ecobee vs Nest: Don’t Overlook These 9 Crucial Differences

The ecobee and Nest are widely considered the best two smart thermostats available. If you read just about any smart thermostat review, you’ll see these two almost always come out at or near the top.

The differences between ecobee and Nest aren’t huge. And, as both products have evolved, their feature set has become more and more similar. But, they ARE different and the differences DO matter. I’ve used both products and I’ve found 9 key differences. So read on and I’ll fill you in on what I’ve learned.



ecobee vs Nest: Which Thermostat Is Better For You?

ecobee

Are you a hands-on tinkerer with a love of customization and endless data? Then, ecobee is your match.

Nest

Do you want a  thermostat that looks great and just works with barely any thought from you? In that case, Nest is a better fit.


1. Looks

Put one of these thermostats on your wall and impress your friends. Who would have thought that a thermostat could be a topic of conversation?

Nest

1

The Nest Learning Thermostat has a modernized look of the classic Honeywell Round thermostat.

It standard model has a stainless steel outer ring that reflects your wall color and allows it to blend in with any décor. If stainless steel isn’t your thing, the Nest can also be purchased with either a copper, black, or white outer ring.

The face lights up with blue light when your system is cooling and orange light when it’s heating.

The solid construction is obvious when you handle the thermostat. Its heavy and feels sturdy.

ecobee

NEW 2022! ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium with Siri and Alexa and Built in Air Quality Monitor and Smart Sensor

ecobee decided to take the rectangular look from the programmable thermostats of the past 30 years and round the corners. The result is something that looks a bit like an oversized smartwatch.

The thermostat is mostly black with a glass screen and sports a significantly larger screen than the Nest. The screen is also a touchscreen which gives you access to many control settings from the base unit if you desire.

Which is Better?

Obviously looks are subjective, but it’s definitely a factor that matters to most people.

I’m a bit of an ecobee fanboy, but I have no problem admitting that the Nest looks great. I think the Nest was clearly the better looking option back in the days of the ecobee3. However, the latest ecobee model, the ecobee Premium, looks great, and has evened the playing field a bit. It still has the same color scheme and shape as previous ecobee models, but the upgraded screen and case give it a much more polished, premium look.

The additional color options available for the Nest Learning Thermostat make it a little more versatile. Plus, if you don’t care for the look of the Nest Learning Thermostat in general, the lower-cost Google Nest thermostat is an option with a significantly different look.

On the other hand, all the ecobee models have the same basic look.


2. Scheduling

“The Nest Learning Thermostat automatically adapts as your life and the seasons change. Just use it for a week and it programs itself.”

Google store

The big marketing hook for Nest when it first came out was that it “automatically learns your schedule”. That’s why it’s called the Nest Learning Thermostat.

Nest

When you first install the Nest, it makes a few assumptions about you based on typical household activity. It uses those guesses as a baseline for its schedule.

Sooner or later, you’ll feel too warm or too cold and you’ll use either the app or the thermostat to adjust the temperature up or down.

When you make an adjustment, Nest records it. After a week or two of adjustments, Nest will “learn” your schedule and the temperature settings you prefer.

Over time it will continue to respond to your adjustments. So rather than keeping a fixed schedule, it will continually evolve.

If you don’t like the way Nest learns, you can always shut the feature off. Nest can be programmed to run on a conventional schedule if you shut off the learning feature.

ecobee

The ecobee uses a more conventional schedule. You choose your desired times and temperatures for when you are home, away, and sleeping.

In 2020, ecobee released an update for its thermostats called eco+. Part of eco+ is a feature called Schedule Assistant which analyzes home/away data and then suggests potential schedule changes to help you reduce energy consumption.

Which is Better?

Is Nest’s schedule learning feature better than ecobee’s eco+? Or, is it just another gimmick that seems to be all too common in the smart home universe?

I suppose it depends on who you ask.

For people that are really hands off, I can see a definite benefit to Nest’s way of doing things. However, if you’re a more hands on person like myself, you might not find Nest’s learning feature very useful.

Personally, I prefer knowing the heat/AC is set to come on at a specific time. Then, if something turns on when its supposed to be off (or vice versa), I know something is wrong.

Either way, Nest’s learning feature is an extra option that ecobee doesn’t have. If you have a Nest and you like the learning feature, you can use it. If not, turn it off.


3. Voice Control

Voice control is the number one way I interact with my smart thermostat. I’ve found it’s almost always easier to adjust the thermostat with a voice command rather than open the app or get off the couch (gasp!) and adjust it manually.

