ecobee Switch+ Review

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ecobee Switch+ Light Switch
ecobee Switch+ Light Switch

Our Verdict

The ecobee Switch+ is more than just a smart light switch. It adds a couple of features that other switches don't have, including integrated Alexa, a small speaker, a temperature sensor, and an occupancy sensor. While the price is higher than other smart switches, these features may be worth the added cost for some people.

Unfortunately, we don't think the Switch+ is quite ready for prime time. Two major features (temperature sensor and vacation mode) haven't been activated yet. The physical control isn't very intuitive; although, it works well once you know what to press. Finally, we think a $100 switch should include dimming.

That said, the ecobee Switch+ might be for you if you want integrated Alexa and don't mind waiting for more features to be released. You should also consider this switch if you already have an ecobee thermostat. Just make sure you have a neutral wire before you make a purchase.

What We Like:

  • Works on Wi-Fi, no additional hub required
  • Amazon Alexa is built into the switch (speaker and microphone)
  • Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings
  • Includes an occupancy sensor for turning lights on and off automatically

Flaws:

  • Requires a neutral wire
  • Bulky design
  • Manual control is not obvious
  • No dimming option
  • Expensive compared to other smart switches
  • Temperature sensor and vacation mode are not currently active

Before You Buy:

  • Make sure you have a neutral wire in your existing switch's electrical box.

Alternatives:

  • Consider the Lutron Caseta switches, especially if you don't have a neutral wire.
  • You can also consider the Kasa or Wemo switches if you have a neutral wire.

Description

The ecobee Switch+ lets you control your lights with voice commands, through the app interface, or manually by pressing the button on the physical switch. It operates over your 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network so you don't need an additional hub. While Amazon Alexa is built into the device (with a speaker and microphone), you can also link the switch to Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit voice assistants. It will also work with Samsung SmartThings.

The switch is just a bit under 2" deep, but a portion of that sticks out in front of the faceplate. However, you definitely need an electrical back box that is deeper than 2" to ensure that everything fits inside. This won't be a problem for most people. You also need a neutral wire, which we will address below.

As we mentioned, the switch sticks out from the wall a bit, which isn't the most aesthetically pleasing form, but it allows the switch to pack in more features than the competition.

ecobee Switch+ Features
ecobee Switch+ Features

The front face of the Switch+ includes a small LED bar that lights up blue when Alexa is talking to you and pulses when Alexa is thinking. The light bar glows red when the microphone is turned off for privacy. You mute the microphone by pressing the button above the light bar. The same button interrupts Alexa or music when held for a couple of seconds.

Directly below the light bar is a speaker that is mainly used for responses from the built-in Alexa. You can ask Alexa to play music from Amazon Music, but the sound quality isn't all that great since the speaker is so small. It works, but you shouldn't expect a full range warm sound. ecobee plans to add other music providers in the future.

Below the speaker is an occupancy and daylight sensor that is used to automatically turn the lights on when you enter a dark room. You can also set the switch to turn the lights off after you leave the room. You control how long the lights stay on (between 15 minutes and 60 minutes) when there is no motion. These features, called Smart On and Smart Off, are controlled in the app. You can even set up a do-not-disturb mode that disables the occupancy sensor at bedtime so you don't accidentally turn the lights on when you roll over.

The bottom half of the front bump is a manual On/Off button. We are a bit unhappy that the button isn't very obvious — it is almost hidden so figuring out what to press isn't intuitive. The switch doesn't include any dimming capability, which is unfortunate for a $100 smart switch.

The underside of the bump includes a small night light that is enabled in the app. The night light turns on when the room is dark and shuts off when there is enough light to see.

The Switch+ is designed to work on 120-volt 15-amp electrical circuits. The maximum load on the branch is 600 watts for incandescent bulbs or 150 watts for LED and compact fluorescent bulbs. While we recommend LED bulbs for energy efficiency, you can also use CFL or incandescent bulbs with the ecobee Switch+.

In addition to the switch, the box includes mounting screws, wire nuts, a snap-on faceplate, and an installation manual. The switch and faceplate are only available in white.

Features

The following table shows the features of the ecobee Switch+. We will go over many of the features in more detail below.

ecobee Switch+
Neutral Wire
Required
Dimming
No
Three-Way
No, single pole only
Communications
Wi-Fi - 2.4 GHz
Sensors
Temperature, occupancy, ambient light
Compatible Bulbs
LED, CFL, Incandescent
Vacation Mode
Not Yet (see below)
Color
White
List Price (Dec 2018)
$100
Buy ecobee Switch+ at Amazon

Neutral Wire Requirements

Keep in mind that you must have a neutral wire in your electrical box to use the Switch+. The neutral wire provides a constant flow of power to the switch so that the Wi-Fi radio and various sensors continue to function when the light is turned off. We have an article that provides more detail about neutral wires if you need more information.

