2018: Best Smart Thermostat?


Continuing to dip my toes into the smart home water, having a smarter thermostat is one of the big reasons I have wanted to go the smart home route. Been leaning strongly towards the Ecobee 4 - the remote sensors will help even out my house which has a couple of areas that lag way behind the rest of the rooms. But reading reviews on Amazon I’m not so sure - seems like a lot of folks have problems with it, some serious. The last thing I can risk is a thermostat going haywire and either not heating the home and getting me some frozen pipes, or over heating it and getting me a crazy high heating bill. What’s the consensus here - is the Ecoobee any good? If not, what’s better? FYI not really interested in the Nest, not a fan of it’s automated learning feature. The Honeywell smart devices actually look pretty good to me but it sounds like their smart things integration is lacking.

NVE2181 Zigbee module but how to I connect to Smartthings or Alexa?
Bulbs, switches and sensors, oh my....what to buy (device class features)

BTW I don’t care about the Alexa integration into the Ecobee 4 - I have two Echo’s in rooms near the thermostat so I don’t need that functionality and will turn it off.


There’s no one best, different things work for different people. Nest, Ecobee, and the simple zwave thermostats are all popular.

The ecobee is officially supported, so that’s a plus, but many people still like the nest and there is an unofficial integration for that.

I personally use the ecobee light and like it very much. The main difference between the light and the ecobee3 is that you cannot add “accessories” to the light like a humidifier control. The difference between the three and the four, as you noted, is that the four has Alexa built in. But the three works well with Alexa also, you just need a dot or an echo or whatever to use with it.

Here’s a good recent thread on the cheaper devices:

As far as opinions about ecobee versus nest, there are lots of threads in the forum discussing that. Here are a few.

(Mark) #4

I also like the Ecobee 3 over the 4. I have several Echo devices within voice range of the Ecobee, so I don’t need the built-in Alexa capability. Also, when the Ecobee 4 was released it did not have the far-field microphone capability of the Echoes and that could be problematic. Ecobee may have corrected this.

(Jimmy) #5

IMO the cheapest one that works with SmartThings. SmartThings can handle the features Nest and Ecobee have, so seems like a waste on money unless you just want them for bling factor.


I can’t seem to find a good feature comparison anywhere on the three ecobee models available. The 3-lite looks more like the 4 (rounded corners) so I’m wondering if 3-lite is a 4 w/out alexa or an included remote sensor, whereas the 3 is older and maybe has less features. Anybody know? Their pricing also seems a bit screwy - you only save $80 by dropping from the 4 to the 3-lite, but you lose the remote sensor. Since they are sold in 2-packs for $80, if you want remote sensing w/the 3-lite, you are back up to 4 pricing and just get one extra sensor. Makes the 4 look like a better deal even if you don’t want alexa.


IMO … is that a brand?

(Jimmy) #8

sorry, In My Opinion


lol. should have figured that out. any particular cheapie you recommend? (and btw i do kind of like the bling. :smiley: )


As always, JD, you offer thorough and complete information!

(Also, I get that preference is going to be somewhat personal, but sometimes there is a device that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest. Given the experience and expertise collected here I figure this is the right place to find out of something fits that bill!)

(Kirk Hilzinger) #11

I use the Ecobee 4 and remote sensors and absolutely love it. But, I have added wires between my thermostat and furnace to have the most control over it.

As far as the Amazon Alexa part, since you have two dots, I would still not turn it off. With the latest firmware on the Ecobee, they got the microphone issue solved so whatever device is closest to your voice will respond to commands. It does not hurt to keep it on since this problem has been solved and it can serve as a backup if either Dot goes down.


The following is a good discussion of the ecobee three lite versus the four


Actually I have full echo’s, not the dots … not that it matters. :wink:

I think I would still turn it off as I just have no need for Alexa’s features where the thermostat is. However, I read somewhere that if you mute Alexa it turns on an obnoxious red light on the unit that IS ALWAYS ON. This sounds awful. Any idea if it’s true?

(Jimmy) #14

I only have experience with a Trane z-wave thermostat and honestly have no idea what it costs. It came with our house and it and the Schlage lock are the whole reason I got into this addiction. :slight_smile: I think The Go Control thermostat can be found for cheap, but its ugly. The Honeywell T5 now works with smartthings, and I think its lower cost than the others.

(Cmg75) #15

I’ve got an Ecobee 3 and I like it with one caveat. It does not work well with a fresh air fan that is controlled by the thermostat. If you don’t need that functionality then it is great.

