Ecobee3 WiFi Connection Troubles

Ecobee3 thermostat WiFi troubles

In a previous post I wrote about my transition from Nest to Ecobee3 thermostats, and how the biggest benefit of the E3 was the use of remote sensors.

After several months of use, winter and summer, I find the remote sensors really do work very well, and our bedrooms remain at the desired temperature, while the areas around the thermostats can be warmer or colder.

But, the E3 is not perfect, there are two recurring problems; the remote sensors would report offline, and the units would lose network connectivity.

 

I’ve received sensor offline alerts a couple of times, typically happens early mornings, maybe interference, don’t know, the sensors never move from where they are placed.

Every time a I get a sensors offline report, the sensor already restored connectivity. This behavior is very annoying, I will get two emails a minute apart, and the E3 UI will have an alert saying sensor offline, I click ok, and then immediately an alert saying sensor online.

E3.Sensor.Email

I expect the E3 to have some sort of grace period before it deems a problem so important that it needs to notify me. As is, it is just an annoyance as there is no remediation action to take.

 

 

The second problem is the E3 loses network connectivity, this is a real problem, as the units remain offline until power cycled, and to power cycle the E3 has to be removed from the wall bracket, i.e. there is no reboot menu option.

I reported this problem to Ecobee support in October, and on the SmartHomeHub community forum. Yes, it is a bit pathetic that Ecobee does not have their own support community forum. Ecobee had me reserve static IP’s in the DHCP server, setup a dedicated 2.4GHz SSID, still disconnects. By December the problem was still happening, and Ecobee support escalated the problem to their development team, it is two months later, and still no updates from Ecobee support on the problem.

E3.Log

Through my own research and experimentation I suspect the problem to be that the E3 is unable to handle a WiFi channel change, and unable to roam between access points. There are some conditions that trigger the problem that I cannot explain.

I have multiple access points in my house, same SSID, different channels, 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. I tested with Ubiquity UniFi AC and with Ruckus/Xclaim Xi-3. And in case you’re wondering, no other devices in my house have any problems with WiFi, even with dynamic channel selection.

I can make the E3 fail by either changing the AP channel, or by making it roam to a different AP, also changing channels. If I configure the AP’s to use auto channel selection, then the E3 will fail as soon as the AP chooses to change channels (UniFi does this on startup, Xclaim does this dynamically). If I manually change the AP channel, the E3 will fail. If I take one AP offline, the E3 will fail to roam to a different AP (on a different channel).

Even with my AP’s configured with static non-overlapping channels, the E3 would still sometimes fail, requiring a power cycle. I do not know why this would happen, as signal strength by the E3’s are perfect.

On the plus side, the E3 units remember the schedule, and even when offline, they continue to operate.

 

Bottom line is E3 WiFi is not reliable, and E3 support/dev is not responsive.

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5 thoughts on “Ecobee3 WiFi Connection Troubles”

  1. It’s awesome you went through the steps to properly diagnose the problem, which is clearly more than Ecobee has done. This finding, and their lack of care, says a lot about the value the company places on it’s engineering. Of course, they aren’t the only one. It’s odd how badly companies can fail at product development. I think it’s because they don’t focus on it. I’ve seen companies focus on everything *but* product development, even when the product is their only source of revenue.

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  2. Wish I saw this before I purchased. AFter 6 hours of troubleshooting I found this out on my own too…I blasted ecobee on facebook and amazon. I had to turn off dynamic channel switching on my AP. The ecobee is the only device with the problem. Then on top of that it doesnt support 5ghz….i have never seen such a poor wifi implementation

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  3. I have been using Ecobee3 for about 20 days now, so fairly new with my experience. During setup my device connected to the internet service (Comcast in my case), but got disconnected every time within a few hours of connection. I’m a bit tech savvy, so started doing my research and also contacted Ecobee technical team, Comcast technical team and the company of my router (Aaris). Here is what I found:
    1. Ecobee runs on 2.4 GHZ channel. This is ok, most routers/ISPs are able to handle it
    2. There are a few ports that Ecobee needs access to connect to their servers.
    How to configure the ports:
    1. Log in to your admin portal for the router/ISP (for Comcast: 192.168.0.1)
    2. Basically you have to add ‘Port Triggers’ to your router configuration. After logging in, find the option to add ‘Port Triggers’
    3. You will most probably see ‘Trigger’ (start/end port), ‘Target’ (start/end port), Protocol, Description, Enable
    4. You will need to make two entries. For first entry, enter ‘8089’ for all the 4 start/end ports, enter your own description, and set Enable to ‘yes’. Create it. Enter another entry with ‘8190’ for all 4 ports, and enable it. So after you do this you will see two entries, each with these two ports in all boxes.
    5. Restart router with about 30 sec downtime.
    6. Re-configure your ecobee3 device (reset all settings), re-register the device, and setup the wifi again.
    After doing this it has been a few days and my Ecobee3 has not disconnected yet which is good.
    I was surprised that this info was not available on their website. It is a fairly new device in the market, and so I think the port configuration system has not yet matured. To say that E3 WiFi is not reliable would be a bit harsh, it’s just not matured enough to handle ports.

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