The Ecobee3, as previously mentioned, supports at least two “ecosystems” where voice control is practical. In addition, they work with a number of other companies, such as Samsung’s SmartThings Hub (Z-Wave and Wifi controller – being reviewed). Various 3rd party software apps, will bring voice to many home automation controllers, but here I’ll concentrate on what to expect from “the Big 2.”
I don’t have a list of all the hubs, controllers, etc. that do work with the Ecobee thermostats, but you will find those answers on the Ecobee website.
Ecobee3 Works with Apple HomeKit and Siri
Apple HomeKit – Apple’s development environment for smarter home automation, is barely known by name outside of developers and we early adopters, but I expect before the end of 2016 Apple will have enough devices to start pitching it to the masses. Remember, they weren’t first with smartphones, smart watches, mp3 players (iPods)…
Of course the name that everyone recognizes is Apple’s Siri, the Personal Assistant. When I say Ecobee3 works with Apple HomeKit that’s saying you can control it using Siri voice commands.
Well, the Ecobee3 – but not the earlier ones, does support Apple HomeKit, so while I’m typing right now, just to make a point, I’ve picked up my iPhone and pressed for Siri. And exclaimed: “Set the living room to 64 degrees”. A second later Siri confirmed that it had adjusted the Ecobee3 (which I named “Living Room Thermostat.)” A quick look at the Ecobee3 app confirmed it, but then I knew it would.
There are a large number of commands Siri will recognize to control, or check on your Ecobee3 (or multiple Ecobee3 thermostats should you have more than one. For convenience I’ve “lifted” these from Ecobee’s FAQ pages, and included the link to that page for even more:
- “What is my thermostat temperature” – To get the temperature of your thermostat
- “Set my thermostat to 20 degrees” – to set your thermostat to 20 degrees. The ecobee thermostat is smart enough to know whether you have Celsius or Fahrenheit as your preferred temperature unit of measurement.
- “What is the temperature in <sensor name>” – to get the temperature of one of your sensor.
- “I’m leaving” – to set your thermostat to Away comfort settings
Note that Ecobee3 not only can control the temperature, but if you have a compatible humidifier, control the humidity (we don’t have a humidifier in our “dream home” project.)
Here are the rest of the current commands, no doubt more will be added as features grow. (iOS 9):
- To get your current temperature of a sensor, say, “List [sensor name] temperature.” Or “List temperature of [sensor name].”
- To get your current temperature of your ecobee3, say, “List [thermostat name] temperature.” Or “List thermostat temperature.” Or “List temperature of [thermostat name].”
- To get the current set temperature of the thermostat, say, “What is my thermostat temperature?”
- To get the current humidity, say, “What is my thermostat humidity?”
- To get the current temperature if your thermostat and/or remote sensor are in the kitchen, say, “What is the temperature in the kitchen.” Or “List temperature in kitchen.”
- To get the current temperature of only the sensor in the kitchen, say, “List [sensor name] temperature in kitchen.”
- To get the current temperature of only the thermostat in the kitchen, say, “List [thermostat name] temperature in kitchen.” Or “List temperature of [thermostat name] in kitchen.”
- To get the current humidity in a room, say, “What is the humidity in kitchen?”
Note: you can replace kitchen with any room that a sensor or thermostat is placed in
- To set the preferred temperature, say, “Set my thermostat to XX” in either Fahrenheit or Celsius, depending on what unit you have set your thermostat to.
- To change the relative temperature, say, “Increase thermostat temperature by XX.” Or “Decrease/Lower thermostat temperature by XX.”
- To change the humidity, say, “Set my thermostat humidity to 24.”
- To set the temperature of a thermostat in a specific room, say, “Set my kitchen thermostat to XX.” Or “Set the kitchen thermostat to XX.”
- To set the humidity of a thermostat in a specific room, say, “Set my kitchen to XX.” Or “Set the kitchen humidity to XX.”
- To set all thermostats to Home, say, “Good morning.” Or “I’m home.”
- To set all thermostats to Sleep, say, “Good night.”
