Building a smart home is easier than it seems. And a great first step is to install a smart thermostat to replace your old-school model.
One of the best options on the market is the Ecobee4. This smart thermostat, usually around $250, features built-in Amazon Alexa capability and can also work with Apple’s similar HomeKit protocol. Most importantly, thanks to smart sensors, it can make every inch of your home more comfortable no matter the season.
If you have an Ecobee4, this guide is for you. In this guide we’ll be walking through everything you might want to know about the multi-faceted smart thermostat including what it is, how to set it up, what you can do with it, using the device with Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit, troubleshooting common issues, and much more.
Here’s what to expect:
1. Unboxing and Setting Up Your Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
What’s in the Box | Before You Uninstall Your Existing Thermostat | Installing the Ecobee4 | Initial Setup for the Ecobee4 | Pairing a Room Sensor | Setting Up Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit
2. Using the Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
Say Hello to the Ecobee4 | Using the Ecobee4 App | Creating a Manual Schedule | Alexa, Change the Temperature (and More) | How to Use the Ecobee4 With Apple HomeKit | Other Ways to Control the Ecobee4
Unboxing and Setting Up Your Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
What’s in the Box
After opening up the Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat box, you’ll find the following items included:
- The Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
- A room sensor and stand
- A backplate for the thermostat
- A power extender kit
- A trim plate
- An installation guide
- Screws and drywall plugs
Before You Completely Remove the Old Thermostat
Thermostat wiring can be a tricky business. A number of different factors like your home’s age, location, and the type of heating and air conditioning system can lead to a wide variety and types of wires being installed.
Before jumping into installation, your first step is to the remove the cover from the existing thermostat. Take a picture of the wiring setup with your smartphone and then head to Ecobee’s compatibility checker here.
Using the online tool, you’ll select the specific wires seen in the setup and Ecobee will let you know if the Ecobee4 is compatible with your system. The good news is that 95 percent of existing systems should work just fine.
As a nice touch, before getting started, you should download the Ecobee companion app for iOS or Android. While you’ll need it later, it also provides a complete and easy-to-understand installation guide with a plethora of videos and other tips.
Installing the Ecobee4
The first step of installation is the most important, but it’s also something that many overlook. You need to make sure that the HVAC system is completely without power. The best way to do this is by flipping the specific breaker in a home’s breaker box. Hopefully, it will have some type of label.
Once that’s complete, its time to head back to the thermostat. Before removing any wires from the backplate, you’ll need to tackle the most difficult issue: the c-wire.
Also known as a common wire, it provides the constant power that the Ecobee4 needs for Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit support. And unlike the Nest Thermostat, the Ecobee4 features an always-on display that shows the temperature inside your home and the outside weather conditions.
Depending on a number of factors, your HVAC system may or may not offer a c-wire. The only way to tell definitively is to check the writing on your current thermostat. If a wire is connected to a port with a “C” label then you probably don’t have much to worry about.
If there is no c-wire, the situation becomes a bit more complex. One option is to take advantage of an installed wired not currently being used and repurpose that as the c-wire. Alternatively, Ecobee includes a Power Extender Kit that uses the existing wiring to provide full-time power to the thermostat.
How easy it is to install the Power Extender Kit will mostly depend on where your HVAC system is located. It may require calling in a professional, but still can be easily done by most users with basic DIY experience.
After that major step, it’s time to start unplugging wires from the existing backplate. As a nice touch, Ecobee includes wire labels to make better sense of the wiring. These labels, along with a photo of the existing setup, should make it much easier to correctly place the wires into the Ecbobee4 backplate.
Once the wires are removed and receive their label, you’ll need to anchor the new backplate to the wall with the screws and anchors. An optional trim plate is also provided and can be used to cover up any holes made from the previous thermostat. You can then place the wires in the new spots on the backplate.
Make sure to place any existing slack from the wires in the wall so the thermostat can snap on tightly and securely.
Now its time to turn the power back on to the thermostat. The screen should come to life and you can then go through the initial set up process.
