Ecobee3 vs Ecobee3 Lite vs Ecobee4
The Ecobee 3 and the Ecobee4 are the same thermostats, but the Ecobee4 has Alexa voice recognition built in whereas the Ecobee 3 hasn’t.
To see how the Ecobee3 Lite differs, see the chart below.
The main difference between the Ecobee3 and the Ecobee3 Lite is that the Ecobee3 Lite does not support the use of as many HVAC accessories.
The Ecobee3 Lite doesn’t work with Heating Recovery Ventilators (HRVs), Ventilators, Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers.
The main differences between the Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 are that the Ecobee4 has Amazon’s Alexa built in.
Alexa is Amazon’s digital assistant that allows smart devices to be voice controlled via one of two interactive speakers- the Echo or the Dot.
The Ecobee3 is “Alexa Ready” meaning that it can be controlled by your voice as long as you have either an Echo or Dot.
The Ecobee4 accepts voice commands and, because it has Alexa built in, there is no need to buy an Echo or Dot speaker.
Because of this, the Ecobee4 has a built in microphone and speaker, which the Ecobee3 doesn’t have.
1. Video Review
If you are more comfortable watching a video of this review, watch the video below.
As you can see, I have the three different thermostats going down the page and the different features are going across the page.
Obviously all of these thermostats are made by Ecobee, which is a new company founded in 2007 and up until a few months ago, smart thermostats.
It has just released a voice activated light switch.
 1st Sold
The Ecobee3 was launched a couple of years ago in June 2015 and the Ecobee4 was launched just a few months ago, in April 2017
What is interesting in terms of weight is how much lighter version 4 is from version 3.
They all have very similar dimensions.
3. Design, Power & Warranty
The features that are compared in this section are:
Any Ecobee only comes in black.
They are all made of plastic. Ecobee are keen to promote their environmentally friendly policies because none of the thermostats contain mercury arsenic or PVC.
These thermostats can be powered via a c wire or if you don’t have one of those you can use a Power Extender Kit (PEK) which comes with it.
The warranty on all of them is three years.
All of these thermostats will connect to a 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi network- which is what the overwhelming majority of us have at home.
They use the WPA and WPA2 security protocols.
I think that it is interesting that the Ecobee4 is not compatible with the 5Ghz Wi-Fi standard.
Now, all of the screens on these models are the same. They are full color touchscreens that are 3.5” in diameter with resolutions of 320 x 480 pixels.
With their proximity sensors, the screens will light up when you are near so that you can see the display.
But the Ecobee4 has a built in microphone and speaker that sets it apart from the other two Ecobee models or any other smart thermostat currently on the market.
And the reason for this is that whereas other smart thermostats and other smart devices are compatible with Amazon’s digital assistant- meaning that as long as you have an Amazon Echo or Amazon Dot you can control your device using your voice, the Ecobee4 is a smart thermostat and an Amazon Echo rolled into one.
The Ecobee4 is like the Echo or Dot in other ways to.
You don’t need to be next to the Ecobee4 in order to talk to it as it will understand you from the other side of the room.
Also, just like the Echo and the Dot, you can use the Ecobee4 to control other smart devices with you voice.
5. Energy and Weather
All of the capabilities are the same here.
The 23% savings were a calculation that Ecobee worked out by looking and lots of data from their users in 2013.
You can monitor your energy usage on a continual basis through your account online or by using the app.
Monthly reports will also be sent to you.
Any of these Ecobee thermostats will prompt you with service reminders about your HVAC system.
These three thermostats don’t just display the outside temperature but a weather forecast.
And you can look at a 7 day weather forecast on the thermostat itself.
6. HVAC Compatibility
The next section is HVAC compatibility and it is the same for each thermostat.
They are compatible with an overwhelming majority of HVAC systems found in US homes.
They will work with gas, electric, oil and dual fuel systems.
The thermostats will not work with millivolt or electric baseboard systems.
This next chart is a bit different than the one in the video.
There are more elements that I have added and some the mistakes (relating to the Ecobee3 Lite) have been corrected.
All three thermostats can work with multi stage heat and cooling in conventional or heat pump systems.
However, the Ecobee3 Lite will not work with any other heating accessories- such as a humidifier, dehumidifier, Ventilator, HRV (Heating Recovery Ventilator) and ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator).
Whereas the Ecobee3 and the Ecobee4 will work with those heating accessories.
7. Smart Heating Features
Moving onto the programming and scheduling features, all of the thermostats need to be programmed manually using your online account or the app.
None of the Ecobee thermostats have an auto learning function, similar to the Nest’s.
You can create an individual schedule for each day with an unlimited number of activities within each day.
All of these thermostats work with room sensors.
Room sensors are small plastic sensors that detect temperature and motion. They are placed in different rooms around the house and they connect wirelessly to a smart thermostat.
A smart thermostat sets the temperature for the whole house or large sections of houses.
By reading the temperatures in different rooms of the house, room sensors are providing the thermostat with a more accurate picture of the temperature in a whole house, as opposed to the temperature in just a single room.
Ecobee thermostats are unique in their use of room sensors.
When the 3 Lite was launched it was originally incompatible with room sensors but now room sensors can be used with it.
The Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 come with one room sensor. The Ecobee3 Lite doesn’t.
All three thermostats can have up to 32 room sensors linked to them- which is one big old house!
Geofencing is the ability of your smart thermostat to be controlled by the location of your phone.
It is an invisible boundary that you can create somewhere in your neighbourhood and when that boundary is crossed your thermostat is either switched on or off.
It is an energy saving feature that can detect when you are at home or away from home.
If you forget to turn your heating off before leaving the house, as long as you have your phone, geofencing will turn your heating off after reaching a certain distance away from your home.
After all, you don’t want to be heating an empty house!
Only the Ecobee3 and 4 have geofencing capabilities built in.
8. Remote Access
In this section I will provide an overview of the different ways in which the thermostats can be remotely accessed.
Remote access is simply the ability to control a thermostat without physically touching it.
And so you can be on the other side of the room from the thermostat or the other side of the world.
All three of these thermostats can be remotely accessed via apps or browsers.
For iPads and iPhones, your device needs to be running iOS9 or later.
To access any of the thermostats on a smartphone or tablet that is running Android depends on what specific device you are using.
You can find out more by visiting the Google Play store on your device.
As well as accessing your thermostat from the latest smartphone or tablet, Ecobee thermostats can be accessed using a good old fashioned Windows or Apple laptop or desktop.
As long as the version of the browser you are using is fairly up to date, You can control your thermostat via your online account using Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari.
9. Home Automation
Home automation is the ability of smart devices to work with other smart devices.
All of these Ecobee thermostats have the same home automation compatibilities.
They will work with IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Wink and SmartThings.
10. Overall Winner
And now to the final word.
In all honesty, it is hard to rank these three smart thermostats because they are so similar.
I have placed the Ecobee4 in first place an awarded it a gold medal because it is an awesome device.
Voice control, such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, is a very important technology.
And so to build a device with voice control built in, is genius.
However, if you already have an Echo or a dot then you might not want to buy the Ecobee4.
I gave the Ecobee3 Lite a silver medal because I think that it offers great value for money.
You cannot attach all of the additional HVAC appliances that you can do with the Ecobee3 or the Ecobee4 but I think many people don’t have them.
It is also a great option if you don’t need or want to use room sensors.
The Ecobee3 comes in third place with a bronze medal for no good reason.
I think that the Ecobee3 will suit those people who want a powerful smart thermostat with lots of advanced functions (such as room sensors) and who are happy using their smartphone to control the device instead of their voice.