Ecobee SmartThermostat vs. Nest Learning Thermostat Review

Best Overall
High compatibility
No learning abilities
Best for Scheduling
Learning capabilities
Low compatibility

In the smart thermostat world, the top two contenders are usually Ecobee and Nest.

Both companies create solid products with remote sensors for extra reach. But in terms of features and automation, there are some tremendous differences. Ecobee has a ton more automation than Nest, while Nest is more responsive.

Read on to learn more about why we usually recommend Ecobee over Nest.

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Which version?
At publication of this review, the most recent releases for these thermostats are the Ecobee SmartThermostat (also known as the Ecobee5) and the Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation.
Ecobee vs. Nest comparison
ModelEcobee SmartThermostatNest Learning Thermostat
Price$249.00$249.00
Remote sensor price$79.00 for 2$39.00
Remote occupancy sensorsYes
No
Humidity sensorsYes
Yes
Built-in smart assistantYes
No
Learning abilitiesNo
Yes
Learn moreView on AmazonView on Amazon

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 09/09/2020 1:00 MST) Full disclaimer

Ecobee vs. Nest features

Ecobee and Nest are very different products with very different focuses.

Both Ecobee and Nest thermostats are full of features you won’t want to miss out on. But their strengths are almost exact opposites of each other.

Ecobee SmartThermostat features

The Ecobee SmartThermostat is unusual-looking (think astronaut helmet), but it’s a fun vibe that works in most modern homes. The screen is also big enough to feature multiple data points at once.

Automation

An Ecobee thermostat isn’t as smart as a Nest Learning Thermostat. It doesn’t track your schedule; you have to input the settings manually.

Ecobee’s smartness comes in with its meticulous data tracking. The Ecobee Home IQ reports show exactly where you’re saving energy, making it easy to see the ROI. (The Nest thermostat also produces reports, but they aren’t as thorough or helpful.)

The Ecobee also has a built-in Alexa speaker for easy voice control.

Geofencing

Ecobee allows just one phone for geofencing. That’s pretty unhelpful when you consider how few people live alone.

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What’s geofencing?
Geofencing means changing or updating settings based on a phone’s proximity. For instance, if your Ecobee thermostat uses geofencing, it’ll switch from the Away temperature settings to the Home temperature settings when your phone draws close.

There is a workaround. You can use third-party apps to create that same geofencing for other members of your household. It just takes more effort on your part than native geofencing would.

Sensors

As we mentioned, your Ecobee SmartThermostat comes with one remote sensor. This sensor tracks the temperature in the room where it’s placed. It then relays that info back to the thermostat for temperature adjustments. (It doesn’t track humidity, but the central thermostat does.)

Your Ecobee SmartThermostat remote sensor also looks for human movement. When it detects your location, it tells the main thermostat to keep that room at the preferred temperature (as preset by you).

Nest Learning Thermostat features

Nest Learning Thermostat

This thermostat is small and unobtrusive-looking. With its sleek look and choice of outer twist ring, a Nest Learning is a step up from past thermostats.

The only real downside is that it’s almost too tiny: all the info on the Ecobee screen won’t fit comfortably on this Nest device.

Automation

There’s a reason this is called a “learning thermostat.” The biggest advantage of the Nest Learning is its responsiveness. It’ll pick up on your schedule and make adjustments to meet your needs.

Nest also has a ton of different modes that can account and adjust for various factors. For instance, it has a feature called Sunblock that ignores direct sunlight on the thermostat when measuring the house temperature. It also has several different energy-saving settings you can use to lower your bill.

Geofencing

With Ecobee, you have to jury-rig geofencing for multiple people. But with Nest, you can add up to 10 geofencing users directly to your Nest account.

Nest will track each of those 10 people’s phones to know when the home is unoccupied. Then, to save you energy and money, the thermostat will temporarily raise or lower the temperature while everyone’s gone.

Sensors

You can buy separate remote sensors for your Nest thermostat for $39. These sensors work similarly to Ecobee’s. There’s just one problem.

Nest’s remote sensors can’t sense human movement. So, unlike Ecobee, Nest won’t track occupancy outside of the room where the thermostat’s installed. You have to rely on geofencing.

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Geofencing vs. occupancy sensors
Given a choice between the two, which matters more? We would say the occupancy sensors. Their motion detection senses visitors who aren’t attached to the account geofencing, making it an overall better method of determining if someone is home.

Like with Ecobee, the Nest remote sensors don’t sense humidity.

Ecobee vs. Nest pricing

These thermostats are neck-and-neck on price.