Initial Setup for the Ecobee4
After starting up, you’ll begin a short set up process. The thermostat will be able to detect which wires are plugged in, and you’ll need to confirm that to continue.
Next, you’ll need to confirm if any type of accessory is in place. If so, you can configure a humidifier, dehumidifier, or ventilator to work with your system.
If you have a heating unit in place, you’ll need to tell the Ecobee4 whether it is a boiler or furnace.
Now it’s time to select a name for the Ecobee4. That will help identify it when controlling via Siri, Alexa, and other sources. You can select from a number of options or customize your own.
The next step is to connect to a local Wi-Fi network. There are two different ways to do this. You can use your iOS device or just select the network name and enter the password on the thermostat screen.
Once this step is complete, you’ll need to provide the current mode of your HVAC system: heat, cool, or automatic. Then let the thermostat know your ideal home temperature during the winter and summer months. Next, choose whether to disable or enable Smart Home/Away which we’ll go into more detail in a bit.
After selecting where you’re located and the correct time zone, you’ll see a short code made up of three letters or numbers that you’ll use to register the thermostat using the companion app. After entering the code, you can create an Ecobee account.
Pairing a Room Sensor
You’re almost completely done setting up the thermostat. The next step is to activate and pair the single room sensor that comes with the Ecobee4. You can add other sensors by purchasing an optional two-pair.
Stand near the thermostat, make sure it’s awake, and then pull the plastic pull tab on the back of the sensor. It will automatically appear on the thermostat screen. Select a name for it or create your own.
Once a sensor is active, you can take advantage of both the Smart Home/Away and Follow Me features that use motion to help keep a home comfortable.
You can mount a sensor on the wall with a screw or place it on a flat surface with the stand. For optimal readings, it needs to be at around 5-feet high and in a location with no direct heat or sunlight. The bee on the sensor should also be facing upwards and to the right.
Setting Up Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit
The final step is to enable both Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit. To enable Alexa services, enter your Amazon account info in the Ecobee app.
To add the Ecobee4 to HomeKit, first select the gear icon in the main thermostat screen on the app and then choose your setup.
On the next screen, you will select which thermostat to
add. A special HomeKit code will appear on thermostat screen. Hold your iPhone or iPad camera up to the code, and the two will pair. You can also enter the code manually.
2. Using the Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
Now that the Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat is completely set up, lets take a closer look at the ins and outs of the device.
Say Hello to the Ecobee4
The easiest way to think of the Ecobee4’s 3.5-inch screen is like an always-on old-school iPhone. When not active, it will show the time, current temperature inside, and weather conditions at your location. Wave your hand near the screen or touch it to bring up the main view.
Here’s a complete look the main screen:
By far the most used area will be the temperature slider, which allows you to adjust the heating or cooling in the home. To switch between heating, cooling, and an automatic setting, just tap right above the inside temperature display.
The menu button on the bottom left corner is the place to go for the large majority of different settings, or to tweak a specific schedule.
Another important part of the Ecobee4 is the top LED strip. This icon will let you know if your Alexa query was understood by flashing blue. A red light indicates that the microphone is on mute and not listening
Using the Ecobee App
One of the great features of the Ecobee app is that there is little to no learning curve. After starting up the smartphone app, you’ll select the specific thermostat. Then, as you’ll notice, the screen is identical to what is found on the thermostat itself.
On a tablet screen, thanks to the increased real estate, there’s more content to view. Tablet apps feature quick access tabs for the sensors, reminders/alerts, weather, Alexa voice control, and more.
Anyone with an Apple Watch also has quick and easy control of their thermostat on the wearable device. Using an Apple Watch complication, you can also see the Ecobee4 setting on any watch face.
You can also log-on to a thermostat through Ecobee’s web portal.
Creating a Manual Schedule
One big draw of any smart thermostat is its ability to save you money by creating a schedule that will set your home to a specific temperature at certain times of the day.
To set up this feature, head to the Main Menu and then select Comfort Settings. For three different options (sleep, home, and away) you’ll need to select the coolest and warmest temperatures desired for your home. For example, while you’re home, you can turn on cooling if the temperature rises above 77 degrees or the heating can switch on if it gets cooler than 66 degrees.