I mostly use Alexa for my smart home, but Google Assistant and HomeKit can work just as well. It’s a little weird talking to a machine at first, but once you get used to it, it’s pretty nice.

ecobee

ecobee seems like they’re really dedicated to voice control. They support all three major voice assistants (Alexa, Siri, and Google).

Also, the ecobee SmartThermostat Premium has a built-in speaker which allows you use the thermostat directly as a voice assistant. For this feature, it supports both Alexa and Siri*.

If you don’t already have a smart speaker near your thermostat, it could be useful. However, if you do have a smart speaker close by, it might be best to disable the thermostat’s voice assistant capabilities in order to avoid any confusion between devices.

*NOTE: In order to enable Siri, it does require a compatible Apple hub (HomePod or HomePod mini).

Nest

Nest obviously supports voice control via Google Home. It also supports Amazon Alexa by using the Google Nest skill in the Alexa app. However, it doesn’t directly support Siri. In order to enable Siri support, you need to have a third-party “bridge” such as the Starling hub.1

Which is Better?

The integrated Alexa or Siri speaker on the ecobee is great if you don’t already have smart speakers.

But, if you’re like me, and already have smart speakers in every room, the extra speaker in the thermostat is entirely unnecessary and might even cause problems. If it does cause problems, you can disable it.

Nest integrates with Google (duh) and Alexa quite nicely, but doesn’t support Siri directly. So if you’re an Apple user, the ecobee may be a better choice.


4. Geofencing

Many smart home products can use your phone’s GPS as a means of determining whether you are home or not. This is called geofencing. Geofencing is one of the best ways to save money with a smart thermostat.

If you cross the geofence leaving your home, the thermostat knows no one is home and can switch to away mode to save energy. Then, when you cross the geofence on your way back home, the thermostat will resume heating/cooling.

Nest

Nest’s geofencing feature is built into their app, and integrates directly with other Google Nest devices to determine whether you’re home or not.

For example, imagine you take your phone and travel outside the geofence. Typically, the thermostat will go into away mode. 

But what if someone is still at your home, and you don’t want the system to go into away mode?

In that case, Nest can use motion sensor data from the thermostat (or any other Nest products you have) to know that someone is still at home and therefore ignore the geofence trigger to switch to away mode.

You can even add multiple accounts so that Nest’s geofencing works with multiple phones.

ecobee

Ecobee supports geofencing too, but only for one phone. Furthermore, ecobee’s geofencing does NOT combine with their smart home/away feature.

This is a bit of a problem for my wife and I. If I happen to leave the house for a few hours, my phone goes with me. Therefore, if I’m using ecobee’s integrated geofencing feature, the thermostat will go into away mode even though my wife is still home.

If it happens to be the middle of January, it won’t be long before my wife is freezing. Then, she’ll go to the thermostat and manually crank it up to 78. This is obviously far from an ideal result.

Fortunately, there is a way to set up geofencing with multiple phones on the ecobee. Unfortunately, it requires the use of a couple third party apps. It’s not difficult, but it did take me about an hour to get everything set up. I’ve written detailed instructions on how to do it here so you should be able to do it in about 15 minutes.

NOTE: If you have iPhones, you can get multi-user geofencing (without needing to use the hack I mentioned above) by using the HomeKit integration.

Which is Better?

Without a doubt, Nest comes out ahead here. I consider Nest’s geofencing with multiple phones the biggest advantage it has over ecobee.

In addition, the integration with the home/away feature is ideal. When you combine geofencing and motion sensors, you get a really robust home/away system.

ecobee’s geofencing does NOT work that way and ecobee customers have been complaining about this for years. Although the third-party app solution works for multi-user geofencing, it adds extra work, and could break if the third party apps change their service or start to charge for it. Furthermore, ecobee’s native geofencing (single-user) doesn’t seamlessly integrate with smart home/away like Nest does. The ecobee has geofencing and it has the motion sensors. Why not combine the two as part of smart home/away?


5. Is a C Wire Really Necessary?

In order to power their big screens and maintain their WiFi connections, smart thermostats need a constant source of power. Most of the time, the wires that connect to the thermostat can provide that power.

But, if your wires don’t include a c wire, you may have to jump through a few extra hoops to get your smart thermostat working correctly.

