Apple sells Ecobee3: the first HomeKit-enabled thermostat
It’s been coming for a long time now. Apple has finally started selling a HomeKit-connected thermostat, the $249 (£161) Ecobee3, via the Apple Store.
This is obviously good news for iOS users looking to buy an Apple-supported smart thermostat for their homes, but it’s still far from perfect. Not least because there’s no official date for when it will go on sale in the UK.
Annoyingly, the new thermostat from Ecobee is exactly the same as the previous model in terms of hardware and specs; the HomeKit software is the only difference. Owners of the Ecobee3’s predecessor will be miffed to learn that there’s no way to update their existing model to make it HomeKit-compatible.
Ecobee3 works with all iOS devices from the iPhone 3GS and iPad 2 upwards and can be voice-controlled using Siri. A dream result for people who are not just too lazy to adjust the heating/cooling manually, but can’t even muster the energy to make a few swipes on their iPhone. Amazing. If customers want to control their new HomeKit-enable thermostat from outside the house, they have to link it to their Apple TV, so it can act as a hub. What if you don’t have Apple TV? Tough luck.
Analysis – carried out by Ecobee – suggests that customers could save up to 23% on heating and cooling bills if they switch to the Ecobee thermostat. This was based on the slightly ridiculous comparison of users who keep their home temperature at a constant 22˚C.
The Ecobee3 works a lot like Google’s Nest. It works with up to 32 Wi-Fi-connected sensors – costing $79 (£51) for a pack of two – to detect and control the temperature in individual rooms. As well as monitoring the temperature of a room, the sensors also detect whether a room is in use or not. As you’d expect, if Ecobee realises a room is not being used, it will stop heating/cooling it, thus saving energy.
Although the hub itself works with Apple iOS products, it also has the ability to work independently, offering a 320 x 480 3.5in LCD touchscreen display for manual control. As yet, there’s no word on whether Ecobee will offer Android support too. We suspect not.