Ecobee3 vs Ecobee 3 Lite vs Ecobee4

Regardless of the various available models of the thermostat, Ecobee has been proven to be the smartest. They are a Canadian home automation company manufacturing thermostats that are controllable by a built-in touchscreen, a mobile app, or the Ecobee consumer portal for both residential or commercial use.

Even while there are brands like Nest to learn your habits through an algorithm, so it knows when you are at home or not, the Ecobee products use sensors for their detections and also has a learning algorithm to read outdoor temperature and schedule a profile to save your energy bill.

The Ecobee products are used in most of the homes in the US, and they are compatible with conventional HVAC, dual fuel, humidifiers, and heat pumps. Their system can be easily set up by a contractor in less than 45 minutes without stealing power like most of the other competitors.

To keep things secure with the Ecobee system uses 168 bit SSL, WEP 64, WEP 128, WPA and WPA2 encryptions and may not with every product, but it partners well with others like Vera, AutoGrid, SmartThings, Energy Sherlock, EEE, Earth Networks and a few others.

Ecobee3 Lite vs. Ecobee3 vs. Ecobee4: Pros & Cons and Verdict

Nest and Honeywell are other thermostats manufacturers that have created a reputation for themselves, but since Ecobee emerged most users have described them as the complete smart thermostat.

With time and technology advancements Ecobee has manufactured a series of thermostats, but for this review, we would focus on comparing the Ecobee3 Lite, Ecobee3, and Ecobee4 with each other to see how they differ from each other and also know it is worth you upgrading to a newer model.

Being the newest of the Ecobee family, Ecobee4 is built to different from the previous models. It is the simplest and offers a lot more. Let’s proceed by analyzing these devices based on their setup process, design and interface, third-party integrations, sensing and operating patterns, energy-saving, and usability.

Ecobee3 vs Ecobee 3 Lite vs Ecobee4

ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat - Programmable Wifi Thermostat - Works with Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant - Energy Star Certified - DIY Install, Black

There are some key features of each Ecobee smart thermostat, and to make this comparison easier, we would explain their specific functions beginning with the Ecobee3 Lite to see how they perform.

When the Lite version was released, it did not support remote sensors, but after the Ecobee3 was released with a remote sensor packaged with it, the Lite version was tested to work with remote sensors. The Ecobee Lite version is integrable with Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Apple HomeKit, Wink, SmartThings, and IFTTT amidst a few others.

There a vacation mode that you can activate when you are away to save more energy. When you are on a budget, and you need a thermostat the Ecobee thermostat would be a great choice; the price is attractive and cheaper than the other Ecobee smart thermostats.

If you do not care so much about the features from the other Ecobee smart thermostat, then the this Lite version would serve you well, it has all the necessary feature you would expect from a smart thermostat. You are offered a monthly report by the Ecobee Lite to monitor your HVAC system and the performance of the device.

Key Specifications of Ecobee3 Lite:

  • Remote sensor
  • Integration
  • Vacation mode
  • Cheaper Purchase
  • Monthly Energy report

ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat with Remote Sensor, 2nd Generation

There is a lot of common feature between the Ecobee3 and the Ecobee3 Lite, and since we have mentioned most above, let’s go straight to the additional features of the Ecobee3 that Ecobee Lite do not have.

Ecobee3 allows you to expand the capabilities of your smart thermostat by being compatible with ventilators, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, HRV and ERV. Immediately you walk by the Ecobee3 thermostat; it detects your activities and movement to study your schedule with the smart occupancy detection feature.

Geofencing feature tracks the location your phone to know when you are home or out, so the thermostat can return to your HVAC system to a comfortable temperature when it senses you are close by; and on the long run saves you money from cooling and heating – This Geofencing is another feature of the Ecobee3, that the Lite version lacks.

Even though the Lite version also has the remote sensor feature, it is still worth mentioning here, since Ecobee3 packaged with a remote sensor for free.

In conclusion, Ecobee3 is superior to the Lite version in every significant aspect. The Lite version may be good enough to meet your needs, but comparing it to the Ecobee3, it functions on a lower level and lacks several of the features the Ecobee3 offers.