For more information about c-wires, how to add one, and how power stealing can lead to problems, see my article all about the c wire.

ecobee

Ecobee cannot be installed without a c-wire. In case your wiring lacks the required c-wire, the ecobee ships with an extra device they call the PEK (power extender kit). If your system doesn’t have a c-wire, you’ll be instructed to install the PEK. The installation requires attaching a few wires to your HVAC control board which is typically located inside your furnace or air handler.

Nest

The Nest thermostat can be installed without a c-wire. Therefore, if your current thermostat wiring doesn’t have a c-wire, you could eliminate some installation steps by going with the Nest.

In order to avoid needing a c-wire, Nest powers the thermostat using an electrical trick often referred to as power stealing. Nest’s power stealing is capable of causing a small amount of HVAC systems to behave erratically. However, if your system is one of those “trouble” systems, Nest sells the Nest Power Connector (which is basically the same thing as the ecobee PEK) to eliminate the problem.

Which is Better?

Many of you will already have a c-wire installed, so this will not matter to you.

For those of you that don’t have a c-wire installed, Nest works without a c-wire and ecobee does not. Advantage Nest, right?

Possibly.

In order to install the PEK or Nest Power Connector, you need to open up your furnace (or air handler), then find and connect a few wires. If that makes you nervous, you could avoid that step by simply using the Nest without a c-wire. It will probably work exactly as its supposed to and you’ll never think of it again. You don’t have this option with the ecobee.

However, I really don’t want to be one of the unlucky Nest owners to experience “erratic” furnace behavior. Therefore, even if I had the Nest, I would plan on buying and installing the Nest Power Connector. It’s really not that difficult to install, and you’ll avoid a potential source of major headaches in the future.

Also, be aware that you have to purchase the Nest Power Connector separately, whereas the ecobee includes the PEK with your purchase.


6. Low-Cost Version

Both companies have released lower cost versions of their flagship models. ecobee has their most economical version, the ecobee3 Lite, and also an intermediate model, the SmartThermostat Enhanced. Nest’s economy model is the Google Nest Thermostat.

ecobee

The ecobee3 Lite looks similar to the ecobee SmartThermostat Premium, although it’s not quite as shiny. As a smart thermostat, it functions nearly the same as the Premium version. However, it’s missing a few of the “extra” features that the Premium version provides.

It doesn’t come with a built-in voice assistant or the built-in air quality monitor. It doesn’t have the accessory terminal, so you won’t be able to control an air handler if you have one. The ecobee3 Lite is also sold as a standalone unit (although it does work with ecobee’s Smart Sensors, no remote sensors are included).

Nest

There are several functional differences between the Google Nest Thermostat and the Nest Learning thermostat. Like the ecobee3 Lite, the Google Nest Thermostat lacks an accessory terminal. It doesn’t work with the Nest Temperature Sensors, and it doesn’t include the famous schedule learning feature.2

The other obvious difference is the look. Google Nest has a much more subtle appearance than the Nest Learning Thermostat.

The shiny outer ring is replaced with plastic and the screen has a matte finish that looks like it’s designed to blend in rather than stand out.

Which is Better?

The ecobee3 Lite lacks the smart speaker ability and the air quality sensor ability of the ecobee SmartThermostat Premium. Although potentially nice to have, neither feature is necessary for it to perform its duties as a thermostat. Furthermore, neither of these features is available on either of the Nest thermostats.

Both economy versions are missing the extra accessory terminal. That means you won’t be able to connect the thermostat to an accessory (e.g. whole-home humidifer, HRV, ERV). Unless you need the extra accessory terminal, you could certainly save a little money by going with the ecobee3 Lite over the ecobee SmartThermostat Premium without losing any thermostat-related functionality.

However, if you choose the Google Nest Thermostat, you lose more than just the accessory terminal. You also won’t be able to add remote sensors or use the schedule learning feature.

That said, if economy is what you want, the Google Nest Thermostat costs less than the ecobee3 Lite.


7. Energy Reports

How do you know if your smart thermostat is working the way it should? Some people will be content to just slap it on the wall and let it do its thing. But, that’s not me. I want to see some details.

ecobee

The ecobee thermostats record and analyze HVAC data for a full 18 months. All temperature and motion data from both the thermostat and the remote sensors is recorded.

Their analysis tool is called Home IQ. It’s accessible via the web console and it’s provided free of charge by ecobee for as long as you own the thermostat.

Home IQ gives you features such as System Monitor, Weather Impact, and Home Efficiency. These features help monitor your total usage, how much the local weather influences your usage, and how your home efficiency compares to other users in your area. (See my ecobee review for more details on Home IQ).

