How to automate your home with the ecobee SmartSensor

Updated

ecobee smart sensor on a shelf
Your home is calling..it needs the ecobee SmartSensor. Image source: Best Buy

Most homes aren’t smart; they’re just not built that way. They tend to be filled with archaic, boxy thermostats and outdated appliances which need to be manually checked or controlled every day. 

ecobee is devoted to helping homes transition to a smarter future, with the help of equipment that “talks” to each other and functions automatically without constant intervention.

ecobee focuses on temperature controls to boost comfort inside your home (while helping you cut down on energy costs), and motion detection for increased security. The ecobee experience starts with and heavily hinges on the SmartSensor.

But it doesn’t stop there. ecobee has unveiled several smart devices in the past decade, all of which work with the SmartSensor. Together, these products form the ecobee ecosystem.

So what exactly is the ecobee SmartSensor, and should you make space for this device inside your home (and life)? 

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    Key takeaways:

    • The ecobee SmartSensor has built-in temperature and motion sensors for temperature regulation and home security purposes.
    • You need the ecobee SmartThermostat, SmartCamera, and Smart Security service to maximize all of the sensor’s features.
    • You will likely need multiple SmartSensors for complete home coverage.
    • The ecobee ecosystem can help save you up to 23% on yearly energy costs.
    How much can you save on your monthly power bill with solar panels?

    What is the ecobee SmartSensor and how does it work in the home?

    ecobee smartsensorThe ecobee SmartSensor is a compact device with built-in temperature and motion sensors. Image source: ecobee

    First thing’s first: the SmartSensor alone can’t do anything without the ecobee thermostat and camera, which are both sold separately

    The SmartSensor comes with temperature and motion sensors. The purpose of the temperature sensors is to detect temperature changes inside rooms, so that a connected ecobee thermostat can adjust the temperature and keep the area comfortable. 

    The motion sensors detect movement inside rooms, which is used for security alerts and occupancy detection for keeping the home’s temperature regulated.

    The wireless SmartSensor is powered by a battery, and according to ecobee, is easy to install. These features allow you to position the device in many different ways inside rooms. You can place sensors on a table or top shelf using an included stand or mount the device to walls using included adhesive brackets. 

    Keep in mind that the sensor should be placed within 60 feet from the ecobee thermostat or camera for reliable performance. As for other monitoring solutions, ecobee also sells a SmartSensor for doors and windows if you need to detect when they are open. 

    You can use the official Android or iOS ecobee app to view data and configure connected devices. 

    Let’s explore more about the SmartSensor’s temperature and movement sensing capabilities.

    Temperature monitoring 

    The temperature sensor inside the ecobee SmartSensor device is designed to make rooms more comfortable by detecting changes in temperature and hot or cold spots. 

    Upon detecting temperature changes in a room, the sensor “tells” the connected ecobee thermostat to cool or warm the area accordingly. The company cites that you can save up to 23% on energy costs related to air conditioning and heating when ecobee products are working together to optimize temperatures inside rooms. These temperature-detecting features happen automatically and do not require manual intervention. 

    To get the most out of the temperature-sensing aspects of the SmartSensor, install the device in rooms you frequently use. This is because such rooms inside homes are prone to temperature changes due to the presence of body heat and doors or windows opening and closing. You probably wouldn’t opt for installing a SmartSensor in a storage room, for example. 

    Motion sensing 

    The motion-sensing feature of the ecobee SmartSensor is mainly used to determine if you’re home or away. 

    According to ecobee, one sensor can accommodate one bedroom, office, or kitchen. Living rooms and large spaces will need more than one sensor for complete coverage. 

    For best results with motion sensors, it is recommended to overlap coverage by 20%. This is an important consideration if you intend to implement thorough occupancy detection with the ecobee camera for home security.

    The built-in motion sensor is also used to power ecobee’s Follow Me capability, which keeps temperatures consistent as you walk around your home. You can disable this feature if you don’t need it on the connected thermostat. 

    How much does the ecobee SmartSensor cost?

    ecobee SmartSensors cost $99.99 and are sold in packs of two. They also come with a 3-year warranty

    Some ecobee products are bundled and offered with a SmartSensor. Other smart sensors on the market today are sold in single packs, making the ecobee sensor a moderately priced option when considering that each sensor costs about $50. 

    Now let's take a closer look at the entire ecobee smart ecosystem as a whole.

    Things you can do with the smart home sensor

    The ecobee smart ecosystem will allow you to optimize room temperatures throughout your home and improve your home security.

    Optimize room temperature 

    ecobee smartthermostat

    ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control. Image source: ecobee

    Device requirements: ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control, ecobee4, or ecobee3 lite

    Cost: 

    • SmartThermostat with voice control and SmartSensor: $199.99
    • ecobee4 with room sensor: $229.99
    • ecobee3 lite: $149.99

    The ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control, ecobee4, and ecobee3 lite are designed to replace your traditional, outdated thermostat. Like the Google Nest thermostat, these devices provide automatic temperature control.

    All three ecobee thermostat models work with the SmartSensor to maintain comfortable temperatures inside rooms. You can configure comfort settings by specifying a high and low temperature on the thermostat. 

    How it works 

    When the SmartSensor detects a change in temperature inside the room it is installed in, it relays the information to the thermostat. The smart thermostat then makes adjustments to maintain a comfortable temperature level. So, if you have the thermostat set at 70 degrees and the SmartSensor detects a temperature of 65 degrees inside the room, the thermostat will increase the temperature until it reaches 70 degrees. 

    It’s important to point out that the thermostat can’t control the temperature of a specific room for most homes. Instead, it will pump the air conditioning system up (if it’s hot) for the entire home until the room with the warm temperature is cooled down. 

