Rumors are flying about Ecobee‘s next smart home thermostat, and they point to the same thing: Amazon Alexa integration. The Ecobee4, which is not mentioned by model name nor confirmed by Eccobee, is the next logical iteration after the current Ecobee3 and Ecobee3 Lite.
The rumors have a foundation in Amazon’s $35 million capital investment in Ecobee made in August 2016, as reported by Venture Beat. The funding was from Amazon’s Alexa Fund, according to Ecobee. The company further stated its intention to use the capital to produce smart home tech “that make people’s lives simpler and better.” So news about that investment alone could put an end to the drama and guesswork about the next Ecobee thermostat, but there’s much more.
On April 3, 2017, Dave Zatz called out FCC documents that showed what appeared to be a rear-firing speaker. An Ecobee4 label in the FCC docs provides further evidence at least of the existence of the device. FCC documents also state that the unit measures 10cm by 10cm, the same size as the Ecobee3.
On April 17, 2017, Zatz reported “newly discovered Ecobee4 product marketing materials.” The materials confirm Alexa’s presence in the Ecobee4, Zatz wrote. The Alexa-enabled smart thermostat will apparently respond to speech for temperature control as well as a wider, but unspecified list of Alexa’s capabilities.
Adding Alexa to the Ecobee4 allows greater installation flexibility. The Ecobee3 supports Alexa skills via If This Then That (IFTTT) recipes, but you still needed a physical Alexa device to use voice commands. With what appears to be full Alexa-capability built in, you won’t even need to buy an Alexa Echo, Dot, or Tap to access the voice assistant.
Amazon Echo Dots with Alexa were designed to work in groups. It’s more convenient to dot your home with Dots in your main living area, in your bedroom, and in a study, for example, than to have to get up to walk within voice range of a single Dot. From the leaked materials and rumors, it sounds like you can let the Ecobee4 replace a Dot you already own in the area closest to your thermostat and move that Dot to another room.
There is no sure way to confirm when the Ecobee4 will be available or officially announced by the company. A letter filed with the FCC requests confidentiality for 180 days. The letter was filed March 24, 2017, so it seems a safe bet that we’ll see an Ecobee4 announcement within 180 days of that date, which is September 20, 2017.