Nest vs. Lyric vs. Ecobee3By - 10/23/2016
Guess what? Smart Thermostats actually save energy and, while they are not the most popular home automation product du jour, they are certainly catching on. Three companies are leading the way: Nest, Honeywell, and Ecobee. Nest offers the Nest Learning Thermostat, Honeywell offers the Lyric Round, T5, and T6 Pro, and Ecobee offers the Ecobee3 and Ecobee3 Lite.
Nest vs Lyric vs Ecobee Pricing and Functionality
Let me apologize in advance if price was going to be a big determining factor for you, as all three systems cost around $200-$300. Last update Ecobee was priced best at $198.99 from Amazon.
With price out of the way, the determining factor is what they offer. The three have very different concepts and ideas. Nest claims to have a Learning Thermostat. It adapts to how you manually set it, and over time, it learns to set itself according to what it observes. It takes about a month for this process to kick in. With further manual fine-tuning, Nest will continue to learn, furthering the automation process.
Lyric, on the other hand, takes pride in its Geofencing Feature. You don’t need to set Lyric manually to save energy if you’re going out. Let’s say, for example, that you are going to work. Lyric automatically sets itself to Away Mode when you leave your predefined geofenced radius, saving you energy as your house doesn’t need to be cozy when you’re away. And as soon as you enter back inside the geofenced radius, Lyric starts warming up or cooling down your home, so it’s comfy when you arrive. On both the 1st generation and the 2nd generation Lyric, the geofenced radius can be defined from a quarter mile to 2,000 miles.
Ecobee3 offers yet another kind of automation. Ecobee’s website says that the device “knows you have a life.” It knows that teaching a thermostat is time consuming. So, it is pre-set with schedules that match “most people”. For example, Ecobee3 knows that most people are asleep between 11:00 PM to 6:30 AM, so it automatically sets itself to Asleep Mode during those hours. And finally, Ecobee recently added a Geofencing feature to their thermostat. The feature currently works with iOS devices and can be used to activate scenes via HomeKit. Of course, you can also create a rule based around geofencing via IFTTT.
Will They Work In Your Home?
Now, some of you may already have a favorite, but a question still has to be answered before you choose between Nest, Lyric, and Ecobee. Will it work in your home?
All three devices work with low voltage systems (20-30VAC) and they all require WiFi. When it comes to compatibility with your existing HVAC system, you can refer to their websites to see if your system is supported. For Nest, you can do a compatibility check. For Lyric, check out their FAQ section found here. For ecobee3, check out this article.
Nest vs Ecobee vs Lyric Features
|Nest 3rd Gen||Lyric 2nd Gen||EcoBee3|
|Dimensions (inches)||3.3 x 3.3 x 1.21||3 x 3 x 1||3.93 x 3.93 x 0.9|
|Screen Size||2.08″ diameter||1.4″ diameter||3.5″ x 3.5″|
|Installation||Professional or DIY||Professional or DIY||Professional or DIY|
|Occupancy & Activity Sensor||YES||NO||YES|
|Amazon Echo Integration||YES||YES||YES|
|Works With:||Works With Nest, IFTTT, Wink, Insteon, ADT Pulse, Vivint, SimpliSafe, Scout, Google Home, Stringify||SmartThings; Apple HomeKit||Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Wink, SmartThings, Stringify|
|Nest 3rd Gen||Lyric 2nd Gen||EcoBee3|
|Buy Here||Buy Here||Buy Here|
Sensing Your Presence and Multi-Room Comfort
The advantage of having a smart thermostat is that it knows when to fire up the heat and when to dial it down based upon your presence. Adding multi-room comfort makes that experience even more enjoyable and also reduces energy waste, one of the main reasons most people want a smart thermostat to begin with.
