Smart thermostats make you comfortable at home by learning what temperature will put you at ease and save on your energy costs at the same time.
A number of smart thermostat companies have come out to help you with making homes more comfortable. ecobee is one of the leaders and I review the best ecobee thermostats in this comparison.
With ecobee’s addition of the new 5th Generation smart thermostat, named the ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control, they have again improved upon their lineup of products.
The current ecobee smart thermostat lineup: ecobee3 Lite vs ecobee4 vs ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control.
For purposes of making it easier to reference, I’ll call the latest ecobee SmartThermostat the ecobee5 occasionally here. It’ll also be consistent with the naming conventions ecobee3 Lite and the ecobee4.
Smart thermostats are a great addition to a smart home or smart apartment. Thermostats will pair with other smart devices like video doorbells, smart locks, security camera, robotic vacuum cleaners, and more.
Here’s a review of the ecobee smart thermostats and how they compare with each other:
Last update on 2020-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Features of ecobee Smart Thermostats
ecobee Design and Interface
Across the generations, the modern design of the ecobee smart thermostats has barely changed visually. The slim profile looks sleek on your walls, while still being discrete. Why change something that isn’t broken?
ecobee thermostats are slightly larger, but thinner, than other brands like the Nest thermostat. The size dimensions of the ecobee3 Lite are 4.05 x 4.05 x 1 inches, while the ecobee4 and ecobee5 are 4.29 x 4.29 x 1 inches.
All ecobee thermostat models are square-shaped with round corners and a rectangular touchscreen in the middle.
The latest ecobee5 touchscreen comes with a responsive display glass touchscreen, whereas earlier generations used plastic screens. With either material, you’ll be able to see the screen clearly in bright light. I do have to say I prefer the glass cover.
The touchscreens are intuitively easy to use and control the thermostats. If you’ve used a smartphone, then you’ll be able to navigate your way around it in no time.
In standby mode, the screen will display both the internal and external temperatures. There are motion sensors that will activate the screen when you go near or walk past the thermostat screen.
When the screen changes to active mode, a line of dots corresponding to specific temperatures will show on the display. The temperature of your home can then be adjusted simply by scrolling these dots up and down to the desired temperature.
You can also control your ecobee remotely by downloading the ecobee app to your smartphone or tablet. Available for both Android and Apple devices, the app will display a screen that is almost identical to the thermostat touchscreen display.
This consistency across devices makes it all familiar, so it’s quick to pick up and start using. I’ll talk more about the ecobee app and voice control in another section.
Hardware, Wireless, and Audio Specifications
ecobee has packed their thermostats with high quality hardware and features. Let’s start with processors and speed.
The ecobee5 features an upgraded quad-core CPU processor that’s 3 times faster than the basic CPU processors on the ecobee4 and ecobee3 Lite. Faster processors will be needed as software and firmware updates occur, similar to computers and software.
For wireless connectivity, ecobee has both WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. ecobee3 Lite and ecobee4 have 2.4GHz Wi Fi, while the ecobee5 supports dual-band 2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz, 802.11 b/g/n Wi Fi for better connectivity.
All ecobee models have Bluetooth connectivity for Bluetooth speakers, smart speakers, and other compatible Bluetooth devices.
The ecobee5 also comes with Spotify Connect and Bluetooth Streaming, which allows you to play songs directly from Spotify. Use Amazon Alexa for voice control to find and play songs.
ecobee SmartThermostat comes with upgraded, integrated speakers for improved sound quality performance, richer and wider dynamic range sounds, compared to ecobee4 and ecobee3 Lite speakers.
The ecobee5 is equipped with digital microphones, which improves your experience with voice assistants. The other models come with analog mics, so the digital mic is a great upgrade. You’ll get more Alexa features with the 5, like Alexa Calling, Messaging, and Drop-In.
ecobee Smart Thermostat Benefits
Smart thermostats are meant to save us time and money. Ecobee thermostats don’t disappoint.
ecobee thermostats were tested to save up to 23% in annual energy costs compared to holding your home’s temperature at 72°F/22°C. That’s a significant savings in your heating and cooling costs by switching to an ecobee thermostat.