    Because of the way the sensor and thermostat work, you should only install the sensor in important rooms you frequently occupy. We don’t recommend installing the sensor inside bathrooms, where taking a hot shower can cause the entire home to suddenly get cold as the sensor detects sudden upticks in temperature. Instead, this solution would work great in living rooms with many windows that are prone to temperature fluctuations.

    The SmartSensor’s motion detector also works with the SmartThermostat. When you leave the home, the sensor “tells” the thermostat that the room or space is unoccupied. This can help save energy while you’re away from the house.

    Improve home security 

    ecobee smartcameraecobee SmartCamera with voice control. Image source: ecobee 

    Device requirements: ecobee SmartCamera with voice control

    Cost: $99.99

    Pair the ecobee SmartSensor with the SmartCamera to fully tap into the product’s motion-sensing capabilities for robust home security. 

    Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, and the AppleHomeKit, the ecobee SmartCamera features voice-activated controls. A built-in speaker and microphone allows you to communicate with people or pets inside the room using the smart camera. 

    How it works 

    When the SmartSensor detects movement in the room, you receive an alert, allowing you to check the area to see what’s going on. You don’t have to be at home to view live footage of the room, and can check the camera remotely. 

    ecobee offers a subscription service to beef up your home security, which costs $5 per month for the Standard plan or $10 per month for the Complete plan. This cloud-based service works with the SmartThermostat, SmartCamera, and SmartSensors. 

    According to the company, subscribing to the Smart Security service can save you 10% on home insurance costs (with the Complete plan). This is a huge benefit, as home insurance costs have been steadily increasing in the past year, along with inflation. 

    To get a reduction on your home insurance, your insurance provider must offer a discount program for homes using ecobee products or the Smart Security service.

    ecobee SmartSensor vs. competitors

    Minut smart home sensor 

    minut sensor uiMinut smart home sensor. Image source: Minut

    Cost: $100

    Like the ecobee SmartSensor, the Minut device can monitor temperature and motion, but it can also track humidity and noise. The Minut sensor manages sensor data and real-time notifications, making it more suitable for property managers and apartment buildings.

    There are a couple of drawbacks to the Minut. For one, it has a short rechargeable battery life of six months, whereas the ecobee room sensor has a battery that can last up to five years. 

    Battery life matters! Long battery life is important for home sensors because they are typically installed in hard-to-reach areas, such as walls, ceilings, corners, and top shelves. Frequent battery changes make maintenance inconvenient, and sometimes even difficult.

    Also, when it comes to compatibility, Minut does not offer accompanying devices to go with the sensor. If it detects motion in the area, you will receive a notification on your phone, but that’s all you get unless you have a Minut Response Service subscription. 

    The ecobee SmartSensor and SmartCamera, on the other hand, work together - the camera turns on when the SmartSensor senses motion - making it a more comprehensive solution. 

    Aeotec MultiSensor 6 

    Aeotec MultiSensor 6. Image source: Aeotec

    Cost: $83.65

    The Aeotec MultiSensor 6 is a complete monitoring solution for homes. This device has a whopping six built-in sensors, including motion, temperature, humidity, light, vibration, and ultraviolet (UV) sensor, all from a single product. It also has a two-year battery life.

    Aeotec offers an array of smart products with voice assistants for complete home automation. However, not all of these products work with the smart sensor. 

    Aeotec has a “more is better” approach to its smart sensor, but in our view, “less is more” is more suitable for smart home products, especially when it comes to sensors. For example, you don’t really need to monitor seismic activity around your home via the vibration sensor or UV light exposure. 

    Yes, these features are great - but will they end up making your life more complicated, bombarding you with all types of data? Probably. And it’s counterproductive, seeing as the main goal of smart sensors is simplifying your busy lifestyle.

    Is your home really smarter with the ecobee SmartSensor?

    The ecobee SmartSensor, when used with the SmartThermostat, ecobee4, ecobee3 lite, or SmartCamera, can make your home smarter. There’s no question that the ecobee ecosystem is effective in maintaining comfortable temperature levels and boosting security through motion detection. 

    With that said, we recommend you carefully assess whether or not ecobee SmartSensors truly benefit your lifestyle. You should consider whether the sensors would notify you about things you already know about inside your home. In that case, you may not need the SmartSensor or ecobee monitoring solutions, as these alerts can become redundant and could actually wind up wasting your time. 

    Another thing to be aware of is that costs can easily pile up if you’re looking into the ecobee ecosystem for your whole home. This is because the motion-sensing range of a single sensor is only effective for one medium-sized room, like a bedroom. For living rooms, kitchens, and larger or complex spaces you need two or more sensors for thorough motion-sensing coverage. 

    So for a typical home with four bedrooms, you would need between 10 and 16 SmartSensors to cover all of the rooms, the living room, kitchen, and hallways. Since ecobee sells the SmartSensor in packs of two, you would need to fork out between $500 and $800 just for the ecosystem accessories. You also have to purchase the SmartThermostat, several SmartCameras, and pay for a monthly subscription service for additional security. 

    If you aren’t bothered by changes in temperature inside various rooms and you live a predictable lifestyle that doesn’t require constant monitoring or alerts, there are other ways to save on monthly energy costs – like by going solar

    Solar panels are a long-term, energy-saving solution for your home, and if you install a new solar system in 2022, you could recoup 26% of the total installation cost with the federal solar tax credit. There are also numerous financing options available in the form of solar loans, solar leases, and power purchase agreements

    Find out if going solar is right for you
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Michael Cheng

    Content writer

    Michael is a content writer at SolarReviews. He has more than six years of experience in industrial manufacturing and legal documentation, covering electrical safety, large-scale infrastructure and maritime legislation.

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