Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium is a cool evolution

The world of smart thermostats, once a hot space, has largely cooled down in recent years. Nest thermostats, for example, haven’t moved the needle in a long time and have only held up. Ecobee is trying to change that by introducing two new models: Smart Thermostat Enhanced and Smart Thermostat Premium. The end result is a predictable upgrade that makes them the best thermostats on the market right now.

In general, both new models are very similar. The Enhanced model provides a solid foundation for all customers, while the Premium adds an extra layer of features and design for those who are really excited about the latest smarthome gadgets.

Since the Premium model is a bit more interesting, I focused on that for this review. If you don’t want some of the extras like an indoor air quality sensor or a built-in speaker that can play music from Spotify (seriously), then you’re a good candidate for the entry-level Enhanced.

TL;DR

Pros

  • The new design is more stylish than previous models
  • Easy to understand and navigate touchscreen interface

cons

  • Only one color and/or material

Buy from Ecobee.

What’s new?

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
The Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium has a 50 percent larger touchscreen than the last generation thermostat.
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The new Smart Thermostat Enhanced features a occupancy radar sensor, a 50 percent larger screen, a new touchscreen interface and better Wi-Fi connectivity. Again, it’s a solid smart thermostat product with HomeKit support. It should probably be most people’s default choice right now.

If you want your thermostat to do more, there is the Smart Thermostat Premium. It has all the enhanced features plus an indoor air quality sensor, a smart speaker with your choice of Siri or Alexa assistant and sink around the outside. The Premium model also includes an additional sensor in the box that can be used to monitor the temperature above or in a remote part of the house.

Ecobee thermostats used to look good, but now they look good. The larger touchscreen area makes for a more user-friendly interface. I like the bigger size, but I also hope future models don’t get bigger than this. It borders on gigantic, especially when you compare it directly to the Nest Thermostat. The brushed metal look on the side of the Premium model adds a touch more sophistication to the plastic of the previous Ecobee model.

If Ecobee is going to make only one color in each model, the chosen colors are nice and neutral enough. I do like how Nest offers different colors to better match a home’s interior. I hope Ecobee will also move in that direction and introduce these new thermostats in additional materials or colors at some point.

Thermostat Sensors

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
The Premium model includes a sensor to detect indoor air quality.
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The main feature of the Smart Thermostat Premium is the indoor air quality sensor. Ecobee says this is a first. It sounds like a good idea to include this kind of sensor, but I wonder if most people will need it. I’ve never seen a message except clean indoor air. One notable exception is that this new sensor could be especially useful during California fire season. At the moment, however, it is clean air everywhere.

The indoor air quality sensor also estimates VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and CO2. They are combined on a sliding scale that uses color to make the information available at a glance.

There is a new radar sensor that the thermostat uses to activate the display and detect occupancy. Ecobee says it can work from further away and even around corners. I found that the sensor does a good job of always lighting up the screen when approaching. I found the occupancy detection more hit and miss, or at least much harder to test. Once, for example, when no one was home, I opened the Ecobee app to see that it said “busy” even though I had been gone for 20 minutes or more.

Personally, I tend to rely on manually adjusting my home thermostat rather than letting it guess. However, I left on the Eco Plus feature for testing to get the full experience. This is where Ecobee detects whether you are home or away and adjusts settings based on humidity or usage time according to peak power costs. I haven’t noticed much help, but if you live in a location with more extreme weather than Southern California and that changes quickly, you’ll probably enjoy having the thermostat control the temperature.

The Eco Plus feature can also take advantage of many utility systems to change your thermostat depending on how long it’s used. I regularly noticed this adjustment on the screen as the acceptable temperatures moved. Overall, the option worked as advertised during my time testing it.

The Premium model comes with a SmartSensor in the box, but it can be purchased and used with the Enhanced model. My house usually has a temperature difference of 5 degrees or more between upstairs and downstairs in the summer, so I’ve come to think the extra sensor is essential for whole-home surveillance.

Voice assistant thermostat

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
Siri (or Alexa) can be used on the thermostat without the need for an additional smart speaker.
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It makes sense to have a voice assistant built into the thermostat itself. Asking an assistant to set the thermostat to a specific temperature is certainly a common practice people mention. Now, with the Premium model, no additional speaker is required.

You can use Alexa or Siri on the Premium thermostat. I chose to use Siri because you can’t have both active at the same time. Siri works exactly like on your phone or rather a HomePod mini. So while I like the idea of ​​this feature being included, I now also have four ways to summon Siri within a 200-square-foot radius. This seems overly redundant.

Siri comes with all its personal limitations and accuracy issues, but as far as I could tell, it did me good to hear me talk to it.

A smart speaker on the wall

If you add a smart voice assistant that will talk to you, the product must have a built-in speaker. Ecobee goes further than I think it should and lets the speaker be an AirPlay speaker or Spotify Connect device. Even after a lot of testing time, it still seems wild that the Premium Thermostat can play music like any other WiFi speaker.

I’ve used it a few times as a novelty, but I don’t think it sounds good enough for music playback to use it regularly for that purpose. The speaker sounds hollow and tense at a volume level greater than about 30 percent. Of course, the music functionality is a bonus feature that doesn’t make the product any worse if you never use it. I find it mostly humorous.

Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium
Ecobee’s new thermostats feature a redesigned touchscreen interface.
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Should you buy an Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium?

The hardest choice here will be deciding whether to get the Enhanced or Premium model. Do you want to know more about indoor air quality or do you need another voice assistant? Either way, Ecobee’s excellent mobile app, HomeKit integration, and large touchscreen all make these models an easy pick for an overall recommendation.

It’s mostly a question of aesthetics, but I found that the redesign played a big part in making the leap from Nest to Ecobee. Once I did, I was blown away by the sleek, yet comprehensive software the company offers. And for me, I like the extra air quality sensor, an overhead sensor in the box, and even the ability to use Siri on the wall as well.

Buy from Ecobee for $249.99

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