Skip to main content

Ecobee3 is the best smart thermostat for Windows 10 — period

Ecobee does not have an official app for Windows 10, but don't let that stop you from using the best third-party app around ecobee remote.

Ecobee3 and ecobee remote

Confession: I originally intended to write a review of the second-generation ecobee3 – a newish smart thermostat – and how it can work with Windows 10 and Mobile. Following this examination, I was going to write a shootout between Nest, ecobee3 and Wiser Air (which I recently reviewed) to see which had the best support on Windows 10.

As it turns out, I don't need to. Here is why.

I have tried quite a few smart thermostats including Nest, Wiser Air, and the TRANE XR524 for Nexia. All of them work one way or another with Windows 10 either through smart systems like Nexia or Insteon, through official apps (Wiser Air) or third-party apps (e.g. Cozy for Nest). That's great news if you are already invested in a system or prefer one over another for whatever reason.

Nonetheless, ecobee, in my opinion, not only has the best all-around hardware solution for a smart thermostat but the ecobee remote by Bernardo Zamora is better than everything else available for Windows 10 and Mobile.

So, spoiler alert: If you are thinking of going to a smart thermostat, just grab an ecobee3 and buy ecobee remote ($3.49). If you want to know why I believe that then read on for my full review.

ecobee3 – the hardware

The ecoebee3 is not new. It was announced in late 2014 but has continually improved and the second generation hardware revision is now shipping. That's fine as thermostats tend to have longer life cycles than laptops, phones, or PCs. After all, this is the sort of thing you're mounting to your wall — you wouldn't want to have to install something new every year.

Installation of the ecobee3 is like all the other smart thermostats I have tested. It comes in a fancy package with two back plates to cover up previous holes in the wall for installation. There are no batteries. The device runs on a five-wire system with a common wire (blue) that supplies its power. Most modern HVAC systems have a common wire setup, but I was pleased to see ecobee toss in a converter in the box for older systems. Last I checked for Nest you have to track down and buy one at an extra cost.

Installation was a breeze. The back plate and mount take two screws, and the wires snap into smartly laid-out ports. Ecobee includes screws, sinks, labels for your wires and detailed directions. From start to finish I had the ecobee3 up and running in 10 minutes.

Setup is also easy. The system connects to your Wi-Fi, and you can set up an account online or through any of their official apps on iOS and Android. If you are using ecobee remote (more on that below) you can use a generated PIN to add the app to your account. I like that ecobee is open to third-party apps – making a Windows 10 app didn't require any reverse engineering or 'hacks.'

The display on the thermostat is LCD, touch-enabled with a proximity sensor. Those features work and function well and are higher quality than most thermostats in this class.

The overall design of the ecobee3 interface looks like it was taken from Windows 10 with slim-fonts, dark backgrounds, and minimalist iconography. It's a very Modern looking thermostat. Fans of Microsoft's design aesthetic will think someone in Redmond made this.

Ecobee3 has many of the same features as other smart thermostats including local weather. However, unlike the Wiser Air, the ecobee3's weather is dead-on accurate. Weather includes sunrise, sunset, humidity, current temp, rain probability, and the full five-day weather forecast.

Approaching the ecobee3 you will see it shift from the current house temperature and outside weather to the full interface with controls. It's a neat trick as it makes the ecobee3's screen useful even when not being used actively.

Other features (opens in new tab) of the ecobee3 include:

  • Support for multi- stage heating and cooling equipment
  • HomeIQ for insights on your heating and cooling costs
  • Alerts and reminders for servicing or thermostat thresholds
  • Fan dissipation
  • Support for ventilators to pull in cooler air from the outside instead of using the AC
  • Support for humidifier systems to reach optimal settings
  • Home, Away, Vacation, and Night settings as well as user-defined programs

Logitech Harmony Elite remote working with ecobee3

Logitech Harmony Elite remote working with ecobee3

Ecobee3 also supports Apple's HomeKit, Amazon Echo, Wink, IFTT, and SmartThings. See ecobee's list of official partners (opens in new tab) for even more companies. You can also use it with a Logitech Harmony remote e.g. Harmony Elite. Unfortunately, ecobee does not support Z-Wave.