If you don't have a neutral, we recommend the Lutron Caséta system.

Sensors

The switch has three main sensors that add "smarts" to the device. There is an occupancy sensor, described above, that turns the lights on when you enter a room and turns them off when everyone leaves the room.

In addition, there is an ambient light sensor that knows when a room is dark or lit. This enables features like the night light to engage only when the room is dark.

Finally, the Switch+ includes a temperature sensor. Unfortunately, this feature is not yet available, but will be enabled via a future firmware upgrade that will happen automatically. Once enabled, the Switch+ can act as a remote temperature sensor when connected to an ecobee thermostat.

Vacation Mode

The ecobee website advertises a vacation mode that will randomly turn your lights on and off when you are away. This is another safety/security feature that is a must for smart light switches, but it isn't currently available on the Switch+. We expect it to be available soon and ecobee should update this article when it becomes available.

Geofencing

We think every light switch should include a geofencing option that monitors your phone's location and automatically turns your lights on when you get near your home. Unfortunately, the ecobee Switch+ doesn't have this safety feature. However, you can use an IFTTT geofence to turn your lights on when you enter a fence or off when you leave a fence.

IFTTT - If This, Then That

The ecobee Switch+ integrates with IFTTT, a free web service that links different technologies together. We introduced IFTTT in the geofencing section above, but you can do much more. Ecobee maintains a robust set of IFTTT integrations that can extend the capabilities of the Switch+.

Installation

Installing the ecobee Switch+ is relatively easy if you are comfortable working with your electrical system. However, we recommend you have an electrician install them if you have any concerns.

WARNING: light switches operate on 120-volt line voltage power that can cause personal injury or property damage. Be sure to turn the power off at the circuit breaker. In addition, only install the Switch+ if there is a neutral wire present. Practice good electrical safety and contact an electrician if you need help.

After your power is off, you can remove your old switch and then connect the Switch+ wires to the wires in your electrical box. Anchor the Switch+ to the electrical box and then install the provided faceplate. Full instructions are provided in the box, but you can also follow the instructions in the ecobee app. Installation instructions and videos are also available on the ecobee website.

ecobee App

If you own an ecobee thermostat, you probably have the ecobee app installed on your phone. The same app also controls the Switch+. However, if you don't have the app you can download it from the iTunes App Store or the Google Play Store.

We are going to focus on the app features relative the Switch+.

ecobee App - Installation, Devices, Switch Control, Smart Features, Alexa Integration
ecobee App - Installation, Devices, Switch Control, Smart Features, Alexa Integration

After installing the ecobee App and selecting to install a new device, the app guides you through wiring your new switch with written instructions and videos. Once installed, your switch will show up on the Devices page under the Switches tab. You simply tap the light bulb icon to turn the switch on and off. Or tap the name of the switch to go into the detailed control page.

Under the detailed control page, you can tap the microphone icon to adjust Alexa features. Tap the menu icon (three horizontal bars) to access more detailed scheduling and settings, including Smart Features.

Smart Features are the heart of the smart switch. This is where you enable and disable the occupancy sensor (Smart On and Smart Off) or turn on the Night Light.

Finally, we have mentioned many times that the ecobee Switch+ integrates with Amazon Alexa. However, you need to link it to your Amazon account to take advantage of this. Instructions for linking to Amazon are available from the ecobee support page.

Security And Privacy

Like most home automation products, the ecobee Switch+ communicates back to the ecobee servers over the internet from your home's Wi-Fi. The servers help the company offer and control the features that make the switch smart. Since your home network is the first line of defense, you should make sure it is very secure.

Ecobee does their part by ensuring all of their devices can communicate using TLS, WPA, and WPA2 security protocols. Using these on your home network encrypts all communications to help keep your data secure. We are not aware of any serious breaches or hacks of the ecobee network or individual Switch+ devices. Keep in mind that you are also sending data to Amazon when you use the Alexa feature.

Your data privacy is very important so we recommend that all users of smart home products understand the policies manufacturers have in place for their products. Be sure to read ecobee's privacy policy. If you plan to make use of the Amazon Alexa feature, then make sure you read Amazon's Alexa Terms of Use.

About The Manufacturer

Ecobee was founded in 2007 by Stuart Lombard. The company is known for their residential thermostats, but they also have a presence in enterprise energy management for large buildings and companies. Ecobee is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The Switch+, which was released in March 2018, is their first foray outside of thermostats and into the larger home automation market.