The Digital Home Magazine

Smart tech reviews, how-to's and more

We are currently going through the process of learning to live adequately with the changes in the climate. So, knowing about the best way we can cool or warm our home depending on the season and with the lowest possible energy consumption is important. The heating and cooling costs alone make up 50 percent of the energy costs of an average house. Smart thermostats have been invented to make it easier for you to keep the house at the correct temperature, which in turn saves energy, money and time.

In this article we will compare three smart thermostats that are the best:

  • Ecobee 3
  • Ecobee 4
  • Nest

Before we move into the comparisons it is best to explain what a smart thermostat is and what it does.

What is a smart thermostat?

Intelligent thermostats are a modern technology with which you can control the air conditioning in your house via a tablet, smartphone or PC in order to have the optimal temperature. These thermostats represent the latest and greatest in-home heating and cooling technology. Smart thermostats are designed to make it easy to control the temperature of the house while you are away. This includes intuitive programs to adapt the climate in the house to temporary and individual requirements.

With three basic components, an intelligent thermostat enables you to control the heating of your home in a more efficient, user-friendly and simple manner. The first component is connected directly to your boiler and can communicate wirelessly with the second component. The second component is the smart thermostat and the main controller. The third component is an app for any electronic communication device. You can remotely control the main thermostat controller via the app and set your heating or cooling temperatures from anywhere.

But be careful, a few things must be clarified before buying. Most households use low voltage heating with 24V power supplies, including gas, oil, hot water and heat pump systems. However, most 110V systems, such as electric baseboard heaters, are incompatible with a smart thermostat. First, find out if your thermostat needs a C-wire. Because some older air conditioning systems use high voltage, but Wi-Fi thermostats require low voltage, they are not compatible with smart thermostats. When buying a smart thermostat, make sure your home has a C-wire or that the thermostat comes with an adapter.

Ecobee4 vs. Ecobee3 vs. NEST - advantages and disadvantages

When it comes to smart thermostats there is only a small selection to choose from, but the best are the Ecobee3, Ecobee4, and Nest. Each of these is unique in their own way. Before we discuss their similarities and differences, here is an overview.

The three products are based on different concepts and ideas. The thermostats learn over time and gradually adjust. It takes about a month for this process to end. With further manual fine-tuning, the thermostats will continue to learn and advance the process of automation.


The intelligent Wi-Fi device Ecobee3 offers you the highest functionality and an exceptional level of automation. It is best if the device is attached and adjusted at an appropriate temperature. Of course, the Ecobee3 does this work independently, it simply interprets the requirement and automatically changes the temperature with the correct settings. With sufficiently placed sensors, the Ecobee3 can control the temperature in every single part of the house.

Ecobee3 features

The room sensor of the Ecobee3 is a supplement to the thermostat. With the help of this exclusive unit you can use the information about the temperature and atmosphere in each individual room. The device records the various parameters, monitors the temperature, the humidity of each individual room and its surroundings. These functions control the thermostat to ensure the correct temperature in the house based on the desired needs.

Problems can arise when adjusting the temperature of a device. But the user-friendly Ecobee3 makes temperature control easy and convenient.

With the help of sensors, Ecobee3 detects your location in the house. You can place the sensors and adjust the temperature for the entire house based on the determined average temperature and your movement. You can also select the sensors independently of your movement.

The Ecobee3 helps you to keep the room temperature comfortable. This happens to the information that the device collects and analyses with the help of the Wi-Fi in the house.

If you have a humidifier, you can use the Ecobee3 to prevent frost from collecting on the windows and thus help to stabilize the humidity in the house.
Ecobee3 provides you with constant information so that you can control all functions at any time, and you receive a warning if a malfunction occurs.

Ecobee3 design

Ecobee3 is a distinctive product that gives a sense of individuality in the relatively saturated wireless thermostat market. Most thermostats are shaped like a hockey puck. The Ecobee3 differs from the competition because it comes in a stylish form. The device is housed in a black, square shell with rounded corners.

The wireless thermostat is only 25 millimetres thick. The physical body of the device is complemented by a 3.5-inch touch-sensitive screen. Behind the device there is a white-walled plate with eleven connections for heat pumps, air conditioning, cooling, heating and accessories. The Ecobee3 is compatible with most single- and two-stage air conditioning systems currently on the market.


