For the last couple of years, Toronto-based Ecobee has been known for its smart thermostats but for 2020, the company decided to venture into the smart security camera category with their SmartCamera.

Design & Hardware

The Ecobee SmartCamera has a unique design that makes it stand out from other smart security cameras. Ecobee’s camera has more of a pill/oval-shaped design with rounded corners instead of a circular look.

The front of the camera is where you’ll see the microphones for talking to Alexa as well as the 5MP sensor that shoots 1080p video with a 180-degree field of view. The camera can automatically pan and zoom to capture unexpected movement without the camera physically moving.

Video quality from the camera is great, you can see a lot of details and make out people in front of the camera.

You can choose not to activate Alexa on the SmartCamera as I did by not linking your Amazon account in the Ecobee app.

The camera also comes with Person Detection as well as Night Vision which seemed to work well for the most part. All the video captured from the camera is processed on-device and is encrypted.

The bottom and back of the device are where you’ll find anchor points to connect the stand to the camera for when you’re putting it on a shelf or window sill or you’re mounting the device to the wall.

The top of the camera is where you’ll find the two touch-sensitive buttons, one is to mute the mic for Alexa voice control and the other is used for changing some settings of the device like reset.

Just like Ecobee’s other products, the SmartCamera works with Amazon Alexa (so you can view your camera feed from an Echo Show), Apple HomeKit and SmartThings. Google Assistant support for the Ecobee SmartCamera is in the works but the company hasn’t given a concrete timeline.

The Ecobee SmartCamera is just one part of the company’s overall smart home vision.

Alongside the camera, Ecobee sent their new SmartSensor for doors and windows which can work in conjunction with your SmartCamera, so you’ll get alerts when a door or window is opened, especially when you’re not home.

When you buy the SmartSensor for doors and windows, you’ll get a pair of them. The sensors have three-year battery life and pairing range of up to 80 ft.

The Ecobee temperature SmartSensor can also be used with the SmartCamera for advanced occupancy detection for monitoring in-home activity.

The SmartCamera costs $249 CAD ($179 USD) and the SmartSensor for doors and windows 2-pack costs $99 CAD ($79 USD).

Ecobee does offer a couple of bundles, which you can see below.

  • Total Home Comfort and Security Bundle: $699 CAD ($499 USD)
    • SmartThermostat with voice control
    • SmartCamera with voice control
    • SmartSensor 2-pack
    • SmartSensor for doors and windows 2-pack
  • Home Comfort with Voice Control Bundle: $449 CAD ($313 USD)
    • SmartThermostat with voice control and included SmartSensor
    • SmartSensor 2-pack
  • Home Security Bundle: $399 CAD ($279 USD)
    • SmartCamera with voice control
    • SmartSensor 2-pack
    • SmartSensor for doors and windows 2-pack
  • Home Comfort Bundle: $329 CAD ($236 USD)
    • ecobee3 lite smart thermostat
    • SmartSensor 2-pack
  • Camera Coverage Bundle: $449 CAD ($319 USD)
    • SmartCamera 2-pack
  • Sensor Coverage Bundle: $139 CAD ($99 USD)
    • SmartSensor 2-pack
    • SmartSensor for doors and windows 2-pack

One thing to note about the SmartCamera is that you’ll need their Haven subscription to get the most out of it.

With Ecobee Haven, you’ll get, automatic monitoring, entry detection (via contact sensors), 14-day video history. Without Haven, you won’t get any video history.

You can see a breakdown of Haven here:

Unsubscribed (Default)

  • $0/month
  • Live video for SmartCamera with voice control
  • Open/Close Events in logs for SmartSensor for doors and windows

Essential Subscription – One (1) camera

  • $5 USD / $7 CAD per month
  • Includes Haven benefits (smart push notifications, siren, arm/disarm, Autopilot)
  • Includes video storage of clips for 14 days for one (1) camera
  • Allows unlimited non-camera devices

Extended Subscription – Unlimited cameras

  • $10 USD / $12 CAD per month
  • Includes Haven benefits (smart push notifications, siren, arm/disarm, Autopilot)
  • Unlimited non-camera devices + unlimited cameras
  • Includes video storage of clips for 14 days for all cameras in your ecobee Home

It would have been great if Ecobee had included a few days of video history for free.

Software

To control the SmartCamera, everything is done through the Ecobee app (available on Android and iOS).

The app is divided into four sections, Home, Activity, Vacation and Account.

 

Home is where you’ll see your various Ecobee devices like the SmartCamera or thermostat. This is where you can view a live feed of the camera in just one tap. The camera interface allows you to take a snapshot, talk, record and pan the camera.

There’s also a video history that shows all the 2-minute video clips the camera automatically records when it detects motion. While the camera is great at detecting motion, sometimes it will detect a tree branch blowing in the wind, especially if you have the camera facing out a window as I do.

Also in the Home section is where you can arm your camera for Home Monitoring.

There are three Armed Modes:

  • Armed Away
    • Sends entry and motion alerts from all compatible devices in your ecobee Home to keep you informed when you’re away from home.
    • Compatible devices include:
      • SmartCamera with voice control
      • SmartSensor for doors and windows
      • Smart Thermostat with voice control
      • SmartSensor
      • ecobee4
      • ecobee3
      • Switch+
  • Armed Stay
    • Only sends entry alerts from ecobee SmartSensor for doors and windows in your ecobee Home
  • Disarmed
    • Turns off any motion or entry alerts from any device in your ecobee Home.

With each Armed mode, you can choose which Ecobee devices you want to be included in Device Monitoring.

Activity shows you all the activity that the camera sees like detecting a person or motion. Vacation is when you’re out of the house for a while and want to make sure everything is okay at your house.

Account is where you can manage your Ecobee account, manage Homes, Notifications and more. One thing to note is that if you do buy a SmartCamera, you’ll need to enable two-factor verification for your Ecobee account.

That means a text will be sent with a verification code when you log in to your Ecobee account.

Final Thoughts

The Ecobee SmartCamera is a great addition for those already invested in the Ecobee ecosystem such as one of their smart thermostats.

The only downside is that there isn’t any free video history forcing users into getting a Haven subscription which is $7-14 per month on top of the $250 CAD for the camera.

Pros

  • Great video quality with wide FOV (180-degree) and can pan and zoom on its own
  • Good person/motion tracking but not perfect (sometimes it tracks the movement of trees or birds)
  • When paired with other ecobee products and accessories, it makes a good starter security system
  • Alexa built-in can be helpful and works with Echo Show devices
  • Apple HomeKit support

Cons

  • Google Assistant (including GA-powered Smart Displays) support is still TBA
  • No video history without a Haven subscription

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