Nest vs. Ecobee and also Lyric and Carrier CôrBy - 10/30/2018
I’ve never been a fan of boring intros, and this article is long enough. So let’s get right to it. We’re going to compare smart thermostats. Nest offers the Nest Learning Thermostat now on its 3rd iteration and the Nest Thermostat E. Honeywell offers the Lyric Round, T5, and T6 Pro. ecobee offers the ecobee3, ecobee3 Lite, and ecobee4, while Carrier has the Cor 7-Day Programmable, Cor 5C, and Cor 7C. Hands-on we’ve tested ecobee 3 and Nest E, viewing Nest Learning, Lyric, and Cor devices at CES.
That said, if you don’t want to read all the details, each section below has a “winner” category so that you can catch the highlights.
Pricing and Functionality
All of the thermostats mentioned above fall under three pricing categories. Nest Learning Thermostat, Lyric Round, ecobee 3, ecobee 4, and Cor 7-Day Programmable are the most expensive at $200 to $300. Nest E, ecobee Lite, and Cor 7C are mid-range smart thermostats. They sell for around $170. Lyric T5 and Cor 5C are the cheapest at $130.
But how does price affect functionality? The more expensive smart thermostats often are the most feature-rich thermostats in their respective brands. However, when it comes to functionality, all four brands have different concepts and ideas on what a smart thermostat should be.
Nest takes pride in their thermostats’ ability to learn your usage patterns to provide both comfort and energy savings. They adapt based on how you set them, and over time, they learn to set themselves according to what they observe. 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. Of course, Nest thermostats also offer other smart features. We’ll get to those later.
Lyric thermostats, on the other hand, rely mainly on geofencing to automate your HVAC. They monitor your location and know when you’re home and when you’re away. When you’re home, they prioritize comfort. When you’re away, they prioritize energy savings.
ecobee’s thermostats take into consideration a number of factors, such as your home profile, your schedule, your location (geofencing), and even your location within your home.
Cor thermostats are basic. There’s no geofencing, no presence detection, and no learning feature. They are plain old programmable thermostats that offer smartphone control.
ecobee3 Lite and Nest E. ecobee3 Lite offers a lot of features at a lower price. The only missing feature, when compared to ecobee3, is that Lite lacks humidifier, dehumidifier, and ventilator control, and it doesn’t have a built-in occupancy sensor. But don’t worry, Lite works with ecobee3’s room sensors to help you detect occupancy. If you prefer Nest’s concept, the Nest Thermostat E is a good option. For the same price as the ecobee3 Lite, Nest E offers all the features of the original Nest Thermostat. Plus, it works with Temperature Sensors, which are kind of like ecobee’s room sensor minus the occupancy monitoring ability. It’s a matter of preference between the two brands.
Will They Work In Your Home?
You may already have a favorite, but a question still has to be answered before you choose. Will it work in your home?
In general, they all work with low voltage systems (20 to 30 VAC) and they all require Wi-Fi. But you’re going to want to check HVAC compatibility first. Nest has an online compatibility checker. Take note that not all heating systems compatible with the original Nest are compatible with Nest E. For Lyric, check out their FAQ section found here. For ecobee3, check out this article. And for Cor, the details on compatibility are found here.
Nest vs. ecobee vs. Lyric Features
|Nest 3rd Gen||Nest E||Lyric 2nd Gen||ecobee3||ecobee4||Cor 7-Day Programmable Thermostat|
|Dimensions (inches)||3.3 x 3.3 x 1.21||3.19 x 3.19 x 1.14||3 x 3 x 1||3.93 x 3.93 x 0.9||4.29 x 4.29 x 1.02||4 x 4 x 1|
|Screen Size||2.08″ diameter||1.76″ diameter||1.4″ diameter||3.5″ x 3.5″||3.5″ x 3.5″||2″ x 3″|
|Installation||Professional or DIY||Professional or DIY||Professional or DIY||Professional or DIY||Professional or DIY||Professional or DIY|
|Occupancy & Activity Sensor|
|Amazon Echo Integration||Yes, Plus Built-in Alexa Voice Service|
|Works With:||Works With Nest, IFTTT, Wink, Insteon, ADT Pulse, Vivint, SimpliSafe, Scout, Google Home, Stringify, XFINITY||Works With Nest, IFTTT, Wink, Insteon, ADT Pulse, Vivint, SimpliSafe, Scout, Google Home, Stringify, XFINITY||SmartThings; Apple HomeKit, IFTTT||abode, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT, Wink, SmartThings, Stringify, XFINITY||abode, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT, Wink, SmartThings, Stringify, XFINITY||Apple HomeKit, Wink, Caseta by Lutron, Savant, Clare Controls|
|Nest 3rd Gen||Nest E||Lyric 2nd Gen||ecobee3||ecobee4||Cor 7-Day Programmable Thermostat|
|Where to Buy||Amazon||Visit Site||Visit Site||Amazon||Amazon||Visit Site|
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 on your presence. Adding multi-room comfort makes that experience even more enjoyable and also reduces energy waste, one of the main reasons to purchase a smart thermostat to begin with.