  • Remote control sensors can be used to monitor the temperature of multiple rooms.
  • Very energy efficient, can save up to 25% on energy costs.
  • The app and web portal are easy to use and highly functional.
  • The thermostat's screen is clear and responsive to touch.
  • The connection options of this thermostat are reliable.
  • The setting of the thermostat unit is very variable.


  • Difficult installation. Some functions are difficult to set.
  • The thermostat has no light and motion sensors.


Ecobee4 is the latest and more advanced version of the two Ecobee models, offers a more practical approach and relies on sensor and touchscreen rather than the app. But the device is also the most expensive.

Ecobee4 features

Alexa users can talk to their Ecobee4 to adjust the temperature, set a timer or read the messages. This thermostat is equipped with far-field voice technology that enables the device to understand user instructions from anywhere in the room.

The home kit is extensive. You can control all the smart things in your house remotely with your smartphone. It is equipped with a touchscreen that recognizes the current house climate variables.

The Ecobee4 is equipped with room sensors to better manage cold and warm areas. This ensures that comfort is guaranteed at all points in a room.

It is designed to be extremely easy to use. The instructions are easy to understand and implement. Users can adjust temperatures and comfort settings from virtually anywhere with smart devices. The device also works with home kits from Samsung, Apple and others.

Compared to other thermostats, Ecobee4 saves an average of 23% on annual costs.

Geofencing is another feature. When you arrive or leave your home, it can set different scenarios and adjust the thermostat accordingly.

Ecobee4 design

It has an exquisite design. Although it has the same features as the Ecobee3, the Ecobee4 has a sleeker design. The design features a beautiful blue line at the top that acts as a portal between you and Alexa. The design of the Ecobee4 may not compete with Nest's gorgeous iPod-inspired thermostat, but it dominates every other category. The touchscreen display is easy to use and responds quickly. Instead of Nest's predictive algorithm, the Ecobee4 uses a sensor.

The sensor is equipped with temperature, motion and proximity detection and can distinguish whether someone is at home or on the go. It is also a nice accessory for monitoring rooms with hot or cold spots. Visually, Ecobee4 has a beautiful touchscreen that shows the mode, the humidity in the rooms, the current temperature, other settings, updates and warnings. Compared to Ecobee3, the touchscreen is much more responsive and works easier.


  • Very flexible heating and cooling options.
  • Display of the outside temperature on the thermostat.
  • Can send you a text message or email when your house is above or below certain temperatures or humidity levels.
  • You can keep statistics and generate reports.


  • Longer installation process.
  • Only one supplied sensor in the box.
  • Low screen resolution.

Nest 3

The device that popularized the first smart thermostats is still at the top of the range. Nest Labs introduced the first smart thermostat in 2011. The Nest thermostat offers a convincing combination of user-friendliness, sophisticated design, easy-to-use functions and an automatic energy-saving function. It is an expensive, high-quality part of the kit and looks great. Nest has the capabilities and the design to take your usage and activities into account and to adjust the temperature levels again and again. This is where its energy-saving properties come into play. Due to its ability to react to changing conditions, you can still enjoy pleasant temperatures if necessary.

Nest 3 characteristics

The Nest thermostat has a specially developed function for automatic scheduling. In this way, the programmable thermostat adapts to the lifestyle and lifestyle and helps to save energy and thus reduce electricity bills. Within a few days, this intelligent device understands the temperature conditions you want and keeps the house in same after just one week of observation.

With the presence function, the Nest unit learns to recognize whether you are within a certain radius, in which case it switches on the display to show you the time, temperature and weather. In this way, Nest's third generation thermostat saves energy and reduces costs.

A personal check function is available in the app of the Nest thermostat unit to help you keep an eye on everything. You can also use it to read the history of energy consumption.

As a smart and programmable thermostat, the Nest thermostat unit has an admirable feature that turns the device off when no one is around. If you forget to turn off the device, it will do so automatically and will help you save energy.

Whenever you set the temperature of the thermostat to change the room climate, it will be displayed on the device's screen. In addition, if you choose an energy-saving temperature, a green leaf will appear below the temperature gauge to let you know that energy is being saved.

