Ecobee Smart Sensor vs Room Sensor: What’s the Difference?

Smart thermostats have increasingly become an essential component of intelligent homes, providing both cost savings and convenience, especially if you forget to adjust the temperature before leaving home. 

These devices have been available for several years, and their performance continues to improve, as do the sensors accompanying them. Ecobee, a top-rated brand in this sector, consistently ranks as one of the best smart thermostat manufacturers.

What Is the Difference Between Ecobee Smart Sensor and Room Sensor?

The Ecobee SmartSensor offers a sleek and modern design, improved occupancy detection, longer battery life, pet immunity, and an easier pairing process compared to its predecessor, the Ecobee Room Sensor, while maintaining backward compatibility with previous-generation thermostats.

The success and usefulness of Ecobee’s smart thermostats can be attributed to their sensors. Recognizing Ecobee’s achievements, Google’s Nest thermostat also began incorporating sensors. These compact devices relay a wealth of important information to the smart thermostat. To better understand the value of this information and the distinctions between the two kinds of Ecobee sensors, let’s explore further.

If you’re interested in other types of sensors, there are a lot.

Ecobee SmartSensors and Room Sensors

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the differences between the Ecobee SmartSensor and the Ecobee Room Sensor:

FeatureEcobee SmartSensorEcobee Room Sensor
DesignSleek, modern, and improvedOlder and boxy
Range from Thermostat60 feet45 feet
Occupancy Viewing Angle140° horizontal and 100° vertical120° horizontal and 30° vertical
Occupancy Sensor Range20 feetUnspecified 
Occupancy DetectionBetter range & fasterStandard
Battery LifeUp to 5 years1 year
Pet ImmunityYesNo
Pairing ProcessUsing Ecobee appAt Thermostat

Ecobee Smart Sensor Design

The most visible differences in the redesign of the Ecobee SmartSensor are in its physical appearance. 

The older Room Sensor had a distinct cutout for motion/occupancy detection, while the new SmartSensor features a solid, uninterrupted surface. This gives it a more elegant look compared to its predecessor.

However, the SmartSensor is slightly deeper, likely due to the larger battery size. The height and width of the SmartSensor are slightly more narrow.

SmartSensor Dimensions

  • Height: 40 mm (1.58 in)
  • With stand: 50 mm (1.97 in)
  • Width: 40 mm (1.6 in)
  • Depth: 26.4 mm (1.03 in)

Room Sensor Dimensions

  • Height: 44 mm (1.7 in)
  • With stand: 54 mm (2.2 in)
  • Width: 44 mm (1.7 in)
  • Depth: 20 mm (0.8 in)
Ecobee SmartSensor and Room Sensor Wall Mount

Ecobee Smart Sensor Wall Mount

Included in the design changes are how the sensors are mounted to the wall. 

the Ecobee SmartSensor and Room Sensor have distinct mounting methods. The SmartSensor comes with a magnetic base that provides a sleek and secure attachment to the wall, allowing for easy removal and repositioning when desired. This modern design adds to the overall aesthetic appeal of the device.

On the other hand, the Room Sensor features a clip-on plastic base that needs to be attached to the wall. This design is less elegant compared to the SmartSensor’s magnetic base and may not blend in as seamlessly with your home decor. Additionally, the clip-on mechanism makes it slightly more cumbersome to remove and reposition the Room Sensor if needed.

The SmartSensor’s magnetic base offers a more visually pleasing and user-friendly wall mounting solution compared to the Room Sensor’s clip-on plastic base.

Ecobee Smart Sensor Communication Range

The SmartSensor can communicate with the thermostat up to a range of 60 ft, whereas the Room Sensor has a limited range of 45 ft. 

In my house, I don’t have 60 ft of open space, but I do have obstacles that can reduce the range.

Ecobee briefly notes that barriers such as thick walls or different floors, and other devices operating on the same 915MHz frequency, like baby monitors or cordless phones, may decrease the range of the sensor.

Despite not having 60 ft of open space, I have seen a noticeable difference between the two. 

With the thermostat located in the living room and a sensor in the bedroom adjacent to it, the Room Sensor may display an “unable to communicate” error when placed on the far side of the bedroom. Moving it closer to the thermostat resolves this issue. 

However, the SmartSensor can be placed anywhere in the room without any problems. I was even able to place it in the next room over and still not have any problems, I just don’t need a sensor in that room.

Ecobee Smart Sensor Viewing Angle

Since I don’t possess the necessary tools to measure the viewing angle of the sensors, I’ll rely on Ecobee’s provided information as well as the datasheets for the PIR sensors used. 

The Ecobee SmartSensor uses a NiCera SFG323 PIR sensor.

The original Ecobee Room Sensor uses an Excelitas LHi 776 PIR sensor, which is no longer produced.

The specs in the datasheets show that the newer sensor has better viewing angles, both vertically and horizontally. 

Also, Ecobee uses some type of Fresnel lenses to direct IR light toward the PIR sensors. Check out these pictures I took of each type of sensor. The Smart Sensor was completely redesigned, so I’m guessing that helps with occupancy detection.

Ecobee SmartSensor Viewing Angle

“Viewing angle: 140° horizontal and 100° vertical. Occupancy sensor accurate to a distance of 20 feet (6 m).

    For optimal placement for pet immunity, wall-mount at a height of 6.5 ft (2 m).

    For optimal placement for temperature readings, set at a height of 4 ft (1.2 m).

Occupancy viewing distance: 20 ft (6 m).”

Ecobee

Ecobee Room Sensor Viewing Angle

“Viewing angle: approximately 120° horizontal and 25–30° vertical.”