- Activity Sensors
- Works with Nest
- Nest Temperature Sensor
Going forward, we’ll refer to both the Nest Thermostat 3rd Gen and the Nest Thermostat E as “Nest” as they offer the same set of features. They only differ in compatibility and design, which we will discuss under the section Device Design.
Nest uses a combination of machine learning, activity sensors, and geofencing 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. geofencing.
With the help of 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’re 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.
Fortunately, Nest has finally launched aTemperature Sensor, a puck-shaped, temperature reading device. Though not equipped with a motion sensor, thus not able to detect occupancy, the Temperature Sensor can tell your thermostat how much cooler or warmer a room needs to be. You can place up to six Temperature Sensors throughout your house and set a target temperature for each of them. You can then tell Nest which sensor to prioritize during certain periods. For example, you can tell Nest to prioritize the Temperature Sensor in the dining room during dinner. If you do so, Nest Thermostat will adjust your HVAC until the target temperature in the dining room is reached, even if that means making other rooms a few degrees warmer or cooler.
The Nest Temperature Sensor is Nest’s answer to ecobee’s Room Sensor, minus the ability to track which rooms are occupied. Sensors are compatible with 3rd Generation Nest Learning Thermostats and Nest Thermostat E. You can purchase a pack of three for $99 or one for $39.
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 6 pm 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. The same features apply to Lyric T5 and Lyric T6 Pro.
- Smart Schedules
- Custom Schedule
- Motion Sensing
- Room Sensors
ecobee, on the other hand, uses smart schedules. These “smart schedules” are not based on you; they are based on what is considered normal. For example, most people are asleep between midnight and 5 a.m., so ecobee will assume you are too. But if your lifestyle doesn’t follow a normal schedule, you can customize and create your own. Although ecobee follows a schedule, you can easily override it and set the temperature according to your liking. If you do so, ecobee will ask you how long you want it to hold the temperature. You can set it for a couple of hours, until your next scheduled temperature change, or indefinitely.
Your phone’s location can also override your schedule using geofencing. So long as your smartphone is inside your home, ecobee will make sure the indoor temperature is comfy and cozy. Using the ecobee app (iOS & Android) is the best way to achieve geofencing, but you can also use IFTTT, an Apple HomeKit system, or SmartThings.
What sets ecobee apart from its competitors is its Room Sensors. The ecobee3 and ecobee3 Lite both work with the 1st gen sensors. On the other hand, ecobee4 works with both the 1st gen sensors and new 2nd gen sensors that are sleeker and include a removable stand. The sensors measure your indoor temperature and detect activity, unlike Nest’s Temperature Sensor that only reads the temperature in the room it’s in. If you’re 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 who want to know, the sensors are pet-friendly. Your initial equipment purchase (ecobee3 and ecobee4 only) includes one sensor, or you can buy a pack of two for $79.
|Dimensions (inches)||4.29 x 4.29 x 1.02||3.93 x 3.93 x 0.87||4.05 x 4.05 x 0.84|
|Display||3.5″ Full-Color Display (Touch Enabled)||3.5″ Full-Color Display (Touch Enabled)||3.5″ Full-Color Display (Touch Enabled)|
|Humidifier/Dehumidifier /Ventilator Compatible|
|Wi-Fi Compatibility||2.4GHz b/g/n||2.4GHz b/g/n||2.4GHz b/g/n|
|Occupancy Detection||Built-in||Built-in||via Smart Sensors|
|Smart Sensor Compatibility||Gen 2 Smart Sensors (1 included in package)||Gen 2 Smart Sensors (1 included in package)||Gen 1 Smart Sensors (Sold Separately)|
|Works With Amazon Alexa|
|Works With Google Assistant|
|Built-In Alexa Voice Service|
|Where to Buy||Amazon||Amazon||Amazon|
And finally, ecobee learns. To quote Mikey, who works for ecobee,
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 period of time 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.