Key Specifications of Ecobee3:

  • Compatibility
  • Smart Occupancy Detector
  • Geofencing
  • Remote Sensor

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Now to the latest version, Ecobee4 is different in several ways from Ecobee3 and the Lite version. With the specification of this device, it is not hard to see why it is getting most of the attention in today’s market.

The Alexa integration to the Ecobee4 makes it more than just a regular smart thermostat; it is a voice assistant that allows you to do your sortings and run most of your activities. The built-in Alexa alone has given this device a lot of attraction from several thermostat owners. Mentioning the word “Alexa” would automatically turn on the LED light to add to your visuals and wait for your next command. According to your preference, the Alexa can also be turned off with a button at the side.

You do not need to be up close to the thermostat before it hears you, there is a technology called the Far-Field Voice Recognition that Amazon Echo uses to quickly get you’re the sound of your voice from a distance. Besides the Ecobee4 features a high-quality microphone and a speaker on the back for playing music and communicating with the device – What’s not to like?

For us, the Ecobee4 has set a higher standard for the smart thermostat. It is filled with features to increase your comfort and offers enough to surpass other previous thermostats before it in every aspect.

Key Specifications of Ecobee4:
  • Built-in Alexa
  • LED Light
  • Far-field Voice Recognition
  • Speaker
  • Alexa Off

Ecobee3 vs Ecobee 3 Lite vs Ecobee4 Buying Guide

Setup Process

Unlike Nest, the setting up of Ecobee is not so easy, and even the user’s manual alone may not do enough justice. Most users have reported having been able to install their Nest thermostat in less than 15 minutes fully, but the Ecobee would involve attaching the device to the wall and working through a few other steps, which may make the installation a bit more complicated.

While you are installing the Ecobee (watch the video below), it would work you through a series of steps; the first one is to verify the wiring and ensure they are correctly connected to the terminals. The Ecobee can also help to configure your other attachments, like a humidifier; it will give a prompt to select an accessory.

Set your preferences and configure your HVAC, by choosing between Fahrenheit and Celsius, heating or cooling, and also the name of the thermostat. The Ecobees are compatible with 802.11 b/g/n (2.4Ghz) and automatically detects nearby wireless hotspots for a stress-free connection.

Register your thermostat on the Ecobee website to the desired controller; it could be your smartphone, desktop or tablet and activate the remote sensors to enjoy your device. If after these you still have any complications, you can check through the user’s manual for further helpful information.

Design and Interface

The design and interface of the Ecobee thermostats are impressive, but they are almost the same, so comparing them according to their looks may not prove much different.

You would be happy with the design of Ecobee3 and Ecobee3 Lite that look more identical than Ecobee4. The dimensions of the devices are not the same, Ecobee3 Lite measures, 4.05 by 4.05 by 0.84 inches, Ecobee3 measures 1 by 4.05 by 4.05 inches, and lastly Ecobee4 measures 1 by 4 by 4 inches. 

See more of Ecobee 3 and Ecobee 3 Lite:

One of the noticeable differences that set the Ecobee4 apart is the glowing LED bar that comes on when Alexa is activated. Although, several publications have described Ecobee as the best designed smart thermostat. You may agree with them if you are new to thermostats because the design of the Nest iPod inspired thermostats is almost unable to overlook – This does not change the fact that the Ecobee is also an impressive looking device.

You may think the interface of the Ecobee3 Lite, Ecobee3, and Ecobee4 are entirely the same, but there are a few changes in the latest model. On the interface of the Ecobee4, the current temperature is displayed on the right side, with a slider to allow you change the heating and cooling, apart from these, the interfaces do not have many changes.

The Ecobee thermostats are structured to controlled and navigated by the mobile application or the web app. If you check out the web app for Ecobee4, it is friendly and easy to use, with all every aspect of the smart thermostat.

Compared to the rest, the Ecobee4 is an Alexa speaker, and there is an extra button on it for manual activation. The display size of each of the devices are 3.5” Touchscreen, but the Ecobee4 have better sensors and function at a higher level to make it easier to use and determine when you are within the premises or not. 

Third-Party Integrations

The Ecobee smart products are compatible with almost all the significant third-party integrations including Apple HomeKit, SmartThings, IFTTT, and Wink. Ecobee4 in particular, being the first of the series to be built in Alexa stands out for several other functions like playing music, calling Uber, making orders and even telling jokes, apart from controlling temperature alone.

