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Is There Such A Thing As Too Smart When it Comes To Thermostats?
There’s been something of an arms race going on in the world of temperature control lately, with companies fighting for dominance over the thermostat market by incorporating more and more functionality into their products.
The company that seems to have come out on top of this furious thermostat throw down is Ecobee, with their veritable Swiss-army knife of a device known as the Ecobee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control — I know...catchy name, right?
Well, unimaginative titles aside, this 5th generation edition of Ecobee's smart thermostat design is topping all the home heating/cooling “best of” lists at the moment, so I thought I’d join in on the fun and see if this little wall wizard lives up to the hype.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat With Voice Control At A Glance
The 5th gen Ecobee Smart Thermostat is basically a super flexible temperature control with tons of energy-saving features, but that’s not the best thing about it. It also brings a friend along to the party. You may have heard of them; their friends call them Alexa.
That’s right, folks; this thermostat has an integrated Amazon Alexa virtual assistant, and not the watered-down version present in the gen 4...we’re talking full-blown Alexa with all the trimmings.
- Improved Speaker
- Improved Remote Sensor
- Full Alexa Integration
- Supports Spotify
- Auto HVAC Shutdown
- Large Bezels
- Doesn’t Support Google Assistant
Ecobee Smart Thermostat Features
Ecobee Smart Thermostat - Saving Energy
I know you’re all excited to hear about the party tricks this thing can pull off, but I thought it best to start with what really counts...saving money and saving the planet.
As a smart thermostat, the ESTWVC (if you’ll pardon the abbreviation) enables geofencing, which means it can use the GPS facilities in your phone to assess your distance from your house.
When you travel outside a certain area, it engages an eco protocol to save you money, and once you’re within range, it re-engages your standard schedule, so the ambient temperature in your home is perfect when you walk through the door.
The ESTWVC will also automatically shut down your HVAC system if it senses that windows or doors are open, preventing an increase in load as it tries to make up for the escaping air and fluctuating temperature. Needless to say, this can save you a bundle on your bills.
Last but not least, we have the upgraded remote sensors that report individual room temperature and population to the thermostat. They enable a function known as “Follow Me” that registers the location of people in the house and tells the thermostat to warm or cool accordingly.
The Gen 4 unit also came with a smart sensor, but the new versions boast a smaller, sleeker profile, an extended range (60 feet from the thermostat), and a 5-year battery life. One sensor is included with purchase, but you can buy extras in packs of two should you wish to expand your thermal network.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat - Alexa Features
Although the Gen 4 version of the ESTWVC did have integrated Alexa, one of the biggest design flaws was that Alexa messaging, calling, and Drop-in functions were strangely absent from the device.
But I’m happy to report that the gen 5 is in fact loaded with the full-fat version of Alexa we all know and love.
You can now ask your thermostat anything you’d ask your smart speaker, whether that be to play some tunes, update you on current events, or simply turn down the heat a couple of notches.
The familiar blue light that signals that Alexa is listening is situated on the top of the thermostat, and the receiver is incredibly responsive. Even if it’s playing music, Alexa will hear a spoken command from around 15 feet away.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat - Audio Quality
While the speakers in the gen 5 have seen some remarkable improvements on those found in the gen 4, they still don’t exactly offer sound system-grade audio, but considering their size, we can’t expect too much.
They sound similar to a very high-quality clock radio which makes the audio substantial enough to enjoy around the house when you’re cleaning, cooking, or just chilling on the couch.
One last thing to note here is that Ecobee has added Spotify to the list of compatible streaming services accessible by the thermostat, joining other supported platforms Apple Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and SiriusXM.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat - Design
Ecobee is sticking with their time-tested aesthetic for the gen 5. It’s an elegant square design with soft corners and a central touch screen. I found the interface to be incredibly easy to use, and now they’ve replaced the plastic face with a glass panel, it has more of a classy, high-end vibe.
If I could change one thing, I’d reduce the width of the bezels just a scooch, as they’re pretty beefy, amounting to an unnecessary prominence on the wall.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat - Optional Extras
If you’re looking to enhance your home security system, you can also pair the ESTWVC with the Ecobee SmartCamera. As an indoor security device, it’s suitable for casting a watchful eye over valuables or to monitor a baby, and it has a built-in thermometer, so it can be used as another remote sensor to help you save some money on the energy bill.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat - The Final Verdict
The improvements Ecobee has made to their flagship thermostat line are welcome, even if they don’t include any huge overhauls in design. The upgraded speaker and remote sensors are fantastic, especially if you live in a larger abode, and an unrestricted Alexa certainly sweetens the deal.
Whether you’d make use of these improvements depends on your habits and living situation. If you’re something of an audiophile, you’ll no doubt turn your nose up at the gen 5’s audio facilities, and if you’re not much of an Alexa user, you can save a buck or two and settle for the limited Ecobee 4.
Besides the form factor, which is a little unwieldy, my only critique is that it doesn’t support Google Assistant, so overall it’s a fantastic thermostat, and if Ecobee’s claims are true that it can save you 26% on your annual energy bills, it’ll pay for itself in no time.
Do you agree with my verdict? Why not check out the 5th gen Ecobee smart thermostat for yourself here?