Note: As of March 2017, ecobee updated the ecobee3 lite to work with room sensors, leaving very few differences between the ecobee3 and the ecobee3 lite. Yet, there are a few key features that separate them. Basically, the ecobee3 lite is just a lighter version of ecobee3; it supports almost all the features the ecobee3 does and costs a little bit less than ecobee3. The two versions of the smart thermostat are nearly identical, so let’s go over the features that separate the ecobee3 lite vs. ecobee3:
Difference # 1: Sensors – Yes, you read that right, sensors. Both ecobee3 and ecobee3 lite work with room sensors, which are designed to read the temperature in the rooms. However, Ecobee3 comes with one room sensor in a pack, whereas the ecobee3 lite doesn’t come with any included. There’s always the option of buying ecobee room sensors separately for the ecobee3 lite thermostat.
Now, the reason ecobee3 lite doesn’t come with a room sensor included is because, prior to March of 2017, the ecobee3 lite didn’t support room sensors. However, with the latest update, the ecobee3 lite supports room sensors.
This is a pretty big deal, and it’s because ecobee room sensors are a perfect solution for homes where heat is not distributed equally between all the rooms. Let’s say one of the rooms in your home is always colder than the other ones (maybe due to insulation problems): in this case, the Ecobee room sensor will detect the lower temperature level and make sure your ecobee thermostat delivers the right amount of heat to that room in particular. You can pair up to 32 room sensors with your ecobee3 or ecobee3 lite thermostat.
Difference #2: HVAC Accessories – With the ecobee3 smart thermostat, you get to control other HVAC accessories, like: humidifiers, dehumidifiers, ventilators, and HRVs or ERVs. For example, you can connect the Aprilaire 500M or the Aprilaire 600M humidifier to your ecobee3 thermostat and control not only heating and cooling, but also the humidity level to help increase comfort in your home. Also, since you’ll be controlling a humidifier with ecobee3 smart thermostat, there’s no need to buy the more expensive 500 or 600 models that come with an automatic controller. The ecobee3 will take control for you, no problem!
Unfortunately, ecobee3 lite doesn’t support HVAC accessories (humidifier, dehumidifier, ventilator, and HRVs or ERVs). However, if you don’t use any of these things, or don’t plan to, then there’s no need to pay extra — the lite version of ecobee3 will be a great choice for you.
Difference #3: Design – The ecobee3 Lite has corners that are ever-so-slightly more rounded when compared to the ecobee3. Though this small difference doesn’t influence the features of the thermostat, it might be crucial for some design-concerned individuals.
Let’s sum up all the features of these two smart home devices to make it easier for you to choose the right one for your home.
ecobee3 lite vs. ecobee3 — Full chart of features
|Compare Thermostats||ecobee3 lite||ecobee3|
|3.5″ full-color LCD touch screen, 320 x 480 pixel display||Yes||Yes|
|Android and iOS mobile app||Yes||Yes|
|Apple HomeKit and Amazon Echo Integration||Yes||Yes|
|Free monthly energy reports||Yes||Yes|
|Power Extender Kit for C-wire substitution||Yes||Yes|
|Compatible with 95% of heating and cooling systems||Yes||Yes|
|Works with room sensors||Yes||Yes|
|Smart occupancy detection||Yes||Yes|
|Accessory support (humidifier, dehumidifier, ventilator)||No||Yes|
|Price||$169.00||Check on Amazon|
ecobee3 lite vs. ecobee3 — The Bottom Line
Even though the ecobee3 thermostat costs a little bit more than the ecobee3 lite, it’s due to the fact that ecobee3 already comes with one wireless room sensor. And while you can buy room sensors for the ecobee3 lite thermostat separately, you might not need them if you have a smaller home or open-floor-plan home. Meaning, you can save the difference and spend it on other smart appliances for your home, like Sylvania Lightify RGBW Tunable White and Color LED Bulb. It might be more worth it to go with the lite version and pick up an extra smart home product with the cash you save.
Learn more about ecobee3 in our article: ecobee3 Review: The Good and the Bad.