- Activity Sensors
- Works with Nest
Nest uses a combination of machine learning, activity sensors, and geo-fencing to know when someone’s home. First, it learns your schedule. Eventually, it will learn which days you are home and which days you are not. However, if its activity sensor detects activity, it will override the learned schedule, moving straight to Home Mode. And if you happen to come home and don’t feel like moving around, Nest can use your phone’s location to know if you’re home or not, a.k.a. geo-fencing.
With the help of certain Works With Nest devices, multi-room presence and comfort are made possible. And while adding devices from the program MIGHT tell your thermostat what room you are in and what the temperature is in that room, depending upon the device’s capabilities, it’s an expensive option for those who only want to automate temperature. Devices such as MyQ can tell Nest if you are home or not. And Zuli can sense when you’ve walked into a room, working to help adjust both the temperature and your lights accordingly.
Lyric relies mainly on geofencing, but it can also create shortcuts based upon trends. For example, if you set Lyric to Away mode at around 6pm on multiple days, it will create a shortcut of that event within the app so that you can access it next time you need it.
- Smart Schedules
- Custom Schedule
- Motion Sensing
- Remote Sensors
Ecobee, on the other hand, uses smart schedules. These “smart schedules” are not based on you; they are based upon what is considered normal. For example, most people are asleep between midnight and 5am, so Ecobee will assume you are too. But if your lifestyle doesn’t follow a normal schedule, you can customize and create your own. Also, your phone’s location can override your schedule using geofencing. So long as your smartphone is inside your home, Ecobee will make sure the indoor temperature is comfy cozy. The catch? Geofencing only works if your smartphone is an iPhone – for now. If you’re using an Android phone, you’ll have to use IFTTT. There are also other ways you can enjoy geofencing, but that would require that you either have an Apple HomeKit system or SmartThings system.
Ecobee also includes remote sensors. The sensors measure your indoor temperature and detect activity. If you are in your bedroom, the sensors will know. Instead of making sure your hallway is the right temperature (old school thermostats), your heating/cooling system will kick-in to obtain the right temperature in your bedroom as the sensors also measure temperature. And for those that want to know, the sensors are pet-friendly. They work similarly to adding Works with Nest devices to the Nest thermostat. However, they are a more cost effective solution. Your initial equipment purchase includes one sensor, or you can buy a pack of two for $79.
If you think you’re not going to need remote sensors for your home (e.g. studio-type apartment), you can go for the less expensive ecobee3 Lite. The Lite version has the same smart features as ecobee3 but without the ability to connect with remote sensors. It also won’t be able to control accessories such as your humidifier, dehumidifier, or ventilator. You can pre-order ecobee3 Lite for $169. It will be available starting October 31, 2016.
And finally, ecobee learns. To quote a comment from Mikey de ecobee below,
The ecobee3 does have machine learning. Just not in the same sense that Nest (does). The (device) learns how long it takes to heat or cool your house within a certain period of time. Then uses this information and applies it to its Smart features, like Smart Recovery (pre-heat/cool the house before the next schedule change, so it’s already at the desired temperature) or Smart Home/Away (heating or cooling depending on if someone is home or not). Nest will learn when you come and go. Ecobee doesn’t tie you to this schedule.
Ecobee, then Nest, then Lyric. What sets Ecobee apart are the remote sensors. While Nest can also detect activity, multi-room detection requires the purchase of other smart devices. Ecobee can sense presence from any room with a remote sensor, which is easier and more cost effective.
But the question remains. Which device will make you an energy saving master?
- Nest Leaf
- Nest Sense
Nest has lots of tricks up its sleeves to help you save energy. First, it uses what it learns from your behavior to conserve energy. This process is automated, so you don’t have to worry about it. Second, through Nest Leaf, a leaf logo that shows up whenever your thermostat is saving energy, it can teach you how to implement energy saving settings. Third, with the use of Nest Sense, the brains of your Nest Thermostat, it detects and responds intelligently to different scenarios. For example, if you’re using the AC, Nest will periodically turn the air off and turn on your AC’s built-in fan to help evenly distribute cool air. Or, if direct sunlight is affecting your thermostat’s temperature reading, Nest will recognize the cause and adjust accordingly. Finally, Nest automatically saves energy when no one’s home. This feature is called Eco Temperature. When Nest senses that everyone is away, it sets itself to a temperature that saves energy while keeping it comfortable for other things (pets, plants, etc.). You can also activate Eco Temperature manually using the Nest App or the thermostat’s interface. At the end of each month, you will receive a report showing how much energy you’ve saved. Talk about satisfaction.
