ecobee Fan Runtime Explained (9 Key Things To Know)

An ecobee Thermostat is one of the essential temperature regulation components in the home. A typical thermostat will only prompt the switching of the fan, and that’s all. However, an ecobee Thermostat features other properties, such as the ability to control the runtime of your fan. ecobee Fan runtime is one of the advanced features of the smart device. But how exactly does it work?

The ecobee fan runtime is a property related to controlling the period that the fan will be on. Unlike with a conventional thermostat, ecobee fan runtime does not depend on the cooling and heating cycles of the system. Hence, it facilitates a supply of fresh air throughout irrespective of the cycles. 

Controlling the ecobee fan runtime is significant in improving air circulation in the house. There are several vital things that you need to understand about the property. Read on for further enlightening. 

1. What is ecobee?

ecobee is a thermostat that operates via smart technology to regulate temperatures. It is compatible with some standard smart home devices and will work with almost all HVAC systems. 

Among the key advantages of having ecobee Thermostats is that they facilitate saving on electricity costs. You can control the duration when your heater or cooling system is one with ecobee. 

An analysis conducted in April 2021 by the ecobee company revealed that North American consumers who used ecobee saved up to 26% on electricity costs. 

Another upside of using ecobee is that some of their models feature sensors. They aid in facilitating the maintenance of a constant temperature throughout your house. 

Also, ecobee records the average temperature settings that you are fond of and will keep temperatures at that range most of the time. Hence, the smart features of the ecobee allow for automatic adjustments without necessarily involving your manual input. 

2. What is Fan Run Time on ecobee?

Fan run time on ecobee is a property that gives you the liberty to select the ideal running time of the fan in an hour. It is applicable when you’re interested in air circulation outside the typical cooling and heating cycles.

It saves you from manually switching the fan on and off as the temperature changes between cycles. 

The ecobee will determine the runtime bouts by considering the duration for each hour. Its segmentation is based primarily on the length of duration that you set. For example, if you set it up for 15 minutes or less, the fan will switch on in two parts within the hour. 

On the other hand, if you set it for 20 minutes or more, the fan will switch on in four parts within an hour. 

You are probably wondering what will happen if the cooling or heating cycle activates within the period. ecobee has a provision for that. It will remit the cooling or heating cycle time from the fan run time. 

For instance, consider a case when the fan runs 25 minutes and a heating cycle of 10 minutes. In such a scenario, the fan run time will be 15 minutes to account for the 10 minutes running the heating cycle. 

Hence, the ecobee minimum fan runtime is never affected by the cooling and heating cycles in all cases. Despite any interruption by the heating and cooling cycles, the ecobee fan run time will remain constant. The essence of this is to ensure that the fan will not run longer than you set it at no time. 

3. Best Fan Setting for ecobee

You will need to consider several factors when setting your ecobee minimum fan time. For instance, you will have to take account of the weather in your environment.  

The recommended fan runtime is approximately 5-20 minutes. Nonetheless, as earlier mentioned, you are not limited to this duration. Your settings will undoubtedly depend on the factors that we have discussed. Hence, feel free to set it for a longer or shorter period. 

4. ecobee Minimum Fan Runtime 

While you are free to determine the fan runtime you’d like to set on your ecobee, there is the minimum recommended period. Ideally, the time frames range from 0 – 55 minutes per hour. 

If you set it at zero, it means that you have not scheduled the fan to run after a set period. It will only run during the heating and cooling cycles in such a case. 

The significance of the fan is to ensure that it will circulate the air in your home to improve the prevalent humidity. Hence, the humidity of your environment should determine the run time of your ecobee. 

For instance, setting the ecobee fan runtime for extended periods is recommended if you live in a highly humid environment. It will be handy in ensuring that you keep the humid air in check. 

On the other hand, you can set it up for small-time spans if you live in a low humid area. There is no need to control the humidity in such areas. Therefore, having it running for long spans will be wasteful on electricity. 

Your fan is also helpful in circulating warm air when the heater is one in the winter. Hence, at such times, you may have to set the ecobee fan to run for a long segment to keep the rooms warm. 

Going back and forth while changing the ecobee’s temperatures is undoubtedly tiresome. Hence, it would be best to set it at the recommended span of approximately 5-20 minutes. 

The actual duration you settle for will be determined by the prevailing weather conditions and the year’s season. 

Should I set a Minimum Fan Runtime?

You will need to set a minimum fan runtime for efficient temperature regulation outside the cooling and heating cycles. However, you should be guided by the prevailing weather in your area. 

