Ecobee Smart Home Ecosystem Review: Easy Upgrade – WIRED

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The Ecobee smartphone app is an excellent companion too. You can see everything from the live camera view to real-time temperatures in each room. I can quickly see when my dog jumps on the couch when no one’s home (and even yell at him to get off via the included speaker in the SmartCamera). It can also tell you which rooms are currently occupied if you’re hunting for someone, like a child.

Like most smart thermostat makers, Ecobee claims you may see up to a 23 percent reduction in heating and cooling costs thanks to its smarter use of your HVAC system. I can’t speak to this, as we installed ours right after moving in and promptly had the house re-insulated. It’s hard to see any savings from the device itself considering the upgrades we made to the home.

But I will say that, unlike many smart home gadgets I have tried in the past, Ecobee’s system continues to be rock solid after more than six months of continuous use, with zero issues at all to speak of. It even reminds me to change my air filters. Nice.

The door alerts and motion sensors work well, and there’s even a way to make sure they don’t go off every time your pets move around the house. The camera has similar options.

Upgrade Potential

By default, you’ll need to manually arm or disarm the Ecobee system when you leave or enter your home so that it doesn’t blare an alarm. If an intruder is entering, the system doesn’t actually talk to the local police. You’ll have to hope the alarm scares them away. I feel uncomfortable having an alarm system directly linked to the police (and potentially burdening them with false alarms), so this is actually a perk for me. 

If you subscribe to Ecobee Haven for $5 per month, it’ll automatically arm and disarm the system for you, and it’s smart enough to know when you’re the one that’s entering your home. This service also enables smoke alarm detection (the sensors listen for it, they don’t actually detect smoke) and 30-day video history so you can save clips. I paid for it—less than $100 per year for cloud video backup alone was worth it for me.

If you’re worried about potential hacks (and you should be), Ecobee is generally in a good place. It has had no known incidents in the last two years, according to the Mozilla Foundation, and the company also uses the HackerOne platform to allow hackers to suss out potential vulnerabilities. 

Down the line, I’d like to add an outdoor camera to monitor the large shed where I do most of my work, as well as smart light switches, air quality detectors and alarms, and maybe even a smart lock. Out of that list, the company only currently offers the smart switch, but I hope to see it expand so I can equip my entire home with one system.

Still, six months in, it’s the perfect starter toward a fully automated home. 

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