Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat Houses Amazon Alexa

Dave Zatz —  April 17, 2017 — 20 Comments

As foreshadowed by FCC documents, seemingly displaying a rear-firing speaker, ecobee4 product marketing materials that have come my way and a premature Lowe’s listing confirm the presence of Alexa… to not only adjust one’s temperature via far-field voice recognition, but leverage many if not all of Amazon’s voice assistant capabilities. Hey, look there’s even the signature blinking blue Alexa light pipe up top. The move isn’t entirely surprising given Amazon’s sizable investment in ecobee and their new program that makes microphone technology available to third-party partners.

Beyond Amazon integration, the ecobee4 smart thermostat appears somewhat sleeker than my existing ecobee3 – an upgrade as they continue to fight off the more well known, though less capable, Nest (that, to this day, still lacks remote sensors). Interestingly, Apple HomeKit capabilities remain and we expect the new model to launch within the next couple months given the abundance of leaks and steep ecobee3 discounts.

20 responses to Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat Houses Amazon Alexa

  1. I should add that Amazon is an investor in ecobee and given their hostile Chromecast/Apple TV actions why I find it interesting to see the parties retain Apple HomeKit support (in addition to SmartThings) — obviously they decided an open, agnostic approach would be better business in this category. Wonder how the Apple Store will handle it.

  2. I’m more excited with this than I probably should be.

  3. “I should add that Amazon is an investor in ecobee and given their hostile Chromecast/Apple TV actions why I find it interesting to see the parties retain Apple HomeKit support”

    Well, that’s a very specific issue for Amazon. They’re setting a massive pile of cash on fire for Prime Video, and they understand it lets them operate from a place of strength in the video lean-back market.

    They know you have to give them a full Amazon Video app on your STB that lets them do commerce, or you’ll have serious trouble competing with them there. They don’t care which way you let them win, but they’re not going to let you let them lose.

    Those dynamics don’t exist elsewhere, so it’s a one-off product category.

  4. Has anyone seen details on possible changes to the sensors? I have three ecobee 3 thermostats and a total of 5 sensors. It is a large home but I receive more frequent disconnect alerts than I expect – at least twice a week. Hoping the new model 4 and sensors would be more reliable.

  5. Without being able to review the on/off cycle times, the new one is still inferior to Nest.

  6. Michael Burstin April 18, 2017 at 9:06 am

    @Nestlover — what are you referring to?

  7. Michael Burstin April 18, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I’m sure this won’t be the case, but adding Alexa in the sensors would make this more useful – at least for me. Our ecobee is in a room we are not in very often — which is why the sensors are such a great thing with the ecobee.

  8. Michael, could be the case for many. My downstairs Nest is in a hallway, which isn’t so useful, but my upstairs ecobee is in our master bedroom, which would be useful (and where a Dot currently lives). Putting mic/speakers in the remote sensors means you’re going to have to plug them in… Instead, how about an upgraded Echo Dot with sensors that ecobee can tap into?

  9. Far Sleeker? Disagree, I like my original E3 shape much better. The E4 looks like a bubble.

    >obviously they decided an open, agnostic approach

    HA! HAHAHAHAHA! There are almost no useful IFTTT triggers/actions supported, you have to route through Wink to get access to individual sensor data, and there is no local Z-wave/Zigbee control. Open/agnostic my foot.

  10. Open/agnostic in the sense that they’re not restricting access to Alexa, are retaining HomeKit and SmartThings integration. Not that it’s ideal. IFTTT has always been a little hacky for me and not quite the glue I’ve been looking for. Maybe one day.

    After reviewing the e4 promo image against the ecobee3 marketing material, I had revised the post from ‘far sleeker’ to ‘somewhat sleeker’ as I suspect they’ve had some fun softening out the screen lines with Photoshop or Illustrator. Your comment came in well after my update tho, which is interesting. I do like the rounder shape and suspect the light bar will give it a little more personality. But it still doesn’t appear to have the same build quality or elegance of Nest.

  11. Meh

    Really expected more from Ecobee than silly Alexa integration. People don’t voice command their therms often enough to care. What they want is voice control if/when they need it on occasion and more importantly easy scheduling, geofencing that works will more than one person in the home and remote access. The days of $250 thermostats is coming to an end. I have a Lyric T5 which is Alexa and Homekit aware and it cost me less than $100. If Alexa is your biggest feature ..as a vendor you need to rethink your business model.

  12. Agree on price. One way I partially justified my original Nest purchase was as ‘wall art’ — but the novelty factor is long gone and pretty sure neither of my “smart” thermostats have actually reduced our energy expenditures over our former programmable Honeywells. The main feature I’ve appreciated is remotely turning on heat or air when returning from a trip or remotely turning off when I may have forgotten. Tstats under $100 do that.

  13. “One way I partially justified my original Nest purchase was as ‘wall art’ — but the novelty factor is long gone and pretty sure neither of my “smart” thermostats have actually reduced our energy expenditures over our former programmable Honeywells.”

    You need better justifications. I justify my ever expanding collection of Hummel figurines as a way to bless our happy home. I strongly suspect such blessings act to reduce our energy expenditures.

  14. Let’s not over complicate things, for most people a thermostat is a set and forget device. An appliance. Simplicity is second to price. Tech freaks a lot of people out.

  15. Have had some interesting private and social media conversations surrounding power – wondering if there will be enough power to, say, stream music around the clock or just enough to respond to simple directives. And will the PEK adapter limit uptake?

  16. Michael Burstin April 20, 2017 at 11:08 am

    I can’t imagine there being very good sound quality though a 1cm built-in speaker to really want to try that :)

  17. True… but for talk, vs music, CNN via TuneIn, Echo Dot has been sufficient.

  18. Thanks for the article, Dave.

    Dale, are you 12?

    Harrison, are you a business genius? You must be to think that you’re qualified to tell Jeff Bezos to rethink his business model.

    Chucky, superiority complex? You come off as quite pompous.

  19. Joe that’s an Appeal to Authority logical fallacy. As smart as Bezos is that intelligence didn’t prevent the colossal failure of the Fire phone. Now Amazon has an Echo Look camera that also looks horrible. Amazon amazes me with AWS and their distribution prowess. Their prowess in hardware and software that is consumer facing is rather pedestrian.

    I’ll repeat my summary. Today consumer are not interested in purchasing smart thermostats at $249. Every they need to do can be done with a $120 thermostat adding Alexa will not generate a significant sales increase. Thermostat innovation is largely over.

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