Nest and Ecobee are two of the most well-known brands when it comes to smart thermostats. In fact, these two manufacturers are always battling it out on the best smart thermostats list.
Their latest devices: the Nest Thermostat E and Ecobee4.
Ecobee4 is the latest of a long line of smart thermostats that have steadily chipped away at Nest’s dominance in the smart thermostat space.
For Ecobee, there is no need for your smart thermostat to learn your behavior when it can help you save money and make you comfortable just by using sensors and other technologies.
Meanwhile, Nest is regarded as a pioneer when it comes to learning thermostats. However, its devices have always had an expensive price tag. The Nest Thermostat E is the company’s answer to that, launching at $80 less than the usual $249 price tag that Nest often gives its new devices.
Bottom Line Up Front: Personally, I still prefer the Ecobee4 over the new Nest E because it has higher grade materials and the multiple add-on sensors are great for houses with varying temperatures.
However, if price is the main concern, the Nest E is the perfect budget smart thermostat.
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Similarities between the Ecobee4 and the Nest Thermostat E
Smart thermostats. Both the Nest Thermostat E and the Ecobee4 are smart thermostats in that you could control them using a mobile app and have them work with other smart devices.
With the mobile app, you can create your heating and cooling schedules, as well as operate the thermostats even when you are not home. The ability to turn down your heating and cooling even when you are away can help save you a lot of money.
For those who have a smart home, integrations with other connected devices and platforms is a very important consideration. Nest E works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT recipes, and Wink.
There is also a custom setup that allows your Nest to work with SmartThings, although this is not an official integration. The manufacturer has a Works with Nest program that allows you to easily know which devices and platforms are compatible with the Nest Thermostat E.
On the other hand, Ecobee works with Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, Samsung SmartThings, Google Home, IFTTT recipes, and Wink.
Geofencing. Both the Ecobee4 and the Nest Thermostat E uses your smartphone’s GPS location to know whether you are home or not. When these smart thermostats sense that you are not at home, it will turn down your cooling and heating, effectively saving you money.
Conversely, when you are nearing home, both smart thermostats will know about it and kick in your heating and cooling so that the temperature is just about right when you arrive home.
C-wire is optional. Both the Nest Thermostat E and the Ecobee4 will work just fine with a C-wire installed. Those looking to buy a smart thermostat would need to know if the one they are considering needs a C-wire.
The good news is that both the Ecobee4 and the Nest Thermostat E works with a C-wire to power them, but if you do not have this common wire, you can still use both.
Energy reports. Ecobee4 (read my full review here!) gives you energy reports that show you just how much you have saved over the month. Meanwhile, the Nest Thermostat E has the Nest Home Report that tells you about your energy usage during the past month as well as other information.
Differences between Nest Thermostat E and Ecobee4
Display. The Nest Thermostat E uses an understated display because the smart thermostat is meant to blend into the background. Nest clearly does not want its Nest E to catch your attention, so the display is muted, with a 24-bit color LCD screen that offers 320 x 320 pixels in resolution at 182 pixels per inch.
What’s more, Nest E’s display is placed underneath a frosted glass cover. Meanwhile, the Ecobee4 wants to call your attention with its full-color LCD touch display that offers a higher resolution of 320 pixels by 480 pixels.
Color and dimensions. The Nest Thermostat E is both smaller and thicker than the Ecobee4. The Nest E has a diameter of 3.19 inches and a thickness of 1.14 inches, while the Ecobee4’s diameter measures 4.29 inches and its thickness measures 1.03 inches.
Another difference is the color. The Ecobee4 is available exclusively in black while the Nest Thermostat E is available exclusively in white.
Learning capability. The Nest Thermostat E, like its pricier counterpart, the 3rd Generation Nest Learning Thermostat, learns your behavior and starts to adjust the temperature accordingly. Just set your thermostat manually and the Nest E will know your preferences. The Ecobee4 is not a learning thermostat.
Alternative power source. Both smart thermostats will work without a C-wire. However, they get power from an alternative source in different ways. The Ecobee4 has a power extender kit, whereas the Nest Thermostat E uses lithium-ion batteries to power it.
This may come with a downside, though, as the battery on the Nest E would need to be recharged by pulses to the furnace, which would entail turning on the furnace and then turn it off immediately. This could unnecessarily add more to your heating bills.
Remote sensors. Remote sensors help your smart thermostat regulate temperature in another room, expanding your thermostat’s temperature sensing capabilities. Ecobee4 uses room sensors to help it read the temperature in another room and to check if it is occupied or not.