The recommended minimum fan runtime every hour is approximately 5-20 minutes. The significance of the minimum fan runtime is that it also supports the cooling and heating cycles. A fan circulates air in the room. Hence, when it goes on for some time every hour, it will aid the thermostats in detecting temperature changes. 

The thermostat will then react by switching on the heater or bringing in a gush of cold air depending on the temperatures. Therefore setting a minimum fan runtime is essential. 

But you might find that you’re okay with the regular cooling and heating cycles. In that case, there is no need to set a minimum fan runtime. Sometimes the fan will spoil the air circulation, especially if you have the ideal conditions. 

Hence, it is imperative to be guided by the prevailing weather. But in situations that you feel that having it on a minimum number of times will help the temperature regulation, you are obliged to set it up. 

5. How to Run Fan Only on ecobee 

You can run the fan for an extended period without interruptions by the cooling and heating cycles. The property is one of the new changes to the ecobee software and is called ‘Fan Holds.’

The feature is available on the latest ecobee firmware version 4.6.25. Hence you might need to update your ecobee to access the changes in the menu. You’ll find the new features in the ‘Quick Changes’ section in the menu. 

Among what has changed include the following: 

  • You can set the fan on for a particular period. The property is an improvement of the former feature that allowed you to set the fan on until you cancel. 

The new feature gives you the liberty to set the fan on for a specific time frame, making it more automatic than the former. 

  • You can also set your ecobee Fan to operate at a certain speed. The property is only available to ecobees with a multi-fan speed configuration. 

You can set ‘Fan Hold’ for different time frames. The least time segment is 15 minutes. You can also set it at 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, or even two hours. 

It also allows you to set the fan hold for an indefinite period. If you set it up indefinitely, it means that the fan will run extensively until you turn it off at your pleasure. 

Noteworthy is that the feature is currently only available on the thermostat’s screen. ecobee has yet to include it in their app. The following are the steps of setting up ‘Fan Hold’ duration: 

  1. Click the ‘Quick Changes’ button from the thermostat’s menu. The gear symbol indicates it at the bottom end of the screen. 
  1. Next, click on the ‘Fan Hold’ button. 
  1. You will be prompted to select the actual time that you want to run your fan. 
  1. As earlier highlighted, you can control the fan speed. Nonetheless, this depends on if the fan features a multi-speed fan configuration. 
  1. Click the < symbol on the screen to exit the menu. 

After setting the ecobee, it will indicate ‘Fan on until’ on the screen. Also, you will indicate the time when the ‘Fan Hold’ will end on the screen. For instance, if the time now is 7.40 pm, and you have set the ‘Fan Hold’ for 30 minutes, it will indicate ‘Fan on until 8.10 pm.’

Noteworthy is that you may have a scenario when you set the thermostat on hold before selecting the ‘Fan Hold.’ In such a case, the ecobee will not show the duration when the fan will be on. Instead, it will indicate the temperature that is on. 

Nonetheless, this does not mean that the fan is not on. It will be set to run for the particular time you set only that it does not indicate the duration. If you check under the ‘Equipment Running Now’ tab, you will see that the fan is running. 

6. ecobee Fan Keeps Running 

The ecobee fan is highly useful in ensuring that the HVAC system operates effectively. It ensures that air is evenly distributed in your home to give the ideal temperatures. Noteworthy is that the ecobee fan can also be a separate entity as part of the HVAC system. 

Thus, sometimes, you can opt to run it without necessarily having your HVAC system on. You can, therefore, at times have your ecobee fan running continuously. You can control such an occurrence from ecobee’s thermostat. However, at times, the issue could be with your HVAC system. 

Note that your fan relies on the commands that it receives from the ecobee thermostat. Thus, if your fan keeps running, you need to check if there is a wiring problem between the ecobee thermostat and the fan. If there is a wiring disjoint when the fan is already running, you will not be able to stop it from the thermostat’s menu. 

Hence, if your fan is constantly running, check if there is an issue with the connection. Potential other problems include a breakdown in the fan motors and relay switch. If you cannot just pick out the problem, consider asking for assistance from an HVAC expert. They will diagnose if the HVAC problem is or if it stems from another cause. 

ecobee Wiring Problem

It could be that there was a challenge with the ecobee wiring during installation that your fan is continuously running. Some ecobee users have issues where the wires are connected wrong during the installation step. Also, you might find that the fan control wires are incorrect. Hence, you may click the ‘On’ button in such a case, but you have clicked the ‘Auto’ button and vice versa. 

If you cannot find the cause behind the ecobee not controlling the fan, your installation process may have issues. In such a case, it would be imperative to reinstall the ecobee. An HVAC expert will aid in identifying if there could have been a problem with the wiring. 

