The new ecobee3

New ecobee3 thinks it’s time to leave the Nest 1

While the Nest smart thermostat has fans of Apple-inspired designs swooning, it wasn’t the first smart thermostat. Toronto-based ecobee is actually the pioneer in this industry, and had two iterations of smart thermostats (the original “Smart” and the “Si”) on the market well before Nest (and now Honeywell) jumped into the fray. Like most pioneers, ecobee took a few arrows in its back. But now it’s firing back — and it looks like the arrows are aimed directly at Nest.

The new ecobee3

The new ecobee3

Announced this morning, the ecobee3 is a complete re-design of ecobee’s former flagship Smart thermostat, while also including some of the improvements from its baby brother the Si. Last week, I spoke with ecobee CEO Stuart Lombard and got a preview of ecobee’s new flagship product, including an overview of the four-prong design philosophy behind it.

First, the product had to be beautiful. ecobee hired San Francisco-based industrial design firm Lunar to make sure the ecobee3 is something you want to have hanging on your wall.

Second, it had to be easy to use. A 3.5″ color touch-screen will certainly help with that goal, as will the intuitive interface.

Third, it had to save energy. The ecobee3 still knows all the energy saving tricks of its predecessors, but also boasts a few new ones. Wireless sensors allow the ecobee3 to focus on reaching your desired heat or cool setpoints based on where you are in the house, and when you’re there. Their economizer feature will allow you to draw cooler air from outside the house, rather than run your air conditioning. That’s like air conditioning your house for free.

Fourth and finally, the ecobee3 needed to be reliable and easy to install. It runs on standard 24V power (just like your HVAC system) and comes with a Power Extender kit that allows it to reliably “steal” power from your furnace. Another improvement over its predecessor is the ecobee3’s ability to auto-configure based on how you wire it. I imagine that will drastically reduce the number of phone calls to ecobee’s tech support lines.

The list of features and specs goes on, and I’ll be sure to include them all in my full product review (coming later this week). But even with just the launch info on ecobee’s website, and the following new launch video, it’s clear that ecobee has decided that it’s time for customers to leave the Nest… and join the Hive.