So you have decided that you want a smart thermostat…
But you can’t decide between the Ecobee or the Nest. So in this article, its Ecobee vs Nest
To help you, I am going to compare the two thermostats, side by side.
Just use the links below to jump to different parts of the review.
Hey, Good Looking?
In terms of looks, both thermostats have been designed very well.
Both Nest and Ecobee are companies that only make smart products.
Nest make a few different types of smart products (such as cameras and smoke alarms) whereas Ecobee only make smart thermostats.
Both devices are a similar age and are less than 2 years old. The Nest and Ecobee are both in their third generation of development.
Weight & Dimensions
The Ecobee display is nearly an inch bigger (4″) than the Nest’s display (3.3″) but the Ecobee is thinner (0.9″) than the Nest (1.2″)
But the Ecobee is nearly half a pound heavier (1.4 lbs) than the Nest which weighs a mere 1lb!
The Nest thermostat offers a very generous 2 year warranty but the Ecobee offers a huge 3 year warranty.
Category Winner: ecobee3
Design & Power
The Nest comes in four different color designs; stainless steel, copper, white and black. Yet the Ecobee only comes in one design- white and black.
The Nest is built from metal and glass and the Ecobee is built from plastic.
The Nest and the Ecobee3 have a couple of choices when it comes to deciding how to power them.
Both of them can be powered by a 24V “c” wire, which is present in lots of Heating, Ventilation And Cooling (HVAC) systems.
This is possibly the neatest and easiest option for both devices.
If your system does not have a “c” wire then don’t worry as both thermostats have an alternative.
The Nest comes with a 110V power adapter for those systems without a “c” wire.
This is a very quick solution but it does mean that you have got to position your unit close to a socket and you won’t be able to have your thermostat on the wall.
And because the Nest is circular to keep it securely in one place and to stop it from rolling, you will need to buy a stand- which are sold separately!
Here is a photo of one and I have to say that it looks great!
The alternative way to power the Ecobee3 from an installation point of view, is quite a challenge.
The thermostat ships with something called a PEK which is a Power Extender Kit and is intended to only be used for systems that have no “c” wire.
The PEK is a plastic box that at one end connects to the wires on the control board of your furnace and on the other end it connects to the wires on your thermostat. Simply put, it creates a bridge between the two!
To help you out some more, Ecobee have created an official video demonstrating how to install the PEK.
You can watch it here and it will only take about 2 minutes of your time.
The Nest doesn’t have a touch screen. You can access it’s menus by rotating the metal ring on the outside and then pushing the ring backwards to select an option.
The Ecobee3 does have a touchscreen.
Screen Size & Resolution
The Nest has a screen size of 2.08″ and a resolution of 480 x 480 pixels whereas the Ecobee has a screen size of 3.5″ x 3.5″ and a resolution of 320 x 480 .
Both of these thermostats claim to be easy to install.
According to the manufacturers it can be installed in 20- 30 minutes.
Lots of buyers in their Amazon reviews also note how easy it is to install- although of course, some of the critical reviewers struggled with installation!
Helpfully there is an official video, which is 6 minutes long, taking you step by step through the installation process and you can watch it here.
There is also some easy to read installation instructions that can be found on the Nest website.
Ecobee3 doesn’t give an official estimate of how long it will take you to install their thermostat.
But there are plenty of very easy to follow guides available.
The Android or Apple Ecobee app includes a step by step video guide.
You can download those now.
And the website is has lots of helpful guides relating to installation.
This includes manuals, videos and wiring diagrams.
Category Winner: the nest
Smart Heating Features
And so, we can see from the comparison chart that these two thermostats have very similar features when it comes to some smart heating features. Let’s look in detail at each individual feature.
The Nest thermostat doesn’t need to be programmed as it learns about what your favorite temperatures are throughout the day and the week and then just repeats them. This feature is called Auto Scheduling.
The creators of the Nest don’t like thermostats that require you to create a schedule because schedules are inflexible and research has shown that people are not very good at setting up useful schedules.
Basically, Nest believe the schedules cost users more money.
For the first week of having your Nest, adjust the temperature to suit you as and when you need it and the thermostat will remember your choices.
You can make these changes via the app or directly via the thermostat.