Price and Remote Sensors FTW

The ecobee3 retails for $249, which means you are not saving any money compared to any other competitors. For the price though you get one thermostat and ecobee's unique differentiator: their remote sensor.

The remote sensor is a small device about the size of a watch face that remotely samples the room's temperature. The concept is simple: your home is not the same temperature in all rooms. Some face the sun and get warm, others never get any sun and stay cool, not to mention the whole upstairs-downstairs distinction. By placing one of these remote sensors in another room, the ecobee thermostat can adjust the temperature by taking into consideration that room's temperature difference.

Not only do the sensors detect the current temperature in that room, but motion can activate them. Ecobee describes this feature as "Control your comfort by averaging the temperature of the selected sensors that detect motion or all of the selected sensors in your home, regardless of motion."

As an example, I keep the remote sensor in my bedroom, but it only gets sampled during night mode. If the bedroom gets too hot (or too cold) compared to the living room where the main thermostat is positioned the ecobee3 can make necessary adjustments. You can buy extra sensors in double-packs for $80 for other rooms in your house.

Remote sensors are brilliant and give ecobee3 an advantage over their competitors.

ecobee remote

The app ecobee remote is made by Bernardo Zamora and has been around since the Windows Phone 8.1 days. It was recently updated to be a full Windows 10 app for PC while the Phone version runs on Windows Phone 8.1 and up.

Unofficial apps can be risky if they achieve their results through unsupported means. The app Cozy, which works with Nest is such an example. That app has some severe limitations but it only because Nest has everything so locked down third-party developers cannot do much beyond the basics. While Nest is happy to look the other way for such apps, they are far from endorsing or supporting the cause either.

The ecobee remote is not such an app. The ecobee company actively supports developers and encourages them to use their APIs (opens in new tab) for app support.

For me, this is one massive reason to endorse ecobee. Unlike Nest, ecobee recognizes that it is better to grow their product through public means and that works heavily for those on Windows 10. While ecobee remote is not official, it uses the same APIs as an official app would. Now merge that ability with the fact it's a great app and you have something very sell done.

Ecobee remote comes in at just under 10MB, and its design matches that of the actual ecobee3 thermostat. I have already mentioned that ecobee's interace is very modern which makes its a natural fit for Windows 10 Mobile and PC. It's clean, loads fast, and is easy to use. Ecobee remote does all you need from setting the temperature and schedule, notifications, settings, and more.

Compared to the official iOS and Android apps I cannot see any differences in form or function. Perhaps the one difference works for Windows 10, which is a Live Tile. The Live Tile is fantastic, displaying the exact current temperature, motion detection, and humidity.

Making the Tile full lets it display the second thermostat should you have one installed. Making it small just shows the current home temperature. And yes, you can even make the Tile transparent for those who prefer that style and optionally have the Tile flip or stay static.

For each installation of the app, you need to register it with the ecobee website. This action is performed by generating a one-time PIN through the app that you can then plug in under your account.

I am not sure what else to say about ecobee remote. Here is why it's fantastic:

  • It's fully featured and has feature parity with iOS and Android
  • It runs on Windows 10 for PC and Mobile
  • The Live Tile is highly reliable and accurate
  • The app is quick to launch and use
  • The app is easy to use and looks great
  • I experienced exactly zero issues using it on any device

What impresses me is the sheer amount of options you can tinker with by using the app. No doubt this is because ecobee's API lets you do all of these things. For example, you can name the thermostat, define upper and lower temperatures for programs, create programs, control your fan or ventilator, add start delays, disable Smart Recovery, modify alerts for literally everything. Of all the thermostats I have tested I have never seen such fine-grain control. You can even send a message to the thermostat.

Price

For all of Bernardo Zamora's effort, he does ask for some compensation. There is a free ad-supported 30-day trial, but to unlock it fully Zamora has various pricing tiers, from a single thermostat at $3.49 to 10 or more at $29.99.

