Note: Before you dive into the specific brand review, we highly recommend you to read our elaborate Thermostat Buying Guide in advance, there are several crucial steps you need to take before you even start to think about the brand.
Ecobee thermostats get high ratings from customers for their smart performance and the convenience delivered. How do Ecobee thermostats compare to one another, and how are they different? This Ecobee thermostats buying guide explains similarities and differences between these smart thermostats. The information can help you decide whether upgrading from an Ecobee3 to a 4 is worth the extra cost or if an Ecobee3 Lite is a better choice for your purposes. If you’d like to compare Ecobee and nest thermostats, use this guide and our Nest Thermostat Buying Guide for your research.
How Ecobee 3, Ecobee 4 and Ecobee 3 Lite are the Same
These are WiFi thermostats that can be monitored and controlled with apps on Android and iOS smart devices. They are “learning” thermostats. Here’s what that means:
- When you change the temperature in your home because you’re going to bed, leaving for the day or returning, your ecobee thermostat takes note and schedules temperature adjustments based on your schedule.
- Ideally, in a few weeks, your ecobee thermostat will raise or lower your home’s temperature in coordination with your daily “routine.”
- You can always override the setting by manually raising or lowering the thermostat set point, and the thermostat will take that into account as it “tweaks” its performance.
This basic mode of operating is common to all ecobee models.
In terms of the technical specifications, the Ecobee3, Ecobee4 and Ecobee3 Lite all offer:
- Potential Energy Savings: An estimated energy savings of 23% — but that figure seems high to HVAC pros, and anything approaching that level of savings can only be achieved if you diligently reduce system output (turn the heat down in winter and AC down in summer) when away or sleeping.
- WiFi:11b/g/n @ 2.4GHz
- Wireless room sensors: One of the most attractive features of ecobee thermostats are the remote room sensors that send data to the control. The result is better temperature sensing and consequently better temperature balance in your home. The sensors also collect motion data, so if nobody is detected to be at home, the system will reduce output to save energy.
- Staged heating and cooling: If you’ve got single-stage or two-stage heating and/or cooling equipment, ecobee thermostats will support your system.
- Battery: All ecobee thermostats are hardwired and don’t use a battery.
- C-wire: All require a C wire, so they avoid the C-wire issue that nest thermostats have. Ecobee includes its Power Extender Kit with every thermostat to compensate when an HVAC system doesn’t have a C-wire. If your current system doesn’t have one, see our guide to the C-wire Issue for more useful information.
- Warranty: 3-year warranty is better than the 1 year offered by nest.
How Ecobee3, Ecobee3 Lite and Ecobee4 are Different
The differences are easily shown in table form. The important differences are explained below.
|Height and width||3.93"x3.93"||4.3"x4.3"||4.05"x4.05"|
|WiFi||2.4GHz only||2.4GHz only||2.4GHz only|
|Stages||6 total||6 total||6 total|
|LCD touchscreen||LCD touchscreen||LCD touchscreen|
|Amazon Alexa||Works with||Built in||Works with|
There are four differences to take special note of:
Sensors: The ecobee3 Lite has fewer internal sensors. It does not sense humidity nor support humidifying or dehumidifying accessories that are part of the HVAC system.
Alexa: Ecobee3 and Ecobee3 Lite versions work with Alexa. This means you can use an Amazon Alexa/Echo device to control your Ecobee thermostat with voice for hands-free control. The Ecobee4 takes its relationship with Alexa to the next level. It has built-in Alexa technology that includes a microphone, speaker and far-field voice recognition. However, the speaker is mediocre, so don’t expect quality sound when streaming music through your thermostat. Ecobee thermostats don’t support Alexa messaging or Amazon ordering. , Bluetooth, Amazon ordering, Spotify or Google Assistant.
3 Automation: In addition to Alexa, Ecobee 4 and Ecobee 3 Lite (but not Ecobee3) work with Apple Home Kit, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, IFTTT (If This, Then That) and more. They don’t support Bluetooth, Spotify or Google Assistant.
Price: Ecobee3 models cost the most because they are in short supply. Ecobee4 and especially Ecobee3 Lite models are competitively priced.
Upgrading from Ecobee3 to Ecobee4
If you have an Ecobee3 and are considering a 4, then you should know a few things:
- You can use the remote room sensors that work with the Ecobee3 system.
- Ecobee4 with built-in Alexa and the ability to work with a wider range of home automation technology make it an attractive upgrade, if you don’t mind spending the $199 for an ecobee4. By the way, there’s not much of a market for used ecobee3s, so don’t expect to recoup much of the cost of the ecobee4.
Choosing Between Ecobee 4 and Ecobee3 Lite
Buying an Ecobee3 isn’t an option for most homeowners because the units cost more now that they’re not being produced, and they have less functionality. Higher cost and lower performance isn’t an appealing option.
For most, the decision mostly comes down to Alexa. If you’re willing to spend the $50 extra, at current pricing that is subject to change, to get most of the Alexa functionality, then the 4 might be worth the money.
On the other hand, if you have an Amazon Alexa-enabled device or plan to get one, then the Alexa capabilities probably aren’t worth the money. If you’re thinking of buying an Alexa device to stream music, then the Ecobee3 is a poor substitute.
Ecobee Thermostat Wiring
Recently, we just completed an In-depth Thermostat Wiring DIY Guide which covers many wiring situations. Once you select a Ecobee thermostat and want to wire it by yourself, remember to add this guide to your favorite list. If you come across any questions when wiring your thermostat, feel free to ask a question in the comment sections.
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