ecobee vs. Nest: What You Need to Know About These Smart Thermostats

Race

Smart thermostats are one of the most popular types of high-tech devices in today’s homes. If you’re ready to invest in one of these devices for yourself, you’re probably stuck on a big question: Which is better between ecobee vs. Nest?

Both ecobee and Nest make great products, especially when it comes to smart thermostats. In many ways, these two companies have shaped the smart home market we know today.

With that said, you can only have one smart thermostat in your home. So which will it be?

What Makes a Smart Thermostat so Smart?

Before we dive into comparing ecobee vs. Nest, what exactly differentiates a “smart” thermostat from a normal one?

On the surface, you might think a smart thermostat is just one with a digital interface. But the differences run much deeper than that.

wifi
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What is a smart thermostat?

Smart thermostats are those that connect to WiFi or another local network. Once connected, users can control these devices via smartphones, computers, tablets, or voice assistants.

Obviously, the ability to control your home’s environment from your smartphone (yes, even when you’re not physically at home) is super convenient. But the value of a smart thermostat becomes even more apparent when you consider its energy-saving and home maintenance capabilities.

Are smart thermostats more energy-efficient?

If you take advantage of their energy-efficient features, yes. The ability to control different rooms and automatically adjust the temperature when no one is home are just a couple of examples of energy-saving features.

According to ENERGY STAR, the average U.S. household puts half of its energy spending toward heating and cooling. Because smart thermostats offer so much more control than traditional ones, making the switch can save you a ton in energy costs.

Can smart thermostats be installed in any home?

In most cases, yes. As long as your home has central heating and air, you can switch your normal thermostat to a smart version.

Many newer homes come wired specifically for a smart thermostat, making for quick and easy installation.

In older homes, you may need to update the existing wiring. A professional electrician should always take care of this process.

Also, not all HVAC systems are compatible with all thermostats — smart or not. Double-check which models will work with your existing system before jumping straight into the installation.

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What You Need to Know About ecobee

Ecobee is a Canadian company that started making smart home devices in 2007. Of these devices, the brand is most famous for its smart thermostat systems.

Rather than rely on a single thermostat, ecobee makes SmartSensors that you can place in high-traffic or important rooms, like a family room or bedroom, to monitor the environment. They can also detect when a room is occupied or empty, adjusting the temperature accordingly.

Energy-efficiency is also a top priority for ecobee products. The eco+ software adjusts for peak usage times and takes advantage of cleaner, cheaper energy sources whenever possible. It can even pull in cool air from outside your home to prevent unnecessary AC use.

Right now, ecobee’s top smart thermostats include the SmartThermostat with Voice Control and the ecobee3 Lite.

ecobee SmartSensor 2 Pack, White
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ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control

The new ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control does away with the need for a separate voice-operated device. Instead, Amazon Alexa is built right into the thermostat itself.

On top of adjusting your home’s temperature, you can make phone calls, control audio, ask questions, and more with just your voice. You can also control the ecobee SmartThermostat from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

This thermostat works with HVAC accessories like humidifiers and dehumidifiers, something not seen in most models. It also includes one ecobee SmartSensor, with additional sensors sold separately.

ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control, SmartSensor Included, Alexa...
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Pros

  • Amazon Alexa software built-in
  • Includes one SmartSensor
  • Sleek design and user interface
  • Compatible with one- and two-stage HVAC systems
  • Adjusts humidity in compatible homes
  • Connects to Android and Apple devices

Cons

  • Reports of WiFi connectivity issues
  • Lack of integration with other Amazon Alexa devices
  • Smartphone app is slow and clunky
  • Resets in the case of a power outage

ecobee3 Lite

As an older, budget-friendly model, the ecobee3 Lite #EB-STATE3LT-02 misses a few notable features seen in the SmartThermostat.

First, it does not have built-in voice control via Amazon Alexa. You can still use voice commands with the ecobee3 Lite, but you will need a separate Google Home, Amazon Echo, or similar device.

Second, it does not come bundled with an occupancy sensor or SmartSensor. The ecobee3 Lite is compatible with SmartSensors, though, so you can always purchase them separately.

In terms of design, the ecobee3 Lite is slightly smaller than the SmartThermostat. It also utilizes a plastic screen rather than a glass one.

The ecobee3 Lite is compatible with most central HVAC systems but does not support accessories like humidifiers or dehumidifiers.

ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat, 2nd Gen
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Pros

  • Compatible with all major voice assistants
  • Great for first-time smart thermostat users
  • Works with up to 95 percent of HVAC systems
  • Easy-to-use scheduling system
  • App works on Android and Apple devices

Cons

  • No built-in occupancy sensor
  • SmartSensors sold separately
  • Inconsistent energy data-tracking
  • Does not support HVAC accessories
  • Plastic screen may scratch

Taking a Closer Look at Nest Thermostats

Google Nest
Photo via Smart House Team

In the world of smart home technology, Nest is probably one of the most recognizable names around. Since purchasing the company in 2014, Google slowly transitioned Nest products into its Google Home lineup.

Like ecobee’s SmartSensors, Nest uses Bluetooth-enabled Temperature Sensors #T5000SF to track different rooms’ activity and environment. Keep in mind, however, that these sensors don’t work with all Nest thermostats.

Nest products have a simple, user-friendly design. This attention to detail also extends to the brand’s energy-saving features. To encourage good habits, users receive real-time feedback for eco-conscious decisions in the shape of a Leaf icon on the thermostat’s interface.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is the best-rated model currently available, but the new Nest Thermostat offers many (but not all) of the same features at a more affordable price.

