ecobee3 lite Thermostat Review
- Relatively large touchscreen display
- Compatible with around 95 percent of all HVAC systems currently in use
- Supports remote sensors
- Offers free monthly energy reports
- Price might be considered quite high comparing to competition and sensors are not included
- Doesn’t support humidifiers or dehumidifiers
- Can’t control accessories: humidifier, dehumidifier, ventilator, ERV or HRV
Engineers from ecobee have claimed that homeowners can save upwards of 23 percent on their energy bills with their technology. At the same time, ecobee3 lite reviews were coming out that mentioned this smaller version of the company’s thermostat cost less to buy. However, the standard package does not include any room sensors as with the ecobee3. We wanted to know if you could save on purchasing ecobee3 lite thermostat while reducing your energy bill at the same time.
What We Liked
Just like the full-sized ecobee3, the ecobee3 lite edition features support for a PEK adapter that allows you to connect your thermostat to a system that lacks a common wire. This doesn’t rely on power cycling or any other hacks, so the ecobee3 lite won’t put any unnecessary strain on your HVAC system. As the name suggests, this unit is a more affordable than the full-sized ecobee3 version. You might be able to save almost half the money you would have spent on the original version of the ecobee3 thermostat, which can help to offset any money you’ll need to spend getting extra room sensors.
What We Didn’t Like
Original ecobee3 lite units didn’t work with room sensors at all. While updates have given you the option of using them, you’ll have to purchase them separately since the package doesn’t come with any. When adding that cost to the ecobee3 lite thermostat price the total turns out not that impressive as it might seem from the first glance. The total cost of the ecobee3 lite thermostat and 2 pack of the room sensors will be almost the same as the original ecobee3 with single room sensor included in the standard packaging.
You don’t need to necessarily purchase room sensors. Any ecobee3 lite thermostat that’s installed without room sensors will function like any other smart thermostat, and this diminishes some of what makes the ecobee line so different from the competition.
The ecobee3 also doesn’t feature any support for HVAC accessories (such as humidifier, dehumidifier, ventilator, ERV or HRV), which might make it incompatible with the system you have installed in your home unless you disable these devices.
Design & Interface
The ecobee3 lite’s body features corners that are more rounded compared to the original ecobee3 thermostat. A few early ecobee3 lite review pages claimed that this was a drawback, but it looks quite attractive in most homes. While the original wasn’t exactly heavy, the ecobee3 lite version weighs slightly less as you might expect. The dimensions are quite the same of both thermostats.
Since the designers were going for a minimalistic look, it makes sense that the ecobee3 lite doesn’t have a complicated interface. As the following video shows, the user is presented with little more than a few numbers and a slider to control temperature settings:
The striking monochromatic display is occasionally spiced up with a bit of color, but it never gets used in a way that makes the system look at all garish. Those with vision deficiencies shouldn’t have much of a problem using the comparatively big 320×480 display either.
Ease of Use
A simple slider is used to adjust the temperature, which can occasionally get stuck to some degree. You might find that if you have bigger fingers that the slider jumps to a higher or lower temperature than you would have wanted, but this is a problem that plagues touchscreens in general. Quick temperature changes can also be made through the mobile app instead. Long-term changes can be made through the scheduling screen.
Setting & Editing the Schedule
Tapping the menu icon on the ecobee3 lite thermostat display will give you the option to configure a schedule. Rather than having to wipe out your existing schedule whenever you plan to be away for a long period of time, the same menu allows you to activate vacation mode. You’ll be able to shut this off the same way once you return, which will return to your default schedule.
You can then edit your regular schedule at any time. The ecobee3 lite will present you with some basic weather and comfort information, which you can use to ensure that any settings you pick are rational. While it doesn’t offer a special icon to show you that you’re saving energy, the ecobee3 lite does provide more than enough data to help you pick schedule settings that consume less power.
Since the scheduler software supports a full week, you can always set different temperatures on your days off too. A few extra features were added to the scheduler, which help to make it a bit more useful to those who rely on manual settings. You can use the special reminder icon to configure alerts, which can be sent to a mobile device if you so choose. Custom comfort settings can be used to further fine-tune the way that the thermostat decides when to turn the furnace or AC unit on and off. A small gear on the menu represents the quick changes option, which can be used to reconfigure any of these as fast as you can tap on it.
Smartphone/Web App Features
Since the ecobee3 lite works with the same mobile apps that provide support for other ecobee products, it benefits from countless patches that have already gotten applied. A residential Web portal allows users of nearly any type of device to access their thermostat over the Internet.
You should be able to use either of these resources to do everything that you could while working with the thermostat’s physical interface even when you’re not there. The newer portal offers a so-called Home IQ report, which provides some additional details about how much power you’re saving.
Multi-Zone Control Capabilities
One point that many ecobee3 lite review sites paid close attention to was the ability of this otherwise smaller device to support multiple HVAC zones. Homes that are already wired for multiple zones can interface directly with multiple ecobee3 lite thermostats. You could configure an individual thermostat to control each zone separately in this manner.
Energy Saving Features
As well as the scheduling features and the option use of room sensors, which can already drastically reduce the amount of energy your HVAC system uses, the ecobee3 lite uses a series of intelligent algorithms programmed into the firmware to figure out when a building is occupied. These algorithms were the focus of early ecobee 3 lite review pages, and they can potentially save even more power when used alongside ceiling fans.
The fact that these algorithms automatically adjust to conditions inside and outside of the home should help the thermostat to select reasonable temperature points, but the ecobee3 lite won’t go too much against the schedule that you program. Rather than learn about your daily schedule, this thermostat also gives you the option to input times that you’d like the heating or cooling system to dial itself back.
You could theoretically save even more power in this manner, which might be where the company gets the 23 percent figure from. Unlike some other smart thermostats, the ecobee3 lite supports a single fan relay. This gives you the option of running your whole house fan independently from your AC unit on warm days, which can save a massive amount of power. You won’t be able to control additional fan installations, but few homes have these so this shouldn’t be a problem for most users.
The ecobee3 lite product line is now Amazon Certified, which means that you can control them with your voice through select Alexa devices. Google Assistant users now enjoy support for their preferred platform as well, though support for smart-home integration technology from Alphabet took a while to activate.
Installation & Setup
Installing the ecobee3 lite is surprisingly simple, which makes it all the more puzzling that the installation guide is nearly 70 pages long. Don’t be fooled by the excess documentation. The Those who have R, G, Y, W and C wires need only connect five or six screw terminals and then put the thermostat back in the wall. Individuals who lack a common wire can use the included PEK module. The ecobee3 lite supports installation of multiple R wires in many cases. The configuration process uses the same menu system that the ecobee3 lite normally uses. You simply have to respond to a few questions and then you’re able to set a schedule for the first week you have your new thermostat. You’ll be able to revise this at any point in the near future if you make any mistakes.
If you have a line voltage thermostat or a bunch of HVAC accessories, then the ecobee3 lite might not be for you. Consumers looking for something that comes with room sensors and other niceties may not like it either. This might be quite a good thermostat for anyone who wants an extremely simple user experience while chopping a good chunk off of the initial upfront cost.
However, in case you’d like to utilize multi-zone climate management then you will need to purchase room sensors, which are not included in the standard package. The ecobee3 lite is an overall easy-to-use and efficient smart thermostat that should save most consumers a good chunk of their energy bill.