In some cases, the Ecobee is dumber then the thermostat it replaced. I can not do things like lockout the fresh air fan dependent on outside temperature or if I am asleep, both things the dumb Honeywell can do. The Honeywell also can setup fresh air fan usage on percentages not just a minimum number of minutes per hour. It also runs my fresh air fan whenever it is in away mode when it clearly should not be running it at all (currently have a ticket with Ecobee for that). I am on the verge of returning and trying to find one that does what my existing Honeywell can do and works with SmartThings.

(Kirk Hilzinger) #16

That is true about the mute. And, yes, it will work with the full echos.

There is the Ecobee Plus Alexa skill that ties Alexa to Ecobee directly (without SmartThings) that also offers a lot better control than the default skill.

Not sure what features you would not want but it is your option to turn it on or off. I was stating whatever worries you would have would be negligible over the benefits. Mine is in the living room and I do use it. In fact, as Christmas presents got delivered, I got the notifications on it. As long as you get the notifications from one of the devices in your home, it turns the notification indicator off on all the rest.

The only thing that this does not seem to do is be able to be grouped into a multiple device music output group. I am hoping that changes.

If your concern was not to have the speaker output, you can turn the volume all the way down. The red mute indicator will be there if you mute the microphone. I think that is a warm and fuzzy for those overly concerned with Big Brother.

I guess you could not turn on the Alexa portion in the thermostat because the skill just uses the cloud between Alexa and Ecobee to control each other. SmartThings also goes between it and the cloud to Ecobee to run between them. So, not setting up the Alexa portion on the thermostat should not lower any functionality except Alexa commands on that device or allowing it to play music.

(Kirk Hilzinger) #17

Not sure about the 3 but the 4 has a single wire (+24VAC) or two wire (switch) output for accessories. Since my furnace has a dedicated +24VAC terminal for my humidifier and I wanted it to be the humidistat over the one in my cold air return, I have two wires from my bundle between furnace to thermostat.

From the Humidifier terminal on my furnace (which is only hot whenever the furnace is running), it goes up to the accessory terminal 1 on the Ecobee 4, then accessory terminal 2 on the Ecobee 4 back down to the furnace to the +24VAC (not that it matters) on the humidifier, and then from the humidifier’s -24VAC terminal, it goes back the furnace’s C terminal, which is -24VAC, thus completing the circuit. The Ecobee 4 acts as a switch in the circuit (like the switch on a flashlight).

It only supports one HVAC accessory on that terminal. It can be a humidifier, dehumidifier, or a ventilator (vents fresh air into the building).


Thanks for all the info Kirk. Sounds like I should go w/the 4 and just not set up alexa, that way it’s off but I don’t have the annoying red light on. I would like to be able to control a whole house humidifier with it so that pushes me towards the 4 (as does the pricing - the discount on the 3-lite isn’t really enough to push me in that direction since I want the remote sensors).

(Kirk Hilzinger) #19

If you do not have enough wires between them, you might be able to run the new wires up the wall (assuming you are not dealing with finished ceilings below the wall) by using the current thermostat wire as a pull string to get the higher conductor wire up the wall. I tried that (I ran a 7-wire and a 5-wire twisted together) but ran into a fire stop. I ended up using fish tape.

Read the installation manual for your furnace and air conditioner. My furnace was newer and was capable of running 2-stage. My air conditioner is not (and it is harder to do that on an air conditioner–but check yours). I simply had to connect the wires up to the furnace and change 1 jumper and my furnace runs dual stage. Most of the time, it is stage 1, which is 1/2 power, and that saves you in use and in utility costs. It has been below zero the last few days so stage 2 is getting its workout, too. I am comfortable. It tries stage 1 and then goes to stage 2 after a bit.

One other thing I like about this thermostat is that it will shut off the heat (burners in the furnace) or the air conditioner but keep running the fan for about 45-seconds allowing you to use that leftover heat in the heat exchanger or cooling in the evaporator that will help lower your bill a bit.

For the device handler and app, I upgraded from the basic to this one:

[RELEASE] Free Ecobee Suite, Version 1.2.

Install it on SmartThings BEFORE you install it into SmartThings.

(Lisa Coleman) #20

Costco in the USA is selling Ecobee 3 with three sensors for $180.

ComEd is still offering $100 rebates, up to two per address.
I purchased this Ecobee 4 from ComEd $149 (less $100 rebate)