How Does An Ecobee Smart Sensor Work? (They Detect Occupancy, Motion & Temperature!)

In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, smart home devices have become an integral part of our daily lives, revolutionizing the way we interact with our living spaces. Among these innovative devices, the Ecobee smart sensor stands out as a key component in creating a comfortable and energy-efficient home environment. 

How does an Ecobee smart sensor work?

The Ecobee smart sensor works by detecting the temperature and room occupancy of the room they are located in and relaying that information to the Ecobee thermostat. The Ecobee smart thermostat uses that information to create a balanced and comfortable temperature throughout the house in only areas that are occupied.

By seamlessly integrating with the Ecobee smart thermostat, these Ecobee smart sensors work in tandem to optimize temperature, detect occupancy, and adapt to the occupants’ preferences. 

There are a lot of different types of smart sensors. In this article, we will look into the inner workings of the Ecobee smart sensor, exploring its features and the technology behind it to help you understand how this remarkable device can elevate your home’s comfort while contributing to a greener future.

Ecobee SmartSensors

How Does Ecobee Smart Sensor Work?

Ecobee smart sensors are small, wireless devices designed to work in conjunction with the Ecobee smart thermostat to improve your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. They function by detecting temperature, occupancy, and proximity to optimize heating and cooling throughout your home.

There is a difference between the older Ecobee Room Sensor and the newer Ecobee Smart Sensor. Here, we are talking about only the new Smart Sensors.

Here’s a basic overview of how Ecobee smart sensors work:

  • Temperature sensing: The smart sensors measure the temperature in different areas of your home. This information is sent to the Ecobee smart thermostat, which uses this data to create a more balanced and comfortable temperature throughout the house. This can help address issues like hot or cold spots in certain rooms. 


A feature called “Follow Me” allows the thermostat to prioritize the temperature in the rooms where people are present, resulting in a more comfortable environment and increased energy efficiency.

  • Occupancy detection: The smart sensors are equipped with passive infrared (PIR) motion detectors. These sensors can detect when a room is occupied by sensing body heat and movement. This information is sent to the thermostat, which can then adjust the temperature accordingly to ensure the room is comfortable for the occupants.
  • Smart home integration: Ecobee smart sensors can be integrated with other smart home devices and platforms, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT. This enables you to control your thermostat and sensors using voice commands or through smart home routines.
  • Energy efficiency: By gathering data on temperature and occupancy, the Ecobee smart thermostat can make intelligent decisions about when to heat or cool your home. This helps to reduce energy consumption and lower your utility bills.

To set up and use Ecobee smart sensors, you need to pair them with an Ecobee smart thermostat. Once connected, the thermostat will receive data from the sensors and use it to optimize your home’s comfort and energy efficiency.

Do Ecobee Sensors Detect Humidity?

Ecobee smart sensors do not directly measure humidity. However, the Ecobee smart thermostat itself includes a built-in humidity sensor. This allows the thermostat to monitor the relative humidity in the room where it is installed but not in the other rooms where the smart sensors are placed.

The Ecobee thermostat uses humidity information to help optimize your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. For example, it can adjust the heating or cooling based on the humidity level, and it can also control compatible dehumidifiers, humidifiers, or ventilators to maintain a healthy and comfortable indoor environment.

While the Ecobee smart sensors do not measure humidity, their primary function is to detect temperature and occupancy in different rooms of your home. This information is used by the Ecobee thermostat in conjunction with its built-in humidity sensor to create a more balanced and comfortable living environment.

How Do Ecobee Smart Sensors Communicate?

Ecobee smart sensors communicate with the Ecobee smart thermostat using a low-power radio frequency (RF) communication protocol. The protocol enables the sensors to send data such as temperature, occupancy, and proximity information to the thermostat wirelessly without relying on Wi-Fi or other network connections.

The Ecobee smart sensor’s RF communication operates on the 915 MHz band in North America and the 868 MHz band in Europe. These bands allow for reliable, low-power communication over short distances (typically around 30-45 feet or 9-14 meters indoors, depending on the construction materials and layout of your home). 

Ecobee claims the sensors can reach up to 60 feet away from the thermostat in ideal conditions. However, ideal conditions rarely exist in reality.

I’ve started experiencing dropouts in my house at around 35 feet, going through multiple walls.

It’s important to note that while Ecobee smart sensors use RF communication to connect with the Ecobee smart thermostat, the thermostat itself requires a Wi-Fi connection to access the internet and communicate with your smartphone or other smart home devices.

Once connected, the smart sensors will periodically send data to the thermostat, which then processes the information to optimize your home’s heating and cooling based on your preferences, occupancy, and temperature in different areas of your home.

Ecobee smart sensors can also be paired with the Ecobee SmartCamera (Smart Camera), which they’ve designed with a 915 MHz radio. The camera connects to the internet using Wi-Fi, which relays the information to your Ecobee smart thermostat.

How Does The Ecobee Smart Sensor Detect Occupancy?

Ecobee smart sensors detect occupancy using passive infrared (PIR) technology. PIR sensors are designed to detect the presence of people in a room by sensing the infrared radiation emitted by their bodies. Since humans emit heat in the form of infrared radiation, PIR sensors can recognize when a person is present or moves within a room.

The PIR sensor in an Ecobee smart sensor measures the changes in infrared radiation within its field of view. The field of view, also known as the viewing angle, is 140° horizontal and 100° vertical at a distance of up to 20 feet. 

When the sensor detects a significant change, such as when a person enters the room or moves within it, the sensor interprets this as occupancy. The sensor then sends this occupancy information to the Ecobee smart thermostat, which uses the data to make intelligent decisions about heating and cooling adjustments based on the occupancy status of different rooms in your home.

If you are into more technical information like I am, the Ecobee Smart Sensor uses NiCera SFG323 PIR sensors. I took one of my Ecobee Smart Sensors apart, and you can see the PIR sensor right in the middle. One thing I found interesting is that Ecobee is using the Sensor cap as some sort of lens to direct IR light.

NiCera refers to these as Pyroelectric IR sensors. Pyroelectric infrared (IR) sensors and passive infrared (PIR) sensors refer to the same technology. Both terms describe sensors that detect changes in infrared radiation emitted by objects in their field of view without emitting any energy themselves.

Pyroelectric IR sensors are made from pyroelectric materials, which generate an electric charge when exposed to a change in temperature. In the context of PIR sensors, this temperature change is caused by the infrared radiation emitted by objects, such as humans, animals, or even inanimate objects that have different temperatures than their surroundings.

PIR sensors are designed to detect movement or occupancy within a specific area by monitoring for changes in infrared radiation levels. When a warm object, like a person, enters the sensor’s field of view, the pyroelectric element inside the sensor detects the change in infrared radiation and generates an electric signal, indicating the presence of the object or movement.

Conclusion

The Ecobee smart sensor plays a necessary role in transforming our homes into more comfortable and energy-efficient spaces. By leveraging advanced technology such as passive infrared sensing and wireless communication, these sensors work synergistically with the Ecobee smart thermostat to create an intelligent heating and cooling system. 

As a result, homeowners can enjoy a tailored, comfortable environment while minimizing energy consumption and reducing their carbon footprint. As smart home technology continues to evolve, the integration of devices like the Ecobee smart sensor will undoubtedly become increasingly important in creating living spaces of the future.

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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