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How To Install an Ecobee over an Electrical Box

When we moved into our new house, we inherited an Ecobee thermostat. 

To be honest... I liked our old Nest more. It had stainless steel and glass, while the Ecobee felt more plasticky. 

But the Ecobee has HomeKit, and Nest does not. 

So we got 2 more Ecobees. 

And then the problems started. 

Our house has three "zones", so it has three thermostats. 

The primary zone, on the main floor, had an Ecobee 4. 

Our bedroom, and our son's living area, had Honeywell Programmable Thermostats. Not bad - but not really "smart" thermostats like we're used to. 

So we got a couple of Ecobee SmartThermostats - the newest model. 

They're a little nicer! They seem less plastic, even though they have the same form factor. (Man, I miss the spinny Nests. And now that we're all about HomeBridge, we could have kept them.)

But when I went to install the new Ecobees, I noticed that it was simply impossible. 

Behind each of our Honeywells, there was a typical electric box, under the drywall, mounted horizontally. 

Mounting the Ecobee requires two screws, mounted VERTICALLY. 

Even if I used the wall plate to cover up the old electrical box, there simply wasn't any way to mount the Ecobee in its standard configuration - 2 screws a couple of vertical inches apart. 

I could move the Ecobee up an inch or 2, so the top screw was above the electric box and into drywall. But then the bottom screw is ALWAYS going to be going into the empty void of the electric box.

Ultimately, I decided to drill 2 extra holes into the wall plate, to secure the plate to the wall. 

Then  - because I'd moved the Ecobee up a couple of inches, I could attach the Ecobee back-plate by the TOP screw only, using a drywall molly to bypass the electric box. 

For the bottom screw, I jerry-rigged a solution, putting a washer and a nut holding the Ecobee plate close to the wall plate. 

NOT GREAT! But it got the job done. Even though the Ecobee was hanging by 1 screw, it was secured to the wall plate, which was secured by 2 screws. 

But you could see the wallplate screws on either side of the Ecobee. And deep down inside, I KNEW that it was a silly install. Oh well. 

And then, a year later... I discovered a REALLY GOOD SOLUTION.


3D Printing at the Public Library

Our public library allows us to use their 3D printer, free of charge. 

And a lot of people on Reddit had been dealing with EXACTLY my problem. Lots of proposed solutions - some good, some not so good. 

Some threw the Ecobee wall plate away, mounted a standard coax wall plate over the electrical box, and just drilled holes to mount the Ecobee. It worked! Didn't look great!

Others just used the top screw, and let the whole Ecobee swing freely on that one screw. (My jerry-rigged solution was more "elegant" than that!)

Some enterprising Redditors got to work solving the problem. 

They figured out what kind of bracket would be needed, and developed 3D Printer plans for it. 

The holes to attach to the electrical box are recessed, so the screw heads won't interfere with your wall plate mounting flush to the wall. 

There are 2 pre-drilled vertical holes for mounting the Ecobee. A big center hole to pull the thermostat wires through. 

The 3D printing was free, and it was done the next day. Amazing!

I re-installed both of these Ecobees, and they look perfect. No issues whatsoever.*

*In both cases, the bottom screw was going DIRECTLY into the steel edge of the electrical box. So I had to use a pretty short screw. This was the sole compromise.


But it's 2022, I guess. We can make our own. 

An absolutely remarkable job by this user at MakerBot Thingiverse. 


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