- Home, Away, Wake, Sleep Modes
- Vacation Hold
Carrier’s Cor thermostats don’t detect presence, but you can tell them when you’ll be home and when you’ll be away by programming them. You can program Cor thermostats using four modes: Home, Away, Wake, and Sleep. All four modes come with customizable temperatures. If you want to override a mode, you can simply use Cor’s touchscreen display or your smartphone app. Finally, should you go on a trip, you can put your programmed schedule on hold using Vacation Mode. It sets your temperature to a safe range that won’t freeze your pipes and at the same time keeps your pets comfortable.
In order: ecobee, Nest, Lyric, then Cor. What sets ecobee apart is its ability to work with its 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.
I’d wager that one of the most important questions you can answer about a smart thermostat is, “Which one will provide the greatest energy/cost savings?”
- Temperature Sensors
- 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, through 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.
Fourth, 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 still keeping it comfortable for other things like pets and plants. You can also manually activate Eco Temperature 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.
- 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 your home earlier than usual so that it’s ready before your kids arrive home at 4 PM.
ecobee also uses its remote sensors. As it knows which rooms are occupied and the temperature in each occupied room, guesswork is eliminated from the equation.
Finally, ecobee is slowly rolling out a new feature called Peak Relief. If you activate this feature, you’re giving ecobee permission to adjust your heater or AC based on the current electricity rates in your area. If the rates rise, ecobee will cut back on your heating and cooling needs. But don’t worry, it won’t sacrifice comfort for energy savings. It lets you decide how you want the feature to work.
Peak Relief is only available in select states for now, plus it has a few additional requirements. First, you can only activate the feature using the ecobee iOS app. Second, it only works with electric heating and cooling systems. And third, you must be on a time-of-use electricity plan.
- Thermal Characteristics Profiling
- 4-Day Weather Forecast
- Energy Reports
- Smart Setback
Cor can help you save in different ways. First, like ecobee, Cor profiles your home’s thermal characteristics. It helps the thermostat know when to heat up or dial down to reach your desired temperature without wasting energy. Second, it offers smart setbacks. Let’s say your desired Sleep Mode temperature is 72 degrees. Without a smart setback, your HVAC will turn on the moment that the temperature isn’t reading at 72 degrees. Smart setback creates an allowance to keep your HVAC from working too hard. If your setback is 4 degrees, for example, your HVAC will only come on when you hit 68 degrees or 76. The third feature is 4-day weather forecasts. By checking the forecast before programming your thermostat, you can optimize your home’s temperature while minimizing energy waste. Cor also lets you track your progress in the form of Energy Reports. Here, you can see how much energy you’ve saved and how much you will be able to save using your current settings. It also provides customized energy-saving tips tailored to your habits.
Nest is our winner here, followed closely by ecobee. The main reason Nest wins is that it learns. Once it learns, it does all of the work. Of course, further fine-tuning can result in greater energy savings, but you don’t have to help – if you don’t want to.
Smart Home Compatibility
The Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E are part of the Works with Nest program, which is one of the fastest growing home automation families. The family includes all Nest Cam and Nest Cam IQ models, Scout, 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 wrist. It also allows you to adjust the temperature or switch between Home or Eco Temperature mode from your watch.
Honeywell Lyric is the first smart thermostat brand to work with all three major AI assistants: Alexa, Siri (via HomeKit), and Google Assistant. It also works with SmartThings.
If you’re an Amazon Echo user, Lyric has two other Wi-Fi thermostats that also 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.
Finally, Lyric has its own IFTTT channel that is compatible with Lyric Round, Lyric Wi-Fi T5, and Lyric Wi-Fi T6 as well as the Lyric Water Leak & Freeze detector.
ecobee3, ecobee3 Lite, ecobee4, and the smart sensors all work with HomeKit as well, which means you can control them using Siri, iPods, iPhones, or iPads. You can also use ecobee’s Remote Sensors, which are motion sensors that work with your HomeKit system. They can tell your other HomeKit devices where you are in your house and whether there is activity or not.
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. The ecobee thermostats serve three purposes for a HomeKit system:
- It serves as an HVAC controller.
- It serves as an occupancy sensor for the whole house (except the ecobee3 Lite as it doesn’t have a built-in occupancy sensor).
- It serves as a motion sensor for the room where it is installed. The smart sensors also function as motion sensors for HomeKit, allowing you to set rules that trigger lights and other devices.
Besides HomeKit, ecobee can also connect with SmartThings and Wink systems. And finally, the thermostats work with Stringify, IFTTT, and Alexa.
IFTTT allows you to integrate ecobee with some devices and services that it can’t interact with otherwise. For example, if your Netatmo Weather Station detects extreme temperatures, it can prompt ecobee to heat 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 5 pm.”