Nest

The Nest includes data feedback, too. However, compared to ecobee’s reports, Nest data reports are child’s play.

Nest only records 10 days of data. It doesn’t give you any fancy analysis either. It just shows a visual of the times your system turned on and off during those 10 days. It will also mark the times when the thermostat set point was changed.

Using that, you can compare total usage between certain times of the day and different days.

Nest also sends out a monthly home report via email. It includes a summary of your energy usage and compares it with past months and other Nest users.

Which is Better?

The ecobee data reports blow the competition (Nest) away.

With ecobee, everything is recorded and visible in chart form. Every time you manually change the setpoint, it gets recorded. Every time the thermostat takes any kind of smart action, it gets recorded.

You can go back 18 months and see minute-by-minute data from the sensors (motion and temperature), home temperature and outdoor temperature, set points, hold events, and smart events. 

If you’re looking for energy reports and analysis, ecobee with Home IQ is the way to go. Nest has closed the gap some, but ecobee remains the superior option here.


8. Remote Sensors

The temperature where your thermostat is installed might be different than the temperature where you spend most of your time. Remote sensors allow the thermostat to take readings from any room throughout your home and adjust accordingly. This can be a huge advantage if your thermostat is located next to a door (cold drafts) or in direct sunlight.

ecobee

ecobee’s SmartSensors send temperature and motion data back to the ecobee (more info). Using that data, the thermostat can keep the areas you use the most at the temperature you prefer. It can also use the motion sensor data to switch to away mode when you’re not home.

The ecobee SmartThermostat Premium comes with one remote sensor. Extra sensors are available for purchase in packs of two.

Nest

The Nest Temperature Sensors serve mostly the same purpose as the ecobee sensors save for one notable exception: Nest sensors only include temperature sensing. There’s no occupancy sensing.

Which is Better?

ecobee’s sensors have motion sensing and Nest’s do not. That means Nest’s sensor driven features are at a disadvantage (relative to ecobee) from the start. 

The motion sensing ability allows the ecobee sensors to support the Follow Me feature and to work with the ecobee’s smart home/away feature by providing occupancy data throughout your home. Additionally, the motion sensor shows up in smart home apps (such as Alexa), so you can create automations which are triggered by the motion.


9. Air Quality Monitor

At first, the idea of an air quality monitor integrated into a smart thermostat seemed unnecessary to me. However, after I looked into it more, I realized that it makes a lot of sense if you have an air exchanger in your home.

Any time your air exchanger turns on and swaps the air inside your home with outside air, there is an energy cost. Therefore, in order to optimize energy use, an air exchanger should run often enough to maintain an acceptable level of indoor air quality, but no more than that.

For that reason, an air quality monitor working in tandem with your smart thermostat to optimize control of your air exchanger seems like a really useful addition.

ecobee

The ecobee SmartThermostat Premium is equipped with an integrated indoor air quality monitor. It has a single relative sensor that measures VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Using the VOC measurement, it also estimates CO2 levels based on an average correlation between VOCs and CO2 in exhaled human breath.3

Nest

Nest thermostats don’t have an integrated air quality monitor.

Which is Better?

Since the feature only exists on the ecobee SmartThermostat Premium (Nest doesn’t offer this feature), it is the de facto winner. The only question is whether it’s actually a useful addition for your smart home.

I personally don’t have much respect for most consumer grade air quality sensors like these. They’re usually not very accurate and tend to become uncalibrated over time. However, the ecobee thermostat uses a relative VOC sensor, which mostly eliminates the calibration problem. The sensor is designed to detect a change in air quality. Therefore, as long as the air in your home is clean most of the time, the sensor will work properly.

I can see this feature being a great value addition for people that have air exchangers (HRV, ERV) connected to the thermostat.

If, for example, you cook some stir fry and fill up the kitchen with smoke, the sensor will detect the change and trigger the air handler to swap out the dirty air for some fresh outside air.

