Ecobee vs Nest: which smart thermostat is right for your home?

Nest Learning Thermostat on a pink ground next to a Ecobee Smart Thermostat on a blue background
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Ecobee and Nest are two of the leading companies making the best smart thermostats, and each offers its own unique pros and cons. However, these thermostats can ensure that managing your home's heating and cooling throughout the year is easier than ever, allowing you to do pretty much everything from your smartphone.

The idea is that this ease of use and intelligent features mean that you will waste far less energy (and money) on heating and cooling your home when you're not there. If you're going to be late home and don't want the heating to be on, you can simply load the app - a win for the environment and your wallet!

According to research comparison site ValuePeguin, a quarter of Americans currently have a smart thermostat installed in their home. So if you're interested in following suit and kitting your home out with internet-connected heating and cooling, ecobee and Nest aren't bad choices. But how to choose between them?

Not only do smart thermostats look very different from one another, but their features can also vary widely. So at the end of the day, your choice will depend on which type of smart temperature control you want for your home. Do you need simplicity, or are you looking for a system that works with (or as) a home security system?

Keep reading to see how the offerings from these two companies compare, and if you want to learn more about the benefits, head on to our guide to 'do smart thermostats save money?

Ecobee vs Nest: Range

Both Ecobee and Nest both offer a number of different smart thermostats, so there’s sure to be a model to suit the heating and cooling systems in your home. 

Ecobee currently has two models in its range; the entry-level ecobee3 lite and the more premium SmartThermostat with voice control. Both allow you to control your heating and air conditioning from your smartphone, learn your routines, adjust your schedule accordingly, and even pause the heating or cooling if an open window is detected.

However, the top-of-the-range Smart Thermostat comes with Alexa built-in and features a speaker so you can listen to Spotify playlists from the device. It also comes with a SmartSensor that can be placed in another room and control the temperature based on whether it detects motion in that room. 

Nest’s high-end offering, the Nest Learning Thermostat (third generation), can learn your routines and how quickly or slowly your home heats up and cools down, and adjust itself accordingly, so it’s at the temperature you want when you want it.  

There’s also the more affordable and more simplistic Nest Thermostat, which isn’t self-learning and lacks some of the stylish design touches found on the Nest Learning Thermostat, such as the metal dual that lets you adjust the temperature. That said, these are compromises that those on a budget will welcome at almost half the price. 

The Nest Thermostat also replaces the Nest Thermostat E, which was launched in 2017 and has since been discontinued in the US but is still available in the UK. 

smart home

(Image credit: Ecobee)

Ecobee vs Nest: Price

So just how much will you have to spend if you want to automate the temperature in your home? At first glance, it might look like both ecobee and Nest have thermostats at very similar price points. 

The ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control is priced at $249 / £180 / AU$340, while Ecobbee’s most affordable option, the ecobee3 Lite, will set you back $169 / £125 / AU$230. Unfortunately, all three units are unavailable in the UK and Australia at the time of writing.

The Nest Nest Learning Thermostat (third generation) will set you back $249 / £219  / AU$340. At the same time, the Nest Thermostat is priced at $129 / £95 / AU$175, and if you require a Nest trim kit (a plate designed to cover any imperfections on the wall from removing your old thermostat) that costs an additional $15 / £10 / AU$20

Neither thermostat is available in Australia, and as we’ve already mentioned. At the same time, the Nest Learning Thermostat is available in the UK. The Nest Thermostat E is the only affordable option in the UK right now and is priced at £199 / $275).

Technically means that if you’re looking for the most budget option, the Nest Thermostat is a great way to go. A closer look, however, reveals ecobee’s smart thermostats come with more advanced features and capabilities than their Nest counterparts, making them better value - more about that below.

Ecobee vs Nest: Features

When it comes to what you can do with these smart heating and cooling systems, both ecobee and Nest are evenly matched when it comes to the most basic functions. Whether you opt for an entry-level device or the high-end models, you can control the temperature from your smartphone (or from the device itself) when you're at home or away from the property. You'll find temperature and humidity sensors in all the thermostats and support for multiple zone setups, smart home integration, and an 'away from home' function that allows them to power themselves down when no one is home.

However, Ecobee thermostats offer that little bit extra. For example, the Ecobee3 Lite boasts occupancy detection, and a 'Follow Me' feature adjusts the temperature according to the current rooms. It also has a handy eco+ feature, which not only adjusts heating and cooling based on current humidity and cost of electricity but also comes with a scheduling assistant that compares your real-world routine with your thermostat schedule and makes appropriate recommendations. There's also the AC Overcool to Dehumidify feature that utilizes your AC to lower the indoor humidity and the pause feature that turns it off when a window or door is left open for 5 minutes.

