Nest vs. ecobee Thermostat: Which is Better? (9 Key Differences)

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Standard thermostats are quickly becoming a relic of the past as more user-friendly and energy-saving options become available. Smart thermostats can make your life more comfortable while also saving you energy.

Nest and ecobee thermostats are excellent devices that come with many of the same features. Nest thermostats are good right out of the box, while ecobee is a little more complicated but provides more detailed analytics. Choosing between the two is usually a matter of personal preference for many.

Because both Nest and ecobee offer great smart thermostats, neither are objectively better than the other. However, how you intend to use it and the devices you will integrate with it can make a difference. Read on to get all the details and find out which suits your needs. 

Comparing Nest and ecobee Thermostats

Because they offer so many great features at such a low price, it can be hard to decide which device is better for your home. So, we have done the hard work and come up with these points to help you decide which will fit your needs better. 

We’ll look at the following characteristics and compare Nest and ecobee thermostats:

  1. Climate control
  2. Away mode
  3. Learning algorithm
  4. Integrations
  5. Energy savings
  6. Style and design
  7. Ease of installation
  8. Ease of use
  9. Price

1. Climate Control

Of course, the main thing we want out of a thermostat is accurate control overheating and cooling in our homes. 

Both ecobee and Nest offer intelligent climate control with learning algorithms to help determine your preferences and adjust accordingly. Both units can also be controlled manually using the display on the device or the app when needed.

Both have large displays, so you can easily see and change the settings. 

So for climate control, there are no significant differences, except when it comes to away mode.

2. Away Mode

One of the best features of these devices is that energy does not go to waste when you are away. Both use the learned schedule and the GPS in your phone to track when to start heating or cooling, a process known as geofencing. 

For geofencing, Nest takes the lead with its multiphone approach. It not only detects your phone but also those of your other family members, ensuring they are comfortable even when you are away. 

On the other hand, ecobee works only with one phone, and you will have to adjust it manually if you go off to work and don’t want your family left in the cold. 

3. Learning Algorithm

One of Nest’s best features is its unique learning algorithm that monitors your first two weeks of use. It starts with a default heating and cooling schedule, then keeps track of the adjustments you make. 

After that, it will continue to stick to that schedule until you make any changes. 

ecobee does not have a learning system but instead uses DataRythm Technology to give you a customized climate. 

This feature works by using several remote temperatures and movement monitors you place around your home. It will then monitor the rooms being used and detect how many people are there to set the temperature accordingly. 

These sensors help control the temperature in each room of your room, adding another layer of sophistication over Nest’s single room monitoring. 

While you can get remote sensors for Nest, you must buy them separately. 

4. Integrations

Of course, a truly smart home must have all its composite parts working as a team. Google’s Nest works with Google products instead of Apple’s HomeKit.

So while you can use it with some products, like Amazon’s Alexa, you will run into issues with others. 

If you are a fan of Apple products, then ecobee may be a better purchase. Because they are not a part of the Goole-Apple feud, they work with both products and have a broader range of integration options. 

Fans of Amazon’s Alexa will be happy to learn that ecobee has it built-in. This inclusion means you can get information, make calls, send messages, and more just by talking to your thermostat. This is one of the main selling points for ecobee, for users who love listening to music or making home-wide announcements from their thermostat. 

So, to summarize integrations, if you have Apple HomeKit or love the voice control features of Alexa, then ecobee may be the way to go. Conversely, if you love Google’s products and don’t want the built-in speaker and microphone, Nest may be better for you. 

5. Energy Savings

If your main reason for purchasing a smart thermostat is energy savings, you will be happy to know that either unit will accomplish this. While the manufacturers claim you will save 15-25%, this largely depends on your home and the thermostat you currently have. 

The most significant difference here between both brands is their data reporting. ecobee provides very in-depth and comprehensive data reporting and graphs to help you visualize and understand your energy uses. 

This reporting is excellent for data nerds who want to take a deep dive into understanding all the nuances of their home climate control. 

On the other hand, Nest offers limited data to users through its app only for the last ten days (compared to ecobee’s 18 months of data analysis). Instead, Nest has a green leaf icon that illuminates the unit when you are in the energy-saving mode to set it accordingly. 

So, to summarize, both claim to save you energy and heating costs. But, if you love data, then ecobee has you covered, and if you want to set it and have a little reminder of your eco-savings, then Nest is the way to go. 