- Weather Aware
Lyric’s Weather Aware feature will save you energy. The feature looks at how fast your home cools and heats. It also looks at the effect of the outside temperature on your home’s internal temperature. Finally, it keeps track of the weather and temperature outside before deciding to fire up your furnace – or not.
- Multi-room Intelligence Included
Ecobee can save you energy by profiling your home. It understands how fast your home cools or heats up and how the outside temperature affects the process. For example, if it’s freezing outside, it may take your home longer to heat up. If that’s the case, it may start heating up your home earlier than usual so that it’s ready before your kids arrive home at 4 PM.
Finally, Ecobee uses its remote sensors. As it knows which rooms are occupied and the temperature in each occupied room, guesswork is eliminated from the equation.
Nest, followed closely by Ecobee. Nest learns. Once it learns, it does all of the work. Of course, further fine-tuning can result in greater energy more savings, but you don’t have to help – if you don’t want to.
Works With What
The Nest Learning Thermostat is part of the Works with Nest program, which is one of the fastest growing home automation families. The family includes Dropcam, Nest Cam, Mercedes, Whirlpool, Chamberlain, Hue, August, and several other home automation players. Through the Works with Nest program, the Learning Thermostat is made even more intelligent.
Nest Thermostat, Nest Protect, and Nest Cam are key players in the Works with Nest program. When you connect a Nest Cam or Nest Protect to your thermostat, it becomes even more intelligent. The other devices will help your thermostat know whether or not someone’s home, will make temperature adjustments more intelligent, and can all be controlled from a single app. To make things even more convenient, there is an Apple Watch app for Nest products which can deliver notifications to your wrists. It also allows you to adjust the temperature or switch between Home or Eco Temperature mode from your watch.
Lyric (2nd Generation) works with both Apple HomeKit and Samsung’s SmartThings. Its compatibility with these systems allows you to hook up Lyric with devices that are part of either ecosystem. As it is HomeKit-enabled, it can be controlled using Siri, iPods, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, or any HomeKit-enabled app.
If you’re an Amazon Echo user, Lyric has two new Wi-Fi thermostats that work with Alexa. The T5 is a $150 Wi-Fi thermostat with geofencing and scheduling features. The T6 Pro is a professionally-installed thermostat available only from Honeywell dealers. Both thermostats have a more traditional look and fewer smart features when compared to Lyric Round.
Ecobee works with HomeKit as well, which means you can also control it using Siri, iPods, iPhones, or iPads. There is also an Apple Watch app that allows you to see your remote sensor’s temperature reading, set the temperature, and switch between Home and Away. It can also connect with SmartThings, Wink, Stringify, IFTTT, and Amazon Echo.
IFTTT allows you to integrate Ecobee with a number of devices and services that it couldn’t interact with otherwise. For example, IFTTT has a Life360 channel that can prompt your thermostat to set itself to Away mode when the last family member leaves home. Or when your Netatmo Weather Station detects extreme temperatures, it can prompt Ecobee to heat up your home to avoid freezing pipes, even if it’s set to Away mode. As a reminder, Nest has an IFTTT channel as well. Thus, the same tricks will apply to either thermostat. With Stringify you can create more complex rules. For example, if my front door is left open for more than 3 minutes, turn ecobee off, but only if it’s after 5pm.
