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Thread: Ecobee Smart Thermostat touchscreen review

  1. #1
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    Ecobee Smart Thermostat touchscreen review

    I wanted to post a review of my personal findings of the Ecobee touchscreen thermostat for other people who were in a similar situation like me. Like many other homeowners, I bought into the sleek and sexy marketing of the Nest smart thermostat. Before I make a purchase like this, I try to do as much internet research on the product. Some of the Nest press was good, but a fair amount was not good. I tried to convince myself that having a new home and HVAC unit would put me in the group of people with a good experience. How wrong was I!! I have a heat pump HVAC unit and the Nest was costing me an outrageous amount of electric. I turned to the Nest community and had great feedback from many users like myself who were experiencing the same thing. First, my situation: I live in a brand new home built 2011, approx 3000sg ft, well insulated 2x6 exterior walls, insulated basement in Eastern Pennsylvania. Our HVAC is brand new, installed when the home was built in 2011, 4 ton Amana Distinctions heat pump with electric auxiliary as a backup. Our contractor had installed a Honeywell Vision Pro 8000 Thermostat. We also have a Aprilaire 600 humidifier with manual humidistat. We prefer the house a little cooler at 67 and set back to 64 in the evening and away temp.

    The Honeywell VP8000 was a fine thermostat that offered basic program schedule, however, not the easiest thing to program. I wanted a wifi thermostat with energy history reporting, so in early November I purchased and installed a Nest. The Nest was sleek looking, however it did stick out a bit in our country style home which consist of more hardwood, and tile, rustic fireplace etc. No problem, it was kinda cool looking though. I started using the Nest on the “Heat Pump balance” feature set to “Max Savings”. When I started looking at the energy history a few days later, I noticed Aux heat being used quite frequently toward the end of a cycle, even in November when the temps were in the mid 40’s and 30’s at night. I continued to watch it and noticed even more Aux usage as the weeks went on. I was not sure if this was normal since I had no energy reporting on the Honeywell VP8000, but I rarely recall seeing that go into aux, except for when it was bitterly cold. So, I began comparing electrical usage and noticed about a 30 to 40% increase in usage. I took to posting on the Nest community and quickly learned about the problems with algorithms and the Nest. With the help and suggestion of other Nest community users, I tried some other options of turning heat pump balance off and setting a manual lockout, basically providing false info to overcome the programming problems on the Nest. However, as Nest users with heat pumps are aware, the lowest lockout is 35. So to work around this you have to play a game of fooling it with programming a zip codes in warmer climates to create a lower aux lockout. That seemed to work OK until I got burned one night and had a zip code programmed from a climate a little too south and my aux never came on and caused my house to go down to about 55 overnight. I had contacted Nest and the customer service on the phone was clueless. I took to their facebook page and email and was contacted by a higher level tech that said “they had not seen this problem with any other users”. I suggested they check their own community page as this was an ongoing problem with many heat pump users. Tech support never got back to me after that. One of my other major faults of the Nest was the big 3 to 4 temp swings. If I had the heat set to 67, it would wait until it got down to 66 or often 65 and then have to run long to make up the difference until it would get to 1 above the set point. I feel this would often cause the Aux to have to run to make up such a difference. As January approached the aux usage was through the roof, so enough was enough with the Nest. Tech support was not getting back to me so it was time to go. Back to Home Depot. Thankfully HD has a generous return policy and I did not lose any money.

    With the suggestion of others I purchased an Ecobee touchscreen. A local HVAC supply house had them in stock. The first thing I noticed was the install was not as basic as the Nest, however it did not seem overly complicated. This unit came with an additional box, the equipment interface module, which added to the installation. I am a little more tech savvy, so the installation was not an issue for me. The benefit for me was I was now able to connect my Aprilaire humidifier to the EIM and have the thermostat control the humidity level based on the the actual levels in the living space. The EIM is a nice feature and allows for future sensors to be added if so desired for options like moisture detection, additional temp sensors etc. Most of the standard connections that went into the thermostat now went into the EIM. Then using my existing wire that ran to my Tstat upstairs, I only had to connect 4 wires from the EIM to the Ecobee touchscreen Tstat.

    I was not 100% sure on connecting my Aprilaire, so I gave a call to Ecobee. This was not my first call to them. I had called earlier in the morning with questions before I purchased the product about features and programming options for the aux lockout. Both times I quickly (less than 2 minute hold) got an experienced tech. He easily walked me through the connection of my humidifier. I was now up and running. I began the setup process. Connecting to my wifi was a breeze with no problems. I signed up on Ecobee’s web portal with no problem and downloaded the iPhone and iPad app. The colorful display of the touchscreen is very nice. My only small complaint is the touch portion is sensitive and some of the sliders are clunky, especially if you have larger fingers. No problem though, I grabbed my soft touch tip pen that I use on the phone and it was a breeze. I had a couple setup questions specific to my HVAC that I was not totally clear on, so I thought I would give their tech support another ring. Again, less than a 2 minute wait and I actually got the same guy that helped me earlier. I said I was probably being a pain and he chuckled and said “not at all, what can I help you with” and he continued to walk me through any initial setup questions. It was clear that he was not only extremely knowledgable of the product, but the HVAC industry in general as well.