The other smart thermostats in this series like Ecobee3 and Ecobee3 Lite can be paired up with a purchased Amazon Echo or Eco Dot for some integration, but since the Ecobee4 is already built in Alexa with a voice command, integration becomes more friendly and functional – This is where the Ecobee4 supersedes the others, since you would not need to purchase a separate device.

Sensing and Operating Patterns

All Ecobee smart thermostats are made to understand the structure of your home by sensing your movements and adjusting the operating patterns to match it. The Ecobee3 is the first of this series of the smart thermostat to use the remote sensor feature to monitor and track the user’s location to control the temperature – This sensory feature is called Geofencing. More about it:

The Geofencing feature of the Ecobee3 makes it an excellent detector of uneven temperature in several rooms of the home. Ecobee4 is even better with a room sensor feature that enables it to understand and control the temperature all through the house. Only the Ecobee3 Lite does not support Geofencing.

For iOS users, the Ecobee4 mobile app is available if you use the Apple HomeKit or IFTTT, but for Andriod users, you can directly install the application and use the geofencing feature.

Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 are packaged with a sensor for free, but if you want more control, you should buy additional sensors.

Energy Savings

The basic reason for getting a smart thermostat is to save energy and create a habit from your availability. Since the Ecobee company assures and promises their users of a 23 percent saving on their heating and cooling expenses annually, you can be sure of the abilities.

Ecobee3 Lite, Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 do not save energy in the same amount, there might be a slight difference, but regardless, they are all energy savers.

Ecobee thermostats have access to the local weather forecasts to gather enough information and improve their function in controlling the indoor temperature. Ecobee4 being the best of the others at sense, is likely to save more energy. You can monitor and control the temperature of your heating and cooling system from the Ecobee mobile or Web app from anywhere you are.


When it comes to usability, the Ecobee3 Lite, Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 smart thermostats are simple and very similar to each other. We would talk about some functions like the touchscreen displays, app control, smart home integration, and voice control.

Touchscreen Display

The control, necessary settings, and menus of the Ecobee smart thermostats can be adjusted directly from the touchscreen display.

The device is a smart one just like your iPhone and Andriod devices, all you do is tap the screen to activate the touchscreen control, then increase or decrease the temperature in the house with a touch, hold or drag, depending on what you want.

The Ecobee4 has been tested to have the most responsive and easy to use display, and like the other Ecobee versions, you can adjust the complex settings through the menus.

App Control

Asides from the touchscreen display, the Ecobee thermostat is also adjustable from a mobile app. The application has a simple interface similar to the display of the thermostat itself, and its available on Google Play store for Andriod devices and iTunes app store for iOS.

You can use the app control to monitor and adjust the temperature of your home from anywhere in the world provided have a connection to the internet.

Smart Home Integration

The Ecobee smart thermostat can be easily integrated into the larger smart system in your home provided you have a smart hub. As for the Ecobee4 having an Alexa already built in it, allows you to control the other added home products with the use of the Amazon Alexa app.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Ecobee smart home, then watch:

Voice Control

The last we would talk about is the voice control function, and even though all the Ecobee smart thermostats can be controlled with voice control, only the Ecobee4 has the Amazon Alexa inbuilt.

Regardless, if you want to control the Ecobee3 or Ecobee3 Lite with voice commands, you would need to purchase an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device to give verbal commands.

What’s the Best Bang for the Buck?

Making a decision of the best bang for the buck based on the features of the thermostat would not be enough, your choice on the device that suits you will be determined by which Ecobee thermostat would depend on the setup of your heating and cooling system.

If your HVAC system is the complex type that requires additional accessories, the Ecobee4 is a better choice since it supports several extras like humidifiers, dehumidifiers, ERV’s, HRV’s and ventilators that might be additions to a multi-terminal system, unlike the Ecobee3 and the Lite versions.

For the best deal on a budget, the Ecobee Lite is going to serve you well. Most of the extra features are found on Ecobee3 and Ecobee4; the Ecobee Lite is the simplest of them all. It is slightly smaller and performs all the functions you would require from a conventional thermostat apart from the advance compatibilities. So if you do not have any complicated setup and you do not have a particular rare requirement from your thermostat, the Ecobee3 Lite would be a right and cost-efficient choice.