It knows that you schedule on the weekend will most likely be different to that during the week and so changes that you make on a week day will only apply to week days and changes you make on the weekend will only apply to Saturday and Sundays.
A new update is called Enhanced Auto Scheduler and this makes your Nest’s ability to learn even more sophisticated because it analyses the entire history of your scheduling instead of just your most recent changes.
You can look into the auto scheduling functioning of the Nest in more detail by looking at this page.
In contrast to Nest, Ecobee want their users to create schedules!
Schedules help their users save money.
You can create a personal schedule by adding activities and comfort settings.
An example of an activity is leaving for work or coming home from work.
Each activity has a comfort setting which contains a low temperature and a high temperature.
If the temperature drops below the low temperature the heat will turn on and if the temperature rises above the high temperature, the cooling turns on.
You can have as many activities as you need per day and per week.
Creating a schedule around your exact needs leads to more energy savings, particularly by creating activities about leaving the house.
At this point, your systems can be switched off!
You can find out more about the importance of using schedules with your Ecobee3 by reading these guidelines.
Room SensorsRead More
These are separate devices that are placed in different rooms around the house and are linked to the thermostat.
Room sensors measure temperature in the room and also through motion detectors they can sense if a room is occupied or not.
They then “feed” this information back to the thermostat which has a much more accurate picture of the real temperature in the house.
And because of the motion detectors, the thermostat knows which rooms need to heated and which ones don’t.
Room sensors make your thermostat smarter and possibly save you money on your energy bills.
However, the Nest is not compatible with any room sensors. It can only accurately gauge the temperature in the room that it is in and it uses that limited information to control the temperature across the whole house.
The Ecobee3 uses room sensors. It ships with one sensor but additional ones can be bought and up to 32 sensors can be used with one Ecobee3.
This allows a thermostat to locate somebody via their phone.
A geofence is a virtual zone that is created around your house.
As you leave or enter the zone, your thermostat responds.
For instance, when you leave the zone your heating and cooling systems are turned off.
Or, as you enter the zone, your heating or cooling systems are turned on.
Because your thermostat knows where you are, it reduces the amount of energy wasted.
Nest have named this function “Home/ Away Assist”.
They have tried to make it more accurate by tracking the devices of all members in a house and a system will only be turned off if all devices have left home.
Recognising the importance of this information, Nest take your privacy very seriously and keep the information very safe and secure and it is never shared.
The Ecobee3 also uses geofencing.
It is called “Smart Home/ Away”
It uses it together with If This Then That (IFTTT) which is a free website that allows you to control events and devices by creating “recipes”.
So, for example, one Ecobee recipe will notify you when any of the other registered phones leaves home or will email you every week with details of when someone left the house or returned to the house.
Remote AccessRead More
This is the ability to control and manage a smart thermostat without physically touching it.
You might want to do this from the other side of the room to the thermostat or from the other side of the world.
With Nest you can access your thermostat remotely but you must make sure that your thermostat is connected to the Internet and it is added to your Nest account.
Most of you will want to control your Nest via an app and so you need to download the Nest app.
You can then control your thermostat from your phone, tablet or even a Windows or Apple computer (via your online account) as long as they are running the latest software.
For more details about Nest’s remote access capabilities, read this page.
The Ecobee3 also features remote access.
In order to do this, firstly you will need to have downloaded the free app or created a free account on the Ecobee website.
Then, you need to register your Ecobee3 via your app or via the your account on the Ecobee website.
In order to register the device, you will need a registration code which you can get from your thermostat.
Now you are all set to go!
Energy SavingRead More
The Nest Thermostat saves you energy in a number of ways.
Firstly, most thermostats have rigid programs that are inflexible and expensive because once they are set, people don’t tend to change them.
The Nest is different because it learns the exact temperatures that you like and the exact times that you like them. There is no programming to be done.
Secondly, the Nest learns how your house heats and cools itself and how much time it takes your heating and cooling systems to get to the best temperatures so that it can operate as efficiently as possible.
Thirdly, the Nest has another factor that it takes into account when controlling your system and that is the outside temperature. It learns over time how the outside temperature affects the temperature inside the house and how to control the heating or cooling systems in an energy efficient way.
Fourthly, because the Nest knows when the house is empty, it will always turn off the heating and cooling system when no one is at home.
If your thermostat is on a rigid program, you might be heating or cooling an empty house unless you remember to turn it off.