Quick Summary

  1. Look and Feel
    -ecobee looks good, but doesn’t have the same “wow” factor as Nest.
    -Nest has a beautiful, modern design and sturdy metal construction. It’s available in multiple colors.
  2. Schedule Learning
    -ecobee has the eco+ feature which analyzes your patterns and suggests schedule changes.
    -Nest records your changes and learns your preferences over time. It automatically makes small adjustments to try to save energy. This feature is optional.
  3. Voice Control
    -ecobee supports all 3 major voice assistants and can be used directly as an Alexa or Siri speaker.
    -Nest supports Google assistant and Alexa but not Apple HomeKit. It can’t be used directly as a speaker.
  4. Geofencing
    -ecobee natively supports geofencing for 1 phone. To make it work with multiple phones requires extra work and third-party apps.
    -Nest has native geofencing with multiple phones and works seamlessly with other Nest devices (Home/Away Assist).
  5. C-Wire
    -ecobee requires a c-wire, but comes with a c-wire adapter called the Power Extender Kit (PEK).
    -Nest doesn’t require a c-wire. It uses “power stealing” instead. In some cases, the
  6. Low-Cost Version
    -ecobee3 Lite’s abilities as a thermostat are nearly the same as the ecobee SmartThermostat Premium. However, it lacks support for an accessory, and doesn’t come with a SmartSensor (can be purchased separately), Alexa speaker, or air quality monitor. 
    -The Google Nest Thermostat lacks support for an accessory, Nest Temperature Sensors, and schedule learning. It also looks way less shiny.
  7. Energy Reports
    -ecobee keeps 18 months of detailed charts for temperature, motion, and weather.
    -Nest has improved its data feedback but lacks the charts and detail of ecobee.
  8. Remote Sensors
    -ecobee sensors record temperature and motion. Included with purchase of ecobee SmartThermostat Premium.
    -Nest sensors sense temperature only (lacks motion). Must be purchased separately.
  9. Air Quality Monitor
    -ecobee’s air quality monitor is a nice addition for someone who has a home with an air exchanger.
    -Nest thermostats don’t have an air quality monitor.

Final Thoughts

Right out of the box, Nest looks great and feels like a quality product. It is the original schedule learning thermostat that saves you energy without any thought from you. It has a comprehensive home/away system that integrates with multi-user geofencing and other Nest products.

The ecobee gives you nearly as much smarts as the Nest and backs that up with superior customization and data feedback. Plus, it’s remote sensors record temperature and motion to give it some unique abilities.

Resources

  1. https://robotpoweredhome.com/nest-thermostat-apple-homekit/
  2. https://store.google.com/us/magazine/compare_thermostats?hl=en-US
  3. https://support.ecobee.com/s/articles/air-quality-sensor-faqs

59 thoughts on “ecobee vs Nest: Don’t Overlook These 9 Crucial Differences”

  1. Spencer D Lloyd

    Good article. I’m moving, and based on this will go with a Nest compared to my current Ecobee. I think my wife will find the Nest easier to use.

  2. We are retired so we aren’t on a daily schedule. How does the Nest react or know when we aren’t there?

    1. The best way is the geofencing feature. It can keep track of your location using your smartphone’s GPS and switch to away mode if you leave your home.

  3. Good review but Nest’s ‘power stealing’ does not work reliably on modern systems that use low-power electronic controls. And, Ecobee’s system reports can be used to detect when a system is not performing well. It will show extended run-times. Schedule learning is only useful when household members follow a strict schedule. If not, it just adds confusion and needs to be over-ridden to maintain comfort. Ecobee wins hands down.

    1. My nest 3rd generation thermostat is too smart. Geofencing works when you leave, but turns off only when you get home to a too cold or too hot house. I’ve been having a lot of problems getting nest to start my ac compressor when it’s needed. The screen says +2 hours to target temp and the compressor isn’t on. Been troubleshooting with Google. Doesn’t seem worth it.

  4. Good article. I’ve had a nest 2nd gen for 9 years but lately felt the inside temps were off. So I’m trying out the Ecobee Smart. I was always ticked that Google purchased Nest and there would be no home kit features available for nest.

    I am liking the sensor being able to detect movement. I can see this being useful for future smart home projects since I can use homekit to do things if the sensor is recording activity.

    The only thing I don’t like is you have to set the schedule in ranges and to add different types of schedules you have to do it via the website but I plan on giving the Ecobee at least a weeks worth of running to see if I get past what I was used to on Nest.

    I couldn’t really use the learning feature too much because people at home would mess with temp and throw things off.

    At least it’s an alternative to feeling I have to give all my life to Google products.

  5. From a A/C tech perspective, the Ecobee is a better product. Even using the Nest add a wire kit, it can act up and requires making a bigger hole in the wall, the Ecobee kit is hands down better. The occupied reading of their sensors helped knock my electric bill in half from last year’s summer. And finally to me the settings are easier on the Ecobee to navigate. I do respect the Nest, but Ecobee is the one I’ve recommended.