Alexa is another interesting integration. Through Alexa, you can control ecobee thermostats with your voice if you have an Alexa-enabled device. Simply say, “Alexa, ask ecobee to turn up the heat to 72 degrees” and she will set the temperature for you. The new ecobee Plus Skill also gives you control over your fans, schedules, and comfort zones.
What’s even more interesting is ecobee4’s Alexa integration. Not only can you control the thermostat with Alexa, but you can also speak with Alexa right through the thermostat’s speakers and far-field microphones. This is a smart move considering that both thermostats and voice control devices are typically placed in common areas of a house. By giving ecobee4 both functionalities, they are giving customers a chance to enjoy two technologies within one device.
Placing Alexa inside of ecobee4 is one part of ecobee’s larger plan. They’re also placing Alexa inside their smart switch, the Switch+. The goal is to have an Alexa device in every room so you can have access to voice control throughout your home.
Switch+ is just like any other Alexa-enabled speaker. You wake it up by speaking an Alexa trigger phrase and it can do almost anything Alexa does (except Alexa Calling and Messaging, which are both exclusive to Amazon-made Alexa devices). In addition to being a smart speaker, Switch+ also functions as a smart switch and a room sensor. You can turn your lights on or off using the ecobee app, and it can help your ecobee thermostat set the right temperature. You can purchase Switch+ for $99.99.
Finally, ecobee works with Google Assistant, Google’s Alexa counterpart. ecobee is the second (next to Honeywell Lyric) smart thermostat to work with all three major AI voice assistants: Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri (via HomeKit). It can also work with Cortana via IFTTT.
The original Cor thermostat works with Amazon Echo. Using your voice, you can give commands like, “Alexa, set the thermostat to Home mode” or “Alexa, set the thermostat to 75 degrees.”
The 5C and 7C also work with Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit, Wink, Caseta by Lutron, Savant, and Clare Controls.
ecobee4, followed by Nest and ecobee3. ecobee4 is stuffed with the power of Amazon’s Alexa and also offers integrations with HomeKit, IFTTT, Stringify, SmartThings, Google Assistant, and Wink.
Nest Thermostat, Nest E, ecobee3, and ecobee3 Lite are all tied for second place. If you’re a HomeKit user, then you should choose ecobee3 over Nest. But if you’re into Works with Nest devices, then Nest is for you.
- Shutoff Patterns
Smart thermostats can help maintain your heating and cooling equipment (e.g., furnace, AC). Nest looks for shutoff patterns, which might indicate a problem with your furnace. If it finds shutoff patterns, it will send you a heads-up notification using the included app. If you’re using the original Nest Thermostat, a message will also flash across its LCD screen. With a little heads-up, you should be able to call out the pros before the issue turns into a costly problem.
Another thing to note here is that Nest can automatically shut off your HVAC if your Nest Protect detects an unusual level of smoke or CO. This is particularly vital if your heating system uses fossil fuels such as gas or oil or if you have a fan-based heating or cooling system. Incomplete combustion of fossil fuels produces CO, which is why it’s vital to shut off such systems if abnormal amounts of CO are detected. Fan-based systems, on the other hand, might help spread smoke faster. Take note that Nest’s Emergency Shutoff Feature requires that you have a Nest Protect integrated with your Nest Thermostat and that both devices have access to the internet during the emergency.
- 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. Lyric can help keep your HVAC system running efficiently, and at the same time, lengthen your system’s lifespan.
- Shutoff Patterns
- Service Reminders
ecobee (all three models) 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.
- Customizable Reminders
Cor offers customizable UV lamp or humidifier pad replacement reminders. You can tell Cor to remind you either on a fixed schedule (every six months, every year, etc.) or based on your HVAC’s runtime. The reminder will pop up on its screen and will be sent to your smartphone.
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. However, Nest’s Emergency Shutoff feature also deserves a mention. Very few smart thermostats offer this feature. The only other smart thermostat I know of that offers a similar feature is made by Alarm.com, and it requires a professionally monitored security system.
The 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 Thermostat has received 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 four 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. An upgraded resolution, 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.
Although the original Nest Thermostat is aesthetically pleasing for those who like to show off their gadgets, some people prefer their thermostats subtle and plain. Nest created the Nest Thermostat E specifically to blend in. Unlike the original Nest Thermostat, Nest E’s screen isn’t big and bright. It’s almost an inch smaller in diameter, the resolution is lower (320 x 320px), and it has a watercolored appearance. Essentially, you will only be able to recognize what’s on the screen if you’re standing a few feet from it. Given its design, Nest E does not offer Farsight. However, that statement is somewhat misleading. Nest E will light up as you approached it, but you can only see the indoor temperature and target temperature, E lacks the option to double as a clock.