As a supporter of the developer community, I have no issues forking over the equivalent of a cup of coffee, especially when the product created this good. It's a one-time cost and well worth it. Zamora actively supports and updates the app on a regular basis, and as far as I know there is not another ecobee app as complete as this one for Windows 10.

Finally, if you just dropped $250 on a thermostat and are now complaining about $3.49 for an app — an app made by a third party developer — then I think you have your priorities in the wrong order, even more so if you leave a negative review.

Wrap up

I gave the ending to this review in the intro but let me reiterate. I think if you are looking to jump into the smart thermostat world you should just go with the ecobee3. The thermostat itself looks the best, is easy to install, has a great design, and you get that remote sensor which on one else is yet doing.

Ecobee as a company believes in an open API, working with companies, and developers, which is a plus in my book. Google-owned Nest is running into some recent product management issues, and Google is now stepping in on the software too, something they said would not happen. I think if you value your personal data you should stay away from Nest. Wiser Air by Schneider Electric is a superb product, but it's still a bit green and requires some fine-tuning to make it perfect.

See ecobee3 at Amazon (opens in new tab)

That leaves the ecobee3 and ecobee remote. Fantastic hardware paired with an outstanding app on Windows 10 and Mobile. What's not to love? It's fast, fluid, does everything you could ask it do with no compromises so just do it.

Download ecobee remote from the Store (opens in new tab)

Do you have an ecobee3? Let me know what you think of it in comments!

