As the connected thermostat market continues to boom, this year’s gold winner in the residential controls category stands out as “one of the best Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats on the market,” according to one Dealer Design Awards judge. Designed to measure temperature and occupancy in multiple locations throughout the home, ecobee Inc.’s ecobee3 smarter Wi-Fi thermostat with remote temperature sensors increases comfort and saves energy. And, while customers enjoy the modern design and user-friendly interface, contractors are enamored with ecobee3’s ease of installation as well as its Contractor Portal, which gives contractors and installers the ability to monitor their customers’ HVAC equipment operation anytime, anywhere.
“Through the Contractor Portal, we know the customer is having an issue — whether it’s no cooling or no heating — and sometimes we know before our clients do,” said Alan Dobbin, co-owner of A&T Mechanical in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. “Sometimes, we can talk it through on the phone, or we’re already on our way to fix the problem. Having the thermostat monitor the equipment is fantastic, and customers love it.”
The ecobee3 also features a stunning new design that is elegant and simplified, both in use and appearance. The thermostat’s sleek black finish with rounded edges is a welcome addition to walls across North America while the responsive, 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display features a newly designed user interface with intuitive iconography and controls that navigate like a smartphone.
Rahul Raj, vice president of marketing and e-commerce for ecobee, said the company designed the thermostat with help from its contractor partners.
“These contractors have intimate knowledge of and experience with homeowners’ frustrations and pain points when it comes to monitoring and managing home comfort and savings,” he said. “As such, it’s vital that we work closely with our partners to ensure we are delivering market-leading products that serve the needs of homeowners while making the installers’ jobs easier.”
Perhaps the most contractor-centric perk is ecobee’s stellar customer service, Dobbin said. “When we do have issues with anything — because it’s an electronic product, and sometimes you end up scratching your head on things — I’d say their customer service is next to none in the business. If we do have an issue with uploading or programming something and we’re not sure what to do, we’re up and running within 10-15 minutes after getting in touch with them. It’s well-designed and well-thought-out, and there’s great customer care. It’s a great product.”
On average, it takes 45 minutes or less to install, set up, and register an ecobee3, Raj said. The ecobee3 comes with mounting hardware and decorative trim plates, has a built-in level, and includes guided setup and automatic wiring and accessory detection.
“There are many examples that showcase how feedback from our channel partners helped us in delivering the best smart thermostat in the market,” Raj said. “We believe our goals are aligned with the goals of our network of contractors and installers; we all want to provide the best experience for the homeowner.”
The Symphony Web-enabled Home Comfort Platform from WaterFurnace Intl. Inc. is designed for WaterFurnace’s Aurora communicating control units, including the 3 Series, 5 Series, and 7 Series geothermal heat pump systems. Symphony marries the Aurora controls of a WaterFurnace geothermal system with the WebLink router to give homeowners and dealers access to unit sensors, energy use, and system information from practically anywhere. The cloud-based platform provides detailed feedback in real time and the tools to control it from any Web-enabled smartphone, tablet, or computer. The personalized dashboard provides quick access to system settings, operational status and history, alert history, energy usage, zone temperatures, and local weather. In addition to sending text, email, and push notifications via an available app, the platform also allows homeowners to track their system’s energy use over the prior 13 months.
The XL824 Smart Control from Trane, a brand of Ingersoll Rand, is more than a thermostat — it’s a whole-home automation hub. The XL824 features a 4 1/3-inch high-definition color touchscreen with the ability to program seven days of temperatures with up to six schedules per day. It also includes a five-day weather forecast and weather radar display; an indoor relative humidity display; HVAC filter, maintenance, and humidifier reminders; as well as two selectable auxiliary dry contacts to control a humidifier, dehumidifier, or ventilation system. The built-in bridge from Nexia™ Home Intelligence can connect more than 200 Z-Wave products throughout the entire home, including door locks, lighting, security and property protection devices, garage doors, and much more. All devices are controlled by the Nexia™ Home Intelligence app.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WINNERS
WaterFurnace Intl. Inc.
Symphony Web-enabled Home Comfort Platform
Trane, a brand of Ingersoll Rand
XL824 Smart Control
Publication date: 7/20/2015