Fifth, the Nest will teach you how to save energy. When you adjust the temperature to a setting that is energy efficient, a green leaf appears on the screen.
This is called the Nest leaf and over time, like all of the best targets, it becomes harder to achieve because it wants you to save even more energy!
At at any point you can check your energy usage via the Nest app.
You will also be sent a home report every month that shows lots of detail about how you use your energy.
You can compare your usage with previous months to see if there are any changes that you can make to save energy.
The report also is full of energy saving tips which it compiles from the data that it collects from Nest thermostats nation wide.
All of the data is anonymous and it is kept in a very secure manner.
Ecobee believe that their customers in the US saved an average of 23% on their energy bills in 2013 after they collected and analysed the data from their smart thermostats.
They have also published a guide containing 16 ways that the Ecobee can maximise energy savings.
Some of these ways are the same methods that the Nest uses.
Like the Nest, the Ecobee can be set up to measure the temperature outdoors and use that information to adjust how your system will heat or cool the house in order to be more efficient.
Also, the Ecobee3 uses a Smart Home/ Away setting so that it knows when the house is empty. Nest has a similar feature.
However, there are other ways that the Ecobee3 can be made more energy efficient that are different to the Nest.
Details About Your Home
In your Ecobee account, fill in as many details about your home as you can. These details include- the size of the house, it’s age and what type of home it is. You can also input the number of people who live in it.
“Follow Me” Function
This uses the motion detection capabilities in the remote sensors to only measure the temperature of occupied rooms and to heat or cool the house according to those measurements.
Enabled Access Control (EAC)
With this feature, any changes to the settings require a password to be used. Such as making the house warmer in winter or colder in the summer.
It prevents too many changes being made to your system by different people with different needs which could cause your heating or cooling to be on constantly as it tries to adjust to these changes.
It is the perfect safeguard against kids who constantly fiddle!
If you would like to read more tips from Ecobee, visit here
Local WeatherRead More
The Nest can provide a local weather forecast which you can view on the screen.
Two things are needed in order for this to happen though
- connect your thermostat to your wi-fi.
- Set your location.
For most of us, as we set up our Nest unit, as long as it is connected to wi-fi it should automatically detect the location.
If it doesn’t your location can be entered by an option on in the settings menu.
The Ecobee 3 also offers a local weather report as long as you have entered your address into your Ecobee account.
You will need to do this via your web browser as the app will not give you access to these settings.
Once you are in your account, choose settings and then in the location section you have the option to either add your full address or just your city and zip code.
Save the settings before you sign out.
Moments later you should be able to view a local forecast on your Ecobee3 device.
A step by step guide to adding your address to your Ecobee account is available.
The Nest is compatible with 95% of 24V HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Cooling systems) whereas Ecobee3 is compatible with “most residential systems”.
The Nest thermostat is compatible with cooling systems that have up to 3 stages.
However, Ecobee3 can work with heating systems that have up to 4 stages.
Both the Nest and the Ecobee3 are compatible with systems that have up to 2 stages of cooling heat pumps that provide auxiliary and emergency heat.
Again both the Nest and the Ecobee3 work with heat pumps that provide auxiliary and emergency heat.
You can use the Nest to control your hot water but you cannot use the Ecobee3 to do this.
Humidifier or Dehumidifier
Both the Nest and the Ecobee3 will work with a humidifier or a dehumidifier.
Trying to work out if a smart thermostat is compatible with your system can be quite overwhelming.
Fortunately, both of these smart thermostats have compatibility tools.
Category Winner: ecobee3
Software & Apps
In this section, I will focus on the software and apps that you can use to control either the Nest or the Ecobee3 and, all in all, they are pretty similar.
The great news is that both of these devices can be used on most of the popular devices that are out there.
The NestRead More
The Nest has an app that can be used on iPhones and iPads as long as they are running iOS version 9 or later.
The app will also work on an Apple TV and the Apple watch.
To check that your TV or watch works with the Nest app, read this.
It also has an app for Android phones and tablets. The app requires a device to be running Android version 4 or later.
The app will also work on an Android TV device and on an Android watch. To check the compatibility of your TV or watch, visit this page.
Windows 10 (Mobile)
There is no app for Windows 10 mobile devices.