  6. The Ecobee has a plastic face, not glass as mentioned in some people/articles. I really wanted to like it but it looks cheap and the promotional pictures are very misleading. There is also a black sticker on the lower left corner. Cheap materials.

    1. The new version of the ecobee, the ecobee Smart Thermostat, does have a glass face now. Previous versions did have a plastic face.

    2. I have the Ecobee 5 and the face is absolutely glass. It feels very sturdy, although I’m not much of a fan for the white faceplate that comes with the thermostat to cover any holes left by my old one.

  7. I have a nest e controlling my basement in-floor radiant heat. All it does is turn the boiler and pumps off and on per the temperature I select.

    I question the temperature accuracy of the nest. I have a recording digital thermostat next to the nest. So for example if I set the nest at 68, sometimes the nest starts the boiler at 67.5 and it runs a period of time, say 75-90 minutes until the nest is satisfied and the boiler shuts off. The temperature will typically overshoot and the nest will read 69.. not a problem. What I question is several times a day the nest will start the boiler when the digital thermometer reads 68.5 (nest says 68) and the boiler runs 20-30 minutes until apparently the nest is satisfied and shuts off. When the nest is set at 68 for example, shouldn’t it trigger at 67.5 (or something like that) and shut off at 68.5 (or something like that). I realize I’m being picky here but why is the nest triggering when it already reads 68 and is set at 68. Would the ecobee be more accurate?

    1. I haven’t had the opportunity to use these thermostats with any sort of boiler system. Both Nest and ecobee use past performance and weather data to try to predict future heating needs. My guess is that the Nest is anticipating that if it waits until the temperature gets to 67.5 to turn the boiler on, it will take too long for the heating effects to kick in and in the mean time the temperature will overshoot to the low side.
      I can’t say whether the ecobee would be more accurate, but we’re talking only fractions of a degree. If your thermostat keeps the temperature within a 2-3 degree range, I think it will be difficult to improve on that.

    2. If the system is overshooting, it may be due to the fixed 1 degree “swing” default on the Nest that is not adjustable (last time I checked) whereas a swing feature on the ecobee can be adjusted to be more or less sensitive to temperature change. If the thermostat is in a place where it takes longer for the warm air to register on the thermostat, then it will more likely overshoot.
      Swing is an important feature, sadly lacking on the Nest and Honeywell thermostats, that is useful to balance room temperature fluctuation with system cycle frequency.
      (“swing” is the temperature delta between call for heating or cooling and system shut off)

  8. What happens if the power goes out? You will freeze in the winter or is there some sort of a backup system that would continue to run your heating in the house?

  9. I’ve had a nest 2nd gen for three years. Today it quit calling for heat. The ac part works bit not the heat. It should have lasted longer than 3 years. Nest was no help. I think I will try out the eccobee.

  10. The ecobee only supports 1 physical fan speed, while the Nest 3 supports up to 3.

    This would matter more for the condo users who use an HVAC system with multiple fan speed wires.

    1. This isn’t true, at least for the current ecobee offerings. My smart ecobee runs my two stage heat pump and furnace no problem.

  11. there are even more crucial advantages to the ecobee (and nest) that have been missed here. i have used the ecobee3, ecobee4 and the nest gen 3.

    reminders – the ecobee allows users to set reminders for filter, maintenance and humidifier and allows you to set the # of months

    humidifier – the nest requires a nest pro to install the humidifier. the ecobee doesnt. the ecobee also allows you to set a prefered humidity %, where as the nest is just a random value from low to high.

    wifi/connectivity – the nest has better connectivity. the ecobee can be spotty with some networks and drop connection (becoming a dumb thermostat)

    warnings – this is a HUGE one. the ecobee allows users to set notifications for warnings. low temp, high temp, humidity and emails you if it senses issues with the furnace. the nest has no such feature.

    interface/tactility – the nest has a physical button/ring. whereas the ecobee is touch. as mentioned already in comments, glass nest vs plastic ecobee

    i currently am using the nest as the ecobee3 would drop connection every other day(replaced to the ecobee4 under warranty) and the ecobee4 would drop connection about once a week, but even with that issue, i may switch back to the ecobee4

  12. Doesn’t the learning nest thermostat have a sensor for motion for the auto-away? It used to work but google may have disabled it now.

    1. Yes, the sensor is in the thermostat. It also takes cues from other Google Nest products that have motion detection capabilities. Nest’s remote sensors do not have motion detection.