Nest, then Ecobee, then Lyric. Nest, being part of Works With Nest, Stringify, and IFTTT, opens up a lot of possible automation options. The device is one of the centerpieces of this rapidly growing smart home platform. And for those waiting for a direct Alexa integration, Nest has finally delivered.
- Shutoff Patterns
Smart thermostats can help maintain your heating and cooling equipment. (e.g. furnace, AC) Nest looks for shutoff patterns, which may indicate a problem with your furnace. If it finds shutoff patterns, it will send you a heads-up notification using the included app and it will also flash a message across its LCD screen. With a little heads-up, you should be able to call out the pros before the issue turns into a more costly issue.
- Alerts of extreme conditions
- Maintenance reminders
Lyric reminds you to have your thermostat serviced and maintained. It does so when your HVAC system needs cleaning, or when filters need to be replaced, etc. It also looks for extreme conditions, like if your furnace isn’t working as expected. That way, Lyric can help keep your HVAC system running efficiently, and at the same time, lengthen your system’s lifespan.
- Shutoff Patterns
- Service Reminders
Ecobee does the same thing. It checks your system for components that are not working or not working optimally. It also reminds you to have your system serviced and maintained by sending you in-app alerts. For example, it can remind you to have your furnace and ducts inspected and cleaned.
Ecobee wins because it looks for more than just shutoff patterns. It can send you detailed alerts warning of potential problems and reminding you to keep your HVAC system maintained.
Design is a major factor for most smart devices, but especially a thermostat which sits in the front and center of your home.
- Thin Profile
- Far Sight
- Clock Option
- Color Options
Since its release in 2011, Nest has received much praise for its design. It’s simple, elegant, and forward-looking. The 3rd generation device has a thinner profile, only 1.21″, but sports a larger screen with a diameter of 2.08″ and has 480 x 480px. Aside from the thin profile, it sports a ring around the body, which is used for adjusting the temperature without pulling out your smartphone. The ring comes in 4 color variations — the original stainless steel ring, a metal copper ring, a carbon-coated black ring, or white.
Nest also flaunts several functional design features. For example, the latest version of the thermostat includes a feature called Far Sight. Upgraded resolution, a clearer and brighter screen, and a larger display make it easier to see what’s on the screen from across the room. The screen can optionally double as an analog or digital clock, or you can leave it the way it is.
Ironically, Lyric has regressed back to its original round design, which the company ditched 60 years ago. The recycled round design is equipped with a round dial interface and a touch-sensitive screen to control the temperature. Lyric is smaller than Nest, having only a 3” diameter, but it shares the same thickness as the Nest thermostat.
Ecobee3 has retained a quadrilateral design. It is 100mm long and 100mm wide. It has a rectangular LCD display in the middle with a touch-sensitive slider that controls your home’s temperature. There are also touch-sensitive buttons at the bottom of the screen. From left to right, the buttons are Menu, Live Weather, and Quick Changes. At the lower left-hand corner of its face is the motion sensor. One catch with ecobee is that many users are forced to install the backplate, which impacts the overall design of the product.
We’ve covered price, functionality, features, and aesthetics, but there’s more. The bottom line is that features mean nothing if they don’t function. When considering consistency, app performance, and delivery, I pick Nest as our overall winner. Though Nest isn’t perfect, it is steadily improving. You can get started with your own Nest thermostat here. Ecobee is a close second and the top pick of our editor. You can read her hands-on review here. Thoroughly confused? Don’t be. The best solution for you will depend on your unique situation.
2/11/2016: Lyric 2nd Generation Thermostat Added & Ecobee3’s Geofencing Feature Added
3/10/2016: Added a chart and Nest Family Access and Geo-Fencing
4/08/2016: Ecobee adds SmartThings support. Updated charts and compatibility for all devices.
8/06/2016: Added Apple Watch Info
9/9/2016- Nest gives customers colors to choose from.
10/11/2016- Nest works with Google Home; Lyric’s new thermostats work with Alexa.
10/22/2016- Added ecobee3 Lite.