Ecobee has long been(and a chief rival of ). But this year, it's mixing things up with the Ecobee Switch Plus, a Wi-Fi-connected light switch packed with smarts of its own. Along with sensors for motion, ambient light and temperature, the Switch Plus also includes a microphone, a speaker and the software that powers Amazon's virtual assistant, Alexa. Talk to this smart switch, and it'll talk back.
This integration makes the Switch Plus Ecobee's second gadget. Couple that with the fact that Amazon's Alexa fund for Ecobee, and it's pretty clear who the primary platform partner is here. That said, like other Ecobee products, the Switch also and for voice controls via the Google Assistant and Siri, respectively. You can also connect it with , or automate it on .
The cost for all of that is $100, which is pretty high as far as smart light switches are concerned. You can getand , which both received good reviews here on CNET, for less. Each of those will also dim the lights -- Ecobee's Switch won't. It also doesn't work in three-way setups where your light is connected to more than one switch.
Both of those are disappointing omissions, and you also won't be able to use the built-in temperature sensor to pair the switch with Ecobee's thermostats until a firmware update arrives this summer. That sours the deal on an already expensive smart switch, but it worked as promised in my tests and offers some unique features you won't find elsewhere. It's a splurge, but a justifiable one, especially if you're an existing Ecobee user who's looking to smarten up some lights and expand Alexa's footprint in your home in one fell swoop.
The Ecobee Switch Plus is an attractive little push-button light switch. To install it, you'll need to shut the power off and remove your existing switch, then connect Ecobee's line, load, ground and neutral wires. Once the Switch is in place and the power is back on, you'll just need to open up the Ecobee app to finish pairing everything with your home network and your Alexa account, along with your HomeKit account if you're planning on controlling the light using Siri commands.
The app makes all of that easy, and it looks good doing it. All of the Switch's features are plainly described and well-illustrated -- as a result, automating it is a cinch, even if you're a smart-home newbie. And, if you have any trouble identifying which wires you need to connect, the app does a good job of walking you through the install, too.
Those automations make use of the Switch's built-in sensors. For instance, you can set it to turn the lights on automatically when it detects someone entering the room and to turn them off automatically once the room is empty. If you're automating an outdoor light, you can set the switch to turn on automatically at sunset. You can also set a little nightlight at the bottom of the switch to start glowing whenever the room is dark. All of it worked perfectly when I tested the switch out at the CNET Smart Home.
One small qualm, though: Ecobee's app currently doesn't offer a mechanism for scheduling lighting changes beyond that sunset mode. For instance, you can't program the lights to turn on automatically at, say, noon. It's nearly a moot point since you can easily schedule automations like that using IFTTT, which costs nothing. But still, it's a smart lighting basic that would have been nice to have in the Ecobee app itself.