Considering an Ecobee


Hey everyone,

I have no idea if I put this in the right category, so apologies if not. I currently have 2 Honeywell thermostats on my new-ish HVAC units (both 2 years old). I don’t know what model they are, but I was able to buy this bridge that allows them to connect over Wi-fi so that I can control them remotely. I have been pondering replacing one or both of them with an Ecobee, mainly because you can view the runtime history of the units online, which I can’t do with the Honeywells. But, I am not sure it is worth the expense. Also, if I set up an Ecobee with the room sensors, I am wondering if that would actually cause my units to run more than they do now, but since I am not really sure how much they run now, I don’t know for sure. Both units have now been detected by my sense unit, and I think it might be useful to see how the tracked usage would compare with something I could look at coming from the thermostat. So my question is, what do you all think? Is it worth it to replace a perfectly functioning smart thermostat with a slightly smarter one? Would there be any other benefits to it? If I didn’t have to get two of them, I might have already done it. Welcome any input!


I personally love my EcoBee and would highly recommend it. I have the EboBee 3 Lite with currently 4 additional Room sensors. I used to only have 2, but found that this wasn’t sufficient for my current house setup so I added 2 more. It has primarily improved my presence detection in the living room so it doesn’t think nobody is home while we are. Based on the reports from the EcoBee I have so far saved over $300 in energy costs over the past 2 years (and I have also seen it in my electric/gas bills) so it has paid for itself already.


I’m an Ecobee fan. Swapped out two working Nest thermostats for Ecobees a couple of years ago for two reasons:

  1. Sensors - Nest didn’t have them at the time and at night Nest didn’t do a good job of keeping bedrooms at the right temperature.

  2. Data access and export - Ecobee was open with all the historical data that Nest locks away.

If you don’t need a proprietary Honeywell thermostat, as some variable speed systems are wont to need, and like to look at the data, then I would heartily recommend Ecobees. I have two Ecobee 3s in service.


How would I know if my system requires a proprietary Honeywell thermostat? The Ac units are Amana, if that helps. Also, how would Ecobee know how much I am saving if it doesn’t know what my usage was before?


Look at the description of your particular Amana AC unit - Ecobees and Nests can handle single and two-stage systems. But if you need a multistage or variable speed system, you’ll need a proprietary thermostat to control it.


Did you have a programmable thermostat before? Those are pretty high savings numbers for what is effectively a programmable thermostat that provides remote accessibility. I love my Ecobee but to say that I’ve saved much of anything over my 10 year old programmable thermostat would be an exaggeration at best. That being said my Ecobee is much easier to program and make changes to rapidly so I likely have some savings from adjusting the thermostat as the seasons change.


So I can’t remember exactly what the model is, but in the status on the thermostat I only see two stages. Does that mean it’s okay?


Your thermostat looks like this one:

Can do up to 3 heating stages and 2 cooling stages. Looks like it has been programmed for 2 cooling stages. I’m guessing you should be able to replace with an Ecobee unless you use some of the complex associated accessories.


Thanks! Does the Ecobee reporting tell you how much it runs both stages vs just one? I feel like my A/C runs more than it should, because both units are almost brand new (and we replaced 15 year old units), and we also got new windows, added insulation, all that. Still, I find that the air runs during the day when it is set to 76 more than (I think) it should. With all the trees around my house providing shade and no option for solar, I was hoping the inside would stay cooler than that with the new windows and what-not.

Also, do you guys have an opinion on how high to set the temp when away? Before I got these new units, I had it set to go up to 79 or 80 during the day when we weren’t here. But the A/C guy said it was better to keep it within 3 degrees of the temperature I want the house to be when we get home (we try to keep it at 73 in the summer, 70 in the winter). I think doing it the old way would save a lot, but I don’t know how hard that would be on the units themselves.


A few answers.

  • I don’t have a 2-stage cooling or heating system, but when I look at the Ecobee export, it’s pretty clear that if I did, 2nd stage data would be spelled out in additional columns. I have enclosed a sample - 5 min interval, and probably more info than you are going to want, but you do see all the sensor temps, etc.
  • A lot of your answers depend on the type of heating and cooling you have as well environment you live in. We live in a pretty temperate climate but our AC comes on regularly upstairs since our house is stucco and the sun heats the outside pretty heavily each day, especially when the days are longest. We can feel the heat radiating well into the evening, but thermal mass has its advantages as well.
  • I do think that modern AC units, especially 2-stage units and beyond, are built for efficient dual-mode operation - cooling the temperature, and maintaining with a heat load outside.
  • We have vacation home that has hydronic radiant heating, and the best advice for that type of heating is to keep the thermostat close to the target temperature, even in Away mode, since it can take a day or two to reach “cruising” temperature (but very efficient once it gets there).