Smart Recovery

If the problem is not with the HVAC, it is imperative to check if there is a challenge with the thermostat. ecobee has numerous features from its menu. Hence, identifying how to troubleshoot could be challenging, especially if you are not conversant with the menu. But you can locate the ‘Smart Recovery’ feature. 

Noteworthy is that you can fix the problem of a constantly running fan by switching off the ‘Smart Recovery’ feature on the menu. How does that one work? Let me explain. 

The smart feature on the thermostat means that it keeps track of the settings that you often use with the device. Hence, you may often have the fan running for extended periods while in the house. If that is so, the ecobee ‘Smart Recovery’ feature could have saved the setting and thus will always have the fan running when you are around. 

Thus, you will have to deactivate the ‘Smart Recovery’ property to stop the constant running. You can access the feature by first clicking on the ‘Preferences’ button on the menu. Next, select ‘Smart recovery’ and switch it off. It should solve the problem of a continuously running fan. 

Fan Hold Settings

ecobee allows you to run the fan even when the HVAC system is not working. As we have covered above, there could be several reasons that you may want to have the fan constantly running outside the normal heating and cooling schedules. 

Among the ‘Fan Hold’ settings, there is an option of having the fan running for an indefinite period. If you have unknowingly selected this option, then that is why it is running continuously. 

However, if that is the cause, you shouldn’t be worried as you can easily solve it from the thermostat’s screen. From the menu, confirm if there is an active hold. We have covered how to do this earlier on. 

Next, select your ideal fan hold time from the menu. You can even opt to switch it off altogether so that it only goes on during cooling and heating cycles. 

Heat Dissipation Settings

The other thing that you need to check out is the heat dissipation settings of your HVAC system. The fan doesn’t cease running immediately after the HVAC goes off. Instead, it runs for some time to take care of the residual heat from the air conditioner after it has gone off. 

The occurrence aims to ensure that all the heat generated by the air conditioner contributes to the temperature regulation. Otherwise, you would waste it.

Hence, the ecobee features a heat dissipation setting to control the residual heat. It allows the fan to run for at least  30 seconds after the HVAC has gone off. Nonetheless, you may find that the fan keeps running forever even after the recommended period has lapsed. 

Fortunately, you can sort the issue from the thermostat’s menu. 

  • On ecobee’s menu, click the ‘Settings’ button. 
  • From the resultant page, select ‘Installation Settings.’
  • Next, choose the ‘Thresholds’ option.
  • You will see a ‘Heat Dissipation’ setting. Use the tab to change the heat dissipation period to the time of choice. 

Note that this setting does not apply to a fan constantly running. Ideally, the maximum fan runtime for dissipation is 900 seconds. Hence, you can only control the fan runtime from this setting for a maximum of this time. Beyond that, you’ll have to tinker with the other settings discussed above. 

7. ecobee Fan Won’t Turn Off

You might find that even after trying the recommendations above, your ecobee Fan won’t turn off. The possible cause of the issue could be that you have not set your ecobee Fan on ‘Auto’ mode. 

There are two main modes of operation for the ecobee fan. First, there is an ‘Auto’ mode which means that the fan will switch in automatically during the heating or cooling cycles. Hence, it should not run forever when the fan is on auto mode. 

It may remain on after the heating or cooling cycle is over. However, the duration of the extension will depend on your fan’s dissipation settings. Your ‘Smart Recovery’ options will also play a part in this. But the rule of thumb is that the ecobee fan should not stay on for an extensive period. 

The other mode is the ‘On’ option. It will prompt your ecobee fan to stay on all the time as long as the button is on. Hence, if you switch it on by mistake, your fan may run indefinitely. Consequently, It will without a doubt increase your electricity bills. 

But luckily, you can fix the challenge from the ecobee menu. Click the ‘Quick Settings’ option on the main menu. Next, select ‘Fan’ and choose ‘Auto.’ With the new setting, your ecobee fan will only be running when necessary. 

8. How Long Should My HVAC Fan Run per Hour?

Ideally, it would be best if you allowed the air conditioner to run for approximately 15-20 minutes in an hour. The optimal number of cycles every hour should be at two or three. 

You can increase the runtime depending on the temperature of the surroundings. If the outside temperature is too high, consider increasing the runtime. 

Sometimes, the air conditioner will misbehave and run for shorter or longer cycles than usual. Each situation needs rectification as it is an indicator of an underlying problem. 

Short Cycles

If your conditioner runs on short cycles, with one starting after the other has ended, there is a problem. If it runs short cycles many times in an hour, consider calling a technician to check if everything is alright. Such cycles could damage the compressor, which will result in the ultimate breakdown of the AC.

