Launched with the ecobee SmartCamera just a few weeks ago, Ecobee’s SmartSensor for doors and windows is another key part of the company’s momentum in the internal security market. The latest accessories work in tandem with ecobee SmartThermostats and camera sensors, to allow a hassle-free way to keep tabs in the house.
With movement, occupancy, geo-fencing and Ecobee’s Haven Home Monitor service, homeowners can come and go as they please, without having to mess with keyboards, apps or fobs. I tested SmartSensors together with Haven service in the last week and a half and I can say that having everything working harmoniously is quite convincing. As always, there are a few things that keep the service going, from being the perfect solution for everyone.
Bottom line: SmartSensors from ecobee are an easy-to-install monitoring solution with on-board motion and contact sensor. If you have other eco-friendly equipment and you don’t mind a subscription, these sensors allow home security to be truly seamless.
- Built-in motion sensor
- Monitored integration Haven
- Works with HomeKit
- Easy installation
- Battery life of 3 years
- Slightly voluminous design
- Inconsistent response times
Contact and movement
ecobee SmartSensor: features
The Ecobee SmartSensors feature a typical two-piece white touch sensor design, but include beautiful touches like soft rounded corners. The larger part of the sensor houses all the smart technology, rendering the condition of the home directly to an ecobee SmartThermostat or SmartCamera, which is necessary for operation. The smaller portion consists of a magnet that allows the smart sensor to determine when a door or window is open or closed depending on proximity.
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Both parts of the sensor are attached to doors, windows and gaskets using a double-sided fixing tape that is pre-attached. The installation of the sensor is quick and easy, with a shell and a stick only after the lining of the two parts on the desired surface. The sensor has a small on-board LED that flashes green when a state change occurs, and the entire operation is powered by a CR2477 coin-shaped battery, which is rated for up to 3 years of use.
Unlike other contact sensors, SmartSensors also houses a motion sensor. Although the extra sensor may seem a bit redundant at first, it actually makes a lot of sense if your home consists of large open areas. This allows the sensor to monitor the main entry points, as well as other windows and doors in its vision, without the need to place a sensor on each.
The status of the sensor is communicated wirelessly to an associated hub device at 80 meters, via a 915 MHz RF signal. Using RF allows the sensor to work directly with SmartThermostats and SmartCameras outside of potentially congested Wi-Fi and Bluetooth frequencies. If you have both the camera and a thermostat in the house, you are given the opportunity to choose during the configuration on which it will act as a hub for sensors.
When combined with other ecobee devices and ecobee’s Haven Home Monitor subscription service, sensors can send notifications when unusual activity is detected. ecobee’s Haven uses all the sensor data in the house, as well as geofencing on the phones of everyone in the household, to automatically arm and disarm the monitoring without user intervention.
The price for the Haven service starts at $ 5 per month for unlimited entry detection with SmartSensors and includes support for video recording with SmartCamera. In addition to notifications via Haven and the ecobee app, the sensors report their status via the Apple HomeKit and are available for use with automation and quick status checks via Siri.
ecobee SmartSensor: What I like
As previously mentioned, setting up ecobee SmartSensor is fairly easy, with a simple scan of the peel and stick code and association. The ecobee app quickly lifted the sensors and I like to have the option to decide which device acts as the hub they are associated with, although there are no explanations or suggestions to recommend one over the other. We estimate that the entire setup process, from unboxing to pairing, took about 5 minutes.
After installation, I like how well the sensors are integrated with the rest of my ecobee sensors and through the Haven service. By default, SmartSensors are ready to be used for home monitoring, which when combined with RoomSensors, SmartThermostat and SmartCamera, gave me a sense of security, basically covering my whole house. By using geo-fences with ecobee’s Autopilot mode, I really like the way ecobee incorporates not only one person’s phone, but all members of the household to do automatic arming and disarming.
I also liked the way the ecobee app keeps things simple for home monitoring. When launching the application, I liked to see a small status displayed for each sensor and how the sensor activity is merged with the rest of the house in an activity timeline. Each event is easy to understand, with only the sensor name, time and type of activity listed, such as “Pantry Door” open.
Notifications for events captured by the sensor when the house is armed arrived within seconds and were reliable (although times varied, more thereafter) for each occurrence. While the iOS app notification only states that there is “Activity while your house was armed”, touching it has created a careful and informative screen within the ecobee app. This screen provides the exact time of the event on which the device was triggered and gives you the option to view SmartCamera streams, turn on the camera siren, reject the alert, or reject and disarm.
ecobee SmartSensor: What I do not like
While the ecobee SmartSensor packs into a motion sensor and delivers power, it’s expensive compared to its competitors. The sensors are only sold in packs of 2 at the moment for $ 79, which puts them at a much higher price point, so much so that you can buy 3 or 4 alternatives at the same price. Some competitors also include temperature and humidity sensors, which almost seem to be given on a sensor from ecobee, but are strangely absent.
Speaking of other contact sensors available on the market, the ecobee offer is quite large than the rest. The large size makes the sensor a decent distance from the door or window on which it is installed and is easy to see, even on white surfaces. I also found the vertical orientation of the ecobee SmartSensor to be slightly strange after using sensors installed horizontally for years, but it doesn’t affect performance.
Although notifications are reliable and delivered every time, my biggest problem with SmartSensor is that the actual response times through both the ecobee app and the HomeKit are inconsistent. Sometimes status updates and notifications can take up to 2 to 3 seconds, but other times they can take up to 7 or 8 seconds. Since the sensor doesn’t use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, I expected the ecobee solution to be faster and more consistent than others, but unfortunately it’s not, which was a bit disappointing.
ecobee SmartSensor: Bottom line
In the end, ecobee SmartSensors are somewhat out of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I certainly like the way the sensors are reliable and can monitor more than just the door to which it is attached, through the built-in motion sensor and how simple it is to manage them. On the other hand, the response times of the sensor can be inconsistent, which prevents them from being suitable for other things such as HomeKit automation.
Smart sensors from ecobee are also expensive, and you will need a SmartThermostat or SmartCamera to pair them to work effectively as intended. Combined with a subscription to the Haven Home Monitoring Service, the purchase of sensors is carefully considered in advance and not just an easy-to-purchase purchase.
If you already have ecobee devices in your home, or if you just want a quick and easy way to add extra security without having to set up HomeKit, then SmartSensors are definitely a great option. For those who use HomeKit and want a toll-free DIY monitoring solution, then other options may be more appropriate, but ecobee sensors are reliable, which is not always the case with HomeKit. Finally, for those who do not have a thermostat or ecobee camera and do not intend to choose one anytime soon, well, your decision has already been made.
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