However you can access your Nest account via the browser on your mobile device.
Your desktop PC or laptop must be running Windows 7 or later.
Your Mac should be running OS 10.9 or later.
Also, whether you are using a Windows or a Mac computer, the browser that you are using must also be up to date.
You can check what version of Firefox, Safari, Chrome or Internet Explorer you need to be using here.
The Ecobee3 will work on any iPhone or iPad running iOS 9 or later. This is the same as the Nest app.
It will work on an Apple watch and Apple TV.
The Ecobee3 will work on any Android phone or tablet that is running Android version 6 or later.
This is a much different requirement to the Nest, which only requires a device to run Android version 4.
The Ecobee app will require a user to have a more up to date phone or tablet than the Nest app.
I cannot find any information to confirm if this app will work on Android TV on an Android watch.
Windows 10 (Mobile)
There is no app for Windows 10 mobile devices.
However you can access your Ecobee account via the browser on your mobile device.
Windows & Mac computers
When I spoke to the technical support team about the device’s compatibility with Windows computers and Macs, they told me that the Ecobee3 can be managed and controlled via a web browser and so it seems that your desktop PC or laptop can be running any version of Windows or OS X.
Technical support gave the impression that you could use any browser as well.
So that is good because it means that your online account with Ecobee can be accessed from lots of computers!
Category Winner: the nest
In this section I will highlight the different home automation systems that the Nest and Ecobee3 work with.
The NestRead More
This thermostat is only compatible with two systems- Amazon Echo and Nest.
Alexa is Amazon’s digital assistant. It enables different devices to be controlled by voice commands.
With Alexa you can raise or lower the temperature of the Nest thermostat and to set a specific temperature.
There are plans to add more voice commands in the future.
To find out more about this technology, read this.
Nest Smart Automation
Nest have their own smart automation software which enables all of their smart devices to work together and be controlled by one piece of software. As part of that, the thermostat can be controlled by it.
The Ecobee3 is compatible with far more systems than the Nest. In total, it will work with 6 systems.
Like the Nest, it works with Alexa and like the Nest, you can use three types of voice commands to control the thermostat.
- Set the thermostat to a specific temperature.
- Turn the thermostat up a set amount
- Turn the thermostat down a set amount.
For more details, read this.
The Ecobee3 works with Apple HomeKit which is Apple’s smart automation system.
Every smart device that is compatible with the HomeKit can be controlled by Apple’s “Home” App and this includes the Ecobee3.
You can now control your Ecobee3 with your voice via Siri.
This is a big topic with lots of elements to it. More advice is available.
Wink is a home automation app that allows hundreds of products from 28 brands to be controlled via one app.
There are lots of ways that you can control the Ecobee3 using the Wink app.
These include being able to view your current indoor temperature and adjust your temperature “set points”.
More guidance is given here.
IFTTT (If This Ten That)
IFTTT is not a home automation system as such.
Instead it is a means of making something happen by linking different apps.
In the case of Ecobee you can set up e-mail alerts when there are changes in your thermostat.
So, you can be emailed when someone changes the temperature on your thermostat or when the temperature exceeds the maximum temperature that you have set.
The Ecobee3 will work with the Vera home automation system by adding an app into your web account.
This app will allow you to monitor your current temperature and your set temperatures and it can change the HVAC mode.
If you want to find out more about this, go here.
The Ecobee3 also works with Samsung’s Home Automation System called “Smart Things”
Smart Things is a system that has dozens of compatible devices from lighting to power sockets that are made by a range of manufacturers.
To find out more about how the Ecobee3 can work with this system, read this.
So, which one should you buy?
To end this comparison between two of the best smart thermostats on the market, let’s have a look at what real buyers have said about the devices after they have used them.
What are their strengths and what are their weaknesses?
At the time of writing (February 2017), this thermostat has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 with nearly 10, 000 written reviews. Over 9000 of these reviews are positive! That is a very strong vote of confidence.
At the time of writing (February 2017), this thermostat has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 with about 3,300 written reviews. Nearly 3000 of these reviews are positive.
The number of reviews that have been written about the Ecobee are far fewer than the number written about the Nest.
But their overall ratings are very similar and both devices are very popular with buyers.
Category Winner: The nest
So when it comes to Ecobee vs Nest, who will you choose?