Review: Ecobee 4 Smart Thermostat

Ecobee is one of the most recognizable names in the smart thermostat market. These thermostats are reliable, easy to use, and capable. Is the Ecobee 4 worth buying?

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Most thermostats install roughly the same way: kill the power, pull off the old unit, unhook the wires, plug wires into new unit, pop on thermostat, power on. Ecobee followed the same formula and was a relative breeze to install.

Note: there are exceptions to every rule. Some HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) units lack the C-Wire or Common Wire. This is what powers the thermostats. Many thermostats include a power adapter that’s installed at the furnace. This adapter runs power through an alternate wire, essentially making a C-Wire.

Alternatively, some units may utilize 120 volts. If you have baseboard heaters, this is probably you. Most smart thermostats are incompatible with this setup.

Power Down the HVAC

Before playing with electricity of any kind ever, turn off the power!

As simple as a flip of the switch

HVAC systems vary but there are typically two ways to turn off the power: a switch on the furnace or the flipping the breaker. The switch above is mounted directly on my furnace. A quick flip and the furnace was off.

I feel more confident flipping breakers. Locate your breaker box (or fuse box) and locate the appropriate breaker. Flip the switch. With the power turned off at the breaker box, there is no doubt that the system is off.

Failure to turn off the system correctly could result in injury, death, or damage to the electrical components. If you have trouble locating the off switch, consider consulting an electrician or HVAC specialist to replace your thermostat.

Removing the Old Unit

A Nest Thermostat was previously installed. It replaced a Wyze Thermostat before that.

Before permanently removing the Nest Thermostat, I reset the device so that the next owner will be able to easily set it up. I then powered it down. Removing it was as simple as giving it a firm tug. The Nest Thermostat was a very basic unit with minimal wiring.

To remove the wires, push down on the outside tabs, then pull each wire out of the respective slot. I find needle nose pliers help as my fingers are too big. After all of the wires are removed, remove the screws at the top and bottoms. Pull the wiring adapter from the wall. You may need to guide the wires through the center.

I had already labeled each wire when installing the Wyze Thermostat. If your wires were not previously labeled, follow the instructions in the app. Its mostly common sense. The white wire is W1, the green is G, and so on. Some HVAC systems may have additional features that require more wires. That’s why it is important to label wires correctly.

Installing Ecobee

Ecobee follows roughly the same basic setup as Nest and Wyze. A printed installation guide is included but the app also provides step by step instructions.

The Ecobee 4 includes a similar wiring unit along with the larger plate. Nest offers a similar piece to cover old holes and missing paint but it was not included with the thermostat. Definitely a nice bonus on the part of Ecobee.

Like Nest and Wyze, a bubble level is present to ensure the thermostat is installed level. Its a thoughtful touch for homeowners who may not own a level.

The wires install in a similar fashion here. Again, I found a pair of needle nose pliers to be helpful. Grasping a wire with the pliers, I would press the outside tab and push in each respective wire. If the wire is installed correctly, it should withstand a gentle tug.

After the wires are installed, place the thermostat over the wiring and firmly push. The back of the thermostat has wire prongs designed to make contact in the wiring adapter. As long as the prongs are lined up correctly, the unit will pop into place easily.

Power On

Go back to the breaker or furnace switch. Flip it back on. If everything is installed correctly, the thermostat will power on. If the unit does not power on or gives an error message, refer to the thermostat or the app for specifics.

If there is no power, the C-Wire is incorrectly installed. If it powers on but gives an error message, one of the ones is probably installed wrong. I tested this out by installing an unused blue wire. The blue wire doesn’t connect to any in the HVAC system so the thermostat recognized it as a useless wire that did not belong. Another likely issue is poor contact. A wire may need pushed in farther to make better connection.


Hopefully everything was installed correctly. If so, you’re ready to setup your HVAC system on the thermostat.

The thermostat will guide the setup process with questions about WiFi, location name, and the type of HVAC system such as central air and gas or electric heat.

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