Both are leading smart thermostat brands
The Nest Thermostat E and ecobee4 are competing thermostats that try to offer value in different ways. The former comes at a lower upfront cost, thanks to the comparatively inexpensive build materials used, while the latter provides more bang for your buck by including a room temperature sensor and built-in Alexa support. Both are great options, but which is right for you?
You need to decide whether you value automatic scheduling or a room temperature sensor more.
Nest's claim to fame is its automated schedule creation, which observes the way you set the temperature during different parts of the day and automatically creates a schedule based around your preferences. The Thermostat E makes use of this to create a "set it and forget it" experience, where you rarely ever need to change the thermostat manually.
The ecobee4 doesn't build a schedule automatically like the Thermostat E, but you can easily program one from within the app. Where it takes the lead is with its included room sensor, which allows the ecobee to keep track of the varying temperatures across your home. This is especially useful for homes with multiple floors, where the rooms upstairs will likely be a few degrees warmer than downstairs. Nest now offers its own room temperature sensor, but it's sold separately at a hefty $39.
Which is better for your home?
The ecobee4 also supports more multi-stage HVAC systems than the Thermostat E. The ecobee4 can handle up to two heat stages (or four, if your home uses a heat pump) and two cool stages, where the Thermostat E only supports one stage of heating and cooling, with an extra stage available for heating or cooling, rather than both.
Having Alexa built in is a huge win for homes without a dedicated smart speaker.
Functionally, both thermostats are easy to operate; the Thermostat E has a circular display you navigate by rotating the bezel and pushing the entire faceplate to select highlighted options, while the ecobee4 features a full-fledged touchscreen interface. You can also control either thermostat through your phone or voice assistant, with full support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, although only the ecobee supports Apple's HomeKit, which could make the Nest frustrating to use in an iPhone household.
The ecobee4 also has Alexa built directly into the unit; rather than relying on a dedicated smart speaker like a Google Home or Echo Dot, you can just call out to the ecobee directly, with all the functionality you'd expect from an Alexa speaker.
Both smart thermostats are great ways to better manage the temperature in your home and cut down on your energy bill, but which one is better for you will come down to your priorities. If you value Nest's behavioral analysis and automatic schedule creation, and you want to spend a little less, the Thermostat E is definitely worth picking up. If, on the other hand, you don't mind building your own heating and cooling schedule, and you can make use of a room sensor and smart speaker functionality, the ecobee4 could be worth the extra money.
Learns from you
Handles your cooling and heating for you
Nest's most compelling feature is its ability to learn from your behavior and build its own heating and cooling schedule. Its Auto Away and Eco Mode features save money on your electric bill, and the circular design fits into most modern homes.
Alexa built in
Buy for the included room sensor and Alexa assistance
On top of the ecobee's included room sensor, the touchscreen interface is simple to use, and the ecobee4 supports more multi-stage HVAC systems than the Thermostat E. Add in built-in Alexa voice assistance, and you can control the ecobee from across the room without needing your phone.
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