The thermostat's Wi-Fi function enables it to be connected to your smartphone, laptop or tablet. So, you can control the temperature from every corner of the house.

Nest 3 design

Nest thermostats are the best-looking smart thermostats out there. They convince with style and first-class workmanship. The centrepiece is the thermostat itself: a shock-resistant, cylindrical aluminium unit with a super-sharp colour display. The appearance is immaculate, and the aluminium case rotates for menu navigation and manual temperature adjustment with a comfortable click of the movement. In addition, this Nest thermostat is easy to use with its elegant design.

The outer metallic ring of this unit is the user interface that you can use to change the temperature and other settings in your home. The ring can be turned to change the setting of the device and by pushing towards the wall you can access different menus. You can also go through the menu and options. With the help of this simple but clever ring, everything can be easily adjusted.


  • Super industrial design.
  • Self-learning system.
  • Intuitive to use and set up.
  • Exceptionally intelligent learning.
  • Excellent software support.


  • Expensive.
  • Only offers a two-year guarantee.

Via Ecobee and Nest thermostats

Ecobee originally offered two intelligent thermostats: the Ecobee3 and the Ecobee3 lite. In May 2017, however, Ecobee added another thermostat to its range - the Ecobee4. With this new version, Ecobee is taking a big step towards a voice-controlled smart home. The aim is to control your smart home not only from your smartphone, but also from every room in your house by voice.

While voice control is an important part of intelligent automation, the technology is still evolving and has some security shortcomings. Amazon has been working on the development of a speech recognition function for years that enables the voice assistant to distinguish individual users based on their voices. However, this has not yet been published.

Nest does not seem to be pursuing any type of voice control. Rumour has it that the company is working on a more affordable version of the Nest Learning Thermostat at a significantly lower price. But it remains to be seen what the cheaper version can do.

Ecobee3 vs. Ecobee4 vs. Nest - The differences

1: Built-in voice controller

The Ecobee4 comes with an integrated Alexa voice controller. The Ecobee4 is not only an intelligent thermostat, but also your personal assistant. Ask Ecobee4 to play your favourite music, add eggs to your shopping cart, or read the latest news - it can do anything.

Both the Ecobee3 and the Nest do not have a built-in Amazon Alexa but are compatible with the Amazon Voice Assistant. So, if you are looking for voice control for your Ecobee3 or Nest thermostat, all you have to do is buy an Amazon voice controller separately.

2: Design

Nest has an iPod-inspired design that will add a nice touch to any smart home. The round thermostat measures just 84 by 84 millimetres. It has a nice, bright display with a diagonal of almost 53 millimetres.

The Ecobee4 and the Ecobee3 have a similar design, only that the Ecobee4, due to the built-in loudspeaker and the light bar on the top, is slightly larger, namely 108 by 108 millimetres, while the Ecobee3 measures 100 by 100 millimetres.

3: Hardware options

You can choose between several colour options for your Nest thermostat. Nest offers thermostats in copper, stainless steel, black and white. Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 have no colour variations available. they are only available in black.

4: Bluetooth low power

Nest supports Bluetooth Low Energy, a short-range wireless signal. This technology makes it possible to use less battery power and at the same time achieve high data rates. Ecobee3 and Ecobee4, however, do not support Bluetooth Low Energy.

5: Sensors

Usually thermostats measure the temperature at the place of installation. This approach usually results in some rooms getting cooler or warmer. For this reason, the Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 come with room sensors that help the Ecobee thermostat to keep the temperature in all your rooms even. The Ecobee sensors measure temperature, humidity, presence and proximity. With the Ecobee sensors you can adjust the temperature in all rooms.

The sensors are also designed to detect movements. So, if you are at home while the away mode is switched on, the Ecobee thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature.

You can combine up to 32 sensors with an Ecobee thermostat. Both Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 come with a sensor each, but you can buy the Ecobee room sensors separately. And, if you have a large house, your best bet is to look for an Ecobee package with additional sensors.

The Nest thermostat does not have sensors to report temperatures from other rooms.

6: Performance

If your current thermostat configuration uses a C-wire, congratulations! Then you can skip this section as the Nest, Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 are all powered by C-cables.

