Ahem....Ecobee 3 Thermostat, well now I have a Nest

Discussion in 'Smartphones, Computers, Gaming and Networking' started by Jay Brown, Dec 12, 2016.

  1. Jay Brown

    Jay Brown Well-Known Member Donor Top Poster


    I've been looking at this since I had my entire Unit replaced at the beginning of September. My Electric Bill as a result of the replacement has dropped an average of 30 Dollars compared to statistics from this time last year.

    One of the first things I checked was the wiring scheme for the Ecobee 3 on their website at https://www.ecobee.com/ and the system would work. During Black Friday the price dropped to $198 from $249 but I had other obligations to take care of (significant other....). I already had a Phillips Hue system working, and now a new Smart Crock for my birthday pot that uses WeMo (horrible and unreliable interface, but great for cooking.)

    So a few days ago I decided to order the Ecobee 3. With the amount of praise this system has been receiving compared to the Nest, I figured this would be a great addition to my little set up. The unit came in Saturday afternoon, unboxed it and read the instructions which were straight to the point. The system comes with the Thermostat, mounting bracket and screws, instructions, and one sensor. The sensor can be placed in another area of your home and communicate with the main unit for temperature readings and for when someone is in the room. You can purchase additional sensors and place them all around your home if needed.

    I turned off the old unit at the circuit breaker, then removed the thermostat. I recorded the wiring scheme then proceeded to put the Ecobee together.


    From unboxing to getting the unit physically installed on the wall took between 30 to 40 minutes. Once I turned back on the circuit, the Ecobee turned on and gave you an introductory procedure. The configuration of the unit for me took the longest, for it asked various questions such as, are you setting this up for an Air to Air or Geothermal unit. I had no clue what these terms meant, but Google is your friend. Then proceeded to enter dimensions of the townhouse, how many floors, location, and wifi. You can do many of these tasks via your smartphone or tablet, but I used the head unit.

    The head unit has a sensor which activates a more detailed display once a person walks near the unit. When you approach the unit, it will just display the temperature. When you are close to the unit, it will then display an option to check the local weather and additional settings.

    The App mirrors the interface found on the head unit and has the same settings.




    You also have custom settings which are simple to configure. For example, my Thermostat is set to 68 Degrees when I'm home, 64 when I'm away, and 66 when I'm asleep. The unit will turn on at 6 in the morning if the temperature is below 68 degrees, then turn off when I leave for work at 7. At 5 in the evening the unit will turn back on using the Home setting and heat the house, if needed, to 68 degrees. If the temperature is above 75 degrees, while home, the AC will turn on. 75 Degrees is also the same setting I use for when I'm away and when I'm asleep.

    There's also a vacation setting you can use for when away for long periods of time.

    The unit also has a web interface that can be reached from anywhere around the world. Very similar to the Head Unit and Mobile layouts, the Web Interface is very easy to read and manipulate. There is also a window in which after 30 days of use, the system will give you a report on how it has worked in your home. This can obviously be used as a means to conserve energy or make adjustments to areas around the home where sensors are located.

    I also have this unit connected to my Echo Dot, but I did have to rename the unit to "thermostat" in order or Alexa to understand my command. "Alexa, set thermostat to 65 degrees", for example, and you'll hear the AC unit kick in. I also have it connected to iffttt, but for what the system already does out of the box, I don't have much of a need for that particular interface for now.

    The only drawback is that the app and unit are "internet dependent", meaning that the system communicates with an Ecobee server for data and commands. If you tell the unit to adjust the temperature, the info goes out to the web first, then back to the unit. I did suffer intermittent internet connectivity this weekend, and that is where I discovered the problem. There is also a review on youtube which describes this same issue. The unit can be installed without network configurations, but I'm not sure if the app or web interface will work.

    This was an easy setup and it just works. I'm looking forward to the type of report I will receive after 30 days with the unit. I've checked the current settings, and the unit is in "Away" mode and sensors read as "unoccupied". So far no glitches with the interface.
  2. Steve Wright

    Steve Wright Active Member War Zone Member

    I'm about 2 months in and loving it so far. I went with it over the Nest mainly because of the room sensors and HomeKit connectivity. There was definitely a slight drop in my bill last month and my house has been much more comfortable. Never too hot or too cold.
  3. Jay Brown

    Jay Brown Well-Known Member Donor Top Poster

    This thing came out of left field for me. The Nest was at the top of the list until I read an article on Cnet, then saw a video for the Ecobee Lite. The sensor was a biggie for me because I have been dealing with extreme hots and colds during the Summers and Winters, so I had to go with the $249 version. Now I can actually see the temperatures including humidity levels on both floors and adjust accordingly. It's 70 degrees outside right now and humid, now I can look at my app and check the temperature inside my home, which is at 69 degrees downstairs, and 70 upstairs.
  4. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Well-Known Member Top Poster

    I've been happy enough with our Nest thermostat and fire/carbon monoxide detectors but these certainly do review well.
  5. Jay Brown

    Jay Brown Well-Known Member Donor Top Poster

    Andrew my coworker has great interest in the Nest Protect Smoke detector. He's also interested in getting an Ecobee 3 so he may base his decision on either the Nest or Ecobee 3 based on my experiences.

    Sent using LG G5
  6. Steve Wright

    Steve Wright Active Member War Zone Member

    I did go for the Nest protectors as well. Not a cheap investment and I do have more rooms to go but they are great devices. Definite recommendation if time to change up your smoke detectors.
  7. Jay Brown

    Jay Brown Well-Known Member Donor Top Poster

    Do the Nest Protect detectors run independent of the Nest Thermostat?