6. Style and Design

Both Nest and ecobee are pretty attractive and come in multiple colors to match your home’s style. 

Nest thermostats are round with a diameter slightly larger than 3 inches and a height of about 1 inch. The display can show the temperature, weather, time, and settings adjustments.

Instead of a touch screen, it comes with a single button and a ceramic-like ring that turns to adjust the temperature setting. 

In comparison, ecobee models are more square, measuring about 4 inches per side and 1 inch high. They have a black glass touch screen. Users can control the temperature settings, integrations and access other menu items from the display. 

Regarding style and design, both are great products that look sleek and attractive. The main difference is ecobee’s built-in microphone and speaker, turning it into a voice command center for your home.

7. Ease of Installation

Both the ecobee and the Nest are simple and easy to install. They come with detailed instructions to do it yourself, using the existing wires connected to your current thermostat. 

Both also come with backplates to cover any holes left in your wall from previous thermostat installations. 

The main difference is the ‘common wire,’ also known as the C-wire. The C-wire provides constant power to the thermostat, even when the heater is not on. Many houses built with analog-style thermostats may not have a C-wire, so you will have to charge your smart thermostat when the battery dies. 

ecobee has solved this issue by including a power extender kit that plugs into any outlet and provides constant power to the device. Meanwhile, if you have Nest, you will need to occasionally charge it or run a new wire to the unit, which usually requires professional help. 

To summarize, installation is easy with both brands’ devices. However, the ecobee is easier with no C-wire and has more flexibility regarding installation location. This is because of the remote sensors you can place anywhere throughout the house. 

8. Ease of Use

Both smart thermostats are intuitive and user-friendly and will not require much learning to use effectively. However, a recent review found that the Nest Learning Thermostat was slightly better than all the competition regarding ease of use. 

9. Price

Both units are affordable, especially when considering the energy savings, you will see over the product’s lifetime. Below is a table that breaks down the current prices of several models:

ModelBrandCharacteristicsPrice
ThermostatNest Programmable$129.98
Thermostat ENest Programmable and includes one temperature sensor $184.99
Learning ThermostatNest Includes learning algorithm and one temperature sensor$284.99
Lite SmartThermostatecobeeNo remote sensors$153.39
Gen 4 SmartThermostatecobee One remote sensor included, and built-in Alexa$229.49
Voice Controlled SmartThermometerecobee One remote sensor included and built-in Alexa. Door/window monitoring capability$248.64

Is ecobee the Same as Nest?

ecobee put out the world’s first smart thermostat back in 2008 and has been a leader in the market ever since.

The ecobee line of smart thermostats has many similar features as Nest, but with some crucial differences. 

Like Nest, ecobee has a learning algorithm that monitors your heating and cooling habits for the first few weeks of use. It then uses that info to control your home’s temperature. It can save you money and energy by only heating or cooling your home when you are there and based on your preferences. 

It also can be retrofitted to just about any home and HVAC system, using the existing wiring in most cases. By using the app, you can remotely control your home’s temperature from anywhere in the world and ensure that it is just how you like it when you walk through the door. 

But, this does not mean that the two units are the same. Each has some unique features that make it more or less attractive depending on your preferences and what you want to get out of it.  

Both are also very affordable, costing between $150 and $250 depending on the model. Because of the energy savings, they pay for themselves quite quickly and are a worthwhile investment for your home. 

Is Nest the Best Smart Thermostat You Can Buy?

The Nest smart learning thermostat by Google took the heating and cooling industry by storm in 2011. The device could learn your heating and cooling preferences and schedules and proactively adjust the temperature to keep you comfortable. These features alone make finding a better thermostat quite harder.

On top of that, their product has come a long way and is now on its fifth generation. The device connects to your smart home and smartphone via wifi and app so you can control everything from everywhere. 

Some of the features of Nest include:

  • Touch screen display for easy control
  • Compatibility with 95% of homes, including most older AC and HVAC units
  • Learning function to automatically adjust temperatures based on time of day, weather, and your activities
  • Eco-saving mode for when you are away (using your phone GPS)
  • Control from anywhere using the accompanying app
  • Real-time monitoring for issues with temperature or HVAC system
  • Detailed reports to help you understand your energy usage and savings

These features not only make your life easier, but they also save you money and help the environment. They significantly reduce the typically wasted energy to keep your empty home cozy by only heating or cooling when you need it. 