You can also choose which room sensors the thermostat should use to provide a better overall look at the temperature of the home.
To create a manual schedule on the Ecobee4, head to the Main Menu in the app or on the thermostat and then select Settings.
A default schedule is already available, but it’s easy to customize. Just select the day of the week, and select the specific schedule to adjust. You can also add new activities. To help make schedule creation faster, you can copy an entire schedule for one day to another. To do that, display the day, select the Copy button, and then choose the days to copy. Finally, just hit Save.
Using the Remote Sensor
Now that you’ve set a schedule, it’s time for the remote sensor and the thermostat to go to work in two different settings — Smart Home/Away and Follow Me.
As you could probably guess by the name, Smart Home/Away supplements your custom schedule. During an away time, if motion is sensed, it will automatically switch over to the home settings. And on the flip side, if no motion is sensed during a home period, it will change to away.
This feature helps to maximize your energy savings. You can enable or disable this setting by heading to Main Menu > Sensors > Smart Home/Away.
Sensors are also an important part of Follow Me. When the feature is active, it will look for motion on any of the chosen sensors. If sensed, the exact temperature reading from that sensor will determine whether to activate any heating or cooling. If more than one sensor detects motion, the average will be taken.
In practice, this feature will ensure the temperature is the most comfortable in the room you’re using.
Alexa, Change the Temperature (and More)
By far the most notable feature of the Ecobee4 is the built-in Amazon Alexa voice service. Almost anything you can do with the Amazon Echo line can be done with the smart thermostat.
Currently, there are more than 20,000 different skills available through Alexa. Think of the skills as voice-controllable apps. There’s something for everyone — everything from playing a round of Jeopardy to ordering a pizza and controlling other smart home devices. All you need to do is have a conversation with your thermostat.
On the bottom row of the thermostat screen or app, select the microphone icon to control the volume of the Ecobee4. You can also toggle the microphone on and off. The first step before talking to Alexa is to enable the Ecobee Plus skill. Just say “Alexa, enable Ecobee Plus.”
The handiest feature of the voice control is to change your thermostat settings with your voice. Just say “Alexa” and then your command. For example, “Alexa, turn the thermostat to 74 degrees.”
Here’s a partial list of some Alexa commands you can use to control the thermostat:
Get the temperature:
“Alexa, what is the current temperature?”
“Alexa, how cold it is in the [sensor or thermostat name]?”
Set the temperature:
“Alexa, tell ecobee to set the temperature in my [sensor or thermostat name].”
“Alexa, ask ecobee to set the [sensor or thermostat name] temperature to 72.”
Increase the temperature:
“Alexa, tell ecobee I’m cold.”
“Alexa, ask ecobee to make it warmer by 3 degrees.”
Decrease the temperature:
“Alexa, tell ecobee I’m hot.”
“Alexa, ask ecobee to make it cooler by 4 degrees.”
Set Away, Home and Sleep comfort settings:
“Alexa, tell ecobee I’m back home.”
“Alexa, ask ecobee to set my thermostat to home mode.”
“Alexa, tell ecobee I’m going out.”
“Alexa, tell ecobee good night.”
Resume your schedule:
“Alexa, tell ecobee to return to my schedule.”
“Alexa, ask ecobee to cancel hold.”
Get the current set point / mode:
“Alexa, ask ecobee what the [sensor or thermostat name] is set to.”
“Alexa, ask ecobee if heating is enabled.”
Get your equipment status:
“Alexa, ask ecobee what equipment is running.”
“Alexa, ask ecobee if my dehumidifier is running.”
There are a few ways to enable skills for the Ecobee4. You can check out the Amazon Skills Portal online or see everything available through the app by heading to the main menu and then Skills. You’ll be able to see curated lists of new, trending, and recommended skills.
If you’re looking for something specific, just search for it using the bar on top of the page. To browse the skills, just select Categories next to the search bar.
When looking on a specific skill page, you can see specific voice commands, a short description, customer reviews, and a quick way to reach support. Just hit Enable to begin.