Google Nest Temperature Sensor - Nest Thermostat Sensor - Nest Sensor...
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Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat #T3007ES isn’t the company’s newest device, but it is one of its most popular.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is the last model to use the original Nest app. It’s unclear whether Google plans to migrate this model to the Google Home app at some point.

The Nest Learning Thermostat does not feature a built-in voice assistant. You need a separate device like the Google Home, Nest Hub, or Amazon Echo for integrated voice controls.

The Nest Learning Thermostat does not come bundled with any sensors but is fully compatible with them.

Google T3007ES Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation, Stainless...
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Pros

  • Automatically displays temperature, weather, and time
  • Compatible with most voice-control assistants
  • Optional battery backup
  • Available in several metal finishes
  • Adjusts to household schedule over time
  • User-friendly energy tracking features

Cons

  • Nest Temperature Sensors sold separately
  • Voice controls not built-in
  • Not currently supported by Google Home app
  • Lackluster custom scheduling capabilities
  • Frequent reports of Nest app crashing

Nest Thermostat

The Nest Thermostat #G4CVZ is the company’s newest model and the first to be fully integrated into the Google Home app.

One of the Nest Thermostat’s biggest selling points (at least compared to the Nest Learning Thermostat) is the affordable price. Customers will need to give up a few core features to take advantage of this deal, however.

The Nest Thermostat does not come with additional Temperature Sensors and, at least at this time, is not even compatible with them. For homeowners interested in mapping out their home’s different rooms, this alone could be a deal-breaker.

The Nest Thermostat is compatible with just 85 percent of HVAC systems, which is a big drop from the Learning Thermostat’s 95 percent compatibility rate.

Google Nest Thermostat - Smart Thermostat for Home - Programmable Wifi...
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Pros

  • Designed for use with Google Home software
  • Attractive casing comes in multiple colors
  • Touch-enabled screen
  • Offers full control over temperature schedule
  • Built-in battery backup
  • Works with standalone voice control devices

Cons

  • Only compatible with up to 85 percent of systems
  • Does not work with Nest Temperature Sensors
  • Downgraded occupancy-sensing
  • Does not adapt to users schedule on its own

ecobee vs. Nest: Which Is Better?

Looking at the thermostats above, it’s clear that both companies know how to cater to smart home enthusiasts of all walks of life. But which is the best match for you?

Temperature control

Let’s set aside the futuristic appearance and high-tech features for a moment to look at what you really want from a thermostat. In other words, which device offers the most reliable temperature control?

While Nest’s learning software is convenient, it lacks hands-on control and customization. Some users have trouble overriding the Nest Learning Thermostat’s schedule. The newer Nest Thermostat does away with this feature in favor of manual scheduling.

The ecobee thermostats are less intuitive at first, but most users agree they can’t beat the customization.

Energy efficiency

Whether you opt for ecobee or Nest, upgrading to a smart thermostat is almost guaranteed to save you money.

If you have zero desire to set up a custom schedule, the Nest Learning Thermostat is likely the best eco-bang for your buck. While not perfect, it’s a good option for hands-off users.

For those willing to fine-tune an energy-efficient HVAC schedule, though, ecobee tends to be more user-friendly.

Google Home
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Voice features

So, when comparing ecobee vs. Nest, which is better for google home? The answer is that it depends.

If you want but don’t already own an in-home voice assistant, the ecobee SmartThermostat is the clear choice. This thermostat practically replaces the need for a separate device like the Google Home or Amazon Echo. The only major downside is that you can’t choose where to place it.

If you already have a voice-control device (or don’t care to own one), then any ecobee or Nest thermostat will do.

Otherwise, both companies support all the major in-home voice assistants. You can also set up voice control from your smartphone or tablet.

User interface

Voice controls aside, the Nest user interface takes the lead in simplicity and aesthetics. Nest’s leaf icon, indicating when a user has made an energy-saving decision, is a favorite among users.

The Nest models also include Farsight, which automatically lights up with key information like temperature, weather conditions, or the time when someone walks past.

The ecobee and original Nest app both seem to suffer from slow loading times and crashes.

Appearance

Both ecobee and Nest make beautiful devices, especially when compared to traditional thermostats.

The ecobee thermostats are sleek and low-profile. The Nest Learning Thermostat is a bit bulky, but the newer Nest Thermostat is just as stylish as the ecobee models.

One advantage the Nest thermostats has over ecobee is the option to choose from several casing colors.

Product support

Both ecobee and Nest are large companies with overall positive reputations with customers. While some users have experienced lackluster tech support, these reports are fairly few and far between.

The ecobee SmartThermostat and ecobee3 Lite each come with a three-year limited warranty.

The Nest Learning Thermostat comes with a two-year limited warranty. The new Nest Thermostat only comes with a one-year limited warranty.

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What Is Better: Nest vs. ecobee? The Result

In comparing ecobee vs. Nest thermostats, there is no clear winner. Both companies are at the forefront of smart home technology and manufacture great products.

The ecobee SmartThermostat is an easy choice for homeowners who want built-in voice control. If you want a thermostat that you can truly set-and-forget, go with the Nest Learning Thermostat.

The ecobee3 Lite and newer Nest Thermostat are simpler models with fewer features. For homeowners just dipping their toes into smart technology, though, they’re quite affordable and easy to use.

Whether you opt for ecobee or Nest, you’re sure to notice greater comfort in your home. You might even enjoy some energy savings, too.

Do you have experience with any ecobee or Nest products? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!


Featured Image by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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