    Its now been over a week. We had some mild temps (40’s) and some colder temps (20’s and teens in the evening). For the entire first week I did not see the Aux run one time. In fact my energy usage went from averaging 75 to 110 KWH a day with the Nest to 50 to 55 KWH a day with the Ecobee. I did see the Aux appear on the energy history for a couple minutes the other day when the temps neared the single digits overnight , but it was very minimal. As of right now, I am thrilled with the Ecobee.

    My Pros:
    Much better use of equipment and auxiliary heat
    Nice mobil app
    Maintains a 1 temp set point, unlike the 3 to 4 swings of the Nest.
    A ton of customization for equipment lockout, such as Aux heat outdoor temps down to 0, delta to aux, compressor lockout temps, compressor minimum outdoor temp, indoor temp delta, heat to cool deltas etc..and more
    Options to add remote sensors and zigbee smart plugs
    Nice color touchscreen with the ability to quickly see the local weather. click on the weather icon on the Tstat and you can see several days of forecast for your area.
    I like the fact that you can program the screen to stay on all the time and choose how dim you want it to be when it is in rest. This is nice because I can easily look across the room to view the temp whereas the Nest required me to walk past it or wave my hand.
    The energy reporting is real time! I don’t have to wait until the next day to see energy usage.
    I can customize the energy report by simply toggling on or off the options I do or don’t want to see. This includes, set temp (separate heat and cool lines), outdoor temp, humidity level, separate lines for compressor and auxiliary.
    Scheduling set temps is very easy using the web portal
    Humidity level can be set manually to a specified humidity percentage or I can choose a “frost control level” which automatically balances it based on outdoor temp and indoor temp settings.
    While not the simplest to install given the addition of the EIM, the Ecobee tech support team was easy to reach, extremely knowledgeable of the product and patient and courteous with my many questions.
    I won’t call this a pro or a con, but lets just say the Ecobee may not win any artistic design awards for its looks. I’m totally fine with it, its what’s under the hood that counts. It does not look like an old-fashioned Tstat like some of the Honeywell, or a new-age tech gadget like the Nest, but in my home decor it fits in nicely and I like the look.
    Tech support team is extremely knowledgeable of the both the product and general HVAC equipment

    My only real con would be the touchscreen being a little tough to navigate for larger fingers, but with the use of a soft touch tip pen designed for phones and a very light touch, it works just fine.
    Again, not necessarily a Con, but installation for the basic person can be a little tricky, which is why I assume they are only available at contractor supply. If you are not the tech savvy person, I suggest a pro install. However, if you are even somewhat handy, Ecobees tech support is awesome. (see above PRO)

    I am sure I am forgetting some things, but overall I couldn't be any happier with my decision to ditch the Nest and go to Ecobee. My electric usage is back down to where it should be and even lower than it was last year. And for the record, I am just a home user with no affiliation to Ecobee or any other company. I just wanted to post my findings to help the other homeowners like myself. I, like many other homeowners, bought into the fancy marketing, sleek looking Nest unit that is driven soley by marketing. In my honest opinion, Ecobee is a company driven by functionality and engineering and truly committed to the thermostat and HVAC industry.
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  2. #2

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    JMPhotog thanks for taking the time to provide this information. Do you know if your Ecobee is the same as this one on Amazon Ecobee a EB-STAT-02

  3. #3
    Junior Member

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    Yes, that is the same one.

  4. #4
    Junior Member

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    Thanks JMPhotog! I am on day 2 of an Ecobee Smart Si stat, with some coooold weather bearing down. I already share many of your opinions, and will post my own review/comparison later.

  5. #5
    HVAC Thermostat Specialist

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    On top of everything you can have the emergency heat and aux heat functional at the same time. With Nest you emergency heat is disabled if you use W1 for AUX heat. Thermstats are the same price, why somebody would choose Nest over Ecobee is beyond me...

  6. #6
    Junior Member

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    I have 4 of the ecobee 4's and am loving it!
    Tons of customization and I didn't buy into the nest crowd.
    I have had to email/call the Ecobee customer support, and like you, the response was phenomenal and VERY quick and they weren't reading from a script AND they KNOW their stat and can answer your questions at YOUR level of knowledge. They don't treat you like you don't know what you are talking about and they aren't in India (hehe)!
    What a difference a good customer support makes!

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