The C-wire enables the continuous flow of current to the thermostat. The Nest thermostat claims to work without a C-wire. But without a C-wire, the nest draws its energy from your heating or cooling system - provided it is running. If it does not work, the nest still needs to get power. So, he turns on a stove just to keep himself going. In some systems this is imperceptible, but in others the oven responds as if it were asked to turn on and then off immediately.

Nest without C-wire: With the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, your Nest thermostat will work for some time even in the event of a power failure before it is switched off to prevent the battery from running down completely. If the device has been turned off for an extended period, the Nest Thermostat needs to charge its battery before turning it back on. Charging can take up to three hours. Note that there are times when Nest needs a C-wire to function properly. You should read Nest's guide on how to do this. There were some issues with battery malfunctions and even heater setups causing a boiler reaction with the hot wire pulsing.

Ecobee without C-wire: As far as Ecobee is concerned, Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 include a power extender kit. This makes it possible to operate your Ecobee thermostat without a C-cable, while at the same time protecting you from failures. For more information about which cables are required for the Ecobee Power Extender Kit, see the instructions under Compatibility.

7: Voice control

Since Ecobee4 has a built-in Alexa Voice Service, it also has a built-in microphone and speaker. This smart thermostat can listen and respond to you.

Ecobee3 and Nest do not support voice and audio functions.

8: Guarantee

Nest offers a two-year limited warranty.Ecobee3 and Ecobee4, on the other hand, offer a three-year guarantee.

9: Compatibility

That difference could be crucial. Ecobee works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings, Google Home, Wink, IFTTTT and more.

Nest, on the other hand, only works with Alexa, Google Home, Wink and IFTTTT. Nest does not officially support SmartThings integration, but you can still use a custom integration made by a developer in the SmartThings developer community. Note, however, that the integration violates the Nest Terms of Use.

10: Environment Learning

There is a reason the Nest Learning Thermostat is called a Learning Thermostat. It is designed to create an automatic schedule based on your habits. Nest notes the temperature that you set at different times of the day and week in order to finally create an automatic schedule for you. Nest also helps you save energy by making recommendations for energy-saving thermostat settings.

Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 are not learning thermostats. Thanks to their room sensors, Ecobee thermostats can always set a comfortable temperature level for you and save energy depending on the room occupancy. You will also receive monthly reports on how much energy you have saved and recommendations on how you can save even more.

Ecobee3 vs. Ecobee4 vs. Nest - the bottom line

When choosing between Ecobee3, Ecobee4 and Nest ask yourself two questions:

  • Do you need Amazon Voice Control in your home?
  • What other smart home appliances do you plan to pair with the thermostat?

If you already have the Ecobee3 and want to upgrade to the Ecobee4 - you should hold back. The only real difference between them is Amazon's built-in Alexa. It is better if you buy an Amazon voice controller like Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show separately in case you need it. The advantage of separating Alexa and your Ecobee thermostat is the flexibility during installation. you can put Alexa in a place where you do not have to shout to be heard.

If you do not have a smart thermostat yet and can choose between Ecobee3 and Ecobee4, the Ecobee4 is probably the better choice. The Ecobee4 is a combination of the Ecobee3 and Amazon's Alexa, and it is cheaper to buy this two-in-one thermostat than to buy the units individually. Just make sure you install the thermostat in a room where you can enjoy Alexa voice control. If you do not really care about Alexa, then Ecobee3 or Ecobee3 lite is a better choice.

When you must choose between Ecobee and Nest, the most important thing is their compatibility. Ecobee can be combined with a wider range of smart home hubs. In addition, Ecobee supports both Apple HomeKit and Google Home Integration. Nest, on the other hand, is heavily geared towards Google Home. So, your choice depends on which direction you want to go with your smart home devices. We think Ecobee offers the better deal.

The Ecobee4 is the best overall choice as its sensors allow it to deliver the right temperature from room to room. It also recognizes the occupied rooms and has an intuitive app. It also works with Apple's Homekit and many other systems. The fourth generation of the Ecobee4 brings all the things we liked about the previous generation and adds Alexa. It is a strong product compared to other competitors like the Nest. If you do not have a smart thermostat yet, choose the Ecobee4, which is a bit better compared to the others.