, and there’s no better way to do that than with the Amazon Alexa-equipped Ecobee4.

The advent of smart home technology has revolutionized countless mundane aspects of everyday life, including the simple act of setting the thermostat to the perfect temperature. For years, Nest’s Learning Thermostat dominated this niche market and became the go-to option for the modern smart home. And while the Nest Learning Thermostat remains a well designed and effective smart thermostat, it has failed to evolve at the pace of the tech around it, relying largely on what made the device popular in the first place. As a result, it’s been dethroned by the Ecobee4.

The Ecobee4, as its name would suggest, is the fourth generation of the flagship smart thermostats from Ecobee. The latest borrows everything that made past models great while adding key features that truly set it apart from the rest. In keeping with tradition, the Ecobee4 boasts easy app control, a gorgeous touchscreen interface, and of course the ability to sync up with all the major smart home hubs like Apple HomeKit, SmartThings by Samsung, and Amazon Alexa. However, part of what sets the Ecobee4 apart from the competition is that it’s actually Alexa equipped. 

Although the Ecobee4 isn’t an Amazon product, the thermostat acts like a traditional Amazon Echo in many ways. When called on, a blue light fades in on the top of thermostat as the familiar voice of Alexa chimes in with a response. The thermostat uses far field voice technology to help Alexa hear you from across the room, so that you don’t have to leave the chair to bump the heat up a degree or too — or stop chopping the onions when you need a refresher on the dinner recipe.

Ecobee4’s Alexa is fully functional and can relay all the same information and entertainment that the Amazon Echo can, although it’s music playback is lacking compared to the full Echo. Then again, you are asking your thermostat to play music for you, which should probably be celebrated in and of itself. It’s also lacking Amazon’s Echo Spatial Perception (ESP), meaning that your Ecobee4 will answer your commands — even if there’s another Alexa device closer to you. Still, that’s only a minor annoyance for people with multiple Alexa devices and it’s no problem at all for those with none.

The way that the Ecobee4 works is fundamentally different than the Nest Learning Thermometer. Where the Nest “learns” from your habits and your daily routines, the Ecobee4 actually detects the temperatures in any given spot in the house to accurately regulate the temperature across the entire home. The Ecobee4 can be linked with up to 32 compact sensors that can be placed all across the house to cover all the spots that a traditional single-hub thermometer would miss, helping to eliminate those pesky hot and cold spots that have been previously unavoidable. These room sensors can also detect whether the room is occupied or not, allowing for the thermostat to keep all of your favorite rooms in the house equally comfortable.

Ecobee’s mobile app is the key to the full potential of the Ecobee4. From the app, you can switch it to “privacy mode” and turn off the Alexa microphone, make vacation events to tell the Ecobee4 when you’ll be out of town, and even control the climate when you’re far from home. These smart controls contribute to the potential energy savings that come from the Ecobee4 and make it an economical switch for many people with many types of heating and air systems.

Like other smart thermostats, the Ecobee4 is a hardwired interface that is essentially designed to be a permanent installation. Depending on the age of your heating and air system, installing the Ecobee4 smart thermostat can either be 15 minute affair or a job for a professional electrician. More modern air systems are more likely to have immediate compatibility in the wiring of your old thermostat. Older systems may need professional electrical work done to ensure the proper cables are run safely and effectively. If you’re curious about your system’s compatibility with a smart thermometer, Ecobee has a handy guide to help out. Whether you can install it yourself or need professional assistance, the ease of use, onboard Amazon Alexa, energy efficiency, and other essential benefits of a smart thermostat make it worth the trouble of installation.

The Ecobee4 is typically the same price as the Nest Learning Thermostat at $249 and comes with one free room sensor, far field voice technology, and Amazon Alexa onboard. Right now, however, it’s $50 off for Black Friday on Amazon. Additional room sensors can be purchased for $79 a pair. All told, there really hasn’t been a smart thermostat like the Ecobee4 on the market before now. Given everything this thermostat can do, and the fact that it’s loaded with Amazon Alexa from the get-go, the Ecobee4 is without doubt the best smart thermostat that money can currently buy.