The Nest Learning Thermostat and ecobee SmartThermostat share a lot of the same features and capabilities. So how do you decide which is best for your home? See how the two compare when it comes to design, learning capabilities, voice control, geofencing, price, and other functionalities.
What is a Smart Thermostat?
Smart thermostats differ from regular thermostats mainly in that they can be controlled remotely from your smart devices. Some can also be integrated with other smart-home systems and can even learn your schedule and adjust the temperature automatically. Smart thermostats tend to have a more sleek, modern look as well.
How do they work?
A smart thermostat works just like a traditional one, except that it connects to your home's wifi. This allows you to change the thermostat’s settings remotely using a supported app. When you adjust the temperature in the app, it transmits that setting through your wifi network to the thermostat. The thermostat then sends that signal to the blower and HVAC system and voila -- you have heating or cooling. If you're home and near the thermostat, you can still of course change the temperature the old-fashioned way, too.
How the Nest Learning Thermostat and ecobee SmartThermostat Compare
Both ecobee and Nest offer a number of different smart thermostats with options that can accommodate your technology preferences and budget.
Nest offers the premium third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat, which can automatically learn your schedule and adjust settings accordingly. The regular Nest Thermostat is a lower-cost version without the Learning feature. It also has a slightly less stylish design and fewer color options. But both provide you with many benefits.
Ecobee’s premium version is the ecobee SmartThermostat with built-in voice control. They also offer the lower cost ecobee3 Lite, which is not equipped with voice control. Both versions can be manually adjusted to your schedule and allow you to control your heating and air conditioning from your smartphone.
For the remainder of this article, we will be comparing the premium versions: Google Nest 3rd Gen Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee SmartThermostat.
Look and feel
The Nest Learning Thermostat (left) looks like a modern version of the classic round Honeywell. The stainless steel outer ring reflects your existing wall color and gives it a sturdier look and feel. The face also lights up blue for cooling and orange for heating.
The ecobee SmartThermotat (right) is a rounded square and comes with a larger touchscreen. The screen is glass with a plastic exterior, so not as sturdy a feel.
Smart schedule learning
Nest’s big feature is in the name: as you continually adjust your Nest thermostat, the Learning feature will record the changes and eventually learn your schedule and preferences. If you always put the thermostat around 72 degrees at night, Nest will start automatically setting it to 72 after about a week or two of consistent adjustments. Over time, it will keep modifying the schedule to align with your temperature preferences. So, if you start setting it at 74 at night, Nest will record and recognize the change and make the corresponding adjustments. If you don’t like the learning feature you can simply shut it off and run it on a conventional schedule.
Ecobee uses a more typical schedule by allowing you to choose your desired times and temperatures for when you are home, away, and sleeping. You can change the time/temperatures whenever you please, but the thermostat will not “learn” or adjust automatically.
The Nest Learning Thermostat works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung SmartThings, but not with Apple HomeKit.
Ecobee’s SmartThermostat works with all of the above but also comes with Alexa built into it. This allows you to make hands-free calls, make intercom-style announcements, and play music directly from the thermostat -- much like you would with the Amazon Echo. If you’re into the voice control feature, ecobee is probably preferable since Alexa is built-in. However, if you own other smart speakers, the extra one may cause complications. If you want HomeKit voice control specifically, you should also go with ecobee.
Both thermostats also support geofencing. This means that the systems can use your phone’s GPS to determine if you are home or not and set the thermostat to Away Mode when it senses you are gone. When you get home, it will switch back to heating/cooling mode.
Nest allows you to set multiple accounts so that it can detect Home versus Away status with multiple phones. Even more advanced, the Nest thermostat can combine cues from other Nest devices. For example, if your phone signals that you are away but your kids are still home, the thermostat can take motion signals from your Nest Protects smoke detector and override the geofence trigger so that it does not switch to away mode.
Ecobee also supports geofencing but only for one phone. While multiple phones can be set up, it requires a third party and takes some time; so it is not as convenient as the Nest in this sense.
Remote sensors allow the thermostat to take readings from any room in the house and adjust accordingly. Whereas a regular thermostat will be affected by cold drafts from a nearby door or sunlight from a nearby window, these smart systems will send data from the sensor back to the thermostat for accurate readings and temperature adjustments.
Nest sensors can be placed wherever they are needed in the home, but they fall a little short on sensing capabilities. They include temperature sensors but they cannot sense occupancy in the room.
Ecobee sensors have the advantage of being able to detect if a room is vacant or occupied. The temperature and motion data are also used to keep the areas you use most at the temperature you prefer.
Both Nest and ecobee thermostats from ECI Comfort range from $500 to $700 completely installed, so it's best to choose based on what features you like. As for ecobee, the lower-cost and higher-cost versions look nearly identical, but the lower-cost version does not come with Alexa built-in.
Both ecobee and Nest have apps that allow remote access and control of their thermostats.
Your Nest thermostat can be controlled using the Google Home app, which is available for both iOS and Android. However, the Nest Learning Thermostat must be set up in the Nest app first, then can be connected to your Google account to be controlled in the Google Home app. The Home app allows you to do things like set target temperature, set your schedule, view your energy history, and more.
The ecobee thermostat has its own app, which is also available for both iOS and Android. This app gives you full control of your ecobee SmartThermostat wherever you are. The app mimics the thermostat itself in that has a temperature slider, mode menu, on/off button, and “vacation mode” option.
Want to know how your smart thermostat is working in regards to energy savings? Both thermostats will provide you with energy reports to tell you just that.
Nest records 10 days of data and gives you a basic analysis. It also sends out a monthly report summarizing your energy usage and comparing it to past months and other Nest users. Nest promises 10 to 12 percent in energy bill savings for heating and 15 percent savings for cooling.
Ecobee gives you a much more in-depth report using an analysis tool called Home IQ. The tool records and analyzes HVAC data for 18 months including temperature and motion data from both the thermostat and remote sensor. Home IQ’s features allow you to monitor things like total usage, efficiency, and how the weather affects usage. Ecobee claims to deliver up to 26 percent in energy savings for heating and cooling. Savings for both thermostats will depend on how you use your system, the climate in your area, and other factors.
Choosing the best smart thermostat for your home can be difficult with so many options available. Going through these comparisons as well as talking with your local contractor can help determine the best option for your home.
If you live in the Delaware Valley/Greater Philadelphia area and would like to find comfort within your home, visit our website or give us a call at 215 - 245 - 3200 to learn more.