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If you’re looking for the best smart thermostats, then there’s no one better than Ecobee and Nest. They come out on top in nearly every smart thermostat review, but that begs the question, who is better when it comes to Ecobee vs Nest? Well, there are five huge differences you need to know before making your decision.
Read on and find out what the differences are with Nest vs Ecobee and which one is right for you.
At a Glance
Perfect for the hands-on tinkerer who wants as much data as possible and loves customizing their smart thermostat.
It looks great, functions great, and you barely ever have to touch it. Great for the set it and forget it crowd, or those who love well designed devices.
Ecobee vs Nest: Design
I’m sure there was a time, decades and decades ago, when those classic thermostats were considered impressive. Now we barely notice them unless we’re feeling hot or cold. Modern smart thermostats have reinvigorated the look, and nothing shows that better than these two. So, where do we stand with Ecobee versus Nest design? Let’s take a look.
Nest Learning Thermostats are round, feel sturdy, and feel like an upgraded classic thermostat. The stainless steel ring works in any room, and the front lights up blue when cooling your home and orange when warming it up.
Overall, it’s a new twist on an old classic that looks and feels solid.
Ecobee decided to skip the traditional circular shape and went for a programmable thermostat that’s a rounded square. Some people think it looks like a large smartwatch and we tend to agree. Just like smartwatches, it looks modern, new, and exciting.
The thermostat uses black plastic and has a large glass screen (larger than the Nest’s). You’ll love all the options and controls you can access right from the touchscreen.
This really comes down to preference. If you prefer the classic circular look, then Nest wins by a mile. Many people agree that it looks better and the solid body feels better, too. However, Ecobee is better designed for versatility and practicality. It’s easy to play around with, and the larger screen ensures you can easily access all the functions.
Nest wins overall, but Ecobee isn’t that far behind.
Nest vs Ecobee: Scheduling
One of the best things about smart thermostats is that they are much easier to schedule. However, the scheduling is very different between these two. Nest claims to automatically learn your schedule while Ecobee smart thermostats are a little more conventional.
Let’s take a look and see which is better.
By default, Nest uses AI to figure out when you want your home hot and cold. It first makes a baseline schedule based purely on assumptions. This is by design because you’ll change the temperature either from the app or the thermostat itself.
Nest records whenever you change the temperature and reacts accordingly. It usually takes a few days (it wants to be sure), but soon Nest will understand your schedule and preferred temperature. The schedule evolves with you. Soon you won’t even need to change the temperature.
Don’t like the AI learning feature? Fine, you can turn it off right from the app.
Ecobee uses a more conventional approach. It doesn’t learn your schedule, but that might be good for those who like control or whose schedules change too often to make the learning effective.
You can set the exact days and times you want either from the Ecobee thermostat or app. Now your A/C won’t turn on unless it fits the schedule.
Once again this is up to interpretation. If you prefer being hands off and you don’t want to fiddle around with the schedule too much, then Nest is better. However, if you want to ensure that your home will be a certain temperature at a certain time, then Ecobee is better.
At the same time, another way to look at it is that Nest has an extra feature that Ecobee doesn’t. You can always turn off the Nest learning feature if you don’t like it, so that in itself is an advantage.
Ecobee versus Nest: Voice Commands
When it comes to Ecobee and Nest, both have app controls or you can adjust the temperature manually (does anyone actually do that? Sounds crazy!). However, the best thing is voice commands.
There’s nothing easier than telling Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit to make it 2 degrees warmer. Let’s compare Nest versus Ecobee to see which is better with voice commands.
Ecobee knows its audience. Their smart thermostats support the three major systems (Alexa, Google, and Apple). But wait, what if you don’t have a smart speaker yet? You could check out our Echo Dot vs Echo article, or you could use the built-in Alexa speaker with Ecobee.
This is handy and ensures you can use voice commands right out of the box.
Nest gladly supports Google Home (no surprise) and Alexa. However, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat is staunchly against supporting Apple HomeKit and that probably won’t change.
Ecobee’s integrated Alexa speaker is great, as is the support of all major smart speakers. If you’re finding that the integrated speaker and your other smart speaker are fighting, then you can disable the integrated speaker.
If you love Apple HomeKit, then Ecobee is the big winner here. If you use Google or Alexa in your home, then the two are fairly identical.
Nest Versus Ecobee: Away Mode
Most smart thermostats trigger an Away Mode when you cross the geofence. This is a perimeter around your home that the thermostat is constantly monitoring. It tracks the GPS in your device. If it senses the device leaving the perimeter, then it turns off the air. Or, if you’re coming home, then it triggers the air to turn on.