Ease-of-use is ecobee’s biggest benefit and driver of all their features and functions, starting from installation to controlling temperatures.
Installation of ecobee thermostats is easy and quick, usually completed in around 45 minutes. The ecobee app has a walkthrough guide to give you the steps and easy to follow wiring diagrams.
You can always look to hire a certified installer for professional installation of the thermostat. Ecobee will help get you in touch with installers for around $100-200 if you fill out their form.
Once installed, ecobee thermostats are easy to configure and operate. You can do it remotely on the mobile app or on the thermostat itself.
ecobee will learn your routines and recommend schedule changes for the thermostat to optimize comfortableness at home, while saving you money.
ecobee’s features help to give you a peace of mind that you’ll be able to control your thermostat from your smartphone anywhere. No more need to worry about turning down the thermostat when you go out.
Maintenance is important to keep devices and appliances running smoothly, so ecobee’s made it easier not to forget maintenance. You’ll be able to create reminders on the thermostat to prompt you with annual maintenance, cleanings, filter changes, etc.
Feel confident you won’t be wasting electricity and money.
ecobee Sensors and Products
ecobee has a lineup of sensors in the ecobee ecosystem of products to help with climate control.
ecobee smart thermostats use remote sensors that detect both temperature and occupancy.
All generations of ecobee thermostats use a series of wireless sensors located in the most frequently used rooms of a house.
The smart sensors take recordings of the temperature and feed them back to the main unit. From this information the smart sensor is able to work out an average temperature and adjust the heating accordingly to suit your preferences.
These sensors can also detect motion, which when paired with ecobee’s incredibly useful ‘Follow me’ and ‘Home and Away’ features are useful for pinpointing where and when heating is required.
There are two generations of sensors, the Room Sensor and the latest SmartSensor. They both help the ecobee thermostat to set temperatures in rooms across your house based on current temperatures and occupancy.
The SmartSensor is redesigned and sleeker. The main differences in features between the two sensors are the range and battery life.
The older Room Sensors have a range of 45 feet, while the SmartSensor goes up to 60 ft. The SmartSensor has an increased arc range for motion detection and a longer battery life. Setup is also easier with only a QR code to scan.
Which sensors do the various ecobee smart thermostats use?
The ecobee5 uses the latest generation of sensors, the SmartSensor. The ecobee4 and ecobee3 Lite are compatible with the SmartSensor, but do not come with it.
The Room and Smart Sensors can be stacked and to cover more rooms and area if you have a larger house.
Ecobee also has a SmartSensor for doors and windows, as well as a SmartCamera with voice control.
The SmartSensor for doors and windows will detect activity in your home’s doors and windows when you’re not at home, and send alerts to your smartphone. You can then connect to the SmartCamera for live views of your home with the camera’s 1080p wide-angle lens.
Amazon Alexa Built-in and Microphone Upgrades
One of the goals in putting together a smart home is to achieve hands-free home automation across smart devices.
Ecobee is at the forefront of smart home automation with voice control as they’ve begun to integrate Amazon Alexa across their devices.
Starting with ecobee4, they’ve built in Alexa into all their smart thermostats. They’ve even included Alexa in their ecobee Switch+ Smart Light Switch.
All ecobee devices are compatible with Amazon Echo Show and Dot devices as well. No need to worry if your older ecobee device doesn’t have Alexa built-in.
The ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control (ecobee5) does have an upgraded digital microphone from the previous generations.
Starting with ecobee4, the microphone features far-field voice recognition, so you’ll be able to use voice commands from anywhere in the room.
With Alexa enabled, you’ll be able to use voice commands to open and adjust/schedule temperature, messaging, music, weather forecasts, podcasts, Drop-In, and more.
Smart Home Compatibility
Whilst ecobee isn’t a fully featured smart home system, there are smart integrations with a number of other compatible smart systems and platforms. What smart home ecosystems are they compatible with? Let’s find out.
Connect the ecobee to Apple HomeKit and you’ll be able to monitor and control your thermostat using Siri across the entire Apple product range.
With Samsung SmartThings and Wink, you’ll be able to use the SmartThings and Wink apps to configure your ecobee system based on data from sensors.
