You can install an Ecobee3 thermostat in less than 15 minutes. This guide will walk you through installing your new thermostat, and includes three Pro Tips that Ecobee didn’t include in the installation guide.
Installing a thermostat sounds like a complex job, but it’s not. I will show you that the Ecobee3 installation is not hard, especially if you follow this guide.
Before You Start Installation
This is a simple job, so you’ll need some simple tools:
- Phillips head screwdriver to mount and unmount the trim plates from the wall
- 3/16″ drill bit and drill to drill holes for your new trim plate
Step 1: Kill the Power
We’re dealing with electricity, so let’s play it safe. You also don’t want to accidentally short out your new thermostat or your furnace.
Find the main breaker box for your home. This could be in the basement or garage, and has many black breaker switches. Identify the switch that controls the power to your furnace or HVAC system and flip it to the off position.
Confirm that you’ve successfully cut the power to your thermostat by looking at your HVAC system (it should be quiet), or by checking the screen on your existing thermostat (it should be off).
Step 2: Remove Your Old Thermostat
Most thermostats are two pieces: one trim plate mounted to the wall with screws, and a removable face. For right now, you only want to remove the face.
While every thermostat is different, the face of your thermostat is likely disconnected by pulling down from the top, up from the bottom, or straight out.
Step 3: Verify That You Have a Wire Plugged Into the C Terminal
With the face of your thermostat removed, you should be able to see the current wire connections. It should look something like this:
Look for the terminal marked “C”. This is your “common” wire and is what powers your thermostat. Your furnace is sending 24 volts of power up this wire, which is necessary to turn on and power the Ecobee thermostat.
Is the C terminal empty (like the one above)? If you don’t have a wire connected to your C terminal, we need to add one more step to your installation. Since this is the Easy Installation Guide, I won’t cover that here. But I will have a free installation guide for that soon – you can sign up here to get an email when it’s ready.
If you have a wire connected to the C terminal, you’re in good shape, so keep reading!
Step 4 (Ecobee3 Installation Pro Tip 1): Take a Picture of the Current Installation Wiring
We haven’t done anything particularly interesting until now, but this is where things can start to go really wrong.
It’s important that we reconnect the Ecobee in exactly the same way as the old thermostat was connected. This ensures that we don’t cause any severe damage to your HVAC system, and that Ecobee will run correctly.
While red should hook up to the R terminal, white should hook up to the W, and blue should hook up to the C, we may not be able to trust that the installer used the standard wire colors. But assuming that your HVAC system was working before, we can trust the current wiring as a guide.
Take a picture of the current wiring in your old trim plate. Having this picture as a reference will help you ensure that you’re connecting the Ecobee correctly.
Obviously, make sure the picture is clear, and that you can see which color wire is plugged into which terminal.
If you don’t have a wire in the C terminal, you’ll need to install the Ecobee Power Extender. I’ll have a free installation guide on that soon – you can sign up here to get an email when it’s ready.
Step 5: Remove the Old Trim Plate From Your Wall, and Unplug the Wiring
Unmount the trim plate from your wall with your screwdriver.
Carefully disconnect the wires from the terminals. Depending on the old thermostat’s manufacturer, you may use a tiny release lever, your phillips head screwdriver, a tiny flat-head screwdriver.
You won’t need to worry about being shocked since we turned the power off in step 1.
Step 6 (Ecobee3 Installation Pro Tip 2): Connect Your Wiring to the New Trim Plate Before Mounting the Trim Plate
The Ecobee installation guide suggests mounting the new trim plate to the wall before connecting the wires. However in my experience, this makes connecting the wires unnecessarily complicated since there’s very little room. I suggest you connect the wires, and then mount the trim plate.
So, hold your Ecobee thermostat trim plate in one hand and feed all the thermostat wires through the hole in the middle.
Now, referencing the picture you took earlier, feed each individual wire into the correct terminal on the Ecobee backplate.
You should be able to slide the wires directly into the wire slot on the side of the terminal. You’ll notice that a little tab on the side of the terminal moves down when the wire is installed – that is fine. This is the release lever: pressing that further down will open the terminal slot, allowing you to slide the wire out.
Give each wire a slight tug to make sure it’s well connected, then push any excess wire back into the wall.
Step 7: Mount the Trim Plate on the Wall
Hold the new trim plate against the wall to make sure that it covers any old holes.
Ecobee3 Installation Sidenote: Your Ecobee box includes an optional large trim plate to cover any holes from your previous thermostat. This is ugly and detracts from the simple look of your Ecobee. If you’d rather not use the additional, large trim plate you can patch the wall. Here’s a link on how to do basic drywall patching – it’s very easy and will make your installation look professional.