Long Cycles 

A long AC cycle is also a sign that something is amiss with the air conditioner. It indicates that the air conditioning unit is not sufficient for your house requirements. Thus, it is struggling to keep the temperatures under check. 

There are several causes of long cycles. A dirty air filter or low refrigerant can be the cause. However, if the long cycles are due to high outdoor temperatures, everything is alright. The AC must remain on for long at such temperatures to maintain a constant temperature. 

9. Is it OK to Run HVAC Fan Continuously?

You can run the HVAC fan continuously or set it up in auto mode. Continuous running implies that the switching on of the fan is not controlled by the heating or cooling cycles of the HVAC. On the other hand, the auto mode means that the AC will switch the AC fan on and off when necessary. 

For many people, deciding whether to run the HVAC fan continuously or on auto is not easy. Many do not fancy the idea of having the fan constantly running as they are wary of the effect of it on electricity costs. However, there are advantages to that as well. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each AC fan mode. 

Having HVAC Fan On Continuously

You can set the HVAC fan to keep running 24 hours a day all the time. Hence, the cooling and heating cycles do not impact the fan’s running duration.

Advantages 

  1. It will facilitate even distribution of air in the house. Having the AC fan on at all times is essential, especially if your house has cold and hot spots. Air will be spread in those areas all the time. 
  1. It is advantageous in the long run on the fan’s lifespan. The starts and stops of the fan in the auto mode facilitate wearing out of the fan. 
  1. You will have a supply of clean air at all times in your house. It is important, especially for people with allergies such as asthma. Nonetheless, you must ensure that the air passes through UV filtration so that all the microorganisms are destroyed prior to being circulated in the house. 

Disadvantages 

  1. It will, without a doubt, increase your electricity costs. For instance, an AC unit’s fan requires power of approximately 500 watts. The energy requirement is, therefore, similar to that of a typical refrigerator. It means that every month, you will have to part with around $50 in electricity costs. 
  1. Sometimes the work of the fan is counterproductive, especially during the summer. Since the fan is always running, it will constantly keep introducing hot air into the house. As a result, the HVAC will have to keep running to bring the temperatures down. 

It will also introduce dirty air into the house. Consequently, the fan will recirculate the air. Hence in such a case, you’d rather have it on auto to minimize the risks. 

  1. Having the fan on during winter will distribute air from the vents into the house. Hence, while there could be a temperature balance between outside and inside, the waft of the cold air from the vents by the fan will make your house feel colder. 
  1. Expect the furnace filter to fill up with debris and particulate matter faster than usual. Of course, this implies that the filter is doing its work. But you will have to change it more often than usual. 

Having HVAC Fan In Auto Mode

The other option for running the HVAC fan is setting it up in auto mode. In this state, it will only run when prompted by the HVAC, probably to waft cool air during a cooling cycle or hot air during a heating cycle. 

Advantages

  1. You will undoubtedly save on costs. Unlike in the continuously on mode when the fan is always running, there is limited running time in the auto mode. The fan also moves at a significantly slower speed than in the other mode. 

Hence, your electricity costs will be relatively lower. 

  1. There won’t be continuous filtration of air which will prolong the lifespan of the furnace filter. 
  1. You will also have improved dehumidification than when the fan is running continuously. In auto mode, there is ample time for the water that collects from the house to drain efficiently on the outer parts of the house. 

Nonetheless, in the continuously-on mode, there is always circulation of air. Thus there is not sufficient time to facilitate drainage of moisture outside.  

Disadvantages 

  1. There will be an insufficient distribution of air around the house. The thermostat controls the fan’s movement. Hence, when it detects a temperature balance, the air distribution ceases as it prompts the fan to go off. 
  1. The starts and stops are not healthy for the lifespan of the fan. They will cause it to wear out faster than usual. 

As we earlier mentioned, there is no definite answer to whether to have the fan running continuously or not. It all depends on the needs of your home. 

Final Thoughts 

An ecobee thermostat is one of the smart devices in every house. It is paramount in temperature control and ensures a clean supply of fresh air throughout the house. 

One of the essential components of the system is the ecobee fan. The device is responsible for circulating air around the house. However, you must know the critical insights about the ecobee fan runtime to benefit from it. 

We have elaborated the perspective in depth. Thus, from the above-provided insights, you probably now know better about the ecobee runtime. We have also explained how to solve common problems such as the extended running of the fan. 

Lastly, we have covered the pros and cons of running the HVAC on auto or continuously on mode. Therefore, consider each of the insights provided above when deciding on your HVAC fan runtime. 

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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