If you like if-then recipes, you’ll be able to utilize your ecobee with IFTTT.
Similar to Alexa and Siri, ecobee can be voice controlled from Google Assistant and Google Home devices.
Voice Control and Mobile App
These are some common voice commands you’ll be able to use:
- Alexa, what’s the thermostat temperature?
- Alexa, what’s the thermostat set to?
- Alexa, what is the (thermostat name) set to?
- Alexa, set the thermostat to (desired temperature)
- Alexa, raise/lower the temperature by (desired number of degrees)
- Alexa, tell ecobee to resume schedule
- Alexa, ask ecobee what equipment is running
Additional voice commands let you turn switches on or off, increase or decrease thermostat temperatures and switch your air conditioner on or off.
Of course, all the above controls are also available from within the ecobee mobile app. Once you install the app on your smartphone or tablet, you’ll have complete control of your smart thermostat from any location.
Note: Setting the temperature using Alexa will create a ‘Hold’ that will override your ecobee temperature settings. The duration of this ‘Hold’ is determined by settings that can be configured from the thermostat itself, the app or from the ecobee web portal.
eco+ Energy Savings
Eco+ is ecobee’s own suite of energy saving smart features that will save you money by improving energy efficiency in your home.
All three of the smart thermostats are compatible with eco+ to help make your home more comfortable.
ecobee themselves state that ‘“It supercharges your ecobee thermostat and delivers personalized energy recommendations by looking at things like local weather, home occupancy and variable electricity rates to shift your home’s energy use accordingly.” (source).
Five smart features make up the eco+ experience:
- Smart Home & Away: Temperatures are adjusted depending on when you’re home and away. When you leave the house, the ecobee will change the temperature to save you energy and money.
- Schedule Assistant: Using data from the last five weeks of your occupancy sensors, ecobee will send you recommendations on how to customize your thermostat schedule for maximum energy savings.
- Feels Like: Uses the indoor humidity with temperature to create a feels like temperature at home. The thermostat will adjust the temperature to make you feel more comfortable.
- Time of Use: This feature will save you money by smartly precooling and preheating your home based on when electricity is cheaper and cleaner. That helps you save money and be more comfortable, while also helping the environment.
- Community Energy Savings: Utilizes energy event information from your local electrical company to precool or preheat based on supply and demand of electricity in your community.
Note: Time of Use and Community Energy Savings will only work for areas that have variable electricity rates based on time of day. They work with information from your utility company, so they can precool and preheat according to when rates and/or demand is low for electricity.
When your thermostat runs during non-peak times and avoids running during peak times, your community plants will save money and help reduce harm to the environment. High electricity demand leads to reduced local air quality and emission of greenhouse gases.
Ecobee thermostats also have Smart Recovery, so it learns how long it’ll take your air conditioner or heater to get to your preferred temperatures. That’ll help you save energy costs during precooling and preheating.
Compare the Best ecobee Thermostats
In the final section, let’s compare each of these ecobee smart thermostats with each other to see the main differences.
ecobee3 Lite vs ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
One of the main differences between these models is native Alexa integration. The ecobee4 has Alexa built-in to the smart thermostat, while the ecobee3 Lite doesn’t. But the ecobee3 Lite is still compatible and you’ll be able to pair it with an Amazon Echo speaker.
ecobee 4 vs ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control
Although both of these models have Amazon Alexa built-in, the ecobee4 doesn’t incorporate the Alexa calling feature. ecobee SmartThermostat is able to call US, Canada, and Mexico phone numbers for free.
The ecobee SmartThermostat also comes with a SmartSensor, while the ecobee4 comes with the older Room Sensor.
Another major difference between the models is the ability to connect to Spotify and utilize Bluetooth streaming. Both of those features are present in the ecobee SmartThermostat, but missing from the ecobee4.
ecobee3 Lite vs ecobee SmartThermostat
The ecobee SmartThermostat includes a SmartSensor, whereas the ecobee3 Lite doesn’t come with any smart sensors. The SmartThermostat’s built-in motion sensor is not available in the ecobee3 Lite.