QR: ecobee

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

61 Comments
  • I'm very happy with the Tado smart thermostat, which does offer official Windows 10 apps voor desktop and mobile. Daniel shouldn't be stating the Ecobee is the best thermostat for Windows 10 without at least having also tested the Tado.
  • Tado availability isn't as wide as Ecobee afaik?
  • Isn't the Tado just a controller and you need a wireless hvac unit already installed?
  • Tado is not available in the US AFAIK and I don't believe it is compatible with our HVAC systems.
  • Spot on Dan. While I'm on Android now since my 920 died, my wife is on a 950. I downloaded this app and it is perfect. In fact Ecobee recommended on their site!    I've had my Ecobee since January and it is pretty great. What I tell people is it might save you money but it might not.  Example if you spend a lot of time in a room that is either hard to cool, or hard to heat then the ecobee might spend a lot of time trying to cool/heat that room. Meanwhile other rooms in your home will start to boil/frost. It just depends on the setup.  At night my sons room gets terribly cold so we put a sensor in there. It does make his room nice and warm but not in the master bedroom we sweating.  I've adjusted it a bit and it has helped but overall we aren't saving a ton of money but we are saving some.  I don't regret the purchase at all though and I'd do it again.    -Chris
  • Can you install thermostats in different rooms and control room temperature per room independently from each other?
  • Your hvac unit would need to support multiple zones and you would need thermostats for each zone
  • That would depend on wiring. Most houses are only wired for one thermostat.
  • Without a multi zone system you can still achieve this, somewhat, by integrating smart vents. It doesn't automatically integrate with Ecobee but you can through Smartthings or IFTTT.
  • Awesome write-up Daniel!  Loving both the ecobee3 and the ecobee remote app!  Looking to get into some smart vents as soon as ecobee confirms integration via firmware update.
  • Thanks. Yeah, smart vents kind of blow my mind lol.
  • Smart dampers at the unit are actually better if someone would make them work. Talk to a good AC technician or HVAC teacher and they will tell you about airflow and why its best to control it at the source. That said, smart vents are the way I'm going when I have the funds. It's better than no control.
  • Flair will support Ecobee from the start and you can pre-order now. Keen are doing an update to allow support with Ecobee via wink but if you have smart things there is a way you can control it all now
  • Smart vents sound like a great idea, but can cause problems if you're closing off too many. HVAC systems are designed for most vents to be open. When I first moved into my house, we started closing off vents to rooms we dont use. The tape holding the main manifold to the main unit kept busting open from the increased back pressue. The repair guy that came out said its really not good for these systems to have a lot of back pressure like that from throtlling down too many vents.
  • Ordered an Ecobee3 from Amazon on Friday, already purchased the app.
    Check your local power company for possible rebates. Mine offers $50 on this one or the Nest.
  • Never heard of that company before.  Thanks for the info. 
  • Great review however, how can the remote capability be effective if you HVAC system is not zone controlled (zone duck). To be effective it must have the ability to control airflow utilizing zone controllers for zone areas.
  • Great review however, how can the remote capability be effective if you HVAC system is not zone controlled (zone duck). To be effective it must have the ability to control airflow utilizing zone controllers for zone areas.
  • It is cheating, not doing zone control. Think if it as adjusting your thermostat up or down to get the temperature you want in a second area. Not perfect but the best many damn do without the extra expense of a zone setup
  • The remote sensors can be set up to either sense what rooms are occupied and cool/heat to an average temperature or sense from only specific rooms based on a schedule. I have had it for about two years and would recommend 100%. My house has two systems due to an addition. The addition is just the family room on one floor and the master bed and two bathrooms on the second floor. Prior to the Ecobee, the bedroom would be boiling hot in the summer. Now I have it set to start cooling the bedroom to a certain temperature about 1 hour before bedtime. Its great now. And other times, like go for a mid afternoon run and need to get cleaned up, it senses we are in the room and cools it down. I was worried that it would end up costing more money for energy, but somehow it uses less. It must be better at regulating than my old one and better at a schedule than me manually turning up and down.
  • It's true a zone duck/smart vent system would be ideal, but this is effective for other reasons especially if you have one or two rooms that are hotter/cooler than other. They can now at least be either (1) averaged into the system or (2) HVAC can turn on if occupancy is detected in that room to closer reach the ideal temp.
  • This is more about averaging so if you have one room getting really hot it knows to at least cool the whole house to get that one bearable. That said, smart vents can somewhat fill the gap of not having multi zone.
  • It would be great if an A/C technician would comment on this.  I've read in various publications and sources that smart vents are inadvisable because it can disrupt the flow of air as the system was designed to handle.  For instance, smart or dumb, it is generally inadvisable to close all of the vents in your house just to make one vent "stronger".  Just curious because I know my A/C is not designed to handle my house as it is (basement is now fully finished adding two additional vents which are closer to the blower).  In my case, smart vents probably wouldn't negatively impact things any worse...  