  13. I’m thinking of upgrading my thermostat at home, but am wondering how it will work if you have multiple furnaces? How do smart thermostats work together when I have a basement furnace for the first floor and a second furnace upstairs heating the bedrooms and loft? I have an open floor plan so first floor heat tends to rise and mix up into the second floor area and the second floor cool air tends to drop to the first floor when cooling in the summer.

  14. Carly Campbell

    Great article.

    Nest can’t tell temperature accurately. Its 3 degrees off.
    Enough said. Forget all the bells and whistles, who wants a thermostat that can’t accurately report the temperature?
    Ecobee for the win.

  15. Ok where is the click here to buy Ecobee button??? I’ve gone through a lot of Youtube videos etc. Most only tell you trivial stuff. I thought this was quite informative. or “You should by Nest if you have Google products!” WHY? Does that give me some added capability?

    Thanks the article was great.

  16. I live in a rural area of Texas. I am a teacher and my wife works irregular hours at the hospital (hours and days change weekly). We have 3 teenagers and 3 dogs. We use a heat pump. As I type this, our heat pump system is being replaced. One problem that we have is that the thermostat is too close to the air return and the kids’ bedrooms at the other end of our house. A setting of 67 on the thermostat is about a 74 in our bedroom during the summer days, and sometimes my wife works nights/sleeps days. I keep going back and forth on these. I wish I could blender them into the perfect one! Advice?

    1. The fact that you’re thinking about these problems and writing this post tells me that you would probably prefer the power of ecobee.
      With all the people in your house, there’s probably too much chaos to make use of Nest’s learning feature or get much use out of home/away.
      A thermostat alone won’t be able to even out the rooms, but a sensor in the areas that matter most will help to keep the temperature comfortable. Both Nest and ecobee have sensors but ecobee’s are better. Also, if you ever decide to add some sort of smart vent system to help even out the temperatures, ecobee will be more compatible.

  17. Two and a half years ago we purchased a new home and went all in with Nest. Protect, Secure, Thermostats (2), Camera, and all the window/door sensors we felt we needed. All told, close to $2k was spent on an ecosystem that was promised to be HomeKit compatible “soon”.

    An unplanned, but welcome promotion is moving us two hours away. We will begin many of the updates in the new house that we did here, starting with the security system. I ordered a pretty comprehensive Abode system last night. I will soon order two Ecobee thermostats.

    I learned my lesson with Nest – don’t buy based on promises. I will not buy anything that doesn’t support HomeKit out of the box, even if it might mean giving up a little in terms of style or features (depending, of course). The Nest thermostats are pretty sexy, and aside from a few minor bugs with our upstairs unit with the Nest, but I’m done with Alphabet in terms of consumer goods. The fact the they purchased a company with a large user base expecting a feature that they quickly abandoned with no statement of intent or reason tells me all I need to know about their customer concern.

  18. I have a nest and like it for the most part. I did disable the learn feature which drove me crazy. However, my friend that owns his own hvac company said that the nest thermostats have a problem in their design that allows the compressor to short cycle, which is bad. He recomended the ecobee.

  19. Great article! I had my HVAC unit replaced last year. Installer insisted I go with the Nest. My wife and I are retired and, so, do not have a regular schedule. We found ourselves constantly tinkering with the Nest b/c the house was a little too warm or a little too cool. Then our utility company had a sale on the Ecobee3 Lite. Decided to try it out and haven’t looked back since. My wife and I just find the house comfortable all the time with the preset schedules. We do use geofencing since we are usually together most of the time but we do have the sensors- one in the den and one in the bedroom which might be a key factor in why we are so happy with the Ecobee. Whatever the reason we are delighted to no longer constantly trying to tweak the thermostat.

  20. Hi, my house has 2 heating/cooling zones. We’re not on a set schedule. My wife and I work from both home and the office. Sometimes we’re both home all day, sometimes nobody is home. Which product would you recommend?

    1. Since your schedule is not consistent, geofencing will work best for home/away settings. Nest has better built-in geofencing for multiple users. ecobee can do multiple user geofencing too, but you need to do a bit of DIY using Life360 and IFTTT.
      Since you have 2 zones, you will need two thermostats. The ecobee3Lite could be a good money saving choice if you don’t need to control any accessory devices.
      Basically, they can both do the job. If you’re someone that likes control and DIY, go with ecobee. If you prefer to just install and let it do its thing, then go with Nest.

  21. Does the Ecobee Smart have the feature that continues to run the fan after the compressor turns off? I read somewhere that one of these have that feature I couldn’t remember if it were the nest thermostat or the ecobee.