There isn’t much to differentiate these two products pricewise. Both of them are $249 at list price, they don’t require subscription services, and their sensors come in at about $40 apiece.

Ecobee vs. Nest price comparison
ModelEcobee SmartThermostatNest Learning Thermostat
Price$249.00$249.00
Remote sensor price$79.00 for 2$39.00
Learn moreView on AmazonView on Amazon

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 09/09/2020 1:00 MST)

The only major difference is that with Ecobee, $249 includes one remote smart sensor. With Nest, you have to pay extra to get a thermostat-and-sensor bundle.

That cost for both is way higher than a traditional thermostat. It’s even a little up there for a smart thermostat, but since these are the best on the market, the higher cost makes sense.

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Ecobee3 Lite vs. Nest Thermostat E
If you don’t want to pay so much for your thermostat, you can get either an Ecobee or Nest thermostat version that costs less. The trade-off is that these versions are feature-slim. But if you don’t care about the fancy stuff, either of these is a great smart thermostat option. They’ll get you to your desired temperature with no problem.

Ecobee vs. Nest home automation

Ecobee has a ton more automation than Nest.

Both thermostats require apps. Ecobee is also compatible with all major smart home hubs and has a built-in smart assistant.

Ecobee vs. Nest price comparison
ModelEcobee SmartThermostatNest Learning Thermostat
Price$249.00$249.00
Remote sensor price$79.00 for 2$39.00
Learn moreView on AmazonView on Amazon

Ecobee SmartThermostat home automation

Ecobee has a ton of smart home compatibility. There’s even an Alexa speaker built right into the thermostat, so you don’t have to buy a separate Echo for voice control.

App

The Ecobee app works on both Android and Apple phones. And you can use it in your house and from far away. If you’re not at home but need to adjust the temperature for whatever reason, you’re golden.

Some functions take place on the thermostat itself, but generally, you need to open the app or use voice control.

Compatibility

Speaking of voice control, you can usually get it through a smart home setup. The Ecobee is compatible with the following major smart home hubs:

Nest Learning Thermostat home automation

The Nest Learning Thermostat lags behind the Ecobee in automation. It has an equally good app but low smart home compatibility.

It also doesn’t have a smart speaker or smart hub built in, so you’ll need to buy one separately if you want voice control.

App

The Nest app is also well-rated and available on both Google Play and the Apple Store. Like with the Ecobee, you’ll lean heavily on the app for most thermostat functions. And you can use it any time, anywhere.

Compatibility

Your voice assistant options are much more limited with Nest.

If you don’t want to keep running to your app, you can always make adjustments using a voice assistant. Unfortunately, your assistant options are much more limited with Nest than with Ecobee.

The Nest Learning Thermostat connects with Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and IFTTT. These options work with a lot of smart home setups—but not all of them.

Ecobee vs. Nest installation

Both these thermostats can be installed on your own.

The Ecobee SmartThermostat and the Nest Learning Thermostat are both designed to be DIY. You can theoretically use their apps for a quick, easy, and guided installation process.

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Old thermostat removal
Remember that before installation, you have to remove your old thermostat. We strongly suggest that if you’re unfamiliar with your HVAC system, you get some professional help for that part at least. Damaging the HVAC system would be a huge (and expensive) hassle.

Ecobee SmartThermostat installation

Ecobee’s thermostat requires a C-wire. If you don’t have one, though, you can get a special power extender kit.

If you don’t want to install the product yourself, Ecobee will help you find a professional.

Nest Learning Thermostat installation

The Nest Learning Thermostat doesn’t require a C-wire . . . at least that’s the company’s official stance. The thermostat is supposed to pull its power from existing wiring. In reality, many Learning Thermostat users end up having to tap into the C-wire.

Again, you can do this on your own. But Nest Pro will help you connect with a Nest installer if you’d like to go the professional route.

Recap: Which product is better?

We generally would pick the Ecobee over the Nest Learning Thermostat.

It’s a close one, but overall we think the Ecobee is a better choice for the following reasons:

  • The thermostat comes with a remote sensor.
  • The remote sensors check for occupancy.
  • The thermostat comes with a built-in smart speaker.
  • Ecobee is compatible with more smart home assistants and protocols.

However, if you love Google or Nest products, or if you really want the learning functions or the multiple-user geofencing, the Nest Learning Thermostat is a better choice for you.

If you want a more in-depth assessment, check out our review of the best smart thermostats. You can also read our overview of the Alarm.com smart thermostat.

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