Another difference between the two thermostat models is the rotating ring. Where the original Nest features a polished metal ring, Nest E features a polycarbonate ring with a ceramic-feel. Finally, Nest Thermostat comes in four colors (white, copper, black, stainless steel) while Nest E comes in white.
Ironically, Lyric has regressed 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 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.
The basic design of all ecobee smart thermostats is the same. They are all quadrilateral in shape with curved edges, and they all have touch-sensitive screens.
ecobee3 is the smallest, measuring 100 x 100mm (3.93 x 3.93 inches). Next to it is the ecobee3 Lite, with a slightly larger body that measures 102.88 x 102.88mm (4.05 x 4.05 inches). And the largest so far is ecobee4, which measures 109 x 109mm (4.29 x 4.29 in).
The smart sensors for ecobee3 and ecobee3 Lite also differ from that of ecobee4. Size-wise, both sensors are the same. But in appearance, ecobee4’s sensor is sleeker, gray in color, and the motion sensor at the upper left portion isn’t as obvious as the ecobee3’s smart sensor.
Cor has a quadrilateral design and a touchscreen display. The original model is 4 inches long on all sides and 1 inch deep. Specifics on the new models are not yet released. However, after a sneak peek at CES, we do know that the 7C more closely resembles the Carrier Cor 7-Day. However, the 7C has an edge-to-edge display. The 5C lacks the color touchscreen found on the other two models.
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. Originally, my overall pick was Nest because it delivered the most consistent app and feature performance, but that was over two years ago. Over the past couple of years, ecobee has improved its features, product lineup, and performance. Also, they now offer the ecobee4, which is my current top pick. ecobee4 is now available on Amazon. You can learn more about ecobee4 here. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a reliable smart thermostat and are willing to sacrifice the built-in Alexa feature of ecobee4, ecobee3 provides a lot for less.
Even though Nest is no longer my top pick, I still consider it to be a great smart thermostat. If you think its features suit your needs best click here to get started. That said, we recommend Nest E over Nest Learning for most users given that it has the same energy-saving and smart features as Nest Thermostat.
The bottom line is, we all have different HVAC needs. The best smart thermostat for you will depend on your unique situation.
Smart Thermostats Currently Not Recommended
Bosch BCC100 ($169) is an Alexa-enabled touchscreen smart thermostat that looks more like a tablet than a thermostat. It works with or without internet. Without internet, you can only program two schedules: home or away. If you do connect it to Wifi, it will support up to four schedules. Yup, only four. Another blunder is its lack of geofencing or other smart features that detect occupancy. You either set a fixed schedule and follow it or set it every time you come and go.
LUX KONO Smart Thermostat
LUX KONO is a $149.99 HomeKit-enabled smart thermostat. In addition to working with HomeKit, it works with other voice assistants including Alexa and Google Assistant. While it’s a nice looking thermostat, it features a small 1.7×1.7” screen, which differentiates it from the other options which are screen dominant. KONO also offers geofencing and supports schedules. For the price, it offers a lot, but it lacks advanced rule-based integrations via IFTTT and Stringify. Of course, HomeKit users can create rules using the Home app. KONO also lacks humidity level reporting.
Cortana-Powered Johnson Control GLAS Thermostat
Johnson Control GLAS Thermostat isn’t your ordinary smart thermostat. For one, it’s more expensive than most smart thermostats with an MSRP of $319. It’s also made of a translucent glass panel that matches almost any environment. It’s most striking feature, however, is Cortana. You can talk to Cortana using GLAS, which means you can add items to your calendar, ask for upcoming appointments, and more. You can also control several smart home brands with the sound of your voice using Cortana’s skills and IFTTT. And if you own an Amazon Echo or Google Home, you can use them to control GLAS’s thermostat features.
Last Updated 03/16/2019
General fact check and update of the article.
Read Previous Updates
10/30/2018 ecobee has launched Peak Relief
03/22/2018 Nest temperature sensors.
10/12/2017 ecobee works with Google Assistant
10/12/2017 Updated post hands-on Nest E testing.
09/17/2017 Added Nest E
06/27/2017 ecobee now supports geofencing on Android devices.
05/03/2017 Added ecobee4
04/04/2017: ecobee lite works with sensors
1/18/2017: Added Cor
2/11/2016: Lyric 2nd Generation Thermostat Added & ecobee3’s Geofencing Feature Added
3/10/2016: Added a chart and Nest Family Access and GeoFencing
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.