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Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium Review: The New Best Smart Thermostat

Rating: 9/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $240
An ecobee Smart Thermostat on a wall
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

Unless you prefer a thermostat that learns (and that makes you wrong), ecobee is one of the best smart thermostats you can buy today. But only at the software level. Until now, the hardware left a lot to be desired. The new ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium changes that in every way possible.

I switched away from my Nest Thermostat a long time ago. I got sick of fighting its “learning” algorithms that always decided I wanted an uncomfortable house. I’d set the thermostat where I wanted; the Nest would change itself back to some unbearable temperature. It was frustrating.

The ecobee doesn’t have that problem because it doesn’t learn. You set the schedule the way you want it, and it follows that. Sure, there’s some A.I. built-in, but those offer suggestions based on your settings. And you can ignore them or turn the feature off altogether. It’s so much better than Nest. But I still had complaints. The interface, which matched the app perfectly, was hard to use. And the hardware felt cheap, thanks to a plastic exterior.

The new ecobee Smart Thermostat aims to fix both the problems and adds an air quality monitor along the way. In short, it’s the new best smart thermostat you can buy.

Here's What We Like

  • Nice premium materials
  • Larger Screen
  • Better interface

And What We Don't

  • Air Quality Monitor is limited
  • Somewhat expensive

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Hardware That’s Vastly Improved And Easy Installation

An ecobee smart thermostat displaying weather
Josh Hendrickson / Review Geek

The old ecobee Smart Thermostats do the job, but they do look and feel cheap. Heavy use of plastic will do that, though. The look was terrible enough, but the cheap feeling display degraded the experience whenever I used my smart thermostat. More often than not, I’d just use the app instead. It didn’t help that the app was easier to use, despite the interfaces matching, but more on that later.

The new ecobee Smart Thermostat fixes every complaint I have about the hardware. The outside is a zinc body and a glass touchscreen. It may not be quite as “sleek” and “modern” as the Nest thermostat, but to my eye, it looks great. It’s a vast improvement over the old models.

Now, if you already have an ecobee and you’re hoping to simply upgrade to the new one by popping one-off and putting the Premium model in its place, I’m sorry to say that won’t work. The new unit is physically bigger and a slightly different shape, and so calls for a new mount installed on your wall.

An ecobee mounting plate with wiring showing

That’s mostly a bonus, though, as the new ecobee Smart Thermostat offers a larger, more colorful touchscreen. I’m not saying the older ecobee models are ugly, but they’re nothing special to look at. The new ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium is much better, thanks to the improved display.

But beyond that, installing the ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium is as easy as any other smart thermostat. You’ll remove the old thermostat while making notes of the wire colors and connections, then do a “like to like” match on your new unit—Y1 to Y1, C to C, and so on.

I can also say that the ecobee team is quick to help if you run into trouble. My system has non-standard wiring and lacks a Common wire, but the ecobee CAN run with it. That just requires a bit of extra work installing a Power Extender kit (included in the box), plus a few other changes that the ecobee rep walked me through.

And I want to be clear, I called the standard customer line and didn’t identify myself as a journalist—all this happened when I installed the first ecobee I purchased. They walked me through the steps, had me take pictures of my work to confirm I did things right, then had me make a few changes on the ecobee.

When I installed the new ecobee, those changes didn’t come forward, and I couldn’t remember what I had to do. But a quick phone call away, and the new rep found notes from my initial install and walked me through the buttons to push, and I was good to go. In both cases, I had someone on the line in less than ten minutes.

A Vastly Improved Interface Too

The one good thought behind the old ecobee interface is that it matched the ecobee app (for iOS and Android). Unlike other systems, like the Nest thermostat, you didn’t have to learn things twice. But that’s pretty much all that I can say that’s nice because using the ecobee thermostat was a pain. Setting the temperature required dragging a side number up or down, which was never quite intuitive.

Starting with the Ecboee Smart Thermostat Premium (and rolling out to other models later this year), that changes, and it’s so much better. Now it’s a simple plus or minus button your tap, and that’s how it should have always been. Sure the twist motion of the Nest is still better, but this works very well. You can still scroll the temperature, but I default to the plus and minus buttons.

Thanks to that larger screen, all the controls look better in general, even when navigating through menus. And ecobee switched to the larger display by changing from a bulky PIR sensor to a radar sensor. That’s an additional benefit as the screen is quicker to wake up and will catch you approaching from farther away. It’s an all-around improvement.

The New Air Quality Monitor Is a Nice Bonus

There’s one other change to the hardware that deserves its own section. The ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium packs an air quality monitor inside the thermostat unit. Don’t confuse this for the standalone sensor that comes with the thermostat or that you can buy separately. It’s inside the actual thermostat.

I’ve been testing this ecobee for weeks, long enough to give the monitor a chance to get to know my home. Most of the time, it tells me the local air quality is clean. That’s not surprising as we frequently open windows or run purifiers in my home.

But every so often, a notification on my phone has popped up to warn about less than optimal air conditions. Usually, that’s after I’ve been cooking something that creates smoke, as my HUD isn’t the best. It also caught when I jigsawed through a thick desk and burned wood in the process. And on a few occasions, it sent a warning, and I had no obvious clue about the cause.

That’s the downside of the air quality monitor. It doesn’t detect particulates and can’t really tell you why your air quality might be worse than usual. In every case, it only notifies you there’s a problem and suggests you open a window. Good enough, I suppose.

I wish the monitor weren’t inside the thermostat, though. Or at least, I think it’d be better if it were also in the smart sensors you can place around your home. I have ecobee sensors scattered in various rooms, from bedrooms to the living room, to better control my home’s temperature. It’d be nice if I could benefit from air quality monitors all over instead of just a local point at my thermostat.

Not offering a smart sensor with air quality capability means you can’t add the feature to other ecobees either, including the new Enhanced thermostat. That thermostat is functionally the same as the premium, but it sticks with plastic and ditches the air quality monitor. However, I appreciate that all my existing sensors work with the latest model. Fair play, ecobee.

Buy This Smart Thermostat

An ecobee thermostat in a hallway

Are you in the market to buy a smart thermostat? This is probably the one you should buy. I can’t say that you should absolutely purchase it because every home HVAC system is a little different, and it’s possible the ecobee may not be compatible with your system. That’s true of all smart thermostats, though.

If you can install a smart thermostat, this is the only you should consider. While ecobee does sell a less expensive version called the Smart Thermostat Enhanced, skip straight to this one. The price difference is only $60, and the Enhanced model doesn’t come with smart sensors. If you want to add those, you’ll have to buy a two-pack for $99, so now you’ve spent more and don’t get the air quality monitor.

In any case, the ecobee is nearly perfect. I struggle to find complaints between the solid app and the new revamped interface. And now, with better materials, it feels “premium,” just as the name promised. This is the smart thermostat to beat.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $240

Here’s What We Like

  • Nice premium materials
  • Larger Screen
  • Better interface

And What We Don't

  • Air Quality Monitor is limited
  • Somewhat expensive

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and is responsible for the site's content direction. He has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smart home enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »