There are so many smart thermostats that it’s difficult to know where to start when researching and comparing them. Today, we’ll be taking a look at two popular thermostat models: The Nest E and the ecobee3 lite (Canada: Nest E and ecobee3 lite). We’ll go over the main differences and try to give you a sense of which model is right for you. Let’s get started!
Nest E vs. ecobee3 lite — Differences
Difference #1: Display – One aspect of the thermostats to take into account is the display. While not necessarily the most important consideration when making a decision, it’s still important that your device looks great and is easily readable.
The Nest E features a 24-bit color LCD. The screen is 1.76 in (4.5 cm) in diameter with a 320 x 320 resolution at 182 pixels per inch. These are decent specifications, but Nest falls short in this section by hiding the display behind frosted glass. This decision results in a more difficult-to-read thermostat that, while aesthetically pleasing, lacks important utility.
We think that the ecobee3 lite comes out on top in this section with a more easily accessible 3.5” full-color LCD, 320 x 480 pixel display. The device also features a touch screen which sets it apart from the Nest’s traditional thermostat “ring”. So we give the edge to the ecobee3 lite in this difference.
Difference #2: Remote Sensors – If you have a home with more than a few rooms, It’s important that your chosen thermostat has the ability to sense temperatures in multiple locations. Fortunately, both the Nest E and ecobee3 lite have compatibility with additional sensors to ensure you’re getting an even, appropriate temperature throughout your entire home.
The Nest E uses Nest Protect Smoke Detectors as sensors. This can be a “pro” in that these devices play double duty, but if you already have a detector you’re happy with it’s unnecessary and can be a hassle.
The ecobee3 lite uses ecobee sensors to regulate temperature. These devices are purchased separately and don’t have the added utility of smoke detection, but they’re much cheaper and effectively do the same thing.
Difference #3: Power – Most thermostats hook into your home via a C-Wire, but both the Nest E and ecobee3 lite can function without being hooked up directly. Nest uses an included battery, and the ecobee uses a power extender kit.
We highly recommend you power your thermostat with a C-wire if possible, as it’s overall simpler and more efficient. When not plugged in with a C-wire, the Nest powers itself by charging its lithium-ion battery with periodic “pulses” to the furnace. This is normally not too much of a problem, but some furnaces respond to this pulse by turning on and then immediately turning off. This isn’t great for energy efficiency!
The ecobee simply has a power extender, which is a lot simpler but a little less “sleek,” and it saves pulsing the furnace. Overall, it seems like the safer choice as it avoids potential problems no matter your heating setup.
Difference #4: Smart Home Integration – It’s possible that this difference alone could help you decide which thermostat is appropriate for you by default. The Nest E and ecobee3 lite differ in their smart home compatibility. If you’re not able to hook your device into an existing setup, it’s not very useful, is it?
Ecobee features support for Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, and IFTTT.
Nest works only with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Wink, and IFTTT. SmartThings integration is also possible via a custom setup from the SmartThings Developer Community, but this violates Nest’s terms of service.
With ecobee support for both Apple HomeKit and Google Home, you no longer need to choose between Apple and Google. That may very well make this difficult decision of picking the right thermostat a little bit easier for you.
Difference #5: Size – Size may not be an important distinction, but it could make a difference depending on the space you have available.
The Nest E has a diameter of 3.19in (8.1 cm), and a depth/height of 1.14in (2.89 cm). The ecobee3 lite has a length of 4.05in (10.29 cm), width of 4.05in (10.29 cm), and height (off the wall) of 0.84in (2.13 cm). The ecobee3 lite is a bit larger, so we’d give the edge to the Nest E for taking a bit less space on the wall.
Difference #6: Color – If color is an important consideration when choosing your thermostat, there’s pretty stark difference between the Nest E and the ecobee3 lite.
The Nest E is available only in white, while the ecobee model is only available in black. If you have strong feelings towards either color, it may affect which device is right for your home.
Difference #7: Warranty – An important aspect to take into account when buying any form of technology – but especially smart devices – is the manufacturer’s warranty that backs the product. It would be a major disappointment to install your device, find it faulty, and be unable to receive support in repairs or replacement.
The ecobee3 lite comes out way ahead in this section with a 3 year warranty, while the Nest E is only covered for 1 year. This is one of the biggest differences between the two models, and may sway your decision towards the more comprehensively supported ecobee 3. Especially due to the fact that the ecobee3 lite has been out much longer than the Nest E, and new gadgetry seems to run into more problems than tech that’s been out for a while.
Difference #8: Look – We talked a little bit about it in the display section, but there’s a pretty big difference between the appearance of both models. The Nest E features a traditional dial and is hidden behind a frosted glass screen. It’s an interesting design choice, but results in a design that’s beautiful, but subjectively less attractive than Nest’s more premium models. Conversely, the ecobee3 lite still manages to pack a touch screen in and, we feel, generally looks a bit classier and more “premium” than the Nest.
Nest E vs. ecobee3 lite — Comparison Table
|ecobee3 lite||Nest E|
|Display||Full-color LCD touch screen||24-bit color LCD|
|Resolution||320 x 480||320 x 320|
|Frosted Display Design||No||Yes|
|Lights up When Passing by||Shows room temperature and weather forecast||Shows room temperature|
|Diameter||3.3 in (8.4 cm)||3.19 in (8.1 cm)|
|Remote sensors||ecobee room sensors||Nest Protect|
|Power (if no C-wire present)||Power Extender Kit||Heating/Cooling Wires + Battery|
|Learns habits over time||No||Yes|
|Works with Amazon Alexa||Yes||Yes|
|Google Assistant support||Yes||Yes|
|Works with Wink||Yes||Yes|
|Works with SmartThings||Yes||No|
|Free monthly energy reports||Yes||Yes|
ecobee3 lite vs. Nest E — Our Thoughts
Choosing a thermostat for your home can be an important and difficult decision. With the increasing prevalence of smart devices, it’s easier than ever to have complete control over the temperature in your home.
Both the Nest E and ecobee3 lite have their benefits and drawbacks, but either will make a suitable addition to your home. Which device is right for you will depend on your needs, and is largely a personal decision.
We hope that this comparison article and review has helped make the decision easier. No matter the product you choose, you’ll be taking a step towards long-term savings and a more convenient, connected home!
Discover more smart home thermostats with our article: Ecobee3 vs. Ecobee4 vs. Nest — What’s the Difference?.