With the release of the updated Ecobee SmartThermostat, the company has also refreshed the Room Sensor as the new SmartSensor featuring an updated appearance, that houses enhanced functionality, and improved mounting options. It comes bundled with the new ecobee, but also backwards compatible and sold independently in 2-packs for $79.
So what’s new? Most obvious is the presentation. Instead of the blemished Room Sensor, with a conspicuous cutout to enable motion/occupancy detection, the new SmartSensor is one solid surface and it’s way more elegant than the prior hardware. The only downside is somewhat increased depth of the SmartSensor. Whereas, the originals could be attached to a wall and were fairly flush against it, the new SmartSensors, if wall-mounted, protrude a bit more.
If you choose to not attache to the wall, the SmartSensor comes bundled with a nice magnetic base that you can attach. This allows you to place the sensor on a shelf, or table, etc. The old Room Sensor had a clip on plastic base that served the same purpose.
— Dave Zatz (@davezatz) June 3, 2019
The pairing process has also changed. Previously, you needed to be physically at your ecobee thermostat to pair the old Room Sensor. Now you just scan a QR code within the app for setup. The best part is that the new SmartSensors are backwards compatible with the ecobee3, 3 Lite, and 4.
As for motion and occupancy detection, the new SmartSensors allow for up to 140 degrees of horizontal detection and 100 degrees vertical. The old Room sensors went up to 120 degrees horizontal, and up to 30 degrees vertical. The increased detection allows for better presence detection.
Lastly, the new SmartSensor also has a larger battery compared to the Room Sensor. This allows the SmartSensor to last a couple years with a single CR2477 battery, compared to 12 months of the Room Sensor using the CR2032 battery.
Both the SmartSensor and old Room Sensor allow for remote temperature readings around your house. They both use the same 915Mhz band to communicate back to thermostat, but the new SmartSensor allows for up to 60ft, whereas the old Room Sensor allowed for 45ft. This is a welcome change for those of us that would receive the sensor “has not been detected” or “has been reconnected” notifications.
Both the new and the old sensors are available in HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant for remote readings as well. This allows you to take action, at least with HomeKit and Alexa, and fire off routines or automations. I tested motion detection within HomeKit (Alexa only supports temp readings), and the new SmartSensor seems to react the same way as the old Room Sensor which is to say not well.
The SmartSensor does detect motion quickly, but that motion remains triggered for up to 35 mins before resetting. My hope was that the motion sensing would act more like their Switch+ in HomeKit and have a much faster reset period to allow for better automations. This was not the case, but maybe something that could be addressed with a future update and/or in relation to ecobee’s broader smarthome aspirations.
Overall, I’d recommend these new sensors for your ecobee system if you’re having connection issues with your thermostat or you wanted a more modern look.