Nest vs. Lyric vs. Ecobee vs. Carrier CôrBy - 06/27/2017
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, Honeywell offers the Lyric Round, T5, and T6 Pro, Ecobee offers the Ecobee3, Ecobee3 Lite, and the all new Ecobee4, while Carrier has the Cor 7-Day Programmable, Cor 5C, and Cor 7C. If you don’t want to read all the details, each section below has a “winner” category so that you can catch the highlights.
Nest vs Lyric vs Ecobee vs Carrier Cor Pricing and Functionality
All ten thermostats are priced between $130 and $300. Nest, Lyric Round, Ecobee3, Ecobee4, and Cor 7-day all sell for around $200 to $300. The Cor 5C sells for $139 and the 7C for $169, competing with the $169 ecobee Lite.
But how does price affect functionality? All four companies have different concepts and ideas. Nest claims to have a Learning Thermostat. It adapts based on how you 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 geofence 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 geofence 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 geofence radius can be defined between a quarter mile and 2,000 miles.
Ecobee 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’s pre-set with schedules that match “most people”. For example, Ecobee3 knows that most people are asleep between 11:00 PM and 6:30 AM, so it automatically sets itself to Asleep Mode during those hours.
And finally, Ecobee offers geofencing for both Android and iOS users. The feature can be used to activate scenes via HomeKit (iOS only) or you can create rules via IFTTT.
Cor thermostats are pretty basic. There’s no geofencing, no presence detection, and no learning feature. It’s a plain ol’ programmable thermostat that offers smartphone control.
Ecobee3 Lite. 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, because Lite works with Ecobee3’s room sensors to help you detect occupancy.
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. 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. For Nest, you can do a compatibility check. For Lyric, check out their FAQ section found here. For ecobee3, check out this article. And for Cor, the details are found here.
Nest vs Ecobee vs Lyric Features
|Nest 3rd Gen||Lyric 2nd Gen||Ecobee3||Ecobee4||Cor 7-Day Programmable Thermostat|
|Dimensions (inches)||3.3 x 3.3 x 1.21||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||1.4″ 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|
|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||SmartThings; Apple HomeKit, IFTTT||Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Wink, SmartThings, Stringify||Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Wink, SmartThings, Stringify||Apple HomeKit, Wink, Caseta by Lutron, Savant, Clare Controls|
|Nest 3rd Gen||Lyric 2nd Gen||Ecobee3||Ecobee4||Cor 7-Day Programmable Thermostat|
|Where to Buy||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||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 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 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.
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.
- 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 on what is considered normal. For example, most people are asleep between midnight and 5 am, 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. Besides using the iOS or Android app, there are other ways you can enjoy geofencing, but that would require that you either have an IFTTT app, Apple HomeKit system, or SmartThings system.
What really sets Ecobee apart from its competitors is its smart sensors. The Ecobee3 and Ecobee3 Lite both work with the 1st gen smart 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. 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, but they are a more cost effective solution. 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|
|Built-In Alexa Voice Service|
|Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
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 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 keep your pets comfortable.
In order, Ecobee, then Nest, then Lyric, then Cor. What sets Ecobee apart is its ability to work with 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.
I’d wager that one of the most important questions you can answer about a smart thermostat is this: Which one 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.
- 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 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 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 savings, but you don’t have to help – if you don’t want to.
Smart Home Compatibility
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 Nest Cam, 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.
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.
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 a number of devices and services that it can’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 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, turn up the heat to 72 degrees” and she will set the temperature for you. What’s even more interesting is Ecobee4’s Alexa integration. Not only can you control the thermostat with Alexa, you can 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.
Putting Alexa inside Ecobee4 is one part of Ecobee’s larger plan. Later this year, they will launch Alexa Voice Service-enabled smart light switches. Ecobee is planning to give the switches Room Sensor functionality, namely, temperature, humidity, and occupancy detection. Just like Ecobee’s Room Sensor, the smart light switch will tell your thermostat if a room is occupied to help it do its job more effectively.
Pricing and availability of the smart light switch is TBD, although Ecobee is expected to launch the product by the end of this year.
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, and Wink.
Nest and Ecobee3 tie for second place. If you’re a HomeKit user, then you should choose Ecobee3 over Nest. But if you’re more into Google and 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, 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. 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 run time. 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 remind 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 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 Ecobee 4, which measures 109 x 109mm (4.29 x 4.29 in).
The smart sensors for Ecobee3 and Ecobee3 Lite also slightly 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 touch screen 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 peak 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 two years ago. Over the past couple of years, Ecobee has improved their features, product lineup, and performance. In addition, they now offer the Ecobee4, which is my current top pick. Ecobee4 is now available for $249. You can learn more about Ecobee4 here.
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. 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 a lower cost than version 4.
The bottom line is, we all have different HVAC needs. The best smart thermostat for your will depend on your unique situation.
Last Updated 06/27/2017
ecobee now supports geofencing on Android devices.
Read Previous Updates
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.