For all of us that have an Ecobee, we know that they are smart thermostats. However, we probably don’t know just how smart they are without getting into some advanced settings like fan runtime.
Ecobee Smart Thermostats have advanced features allowing users to control number of minutes that the fan can run per hour. Using this feature will make it so Ecobee turns on the fan for a few minutes in evenly spaced segments through out an hour, for however many minutes you specify.
Fan runtime on the Ecobee thermostat is a setting that allows you to choose how many minutes per hour you want the fan in your HVAC system to run, regardless of heating or cooling cycles. Setting fan runtime is useful for circulating air throughout the house outside of heating or cooling cycles.
The range that you can select for fan runtime on the Ecobee is between 0 to 55 minutes, and increases in 5-minute increments.
Depending on how long you set the fan runtime for, there Ecobee will respond slightly different. When the fan runtime is set for 15 minutes or less, the fan will turn on twice each hour. When the fan runtime is set for 20 minutes or higher, the fan will run four times each hour. Either way, the fan will run in equally timed segments.
For example, if you set the fan runtime for 10 minutes, Ecobee will turn on the fan in 5-minute segments spaced evenly across the hour. That means they one would start 25 minutes after the last one ended. (5-minute run time + 25 minutes off = 30 minutes. Twice per hour.)
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In the event that the heater or air conditioner comes on within the given hour, the length of that cycle will be deducted from the fan runtime. For example, if your heater runs for 5 minutes and your fan runtime is set to 15 minutes, those 5 minutes will be deducted from the fan runtime for that hour. Your fan will run for 10 minutes within the rest of the hour.
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Should I set a minimum fan runtime?
Setting a minimum fan runtime for a given number of minutes per hour helps with equalizing temperature and humidity throughout the house. You can set the minimum fan runtime for comfort, but it is not required. The fan only needs to run while heating or cooling the house.
Each house is unique, so how long you need to run it in order to get the temperature equalized will vary. From houses being two or three story, to how air-tight the house is, there are a lot of variables involved. In addition to temperature, having the fan on also helps distribute the humidity more evenly within the house.
I am not an HVAC expert, so I went and found what they recommend. In short, it’s a personal preference that you have to choose. However, they do lay the pros and cons pretty well. Check out their article here.
For a lot of people, fan runtime is an option they need to adjust seasonally.
I set my fan runtime to 15 minutes an hour during the summer because my I work from home a lot, and my office gets hotter than the rest of the house. It has a bunch of windows that get direct sunlight on top of having a bunch of computer equipment running in there.
Running the fan for that 15 minutes helps even out the temperature in the office with the rest of the house. In the days before I had an Ecobee, I was without the fan runtime feature. My only two options were to go manually turn on the fan or to turn the AC down a degree or two. That ended up making the rest of the house chilly and also cost me a lot more money.
I should add that this is usually more of a problem on more mild days than those very hot days. When it gets crazy hot, the AC runs so often that the fan is going regularly anyway. The temperature stays pretty even throughout the house. It’s those days where the AC isn’t really needed except maybe a few times during the day. The office starts to get uncomfortable and becomes noticeably hotter than the rest of the house.
It’s also important to know that modern HVAC systems actually pull some air in from outside. This means that with the fan blowing, you’ll get some fresh air. The downside is when the temperatures are on the extreme side outside. You will be pulling in that really hot or bitter cold air, making your HVAC system work hard and costing you more money.
How to set your Ecobee fan runtime
Now that you know all about fan runtime and when you should use it, let’s go over the steps on how to set it. There are three options you have on your Ecobee for setting when the fan will run.
- On or Auto in the Quick Changes menu
- On or Auto for each Comfort Setting
- Set Fan Runtime in Systems Menu
You are here because of fan runtime, so let’s go over those steps specifically
Steps to Set Your Ecobee Fan Runtime (Pictures Included)
- Open the Main Menu
When you walk up to the Ecobee thermostat, it will change from the Stand-By screen to the Home Screen. To open the Main Menu, you will need to tap on the icon that looks like three parallel lines, located in the lower left corner
- Select “System”
This is the second menu option on the firmware version I have.
- Select “Fan”
This will open the page where you can see what the current fan runtime is set to, and adjust it if desired.
- Tap on “Fan Runtime” to change the fan runtime
A screen will pop-up allowing you to select a runtime between 0 and 55.
- Select “OK”
This is important to do, because the other option is “Cancel”. If you don’t select ok, the fan runtime will not be updated.
Changing Ecobee’s Heat Dissipation Time
With Ecobee, the HVAC fan is set to “auto” by default. This means that the fan will automatically turn on when your air conditioning or heater is on and turn off when those heating or cooling cycles end.
Ecobee’s sets the HVAC fan to “auto” by default. This means that the fan will turn on when Ecobee determines the HVAC system needs it on, which is during heating and cooling cycles. For the heating cycle, Ecobee will keep the fan on for a few minutes to circulate heat from the heating coils as the coils cool off. This helps to not waste any heat.
The amount of time that the fan runs for after the heater turns off is known as the Heat Dissipation Time. This can be changed on your Ecobee, under advanced settings.
Here are the steps if you want to change the heat dissipation time.
Update: Ecobee disabled the function allowing users to change the heat dissipation time. After contacting support, who then contacted the development team, Ecobee emailed back stating the following:
“As per our development team at this time those settings are currently unavailable as our development team is still testing some features of it. Once we have those settings available, we will notify you.”
Unfortunately, that also means I can’t recommend you check the Ecobee Support page on this topic, as it does not have updated information. If you’re curious, here is the link: click here.
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Steps to Change Heat Dissipation Time on Ecobee When you walk up to the Ecobee thermostat, it will change from the Stand-By screen to the Home Screen. To open the Main Menu, you will need to tap on the icon that looks like three parallel lines, located in the lower left corner This is the second from the bottom menu option on the firmware version I have. This will open the page where you can see the advanced settings that can only be changed on the thermostat itself. Not in the app or webapp. This will open a drop-down menu where you can select the time. The default selection is auto, which I find works well. You can select in 30 second increments, or let Ecobee do it for you.
Here is a good video that goes through all the advanced features and it’s done by a knowledgeable HVAC expert.