Using the trim plate as a template, mark the mounting holes on the wall with a pencil. The Ecobee trim plate includes a built in bubble level to help you ensure that your new thermostat appears level on your wall.
Drill two 1/8″ holes and mount the trim plate using the screws and wall plugs that came with your Ecobee.
Now, just screw the Ecobee trim plate to the wall using the white screws that came with your ecobee.
Step 8: Plug the Ecobee Into the Trim Plate and Turn the Power Back On
Now that the trim plate is hooked up to your HVAC system, and is securely mounted to the wall, we can put the Ecobee on the wall.
Attach the Ecobee to the trim plate by aligning the terminals on the backplate with the pins on the Ecobee. Then, simply push it into the connectors on the trim plate until you hear a click.
You shouldn’t see anything on the screen yet since we turned the power off a few minutes ago.
If the Ecobee is sitting flush with the wall, it’s on correctly. If it doesn’t sit flush with the wall, make sure the excess wires have been pushed back into the wall.
Head down to your basement and turn your HVAC system breaker back on.
With the power on, your Ecobee should show a little, animated butterfly. This means your power is working correctly! Ecobee should then ask you to confirm your wiring. Referencing the picture you took earlier, ensure that your Ecobee is recognizing the same wiring.
When you’ve confirmed that the Ecobee correctly recognizes all of your wires, your new Ecobee thermostat is working!
Ecobee3 Installation Warning: If it’s showing that you are missing wires that you think are connected, or showing wires connected that you didn’t connect, something is wrong. Stop what you’re doing and fix this immediately. Ignoring this message and continuing with the setup process could cause severe damage to your HVAC system.
The cause is simple: you may not have seated the wires securely into the backplate. To fix this, turn the power back off, remove the Ecobee from the backplate, and slide the wires in until they can’t go any further. Re-attach the Ecobee and turn the power back on.
Step 9: Connect to Wifi and Start the Initial Setup
Ecobee3 should automatically detect that you have a wifi network available. You’ll want your Ecobee to be connected to the internet so that you can control it from your phone or laptop, as well as receive software updates from the manufacturer.
Ecobee has a couple of ways to connect to your network:
- You can simply the network and enter the password using an on-screen keyboard. This works perfectly fine, however, that keyboard is tiny, and may be frustrating if your wireless password is complex.
- If you have an iOS device, you can use it to wireless transmit the wireless network information to your Ecobee.
On your iPhone or iPad, go to settings, then wifi. At the bottom of the list of available networks, you should “set up new device” with your Ecobee listed. Click your thermostat and follow the on-screen instructions to wirelessly transmit your wifi network information to your Ecobee.
After connecting your Ecobee to wifi, you’ll get a four digit code to register your ecobee3 using the iPhone or Android app. Write down this four-digit code, open the app on your phone, and register your thermostat.
Step 10: Connect the Remote Sensors
The biggest selling point for me in buying the Ecobee3 instead of the Nest was it’s remote sensors.
Ecobee3 comes with one (or more) remote sensors, with the ability to connect up to 32 additional sensors. You can buy new sensors for about $25 each. These remote sensors allow you to get the temperate and occupancy of an area that isn’t near your main Ecobee thermostat.
To connect your remote sensors to your thermostat, stand in front of your Ecobee with your remote sensor in hand. Then, simply pull the plastic tab on the back of remote sensor to power on the sensor.
Within a few seconds, the screen on your Ecobee should recognize the sensor and allow you to pair it with the thermostat. Follow the on-screen instructions to name your sensor, then place it anywhere in your home.
Step 12 (Ecobee3 Installation Pro Tip 3): Bookmark the Ecobee Portal on Your Computer
Your Ecobee thermostat is now installed and controlling the heating and cooling of your house!
I have also bookmarked the Ecobee portal on my laptop. The Ecobee Portal on your computer allows you to change the temperature and your thermostat settings, just like the phone apps do. Additionally, the it also includes robust reporting that shows you when your HVAC comes on, how long it runs for, and external factors like relative humidity and outside temperature.
Your Ecobee3 installation is complete! With the Ecobee3, your home’s HVAC system becomes smarter through the power of software. Ecobee3 home save an average of 23% annually, paying for itself in energy savings.
- See our list of all wireless thermostats
- Read customer reviews about the Ecobee3
- Buy an Ecobee3
- Buy additional wireless Ecobee3 sensors
- Control your Ecobee3 through Alexa or another Smart Home Hub