It's the same case with their high-end counterparts. The Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control have all the same benefits as the entry-level devices. They build on this with the ability to learn and adapt to your routines and temperature preferences, help you save energy, and deliver energy reports so you can keep an eye on your energy consumption.

But, again, the ecobee option wins there in terms of features. It not only comes with the SmartSensor included in the box but also boasts nifty additions like access to Spotify, Bluetooth streaming, hands-free calling, and an intercom for announcements.

Both the ecobee SmartThermostat with voice control and the ecobee3 Lite can be used with ecobee's Haven subscription service that lets you monitor your home from anywhere, automatically arms and disarms your home while sending you critical alerts and notifications. It's priced at $5 (around £4/AU$7) per month. However, you do not need a subscription to take advantage of the smart thermostat functionality.

It's also worth noting that ecobee claims to deliver up to 26% in annual savings on heating and cooling costs with its thermostats. Meanwhile, Nest only promises up to 12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills in savings, although this will depend on how you currently use your HVAC system - whether it's already scheduled or is just used as and when you need it.

nest learning thermostat

(Image credit: Google)

Ecobee vs Nest: App

Both ecobee and Nest have apps that allow remote access and control of their thermostats. 

You can control the two Nest smart thermostats using the Google Home app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Bear in mind that you have to set up the Nest Learning Thermostat in the Nest app first, then migrate your Nest account to a Google account before you can control it using the Home app. The Google Home app will let you do things like set target temperature, change presets and mode, set your schedules, and view your energy history from anywhere.

Ecobee, on the other hand, has the ecobee app, which is also available for iOS and Android. This app gives you complete control of your ecobee smart thermostat (and the rest of your ecobee home devices) wherever you are. Much like on the thermostat’s display, this app has a temperature slider, mode menu, Vacation mode tag, and a button for toggling on/off, among other things. It’ll let you do everything from setting schedules and current temperatures to set restrictions.

Ecobee vs Nest: Smart home integration

Although Google owns Nest, its smart home devices work with other smart home frameworks besides Google Assistant. For example, the Nest Thermostat and Nest Learning Thermostat work with Alexa and Samsung SmartThings, which means they’re compatible with the best smart speakers for voice control. Unfortunately, they do not have Apple HomeKit support, but that will soon change.

Ecobee’s smart thermostats work with Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, and Apple HomeKit. Its SmartThermostat with Voice Control also comes with Alexa built-in, allowing you to make hands-free calls, make intercom-style announcements, and play music and podcasts directly from the thermostat, much like you would on the Amazon Echo.

Ecobee vs Nest: Verdict

You might think that ecobee’s smart thermostats are the clear winner in the ecobee vs. Nest battle. After all, they come with more features and functionalities that make it easier for you to not only keep your home or office environment as comfortable as possible at all times but also save on energy and your electric bills. So in that way, they are also a better value for your money.

However, there are several reasons to go for a Nest smart thermostat. If you’re already deeply invested in the Google Home and Google Assistant setup, for example, getting a Nest smart home device makes more sense. That’s beyond the fact that you’ll find Nest’s offerings will blend with your home’s interior design with ease, thanks to their different color options and smaller size (not to mention the Nest Thermostat’s fancy mirror display).

Whether it’s having ecobee’s plethora of features at your disposal or getting Nest’s minimalist approach that’s more important to you, at least you have everything you need above to make an informed decision. 


What is a smart thermostat?
A smart thermostat is something akin to what you’d expect a thermostat in a futuristic sci-fi movie would be like. It regulates the temperature in a specific space – whether that means your entire home, office, or a particular room – while allowing easier and more convenient control via your smartphone or your go-to smart assistant. Many smart thermostats also learn from your routines and adjust accordingly.

How do you use it?
You use it just like a traditional thermostat, setting your desired temperature, mode, and/or time. However, it has more modern features like smart home integration for voice control and a smartphone app so you can control it via your phone. In addition, some thermostats come with motion sensors, which allow them to detect if anyone is home, while others offer room-by-room temperature control.

Do I need a subscription?
Although some manufacturers offer home monitoring subscriptions, you do not require one to utilize a smart thermostat to its full potential. ecobee, for example, has Haven, which sets you back $5 monthly. However, it’s really primarily for sending advanced notifications.

Michelle Rae Uy

Michelle Rae Uy is the former Computing Reviews and Buying Guides Editor at TechRadar. She's a Los Angeles-based tech, travel and lifestyle writer covering a wide range of topics, from computing to the latest in green commutes to the best hiking trails. She's an ambivert who enjoys communing with nature and traveling for months at a time just as much as watching movies and playing sim games at home. That also means that she has a lot more avenues to explore in terms of understanding how tech can improve the different aspects of our lives.