When it comes to usabilities, the Ecobee4 is hard to beat even amidst the Ecobee series, but also other brands of thermostats. Although the other thermostat does not give any difficulty while you use them, the built-in Alexa of the Ecobee4 is a very cool feature that can allow you walk in and make a command right fro your standing point makes it supersede the others regarding usage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the thermostat use a cloud service for connectivity? What happens if the network is down?

The Ecobee uses a cloud service to connect the sensors in your home, to gather the usage reports, monitor your temperature and controls it to suit your comfort. The Ecobee is designed to receive information from the sensors through a cloud service.

The Ecobee smart thermostat is designed to control the heating and cooling system of your home regardless of the network connection status. Even while your connection is lost, the Ecobee would continue to operate according to your schedule, and if you want you can manually modify the advanced settings on the thermostat itself to switch between programs and automatically update the software once the wireless network is restored.

Although the room sensors, voice control, and mobile app to remotely control the device would be disabled until the network is back up, but if your thermostat has studied your habits, it will run according to the way you always want it, even when the system is down.

Is the only difference between the Ecobee 3 and 4 Alexa?

Each newer version of Ecobee smart thermostat is built with an extra improved feature, so even when they look almost the same, there are specific upgrades to the previous versions.

Amidst a few other slight changes, the Amazon’s Alexa feature built-in the Ecobee4 sets it apart from the Ecobee3. Since the Ecobee3 is not built-in Alexa, it lacks the LED light on the Ecobee4 that indicate the Alexa is ready. The Ecobee3, on the other hand, is only compatible with some integrations and also the Alexa.

Some other differences are the physical size, although it may not be so noticeable, the Ecobee4 is slightly larger, thicker and even heavier than the Ecobee3. The Ecobee4 also has an icon on the LCD touchscreen to access the voice control options and menu.

Comparing the back plate of both devices, the Ecobee4 has been redesigned so that some wire terminals are relocated. Even though there are some differences, the built-in Alexa remains the main difference.

How does Ecobee thermostat compare with Nest thermostat in terms of features?

The priorities if your smart thermostat is to reduce the money spent on the heating and cooling system, and of course there are several products of thermostats. When you are comparing the Ecobee thermostat with Nest, some of the features you have to consider are the energy saving abilities, thermostat adjustments, compatibility with other home devices and voice assistant connectivity.

Both devices perform excellently with efficiently saving energy, remember the Ecobee assures you of 23 percent save annually. You can adjust your temperature manually on the Nest device using the dial mechanism on the exterior of the thermostat, while the Ecobee is more modern with a touchscreen for adjustment.

The Ecobee, especially Ecobee4 senses the outdoor temperature to ease the pressure on your air conditioners, they are compatible with dehumidifiers and other devices. The Nest, on the other hand, uses a feature called Heat Pump Balance which relies on data to determine the level of heat usage. Even though Nest and Ecobee thermostats are compatible with Google Home Devices, Nest has no stand next to Ecobee4 when it comes to Voice assistant connectivity.

Is Ecobee compatible with Google Home?

The Ecobee4 stands out for being built-in Alexa voice service to understand voice cues and do more than just controlling your room temperature. The Alexa works to hear music, set timer and a lot more.

The Ecobee4 is also compatible with Google Home devices, all you need to do is say “Ok Google” followed by your command. For instance, “Ok Google, make my home warmer.” Even though only the Ecobee4 has an inbuilt Alexa, other versions of Ecobee are also compatible with Google Home and Alexa devices.

Does Ecobee have a low temp setting to notify you if the heating system is not working?

No need to worry about the furnace maintenance, filter change, and other functions; you can be assured that the Ecobee system would give you an alert to direct you to the place of attention where you can be sure the heating system is working. You would have a notification on the screen of your device and also receive a mail when you need to perform some specified actions.

If you want to view your reminders and alerts on the thermostat or the mobile app, you can select the “Reminders and Alerts” from the main menu and on the web page select the “Reminders and Alert” tile. When you receive an alert for low temperature, you can set the range to a higher temperature to avoid damage.

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