With its room sensors, the Ecobee4 can deliver the right levels of comfort to all important rooms in your home, while also helping you save more. Ecobee4 can work with up to 32 room sensors, and a two-pack sensor costs $79 (For the latest prices & discounts, check here).
At first glance, it would seem that Nest Thermostat E does not offer room sensors, but you can actually use the Nest Protect to do the work of a room sensor. It can tell your Nest Thermostat E to turn to Eco temperatures when you are away and then go back to normal settings when you get home.
The thing is that you would need to pay $119 (For the latest price & discounts, check here) for each Nest Protect. This is a fair price if you consider that you are also gaining a smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector, not just a room sensor.
Savings. Ecobee says that you can save an average of 23% on your cooling and heating costs every year with the Ecobee4.
Meanwhile, the Nest Thermostat E offers you the same level of savings as the 3rd Generation Nest Learning Thermostat, which is 10% to 12% off your heating costs and up to 15% of your cooling costs. All in all, you can save around $131 to $145 per year with a Nest E.
Alexa interaction. Both the Ecobee4 and the Nest Thermostat E work with Amazon Alexa, which means that you can use voice commands to operate your smart thermostat. In fact, the Ecobee4 has a built-in Alexa speaker. You do not have to buy a separate Alexa speaker because the Ecobee4 works like one.
It listens to your voice commands and then operates itself and other Alexa-compatible devices you have around the home. This is great news for those who still do not own an Amazon Alexa speaker.
However, you should be aware that the Ecobee4 does not have the echo spatial perception technology that regular Alexa speakers, such as the Amazon Echo and Amazon Dot, have.
When you issue a voice command, there will be times when both the Ecobee4 and the Amazon Dot will respond to it. It is a small annoyance, but it is annoying just the same.
Integration. The Ecobee4 has an official partnership with Samsung SmartThings and it can also work with Apple Homekit.
Both of these are not available with the Nest Thermostat E, although there are workarounds that you can use to connect you Nest E to Apple Homekit and SmartThings devices.
Compatibility and connectivity. The Ecobee4 supports HVAC accessories such as ERVs, HRVs, ventilators, dehumidifiers, and humidifiers. That means that Ecobee4 allows you to control your heating and cooling, as well as humidity levels. The Nest Thermostat E does not support these accessories.
One area where Nest Thermostat E wins is that it supports Bluetooth Low Energy, while the Ecobee4 does not.
Warranty. Ecobee offers a three-year warranty for its product, while the Nest Thermostat E is only covered by a one-year warranty.
So Which to Get? Thermostat E vs Ecobee4
It would be very easy to see just how superior the Ecobee4 really is compared to the Nest Thermostat E, despite its higher price, its lack of support for Bluetooth Low Energy, and the fact that it does not learn your behavior to adjust the temperature on its own.
Even without these features and functionalities, the Ecobee4 can do a good job of keeping every room in your house comfortable – not too cold and not too warm.
Plus, it allows you to do more with your smart thermostat. It can read you the day’s news, set a timer, update your shopping list, and just about any task you want it to do.
This does not mean you should dismiss the Nest Thermostat E outright.
The Nest E has all the smarts and savings that the premium Nest Learning Thermostat has. In fact, it works like the Nest Learning Thermostats and it saves you as much money as the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Bottom Line: So if you need a capable smart thermostat and are looking to save money from the outright purchase price, you can disregard its lower quality materials and muted look, and just go for a Nest Thermostat E. Note: the best place I’ve found to pick up the Nest E is at this Jet.com, as it’s not available everywhere.
Other Smart Thermostat Options to Consider?
While Nest and Ecobee are definitely the market leaders, they aren’t the only ones.
Here are some other comparisons that I’ve done (worth checking out if you are still on the fence):
- Ecobee3 vs Emerson Sensi: The Sensi is another smart solution that is a bit more traditional in appearance and function, but possible a good choice if you want a better programmable thermostat with some smart features (but not completely foreign).
- Ecobee4 vs Smart Si: Similarly, the Smart Si might be “enough” for what you need, if you just want a smarter thermostat than your old setup.
- Top Smart Thermostats this Year: This is the complete round-up of my favorite smart thermostats this year.
- Nest vs Honeywell Lyric: The Lyric has a really interesting geo-fencing feature that auto-detects when residents are within a certain mile radius of their location to kick-start. Not for everyone, but definitely unique to the Lyric!