Furthermore, they offer a wide range of accessories, such as remote temperature monitors for multiple rooms, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, cameras, and more. 

The device is attractive and comes in a wide range of colors and finishes to match your home’s decor. Plus, it integrates seamlessly with other devices in your smart home like Google Echo. 

Is ecobee More Accurate than Nest?

According to the product descriptions, both the Nest and the ecobee products are accurate within +/- 1 degree Fahrenheit. Both also update every 15 seconds, so there is no lag between temperature changes and activation of your HVAC system. 

However, the Nest Thermostat E performed slightly better than any ecobee models when put to the test. Nest was able to maintain a temperature within 0.5 degrees. However, the ecobee models were not far behind and were accurate enough that you would never feel any difference between the two. 

Can ecobee Thermostats be Hacked?

When it comes to the internet and wifi devices, security is essential. This becomes even more important with the Internet of Things (IoT), as many devices have cameras and microphones. These could potentially be hacked and spy on you while in your home. 

Other Nest products have been implicated in these hacks before, including thermostats, so it is a valid concern. 

The main issues with hacks are:

  • Thieves can learn when you are home and when you are away
  • Hackers can turn up or down the temperature of your home to extreme limits
  • Hackers can use your device’s speakers to broadcast messages
  • Hackers can use your thermostat as a gateway to other devices connected to your home

While we could not find recent examples of people hacking ecobee thermostats, it has been a problem in the past. Additionally, people are likely to find new vulnerabilities in the future and exploit them before they get patched. It’s an inherent risk that comes with having a smart thermostat.

You should be aware of the following ways to protect yourself and take all necessary precautions:

  1. Use two-factor authentication on all devices
  2. Always complete security updates
  3. Install malware protection on your phones and computers
  4. Don’t use public or neighbors wifi to connect your devices
  5. Use a virtual network to separate IoTs from your main computer
  6. Never use the default usernames and passwords for devices or routers
  7. Never connect to or allow unknown devices to connect to your network

The incidences of people hacking ecobee and other smart thermostats are rare. The companies work hard to identify and fix any vulnerabilities. So as long as you follow the above recommendations, you have little to worry about when using them. 

You should now have all the info you need to decide which smart thermometer is suitable for you. Both have great features, and the ones that are most important to you will guide you, as will the other smart products you use in your home.  

Common Problems with Nest Thermostats and How to Fix Them

For those of you who have not yet decided to buy an ecobee, you may be wondering how Nest’s problems differ from ecobee’s problemsBelow are problems and solutions for a Nest thermostat:

1. No power to RH Wire

Check and reset the circuit breakers if needed. If there is only one red wire, it should go to the RH port. Connecting the Nest to the HVAC unit may trip a breaker.

2. The Vent is Blowing Hot Air Instead of Cool Air

Turn the circuit breakers off. Ensure that you have configured the thermostat wiring on the heat pump row instead of the conventional row. If not, go to the Nest compatibility tracker through the Nest website and picture the wiring. Rewire the thermostat, then re-add the Nest thermostat.

3. The Button on the Nest Won’t Click and Eventually Causes the System to Reset

The front of the thermostat isn’t a button; it’s just the best way to push the unit inward to select things. The wires should be flush with the sides of the mount.

4. The Nest Buzzes While Heating

This problem has a straightforward solution. Install the common wire, then connect the C-wire to the thermostat.

5. The Nest Shuts Down

The most complex problem that the Nest has is when it says it has a low battery and needs to shut down. First, take the following steps on the device to verify whether the Nest is running out of battery as it claims: 

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to Technical Info
  • Go to Power 
  • If the battery level is above 3.7, the battery is not running out of power

Once you have verified that the battery is working, there are three methods to fix the problem:

MethodSteps
Android Charging Cord– Take the Nest off the wall and plug a charging cord into the charging port found on the back of the Nest
– Plug into a phone charger
– Put back into the wall when finished charging
Add a Common Wire Transformer– Add a C-wire transformer
– Plug into a standard wall outlet
– Provide enough power for the Nest
– Creates a powered circuit for the Nest
Move the G wire to the C terminal– Take the G wire to the C Terminal
– Move the G wire in the HVAC system to the C Terminal

If these methods don’t work, you may be locked out of the furnace because it has detected an unsafe condition. These include:

  • Connecting the Nest to the heating unit may have blown a fuse inside the HVAC unit  
  • The flame sensors or limit switches inside the HVAC may be faulty

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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