  • I purchased mine about 4 months ago. I have to agree with Daniel. The T stat works well and provides a lot of options, such as, shutting the heat pump down at a specific temp you set. Easy to install and great looking UI. I like the web portal to see your usage and how much money you save during the month. Compared to the other T stat, this one is the one I like the best. I worked years in the HVAC sector, and I recommend this stat to my family. The app is awesome too. I was worried that being 3rd party it would be subpar, but it's slick.
  • i defiintely will get this once my home is built, i think the room sensors are great but useless unless or makes more sense you get a smart vent . i checked these things out and their nice but expensive, i think it mainly because only one company is making it. i would need the pricing to go down becaus eif im to replace every vent man listen.
  • Very rare to have HVAC systems in the UK. How would it fair over here?
  • Thanks for the review. The Home Remote app, which is free, also supports the ecobee thermostat. I'm curious how that compares to this paid app.
  • I've been playing with Home Remote and as far as I can tell it's just the basics compared to ecobee remote.
  • Aslo worth mention is the Total Connect Comfort Thermostat app for Honewell Smart Thermostats
  • Would be great to link to a MS Band, does the band have a temperature sensor? then it knows where you are all the time.
  • Regardless, I wanted an official app and the official support from that company, so when I seen your wiser review i bought two Schneider electric thermostats and I love them. By far the best thermostat i have ever used. I love the led glow on the wall. There support is even better, I emailed them a presale question and a support question after purchase and I recieved fast responses at night and on weekends.
  • Wiser Air looks great with that LED, no doubt. I think Wiser Air has a ton of potential and it'll be fun to watch them evolve/develop their system. I didn't even realize they have one of their main offices about 20 minutes from where I live.
  • nice review, I may just try one of these to replace a Z-wave thermostat.
  • I love my ecobee. Also you don't"need" an app the web ui works great. That being said I have the app on my PC's, 950, and wife and kid's iphones.
  • I live in the UK and HVAC is not common here so I opted for the Honeywell Evohome system. http://connectedproducts.honeywelluk.com/evohome/plan.php It is one of the few available to allow zoned heating via smart TRVs. There is a third party app that is quite good. https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/store/p/evohome-remote/9wzdncrcwdrx
  • Still on the fence about smart thermostats. Do they actually save you money in the long run?
  • I think it depends on how you use it, but the micro-management of your indoor comfort levels is nice. I think the whole programs/presence thing is big e.g. if I leave home it lets the place get cooler in the winter/hotter in the summer. No use in wasting power when no one is home. These thermostats also "learn" your behavior and adjust accordingly. I also just like remotely setting the temp from the phone if I'm on my way home, or in another room.
  • Hey Daniel, is the only way to get the house to start pre-heating is by adjusting the temperature on the way home? I wonder if any other of the automation system have figured this out...  
  • I have had one one of these for a while, and two notes: While there is an adapter for power, if your HVAC is relatively new, within the past 20 years, then you may not need it. Often the power wire on the furnace is not connected since it is not needed. A simple connection of the wire at the control box will enable the power so the adapter is not needed. My experience is that the outside weather the device displays is not all that accurate as yours. My area has a lot of micro-climate differences. It uses a web service to find the current temp that can be as much as 10 degrees different than an outside thermometer I use. I wish they would make a remote sensor I can put outside that only measures the temp for display.
  • All comments gone or not visible. What is that with replies and windowscentral app
  • By the best, you mean the only one? "Ecobee does not have an official app for Windows 10, but" I stopped reading from here
  • I just reviewed Wiser Air by Schneider Electric last week, which supports Windows 10 and Mobile. There's also Tado for Europe with an official app. There is also SmartThings and Z-Wave compatible thermostats for Nexia all available, so no? Had you read the article you would make more factual claims in comments.
  • My bad. Remark accepted.
  • Hmm. Why isn't Netatmo included in this review?
  • I love my Netatmo weather station. I've seen the thermostat on Netatmo's website and is of the same quality design but it appears it is not available in the US. The weather devices are unobtrusive and accurate and the Windows Mobile app is nice looking and functional even if it appears to be based on the iOS version. With my experience with Netatmo, I'd seriously consider their smart thermostat.
  • to bad its way more expensive here in europe.
    ​I love what I see here. The only problem with all of the thermostats I see coming by is the lack of a remote sensor replacing the sensor of the main device. My wires have been mounted all wrong in a circlation dead spot. So when I have the main device at the wires it gets wrong temp measurments. So I use a honeywell wirelless thermostat rght now where the receiver is at the base plate and the actuall unit is wireless mounted at a good point. Right now I belive only Nest has an option like that.
    ​I would like to have the main unit back at the plate, but than I need an external sensor and it should ignore any build in onces.  
  • My brother has one of these and I'm pretty sure he's completely disabled the sensor on the main unit in the hallway.
  • I have the ecobee and completely agree with the entire article. I had a nest and switched to ecobee and couldn't be happier.