The ecobee also doesn’t have Amazon Alexa built-in, but you can sync it to an Amazon Echo speaker.
ecobee Smart Thermostat vs Pro
The ecobee SmartThermostat Pro with Voice Control utilizes seasoned professional installers to install and set up your smart thermostat experience for you. The thermostat itself is the same as the ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control.
The Pro’s professional installation comes with a 5-year warranty. You won’t be able to purchase the SmartThermostat Pro without hiring an ecobee-trained professional too. No need to worry about common wires (C-Wire) or any other wires to connect to your HVAC system.
This is an ecobee video for professional installers, but it offers great information on the features and benefits of the ecobee SmartThermostat.
When it comes to the best ecobee thermostats winner, it’s the ecobee SmartThermostat!
The ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control (ecobee5) has the latest features and functions at a similar price to the ecobee4. At that minimal price difference, the ecobee5 wins out every time.
- AWARD WINNING: Named “The Best Smart Thermostat” by Tom’s Guide. With a crisp glass finish, vivid touch display, powerful quad-core processor, dual-band Wi-Fi, and far-field voice, it’s a smart thermostat like no other.
- SMARTSENSOR: Includes SmartSensor to keep important rooms comfortable by adjusting your thermostat based on occupancy and temperature.
Last update on 2020-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The ecobee3 Lite is at a lower price point, but it doesn’t come with a Room Sensor nor SmartSensor. It’s also missing the built-in Alexa, so you’ll need to purchase a separate Echo device as well, meaning the price advantage isn’t really there.
- SAVE MONEY: Homeowners save up to 23% annually on heating or cooling costs, plus ecobee pays for itself in under 2 years (compared to a hold of 72 degrees).
- ROOM SENSORS: Place them in the rooms that matter the most and have the temperature balanced throughout your whole home. Measuring both occupancy and temperature, sensors signal your ecobee Smart Thermostat to automatically switch to the right mode for comfort when you’re home or for savings when you’re not. One Room Sensor included, 2-pack sold separately
- ENERGY SAVINGS By reducing wasted energy in your home you could save up to 23% annually on your heating or cooling costs Compared to a hold of 72°F
- ECO+ Supercharge your energy savings and comfort eco+ intelligently heats or cools your home when prices are low and balances the climate for comfort and energy
Last update on 2020-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
What is the Best ecobee Thermostat?
The ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is the best ecobee thermostat. The SmartThermostat offers the best overall experience by providing you hands-free, voice control of your smart home.
It has a better CPU processor that will allow it to be more compatible with future software and firmware updates. The native integrations of Alexa and compatibility across multiple smart home platforms allow it to be versatile, so you don’t need to worry about replacing other devices.
Which is Better: Nest or ecobee?
It depends on how much you like to customize and tweak settings. If you want less involvement overall, a Nest thermostat might be better for you. If you like to get deeper into the settings and tweak it to your liking, the ecobee is a better fit.
In a way, think of the Nest vs ecobee comparison like Apple vs Android. Some people love Apple’s simplicity and it just works design and features. While others prefer Android’s customization capabilities.
What do you prefer?
Does the ecobee Thermostat Require Professional Installation?
Does the ecobee Thermostat Have a Camera?
Unfortunately, none of the ecobee thermostats have a camera. ecobee does sell separate indoor home security cameras. The ecobee SmartCamera with Voice Control is a great camera providing 1080p HD video quality and a wide 180° field of view that’s accessible from your smartphone.
Where Can I Download and ecobee Thermostat Manual?
All the installation instructions and manuals can be found on the ecobee website here.
Do I Need Two ecobee Thermostats?
You don’t need two or more ecobee thermostats, but if you’d like to have different temperatures in different areas of your home, you will need two ecobee thermostats. For example, setting up upstairs as one temperature and on one schedule, then setting up downstairs with a different temperature and schedule.
Does ecobee Thermostat Work Without WiFi?
Yes, you sure can. ecobee smart thermostats don’t need WiFi to function, but if you want to access the thermostat and its smart features remotely, it does need to have a WiFi connection. Without WiFi, you’ll still be able to operate the ecobee on the thermostat itself, which has a similar user interface to the mobile app.