- To set all thermostats to Away, say, “I’m leaving.”
- To resume thermostat schedule and remove all holds from all thermostats, say, “Resume schedule.”
Here’s that link to the FAQ page: https://www.ecobee.com/faq/what-voice-commands-can-i-use-to-control-my-homekit-enabled-ecobee3/
Ecobee3 Thermostat works with Amazon Echo - Alexa Voice commands
Cool (or Hot stuff!) I’ve got two options for voice control of my home HVAC because in addition to Siri on my iOS and Mac devices, I’ve got an Amazon Echo. The Echo is located in my home theater and I have an Echo remote I keep downstairs. If I want Alexa to hear me in more rooms, I can add some Echo Dots ($89 each). Until I interfaced the Ecobee3 to Echo I had only four devices – four different Belkin WeMo products that I could control using Alexa – Echo’s personal assistant.
Now I have five (and counting). Introducing (interfacing Echo and Ecobee is very different than interfacing to Siri). In fairness, remember I previously used my iPhone to connect my Ecobee3 to my home wifi. With that already done, here’s how I got Ecobee3 and Alexa to meet up.
The captions with each image step you through the whole process of linking the Ecobee3 to the Amazon Echo and Alexa personal assistant.
Easy enough if you just follow directions! My biggest challenge was starting off by going to the regular Amazon site, but quickly realized my mistake and then went to the Alexa.amazon.com site.
Bottom line. The Ecobee3 and Amazon Echo play well together!
Personally, I find Siri to have the advantage over Alexa. Not because of how it controls the Ecobee3, but for the usual reason. Siri is almost always with me, since I carry my iPhone around, and I plan to get a 2nd generation Apple Watch.
Echo is only (so far) in my home theater (and wherever its remote is – when I can find it), so Siri is just more convenient since my phone is always on me. Either does the job though! Both is better!
I’ve found that many of the same commands listed above for controlling my Ecobee3 with Siri, also work with Alexa. There are probably some differences too, however.
Watch Out! - Apple Watch Controls Ecobee3
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Myself, I’m waiting for a 2nd generation Apple Watch before I buy one, but if you already have an Apple Watch, then controlling your Ecobee 3 thermostat can be done by talking to Siri through the watch. Or tap. there are menus on the watch as well. I’m not going to get into that here, but this image found on the web shows the watch main Ecobee3 screens and menus!
SmartThings Hub and Ecobee3
Samsung may not have a personal assistant yet for interfacing, but their SmartThings Hub – a Z-Wave and Wifi controller for your smart home, also supports the Ecobee3.
For most of us (non-DIY types) here’s the SmartThings main page for Ecobee linking.
For those of you with Smartthings, who are hard core DIY types here’s a lot of info from their community: https://community.smartthings.com/t/initial-setup-for-ecobee3-smart-si-ems-smart-02-thermostats-my-custom-ecobee-device/17260
Here are the screenshots from my iPhone as I start in the Smartthings Marketplace (one of the main tabs in the App – bottom right), and select Climate Controls, then select the Ecobee, the images take it from there:
That completes setting up the Ecobee with my SmartThings Hub (again, as noted the SmartThings Hub review will be coming soon).
Remote Control of Ecobee3 by Siri, Alexa, SmartThings Hub
Well, on this page we set up all three major options – getting our Ecobee3 to play – to be configured to: Apple HomeKit – Siri, Amazon Echo – Alexa, and Samsung’s SmartThings Hub, perhaps the most popular Z-Wave and Wifi controller out there, and likely the one with the most support for the most devices.
When I say Remote Control of the Ecobee3, I mean controlling it from any method other than using the Ecobee3’s touch controls on the thermostat itself.
With Siri and SmartThings, I can control my Ecobee3 from anywhere on the planet, that I have an internet connection to my iPhone or other device.
With the Amazon Echo, I haven’t gotten as far as trying to control the Ecobee3 in my home theater, while on a trip to NYC. Don’t quote me on this, but apparently I should be able to control my devices that the Echo is linked with from the alexa.amazon.com site. I haven’t tried yet. Good luck.