Also, you can just say “Alexa, enable [skill name].”
Just to note, there are a few things that you can’t accomplish with the Ecobee4 like the voice calling and messaging feature.
How to Use the Ecobee4 With Apple HomeKit
And Amazon Alexa isn’t the only smart home game in town. The Ecobee4 can be used as a key component of a HomeKit setup.
The best way to use HomeKit controlling your thermostat settings with a simple Siri command from an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch. When away from home, you’ll need to have an iPad or Apple TV configured as a home hub for commands to work.
For more advanced users, the thermostat can be part of different HomeKit scenes and automation that tie together a number of different smart home devices.
Easily one of the best features to use with the thermostat is HomeKit geofencing. So, for example, once you’re a certain distance from your home, the Ecobee4 will automatically start cooling or warming to a select temperature.
Other Ways to Control the Ecobee4
Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit aren’t the only two ways to interact with the thermostat. Along with full IFTTT support, the thermostat can also be controlled with Google Assistant, the voice-powered AI found on all Android phones and the Google Home smart speaker.
3. Troubleshooting Specific Issues
Just like any modern technology, you’ll more than likely run into some type of issue while running the Ecobee4. Here are some common problems and what you can do to get back to normal.
Can’t Connect to Wi-Fi
While the Ecobee4 can operate your heating and cooling system without a Wi-Fi connection, you’ll need a wireless signal for other goodies that make the thermostat smart like Alexa and HomeKit support.
If you’re having issues with the thermostat getting a wireless signal, the easiest solution is to head to the thermostat. Go to Menu > Settings > Wi-Fi. You can then test your connection to both the internet and ecobee.com.
The next step to try is to hard restart the thermostat. Gently and easily remove the Ecobee4 from its backplate and then replace it after about a minute.
Hopefully, that will cure the problems. If not, you may need to turn an eye toward the Wi-Fi router. Since the thermostat isn’t mobile, try moving your router closer to the Ecobee4 and see if that helps the issue.
The most drastic fix is to replace the existing router with a new model or a mesh system like Eero or Orbi. Those can make quick work of any dead spots and make a huge difference in internet speeds in every inch of your home.
Problems With Adjusting Temperature on an Apple Device
If you encounter any issues with controlling the thermostat using Siri or the Home app on an Apple device, the best way to continue is to remove the HomeKit settings from your thermostat. On the Ecobee4 screen, select Main Menu > Settings > Reset > Remove HomeKit.
After that’s complete, you’ll need to add the Ecobee4 back into your HomeKit hierarchy, including any automation and scenes you’ve made.
“Alexa” Command Isn’t Activating on the Ecobee4
Another common problem is that the “Alexa” wake word isn’t activating the Ecobee4. The best way to tackle this issue is to make sure that there isn’t any other audio interference like a radio, TV, or loud fan near the thermostat.
While the built-in Alexa support is basically an Echo Dot, there are some important differences to note.
Thankfully, the Ecobee4 does feature the special Echo Spatial Perception feature that works in conjunction with other Echo devices in your home. It’s designed to make sure that only the closest unit responds to your query.
But, as of now, users are unable to change the wake word on the Ecobee4 or use voice training to help better understand your voice. Both of those are big helps to fine tune the Alexa experience on Echo devices like the Echo Show.
The Thermostat Isn’t Responsive
Finally, there could be a scenario where the thermostat display is completely frozen and you can’t control it through the companion device. The best way to take care of that is to hard restart using the method specified above — remove the thermostat from the backplate and then place it back on after around 60 seconds.
Taking a Smart Home to the Next Level
After reading this guide, hopefully you have a better understanding of all of the different features and other parts of the Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat.
With both built-in Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit support, the thermostat is a great way to bring a big dose of smarts to any household. Along with bringing easy climate control, the Ecobee4 is a perfect foundation to creating a customizable smart home.
Do you have any questions about Ecobee4, how to set it up, or how to use the thermostat? If you have an Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat, what do you think of the thermostat and its built-in Alexa capability? Let us know in the comments below!