Ecobee users sometimes ask the question, “Why does my ecobee sensor say unoccupied?” We will reveal why it does and how to fix it!
In some cases, the ecobee sensor for a particular room may show unoccupied because there is no person occupying the room. In other cases the sensor status may show unoccupied though there is some person in the room, because there is a delay in communication between the sensor and the ecobee thermostat which is monitoring all the sensors installed.
Sometimes the unoccupied status may be due to the ecobee settings or because there is a problem with ecobee sensor due to it not being able to detect the room status properly.
6 Main Reasons Why Your Ecobee Sensor Says Unoccupied
1. Sensor use
Ecobee is a smart thermostat which reduces the energy consumption in a home or property by detecting whether there is one or more person in a room.
Additional heating is required for a room during winter using the heating ventilation air condition (HVAC) system only if a person is occupying the room and the room temperature is low, so that the person is comfortable and can focus on his work or sleep.
Similarly during summer, the HVAC system is required for cooling the room only when the temperature is very high and there is someone in the room. If the room is empty, it is not necessary to cool or heat the room, since the furniture and appliances are usually not affected by fluctuations in ambient temperature and less energy is consumed.
While earlier people would switch their HVAC system on or off manually, resulting in some wastage of energy, Ecobee automates the task to a very great extent automatically switching off the HVAC system for a room, based on the inputs received from the ecobee sensor for the room.
2. Types of sensors You are Using
Before understanding the sensor status it is important to understand the different types of sensors which are used with Ecobee. Usually Ecobee is supplied with one smart sensor . Additional sensors are usually purchased based on the size of the house or property where the sensor is installed.
The smart sensor usually has a motion detection feature, if some motion is detected in the room, it will show the room as occupied and if there is no motion in the room it will give the status as unoccupied.
So if the sensor is in a room where a person is sleeping or resting and not moving, the smart sensor may give the incorrect reading that the room is not occupied, though there may be someone in the room.
Room sensors are the other type of sensors which are being used with Ecobee thermostat. These room sensors are designed to detect the infra red radiation which the human body is producing.
So if the infrared radiation from the person or people in the room is properly detected by the sensor, it will give the status as occupied, and if no infrared radiation is detected, the status is shown as unoccupied. However in some cases, the sensor may be blocked or not functioning properly, due to which the sensor may show the status as unoccupied, despite people being in the room.
3. Ecobee mode selection
The sensor status will also change depending on the mode which is selected, there are three different modes for Ecobee – Follow me, Smart Home, and Smart Away. In the Follow me mode, the sensor status will change from occupied to unoccupied after thirty minutes, if no motion is detected.
It will also take some time to switch from unoccupied to occupied after a person enters the room. In contrast for the smart away and smart home mode, the Ecobee is scanning the sensors every five minutes, the change in the sensor status will be updated more quickly usually within five minutes.
So the time delay in updating the room status as occupied though the room is not occupied and vice versa, depends to some extent on the Ecobee mode which has been selected.
4. It’s in Sleep Comfort Mode
Usually the smart sensor which is supplied with Ecobee is installed by most users in their bedroom since they want to comfortably sleep at night. Since they want the temperature in the bedroom to remain comfortable through out the night, they will usually select the sleep comfort mode to regulate the temperature.
Most people do not move in their sleep, so the smart sensor may not detect the motion of the person or people sleeping in the bedroom. So in this case, though people are sleeping in their bedroom at night, the smart sensor may not detect motion and the ecobee sensor will show the room status as being unoccupied.
5. You Have a Faulty Sensor
The sensors which are used are electronic devices which use a battery. Like other electronic gadgets, there is always a possibility that the sensor may get damaged if it is not handled properly or become faulty due to manufacturing defects or other reasons.
So in these cases, the infrared sensor or motion detector may not detect the presence of a person in the room and continue to show the status as unoccupied. If the Ecobee user notices that the room is not being heated or cooled as required, he should test the sensor separately, to check status change, whether it is functioning as required.
6. Check the Software Settings
People often do not go to some areas of their home often, so they do not want to waste energy heating or cooling that part of the house. They may also not wish to purchase additional sensors for these areas, and do their maintenance, checking to ensure that the battery is not drained.
So for these users it is more convenient to set the sensor status for that part of the house as unoccupied through the app which is provided by Ecobee, so that the HVC system is not accidentally switched on and no energy is wasted for heating or cooling these areas of the house.
Why Does My Ecobee Say Unoccupied? Conclusion
In conclusion, “Why does my Ecobee sensor say unoccupied?”
Usually the ecobee sensor for a particular room will accurately indicate the status of the room as being unoccupied if the room is empty and there is no human being in the room. However, sometimes the room will be incorrectly shown as unoccupied despite one or more people being in the room because of the type of sensor, Ecobee mode selection, software settings or because you have a defective sensor.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our “Why does my Ecobee keep changing temperature?” article here!