  • Excellent review.... Very helpful heading into Winter!
  • I'm in the uk and installed the Honeywell evo home at great expense. Has supported third party wp app. Fixed price gas means can compare like for like and not only can I control each room individually but I saved 55% on my bills. Therefore better system that pays for itself. Nest etc only fiddle, you need proper, room by room control for comfort and money saving.
  • Would this work with Alarm.com app and home security / automation?
  • Hi, this is Bernardo Zamora, thanks for the super positive review. I wanted to share some thoughts: - I have several ecobee3 thermostats, and love them, the sensors are useful, the thermostat has lots of options, and most importantly, it is quite reliable (that is what initially made me choose them vs Nest) - The app has several features not available in any other app, even in iOS and Android, including: live tile (very useful), reports (occupancy, temperature, humidity), access to 100+ device settings (that iOS/Android app don't offer that), ecobee Spy (see all the detailed hardware and software information for your ecobee) and Setup Recommendations (in Setup, it provides hints to improve your ecobee3 thermostat, depending on the settings and equipment connected) Enjoy your ecobee :)
  • Nice, thanks for the info!
  • I have had the Ecobee3 running with the Ecobee Remote app for over a year now. Daniels review is spot on! The Ecobee is simple and brilliant with great features. The Ecobee Remote app extended all the features from the thermostat and more to your pocket. When I renew my office and warehouse lease next month, I'll be replacing the thermostats' on both those units with the Ecobee3 and I'll install the app on a few of our PCs. The app is so affordable and, as Daniel mentioned, is so well made. I can skip a few trips to the coffee shop to buy apps of this quality. Maybe other app developers should not race to the bottom, but rather to the top by creating apps that are WORTH spending more money on. Ecobee remote is definitely one of those!
  • Couple thoughts: The ecobee Smart Si is available for under $150. Non touchscreen, does not have the new room sensors, however you can have remote humidity (and, IIRC, remote temperature, ie outdoor) sensors attached. However, it looks good, the programming is simple and the "smart" algorithms to get your temp to set point on time work well, and the WAF is high. (edit: programming is simple because you are using a computer or tablet, and very occasionally tap a button or two on the unit itself to see what's up.) Also, I have 27 months of detailed info ( ! ) on the website, along with the monthly reports, which include year to year comparisons for heating/cooling, inside and outside temps (5 degrees warmer this August than last year), the option to toggle degree/day vewing, and it can be exported for record keeping in standard formats. As for the WP app by Mr. Zamora, I bought it a few years ago. It actually dates back to the WP8 days, and still runs on that platform. Also, it's awesome.   Now for a Symbian app...
  • I have an ecobee3 and agree with this review completely. The thermostat is great, and the ecobee remote app provides even more functionality than the official apps on other platforms.
  • A live tile and notifications would be nice, but I just pin the Nest web app to home and it works exactly like the app on Android. Its identical. On WP8/8.1, there were some browser issues, but now on Edge, it works exactly like the app. I'm not missing anything at all not having an app.
  • Thank you for your review.  We are just finishing a remodel and I have been looking for a wireless thermostat to use with our windows phones.  Perfect timing.  As an aside, I am stunned more manufactures and microsoft do not create product apps for windows.  I don't really care how many different versions of a game I can download from the appstore exists, but I do care whetehr or not I am able to use a product I buy to its fullest.  This needs to be a primary goal of Microsoft for windows phone to be more successful.
  • On a similar note, we bought a bunch of phillips hue bulbs that we were about to return until we purchased the Huetro app for a buck or two.  Phillps should pay Huetro for saving that sale.  When are manufactures going to learn Windows Phone users have money and are willing to spend it on products that support Windows Phone and Windows 10?  I have developed several programs for windows over the years, and if someone gives me access to the back-end data connections, writing the user-interface, especially something as plain as a phone user interface without a lot of graphics, is pretty easy to do.  Puzzling at best as to why this has been such a challenge for Microsoft and Manufacturers.
  • I upgraded from a Honeywell WiFi unit after reading your article. I must say that I am impressed with the performance and looks of this little guy! The interface is clean and to the point. The app allows for a lot of fine tuning that I didn't have access to with the app I was using with the Honeywell. I also like the remote sensor feature as I also have a couple of rooms that have great temperature variations. Installation was a bit of a problem for me as I didn't have a C wire and the PEK provided could not connect to my heating unit. But I found a work-around online that required the purchase of a 24VAC transformer that I used to power the Ecobee3! After that, seting up the unit was a breeze and I have been very happy with this purchase! Thanks Dan, great and very accurate review!
  • Yup, this thermostat works as intended.  The remote sensor support is KEY.  My thermostat is located in the back half of the hallway on the east side of the house.  Well, the living room, dining room and kitchen get all the sun/heat in summer. I used to sit in the living room wondering why it was so warm when the thermostat said it was 73.  Well, it was 78 in the living room! Now, I have the remote sensor monitored when I'm "away" and "home", and I have the sensor in the thermostat monitored when I'm "sleep".  Get an Ecobee3 if you can afford it.