A word of warning to those considering an Ecobee thermostat or other smart thermostat purchase. They will probably become obsolete before you would expect.
I must admit, I enjoy my Smart Home technology. I’m certainly not as wired as some folks are, but I appreciate the convenience of telling my little Google Home device to stream my current favorite Netflix show on the TV or turn off (or on) the living room light light.
But there is a downside to Smart Home technology, and that is the programmed obsolescence that comes hand-in-hand with modern technology.
Back in the old, old, old days, household products were built to last.
You didn’t need to buy a new phone every year, your fridge would last 10 to 20 years easy, etc… but those days are long gone.
I’ve learned to expect it when it comes to computers, mobile phones, even television sets & other electronics. What I wasn’t expecting was that my thermostat would become obsolete long before my furnace did.
It’s not like a thermostat has some kind of high-tech capabilities that let you take pictures, browse the Internet, or call people around the world. It just turns your HVAC on and off. Pretty freaking simple. Or, at least, it should be.
I Used to Love my Ecobee Thermostat
My Ecobee Thermostat was really cool… for a little while.
Full disclosure, I have an earlier model of the Ecobee Smart Thermostat.
I had a new, high-efficiency furnace & air conditioner installed a few years ago and at the same time I purchased – what at the time was – a fancy Ecobee WiFi programmable thermostat.
The WiFi features were pretty cool, giving me the ability to control my heating and air-conditioning from my computer, with my phone, or based on a set schedule. It even gave me alerts if the humidity or temperature inside my house went out of normal ranges. It really took the thermostat game up a few notches.
I even spent the money to have a custom sticker printed to decorate the face-plate of the Ecobee Thermostat.
We were very happy together for a few years.
We lost a bit of our happiness glow when the people at Ecobee decided to NOT make this version compatible with Google Home or Google Assistant, for reasons beyond my comprehension. It would have been nice, on a hot summer’s day, to simply say “Hey Google, Turn on the Air Conditioner”. But I was able to live without that.
Alas, when I recently upgraded my Internet to a mesh network (which I am soooo happy with because it resolved all of my WiFi reception issues), my Ecobee Thermostat decided that it did not like my WiFi anymore. And I mean it REALLY didn’t like it.
It didn’t matter what I did, what setting I changed, whatever I tried, I could not get this Ecobee thermostat to connect. Even when the device said it was connected, it wasn’t actually connected.
I tried contacting customer support, but the phone lines were ALWAYS jammed, and their recorded promise to call me back within 24 hours never materialized.
However, I did receive a response to my email inquiry, which gave me some things I could try…. none of which worked. My follow up email received no response.
Every other WiFi enabled device in my home was able to connect to the new WiFi network. Even ones that clearly stated they can only work with 2.4 ghz WiFi. Everything except my not-so-fancy-anymore Ecobee thermostat.
Just in case, I even bypassed the Mesh network and turned back on the old WiFi router to give the Ecobee thermostat some good, old fashioned 2.4 ghz WiFi to connect to. But to no avail. Now that it has “decided” to disconnect, there seems to be nothing I can do to convince it to reconnect. Maybe that’s part of the plan.
Which, basically, means that my “smart” Ecobee thermostat is now dumb as a door knob.
Without a working WiFi connection, my “Smart” Ecobee thermostat is just a really expensive old-fashioned manual thermostat.
I would be OK with this if a smart thermostat cost about the same as an old-school thermostat back in the day. I can see we spending $50 to $60 every few years for the added convenience of smart controls. But $150 to $200 for a thermostat, with no guarantee that it is still going to connect to whatever
WiFi router or system you have two years from now… To me that’s unacceptable.
I get it. These companies need to make money. And if you only buy a thermostat every 20 years or so, they are not going to make much money.
That’s why programmed obsolescence exists, even if they try to pretend it doesn’t. They want/need you to replace these devices every few years so that they can make more money.
That’s one of the reasons modern technology is only built to last a few years. And it is not built to be adaptable to new technology that comes along. So as the world continues to advance… which it will… your device will no longer function and you will need to buy a new one. It’s good for the company’s revenue, bad for the customer.
That is the terrible game we now play.
The cost of smart technology is something you’ll keep paying over and over and over again. Is it worth it?
But you’d think that concept of making more money over a customer’s lifespan was already built into these exceptionally inflated prices.
Let’s say that a basic thermostat cost around $50 and should last at least 10 years before needing to be replaced (I’ve seen some of these basic, original thermostats in houses that are 50 – 60 years old, but let’s just use 10 years for the illustration). If you own your home for 20 years, you’ll need to spend $100 on thermostats.
On the contrary, with the Ecobee Thermostat, you’re paying around $150.00 for the device (about $200 if you go for the Nest Thermostat), which will likely – if your experience is anything like mine – become completely obsolete for some reason or another within 4 years. If you own your home for 20 years, you’ll need to spend $750 on thermostats.
In today’s technologically savvy world, you cannot tell me that one of these devices actually costs that much to make to warrant a $150 – $200 price tag. In fact, they probably only cost a tiny bit more to make than the basic thermostats used to back in the day.
We are paying 7.5x as much for the coolness factor. Nothing more. Nothing less. And we are NOT getting the value for it.
Two years ago, I would have highly recommended an Ecobee thermostat to anyone who asked. Now, not so much.
Maybe the New Smart Thermostats Are Better?
Is there hope for the future of Smart Home technology, or will history repeat itself?
Perhaps the new models are much improved. Perhaps they will be able to remain functional for much longer than my old Ecobee Did.
|Nest Learning Thermostat|
Available on Amazon.com
|ecobee3 lite Smart Thermostat|
Available on Amazon.com
But at $169.00 or $249.00, I’m not sure I’m willing to take that risk. Are you?
If you are planning on upgrading your HVAC, think twice before investing in a Smart thermostat, unless you are fully aware that you will probably need to spend that money – again and again and again – for however long you own your home.
Maybe you’re OK with that. I’m not.
End of rant.
The support team at Ecobee finally responded with a new set of instructions on how to fix my WiFi issues, and they seem to have worked. So my Ecobee is connected to the Internet again…. but for how long??
Think you can convince me otherwise? Feel free to comment with your own pros and cons of Smart Thermostats below.