But then again, your conditions will certainly vary.

EcobeeSampleSep18.csv (906.2 KB)



Let me add my voice to the chorus: get an Ecobee. I have an Ecobee 4, but it’s nearly identical to the Ecobee 3, with the addition of built-in Alexa support, which is nearly useless if one already has Amazon Echoes as it’s not the full system and is a bit sluggish. But don’t fear the remote sensors; they save me money, not cost money. The installation is simple, probably about the same as for your Honeywells. I, too, have two furnaces and two AC compressors, but they run in tandem as one unit so are controlled by one Ecobee thermostat. The only reason I have two is that I coundn’t find one high-efficiency gas furnace which would supply 190,000 BTU for my too-large house. Would you like to try an Ecobee 3? I happen to have mine as the family I was going to give it to can’t use it for an arcane, unusual reason. In any case, this is the right time to buy Ecobee as they just overhauled their web interface, iOS app and Android app, and, whilst the apps used to be “clunky,” they are now a pleasure to use. Plus, the thermostat is controllable by the Alexa system, the Google Home system, Wink, SmartThings and, as far as I know, all the other home automation hubs and smart assistants.

Jeff Broido


That’s good to know, because I actually was looking at the 3. I can control my thermostats now with Alexa, but I never do it. Much easier for me to just use the phone. So then I was trying to decide between the 3 and the 3 lite. I don’t have a humidifier or dehumidifier, and it seems that is the main difference. I am also assuming that since my Honeywells are “smart” that I have (they actually were thrown in for “free” by the installer lol) that C-wire thing I keep reading about, but I haven’t checked yet to make sure.

So, if you have an Ecobee 3, how much would you want for it? :slight_smile:


From the Honeywell diagram, it looks like you will have an existing C-wire (common). Usually it’s not whether a thermostat is smart or not that determines whether a C-wire is needed, though. It’s whether or not the thermostat is designed to scavenge power and save it when the heat or cooling is on - the one nice thing about Nests is that they don’t need a C-wire, while Ecobee’s have relatively painless solution to improvise a C-wire like connection.


Okay, I’m hoping that part will be pretty straightforward. I have only installed one of these myself once before, and I didn’t have some of the colored wires I was told to connect, but it seemed to work out fine. And that was before I had Google!

One more question on the room sensors for Ecobee, will the dogs wandering around make them think someone is home? I am guessing yes, in which case I’ll have to be careful where to put them.


If you are a programmer, the Nest thermostats can allow you to capture the long term run data as well.

(I’m a Nest fan myself… had them since the first versions…)

But I can see the appeal of the Ecobee. I’d say in either case, as long as the thermostat can handle the stages, either will be useful for you. (The latest Nest versions support 3 stage heating / 2 stage cooling.)


Maybe things have changed, but when I looked at grabbing data from my Nests, it required me to poll and save the history, even though Google was squirreling away the full time history for their purposes. I’m not anti-Google - I still have Nest Protects and Cams, but Ecobee download access to the full time history flipped my switch on my purchase decision.


With the Nest API (which you have to register to use), you can know when all of the state changes occur on the Nest. You can then record them -for your own personal use-. Any commercial use beyond a two week window is not permitted by google’s ToS. (And yes, I have an issue with this – but for my home automation, I just keep logs of state changes for my own use…)


Ecobee sometimes has factory refubs on their site to purchase. I bought three additional ecobee3 devices (that I still have to install) for nearly half off. In the end I’ll end up with five of these things installed plus room sensors.

It really depends on the other rooms. Ecobee averages the temperature of all the sensors, including the one in the main device. I’ve seen some people put two sensors in a single room to provide that room with a slight advantage in the averaging.

You also then have the ability to ignore certain rooms at certain times of day. For example during our ‘sleeping’ profile the upstairs ecobee in charge of our upstairs AC system ignores three of the four sensors and only uses the sensor in our master bedroom for that profile. I don’t care if my office gets to 80* overnight because I left a window open for a cat during the summer, and being able to ignore that sensor overnight lessens how much the system will run overnight.


According to ecobee pets will not trigger them if they’re placed up at human heights.


I love our Ecobee for the most part. The only thing I dislike is how granular the times are for the scheduling. We wakeup at 6:15AM every day and I’d like to be able to set the thermostat to come out of setback at 5:45AM (giving it 30 minutes to bring the house back up to temp in the dead of winter, for example), but settings can only be configured at 30 minute intervals, so I have to choose from either 5:30A, or 6:00A, the former being too early, and the latter, sometimes too late.

It does have an adaptive recovery feature that would theoretically eliminate this issue, but I’ve found it to be overeager, often having the house too warm too early.