    Sent using LG G5
  8. Jay Brown

    Jay Brown Well-Known Member Donor Top Poster

    Well my Ecobee 3 crapped out after 4 and a half months. The display no longer works and there appears to be no power going to the Thermostat. I still had the original thermostat and connected it back to the wall. It works great. I decided to get on the phone with Tech Support for the Ecobee and as expected, they wanted me to take pictures of the wiring, no problem. They had me connect the R wire to the Green to see if the fan would turn on, and it did. I did not have a Volt Meter to test the voltage of the wiring, but I told them that the original Thermostat works fine. They also wanted me to install a PEK, Ecobee provides if you don't have a Common wire, for example. This installs directly onto the the main unit. Well that didn't work. So they left me a ticket number and I contacted them via email a few days later. It was like a canned response, we need to see pictures of your wire connections. I told them I already sent them images of the wiring and that the system does not work. Enter the "Runaround". I said screw it, I know I have a warranty, but dealing with these people made my BP rise and I didn't want that on my watch.

    So I looked for more troubleshooting tips, and this is where I discovered the issues with Customer Support. The same runaround, but some people did manage to get an RMA. Some people are in the same boat as me, very frustrated after explaining to Tech Support that the wiring is fine, the Unit is fine, and the voltage readouts are correct.

    Not wanting to deal with these people again, I looked into the Nest, which was my first choice to begin with. I ordered one from Best Buy with Geek Squad support. Took a bit to get the correct wiring scheme for my HVAC unit, but it turned on and began to cool, but it would fail after an hour of cooling. I would have to take the unit off the wall and charge it with a Micro USB Cable attached to the wall or to my computer, which would take an hour. I did some research online and discovered the need for a Common wire to keep 24v constant power to keep the internal battery charged above 3.6 volts. Anything below 3.6 would cut off the wireless and eventually the ability to use power coming from the R cable.

    Well I knew I had a common wire, but confidence began to fade in my wiring set up. I knew when I had the Ecobee installed, I took some pictures of the original wiring, but I could not find them. So I looked online, and the majority of common wires were blue, but there were some that were black. There was a brown wire that could be used for O/B but it was not in use. The only way to figure this out was the get a technician to check the wiring, or buy a Volt Meter. Knowing that the original Thermostat worked, I just bought a Volt Meter, tested the wiring, and discovered that the Blue was in fact the Common Wire with 24 volts. So what was causing the Nest to shut off after cooling. This is where "Apollo 13" comes into play because I started monitoring the Voltage of the Nest and eliminating wires here and there.

    Now mind you, this issue spans across an entire week and my stubborn self wasn't going to concede and Take the L. It's been in the 80s as of late and I needed a cool house. One thing I did take into consideration, is that if I just ran the fan, the Nest doesn't shut down. It will maintain power and I can use the app on my phone or the web interface to check its status. On one of the forums I found, a user set his fan to cycle 15 minutes every hour to circulate air in his home. I tried that and my Nest stayed active all day. I looked at another forum and decided to remove the white wire for "heat". Now the AC turns on, shuts off when it reaches its cooling level, then turns back on again to cool without the need to recharge the nest. So confidence is beginning to come back as I feel that I have accomplished something here.

    My only gripe is the lack of sensor for the Nest, and this makes the Ecobee3 such a great unit, sans the tech support IMO. I know that throughout the months, my upstairs level was usually a degree higher than downstairs, so if the Thermostat is set to 75, I'm really looking for it to be 74 degrees downstairs. I'm still doing some research on a means to add some type of sensor.

    So for now, the Ecobee is a brick, and the Nest is up and running after getting all of the kinks out.

    There's a little bird that's been telling me to relax and think a bit more primitive regarding all these tech gadgets.
  9. Mike B

    Mike B Well-Known Member Donor War Zone Member Top Poster

    I have the same "dumb" programmable thermostat that that came with the HVAC back in 2010. I don't even program it, just set it manually. If the house is too cold I turn up the heat. If too warm I turn on the AC. Both the heater and the AC are good and strong so I don't even have to wait that long.

    Good luck!
  10. Chris Slade

    Chris Slade Active Member War Zone Member Top Poster

    I have installed probably 50 Nest stats, nah probably more, seven in my place alone, never an issue with the hardware. Issues with what they really do sure, but all of my installations are not what you would call typical. Overall a pretty decent unit.

    I bought an Ecobee 3 last week and am putting it in a house that is being done over the next little while, this will be my first ecobee, so I have no idea how it will go. I bought it because of the sensors, that just makes sense in this house. If it takes a dump and I have to replace it I'll be pissed.
  11. Chris Slade

    Chris Slade Active Member War Zone Member Top Poster

    For a guy who doesn't to residential work, I sure have been doing a lot of it over the last year or two. But most of these are not typical houses. Working on a design for one now where the ventilation system alone with be in the $750K area.
  12. Eric

    Eric Active Member

    I've been running a Nest Thermostat for about 8 months. I like the wi-fi remote access, but I'm not a fan of the programmability. It is designed first and foremost as a "learning" thermostat, as such it doesn't cater too well to a control freak with a weird schedule like I have (any given week I can be on second shift or first, or split, etc). I'd personally be happier with a device that let me set up several different programs that I could activate based on my current work schedule, plus have the usual away/vacation schedule.

    I knew this going in to it, but since the Nest was a gift, I installed it. Happy with it for what it is.

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