Ecobee

Ecobee Smart Sensor Occupancy Sensor Range

The occupancy sensor range refers to the distance within which the sensor can accurately detect the presence of people in a room. A larger range typically means that the sensor can cover a bigger area, allowing it to detect movement and human presence more effectively. 

Ecobee doesn’t provide occupancy viewing distance specifications for the Room Sensor. Ecobee does clearly state the range for the Smart Sensor.

Occupancy viewing distance: 20 ft (6 m).

Ecobee

In the case of the Ecobee SmartSensor, it has a better occupancy detection range than the Ecobee Room Sensor, which means it can cover a larger area to detect movement and occupancy. 

However, the exact range is not provided by Ecobee for the Room Sensor, so it’s hard to make a direct comparison. 

I have noticed a difference, though, when using them around the house.

I have two each of the Room Sensor and SmartSensor. One key difference I’ve noticed between them is that the Room Sensor cannot detect occupancy as well as the SmartSensor can. If you have the “follow me” feature set up, using only the SmartSensor would yield better results.

Keep in mind that the range of occupancy sensors can be influenced by various factors, such as the layout of the room, furniture placement, and any obstacles or barriers, like thick walls or multiple floors. These factors can impact the sensor’s ability to accurately detect occupancy within its specified range.

Ecobee Smart Sensor Battery Life

The updated SmartSensor utilizes a CR-2477 battery, which holds approximately double the energy of the previous CR-2032 battery. The CR-2477 has a 1000 mAh capacity. Combining the new design and the larger battery, Ecobee claims that the SmartSensor has a lifespan five times longer than that of the Room Sensor.

Smart Sensor: Powered by a single CR-2477 coin-cell battery that’s good for up to five years of battery life and is easily replaceable.

Room Sensor: Powered by a single CR-2032 coin battery. Battery will last approximately one year and is easily replaceable.

Source: Ecobee

It’s still too early to confirm whether SmartSensors last for five years, but there have been instances of defective units draining the battery within weeks. Ecobee offers replacements for these cases if you contact their customer support through phone, chat, or email.

I haven’t experienced any issues with my SmartSensor battery, and it hasn’t died yet. However, I’ve had to replace the battery in my Room Sensors twice within a year and a half, yielding around 8-9 months of battery life. 

If this pattern holds for the SmartSensor, I can anticipate 3-4 years per battery. So far, it’s been over three years, and I haven’t had to replace it yet.

The extended battery life mainly adds convenience, as the long-term cost difference is minimal. As of the time I updated this article, here are Amazon’s recommendations, a 3-pack of CR-2477 costs $8.36, while a 4-pack of CR-2032 is $7.84.

For simplicity, let’s assume a 2-pack of CR-2477 lasts 8 years (4 years per battery), and a 4-pack of CR-2032 lasts 4 years. To match the SmartSensor’s 2 battery life of 8 years, you would need to purchase two 4-packs of CR-2032 for the Room Sensor.

Over 8 years, you would spend $8.36 on SmartSensor batteries and $15.68 (2 x $7.84) on Room Sensor batteries. This results in a $7.32 difference over eight years, making the cost difference insignificant.

Ecobee Smart Sensor Pet Immunity

Ecobee refers to “pet immunity” as a feature designed to avoid inaccurate occupancy readings caused by the movements of our pets. The company also provides guidance on the optimal placement of the sensor.

SmartSensor has undergone rigorous testing for “pet immunity” so you don’t have to worry about your furry friend or friends accidentally setting off its occupancy detection feature.

Here are a few extra steps you can take to further prevent your pets from setting off the occupancy detection feature:

Place the SmartSensor in a spot that is not within view of a stairwell—especially if your pet likes to race up and down the stairs all day.

Avoid placing the SmartSensor in front of that popular hangout spot for your pet, like their favourite chair.

If your pet is the curious type, consider mounting SmartSensor on the wall with the included wall-mount at a height of 6.5 ft (2 m), rather than placing it on a stand where it may be more easily knocked away.

Ecobee Support Page

Ecobee Sensor Pairing Process

There are two types of pairing processes, depending on which sensor you have. Here’s some help you are having trouble pairing the sensor to the thermostat.

Ecobee Room Sensor Pairing Process

For the Room Sensor, the pairing process requires you to be near your smart thermostat. To power up the Room Sensor, you would remove the plastic tab from the battery compartment. 

The Ecobee thermostat would then display a menu for sensor pairing. 

Next, you would navigate through several menu options to name the newly paired sensor and select the comfort settings to use it with.

Ecobee Smart Sensor Pairing Process

The SmartSensor pairing process can be carried out from anywhere in the house using the Ecobee app. 

To do this, open the app, navigate to the “add new device” menu, scan the QR code on the sensor, and power up the sensor. 

The device is now ready for use, and you can configure the additional options at your leisure.

Conclusion

The Ecobee SmartSensor and Room Sensor are designed to enhance the performance of Ecobee smart thermostats. 

The SmartSensor, being the newer version, offers improved features and capabilities, such as a better occupancy detection range, faster response, pet immunity, and a more aesthetically pleasing design. 

The extended battery life, as well as the convenience of remote pairing through the Ecobee app, makes the SmartSensor a more user-friendly and efficient option. 

While both sensors serve their purpose, the SmartSensor clearly stands out due to its advanced features and improved user experience. 

Upgrading to the SmartSensor can provide a better overall experience with your Ecobee smart thermostat, ensuring enhanced comfort, energy efficiency, and convenience in managing your home’s temperature.

Josh

Hey, I’m Josh! Welcome to Expert Home Automation. Tech is what I do for a living and as a hobby. You can learn more about me here.

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