Costco Ecobee3 Lite Review

Ecobee In Christmas Tree

This weekend, we installed the Costco ecobee3 lite in our home. It’s in the December 2018 Coupon Book right now for just $139.99 on sale (through 12/24) and includes two room sensors at this fantastic price, the lowest Costco ecobee price ever offered for this bundle. Also, thanks to ecobee for sending us a unit to review. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based solely on our personal views. Your local utility company also likely offers a rebate on smart thermostats, thus saving you additional money. Our utility, PG&E, offers a $50 rebate, and some offer up to $110 off! That brings the overall cost down to $89 for us – making it pretty much a no-brainer to go out and buy one for yourself. Considering the ecobee can save you as much as 23% per year on your utility expenses, it should pay for itself pretty quickly – even without the rebate. You cannot get the ecobee 3 bundle in store, so make sure to order on before the deal ends!

Although we already have experience with home automation (we have a Smart Things hub), this is our first truly smart thermostat. We were a bit worried about how difficult it would be to set up – especially since we were replacing a “dumb” thermostat and had no idea if we’d have everything we’d need to install it. We were envisioning multiple trips to the hardware store and, possibly, several calls to ecobee tech support. Luckily, all our worries were for nothing and installing our Costco ecobee3 lite was a breeze.

Installing the ecobee
We found the installation of the ecobee to be extremely straightforward and simple. We’d estimate it would have taken us approximately 40-45 minutes max from start to finish if we didn’t also take the time to fill in previous holes and paint the wall.* All of the components necessary for attaching and hooking up the unit are included in the box and everything is packaged very nicely. The instructions in the box are very clear with helpful tips at the bottom of every page. The included label stickers for marking your wiring are a nice touch. They even include a power converter accessory in case you don’t already have a “C Wire”. (We didn’t need that – but if you did, we’d allot an extra 15-20 minutes for the install.) The only items you’ll need for installation are screwdriver and, if you can’t use the existing wall anchors from a previous thermostat, you’ll probably need a drill and 3/16″ drill bit. The base of the ecobee even includes a tiny level to make sure you install it straight on your wall – they thought of everything!

*You can use the included large circular wall plate to cover up any unsightly holes or marks left behind from your previous thermostat, but since we love the sleek, minimalist look of the ecobee thermostat, we didn’t want to diminish that by having a giant beige wallplate behind it. Therefore, we opted to fill in all the previous holes and paint the wall before we installed the ecobee; this added a couple extra hours to the project when you include drying time for the putty and paint.

Setting Up the ecobee
Once we installed the ecobee on our wall, it was time to fire the unit up and see what it could do. We switched the circuit breaker back on and, voila, the “hi” message appeared on the ecobee screen moments later. We have power!! Within a minute, the unit was walking us through the set-up process, running us through various screens and settings to confirm the set-up. It was all very intuitive and we honestly didn’t feel at any point that we were second-guessing ourselves – which is pretty rare. Once the final step is complete, you can start controlling your heating/cooling. We’d say it took about 5-7 minutes for the basic set-up. We’ve used it a lot the last couple days and it’s been great so far!

Tweaking Your HVAC System
Beyond the initial set-up, there is not a lot you have to do to use your unit day-to-day, but if you want to get the full benefit of all the programmability and technical wizardry of your ecobee, you’ll want to take a deeper dive into the settings. Not only can you set heating and cooling schedules, but you can also set up a vacation mode in advance, create reminders and alerts, and you can even set your ecobee to “follow you” around the house, using the room sensors to detect where you are and adjust settings accordingly.

Ecobee with room sensors

Ecobee with room sensors

Room Sensors
The coolest (no pun intended) feature of the ecobee3 lite from Costco is the included two additional room sensors. These essentially extend the range of your main thermostat’s temperature sensing abilities to the far reaches of your house.** With a typical thermostat, you can only measure the temp in the room/hallway where it’s installed; with the ecobee, however, you can finally get the A/C or heater to kick on when, for instance, your bedroom gets too hot or cold. This is especially helpful in multi-level homes where there can be a large temperature differential between upstairs and downstairs. These sensors can also detect presence so that you can set your ecobee to ignore the temp in those rooms if they are not occupied.

**The ecobee documentation says your ecobee may have difficulty connecting to sensors more than 45 feet away.

Final Words
Overall, we’re really liking the ecobee3 lite so far. We were thoroughly impressed by how easy they make it to install and set up. We really like that we can turn on the heat (or turn it off when our daughter decides to crank it up to 73) from the couch or while we’re in bed and can even check on the temperature in various rooms of our house when we’re not even there. That will come in handy if we go on vacation and want to make sure it’s not getting too hot or cold for our pets.

What we like even more is that it should end up saving us money in the long run with its intelligent presence detection and fine-tunable scheduling features that our previous dumb thermostat didn’t have. In other words, we will no longer be paying to heat or cool the house as much when we’re not there – although we can set the app’s geo-fence feature to turn the heat or cooling on when we’re within a certain distance from coming home. What a time to be alive!

We wish we had more time to more thoroughly test out ALL the features – especially trying out the Alexa interactivity and hooking it up to our SmartThings hub. We plan to set up such tasks as having SmartThings turn off the A/C if, say, the back door is open for more than 5 minutes. That’s awesome for a frugal dad like us. We will update the review once we’ve tested those features.

In all, we would recommend the ecobee3 lite Costco deal without any hesitation whatsoever to anyone without a smart thermostat. For those with a Nest thermostat (the only real competition), the ecobee seems like an upgrade over Nest if you get a unit with the added sensors; we think those make the system a whole lot smarter. With a 4.8 star rating with 328 reviews on you can rest easy knowing we’re not the only ones who think this thermostat is amazing!


How do smart thermostats save you money?

Being able to adjust the temperature differential so that your heater or A/C condenser cycles less (thus making it operate more efficiently) should start saving you money right away. An example would be if you set the heater to 72 degrees. Every time an old thermostat drops to 71 degrees it turns the heater on. On the ecobee you can set it to wait 2 degrees or more before it kicks on again, lessening how often it cycles on and not wasting as much energy warming up each time. Also, did you know 50% of households don’t set up their programmable thermostat properly? If that’s you (and yes, we’re guilty too), no need to worry with the smart thermostat because it’s always working, always cares, and never forgets, therefore saving you money.

Should I get the ecobee3 Lite or ecobee 4?
If you have a humidifier, dehumidifier, or ventilator that you need to control with your thermostat we recommend the ecobee 4 instead.

Ecobee Across Devices

Ecobee across devices

What are our favorite ecobee features?

  • Voice control
  • Control from the app while in bed
  • Room sensors so we’re not just measuring the hallway temp
  • Automatically turn on/off when we arrive or leave the house (geo-fencing)
  • Temperature differential settings so we can save money by having it cycle on/off less often

Ecobee vs Nest

  • Ecobee can average room sensor data between the rooms, Nest cannot
  • With Nest you can’t customize schedules for room sensors and it doesn’t have occupancy sensors in rooms
  • Nest uses “learning” whereas with Ecobee you can set more complex schedules
  • If you are home often and have an erratic schedule Nest does not work well
  • Much more detailed reporting, can compare year over year. Nest only compares to the previous month
  • The Costco ecobee3 bundle price is $139.99, the Nest bundle is $239.99
  • A lot of people don’t want Google to have even more data on you, and Nest is owned by Google
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