    1. Not sure why you are asking this question, but be careful what you may be asking for. A very short fan run duration (like 30-60 seconds) after the compressor shuts down wouldn’t be a problem. However, it is generally NOT advised to place the unit in continuous fan mode. Unless you need constant air filtration, running the fan continuously increases average relative humidity (by evaporating the condensate on the evaporator coil) in the house, increases the wear/tear on the fan and motor, and obviously increases energy consumption due to the fan motor.

  22. I have a wood burning stove so I do not use my furnace a lot during the late fall, winter and early spring. How will this function when my “heat on” temperature is really low (62 degrees) and we manually bump up the thermostat when it is time to clean the ash out of the stove. Also, in the summer, I like the house really cold, 68’ish (we live in the north). If the temperature bumps up to much while we are gone, it takes to long to get back down. How does this work.

  23. Great article, wish you mentioned the fact that both can control humidifiers, but only the echobee can vary the humidity with the outside temp, in order to reduce condensation on the windows. Very important for us in the northern states, like Minnesota!

  24. Great article. I am returning the Nest thermostat because of the wide, non-adjustable maintenance band. I’ve been alternating between turning on a space heater and cracking a window open. I absolutely love the look & feel of the Nest but the feel of my home after it is installed is quite simply uncomfortable.

    After switching to the Ecobee I plan to try out the different maintenance bands to get an idea of exactly how much the Nest discomfort would have saved me. Seeing that I wouldn’t want free heat with that amount of discomfort I don’t think it’s going to matter much.

  25. Building a new home and trying to quickly get up to speed on the thermostat technology. I may have missed it, but what if a house has multiple thermostats? We are going to have 5 “zones”, needing 5 thermostats. Is there any advantage/disadvantage between Nest and Ecobee? Do either network the multiple thermostats? Thank you!

  26. I have 3 zones which are controlled by dampers in my duct system. There is the main floor which currently has the thermostat then a sensor on the other 2 floors. Which of these 2 smart thermostats would be best?

  27. Do either control a Lenex with humidifier and air to air? Will have two zones and thinking ecob we had better security unit

  28. I’ve used a nest before. Never again. Pay $300+ for a product that saves $300 in 3 years then replace it again because the battery fails and is not consumer replaceable? Sorry, not interested. Wish I knew if the same was true for ecobee.

  29. Great article! I had a Nest and as you mentioned the *power stealing* does cause issues. In the 2.5 years I lived in that house, I went through a total of three Nests. All of them going out after about 6-7 months and in the winter months due to there not being enough power for the Wifi Chip. While Google replaced it…it is a hassle to have to go through not having your heat turn on, etc. in the middle of the winter with snow outside while you wait on the replacement. Not to mention having to call and go through all of their customer service questions when you know exactly what the issue is. WOULD NOT recommend Nest if you dont have the C-Wire. Unfortunately to add a C wire it would have meant running a chord down through my wall. I like the fact that the Ecobee provides the PEK and for you and makes it easy to install at the power board and provides you with how to install it back on the wall without running a chord through it.

  30. Great article, but which is better if we want to hook up an HRV? What do the HRV settings/menus look for for both? Fan speeds? Ventilation and circulation? Dehumidifier support? Restroom fan override compatible? Thanks!

  31. I don’t have a C wire but I have 2 thermostats one downstairs one upstairs how would the nest work without AC wire together and how would the ecobee work? With the ecobee would I have to hook up both wiring kits to run both thermostats because there’s no C wire?

  32. First, thank you for the well thought out, well written review. I don’t always read every word in a review, but yours kept my interest from the beginning to the end.
    I have a multi-zone house and have owned Nest thermostats for years (about 12). I am also a tinkerer and automater. I have loved my Nests, but now wish I had gone Ecobee. The Nest is simple, which makes my wife happy. However, since Google bought out Nest, they have been mucking with the API making it harder to interface with it. Just recently, Google also deprecated a part of the interface again. I am so tired of reengineering based on Google’s latest whims. So, next chance I get, I’ll be starting my migration over to Ecobee.

  33. Thanks for the article. I have a question that I did not see answered anywhere. I have a furnace with 2 zone controls, one for downstair and one for upstairs. The house temperature is controlled by 2 thermostats – one master that can control both flors and one upstairs that only controls upstairs temperature. Can either Ecobee or Nest work with zoned set-up?
    Many thanks for the answer.

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