As a new homebuyer headed down the path of home automation, I knew as much about modern thermostats, smart bulbs, and security systems as my golden retriever. Even after hours of Googling, the smart-home landscape was pretty confusing.

Despite all efforts to make the internet of things (IoT) speak the same language, there are still various compatibility nightmares. So I was happy when I learned that one company, Ecobee, did (almost) everything I wanted. Why use various third-party systems and fragment my household? 

Ecobee, via an Alexa-integrated smart thermostat and security system, has made my house both safer and more comfortable. Its products are easy to install and use, and they mostly stay out of my way. The system does nearly everything I need—and nothing I’m uncomfortable with.

Ecobee’s Workers

Ecobee’s SmartThermostat and SmartSensor.

Photograph: Ecobee

When I first signed up to try an Ecobee system, the company had slightly different bundles than it offers now. I received three motion SmartSensors, two door/window sensors, a SmartCamera, and the SmartThermostat with Voice Control in the Security Bundle. The most similar bundle available now is “Sweet Dreams,” which includes the thermostat, security camera, and one room sensor, but you can always add other items individually or hunt for another bundle suited to your needs.

Regardless of what you choose, everything is either tied to the company’s excellent touchscreen smart thermostat or its indoor security camera as a hub. Since I had both the camera and the thermostat, I chose to pair it all to the latter, as it was in the most central space of my home.

Both hubs do exactly what you think—regulate temperature and watch for intruders, respectively—while the door/window and smart sensors detect both motion and temperature. That means you really only need one door/window sensor or one other smart sensor per room, never both.

The individual sensors collect detailed real-time data about your home, viewable in a companion app, going so far as to know when you’re home using location data. (You can turn this off if you want.) When you’re home, you can set it to never have the camera on, which is a nice privacy perk (though this is also available on many smart security cameras).

Building a Hive

Ecobee’s SmartCamera.

Photograph: Ecobee

Apart from having to install one wiring harness near our furnace (included with the Ecobee, and not always necessary for those with houses newer than my 1950s bungalow), the entire system was fairly easy to slot into place.