The geofencing for Nest is easily accessible in the app. You can also create several accounts so that Nest tracks multiple devices. This will also work with other Nest hardware in your home to coordinate your position.
Now you might be wondering what happens if you leave, but someone without a Nest-approved device is still in the house. Will the house suddenly grow uncomfortably hot or cold?
If you have other Nest devices with motion sensors, like Nest Protect smoke alarms, then it will sense motion in the home. This then tells Nest Thermostat that someone is home and to keep the house comfortable.
Unfortunately Ecobee only supports geofencing on one device. While that’s not great, there is one way around it.
You can use third-party programs like Life360 and IFTTT to bypass the default controls and allow geofencing for several devices. It’s not hard, but it does take about an hour or so.
Geofencing is a great way to save money on your heating and cooling bills. Nest geofencing is clearly more intuitive as you can easily set up multiple devices and it works in conjunction with other Nest devices.
Ecobee, with all of its other features, is a little disappointing here. It’s great that there’s a solution, but you shouldn’t have to use a third-party app just for geofencing.
Do I Need a C Wire for Ecobee or Nest?
Smart thermostats need power for their screens and WiFi connection. Usually there is an existing C wire from your conventional thermostat that the smart thermostat can connect to.
But, let’s say you don’t have a C wire. Can either Ecobee or Nest still function in that situation?
Don’t have a C-wire? That’s fine, Nest Learning Thermostat can still function just fine. We encourage you to read on till the end of this section for more information though, we’ve got a lot to share.
Ecobee needs a C-wire, but they give you a way around this with their Power Extender Kit, or PEK. You can install the PEK on your HVAC control board and get the power you need.
This seems like an easy win for Nest, but let’s look a little further into how it gets the power it needs. Nest uses power stealing to function without a C-wire, which can cause other systems in your home to act erratically. Therefore, we recommend a C-wire to avoid this issue.
While it takes some time to install, we like Ecobee thermostats for giving you the PEK option. It ensures you have the wires if you need them.
Nest or Ecobee: Budget Models
When it comes to Ecobee vs Nest, you’ll find that both offer budget smart thermostats that are more comfortable on your wallet. These would include Nest Thermostat E and Ecobee 3 Lite. Let’s compare them.
If looks were everything, then in terms of Ecobee 3 vs Ecobee 3 Lite, they look nearly identical. They have the same overall design and similar functionality.
The Lite version lacks an Alexa speaker, and it also has no accessory terminal. You also don’t get a remote sensor. Overall though, it’s similar to the premium version.
What about Nest Learning Thermostat vs Nest Thermostat E? It also doesn’t have an accessory terminal. The design is lacking. It looks like a duller, more subtle version of the premium Nest.
Both are similar. They don’t have an accessory port, so that means you can’t connect to HRV, humidifiers, or ERV systems. The design is also a small downgrade for both, but Ecobee looks similar while Nest is a big step down.
So, do you prefer losing out on the design with Nest, or the Alexa support with Ecobee? That will determine the winner here.
Smart thermostats don’t just give you more control. They’re also supposed to help you save money. Nothing proves that better than a good energy report. So, let’s see which smart thermostat gives you the best reports.
Ecobee gives you a ton of data. It analyzes your HVAC for the last 18 months. You also get information about motion data, temperature, remote sensors, and more. You can get the reports through Home IQ, which is found in the web portal.
Home IQ has lots of reports, and it even shows you how weather impacts performance and usage. If you’re looking for detailed reports, then Ecobee has you covered.
Nest has reports, but they’re shallow compared to Ecobee’s. You’ll get 10 days worth of data and it shows you when the system went on and off. It also shows when the thermostat was changed manually.
You’ll also get a monthly report from Nest, but even that doesn’t compare to Ecobee.
The winner here with Nest versus Ecobee is Ecobee by a landslide. The reports don’t just contain more data, but they are much more detailed and show you exactly how and why you’re saving money.
Both are great, there’s no arguing that, but they excel in different ways.
Nest looks much better, the thermostat also feels more solid. The geofencing is superb and sophisticated, plus the learning aspect is great (plus, you can turn it off if you don’t like it). Plus, it’s easy to control and works great.
Ecobee is ideal for those who like detailed reports and customization. You get 180 days worth of data all analyzed together, plus it’s a smart thermostat with lots of great features.
So, which one do you choose? Be sure to let us know.