Smart thermostats are an essential component in many homes, especially where homeowners look to reduce energy costs. If you’re in the market for one, chances are you’ve come across Ecobee’s products. The company’s Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control and Ecobee3 Lite are two solid models worth considering.
Although both thermostats share the same design and core functions, there’s a substantial price difference between them. Do the Ecobee SmartThermostat’s extra features warrant its premium price? Or are you better off saving money with the budget Ecobee3 lite? Below, we compare the two devices to help you see which is a better fit for your home.
Ecobee vs Ecobee Lite Comparison Chart
|Model||Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control||Ecobee3 Lite|
|Amazon product||Amazon product|
|Price||Amazon product||Amazon product|
|Display||3.5 in. full color display||3.5 in. full color display|
|Installation||C wire||C wire|
|Built-in Sensors||Temperature, humidity, proximity, occupancy||Temperature, humidity, proximity|
|Amazon Alexa Compatible||Yes||Yes|
|Google Assistant Compatible||Yes||Yes|
|Apple HomeKit Compatible||Yes||Yes|
|Built-in Alexa Voice Assistant||Yes||No|
|Support for HVAC Accessories||Yes||No|
|Spotify and Bluetooth Streaming||Yes||No|
|ENERGY STAR® certified||Yes||Yes|
|Dimensions||4.29 x 4.29 x 1 in.||4 x 4 x 0.8 in.|
|Warranty||Limited 3-year warranty||Limited 3-year warranty|
Design and Hardware
The Ecobee SmartThermostat and Ecobee Lite share the same design but differ in their accompanying sensors.
Look closely at the Ecobee SmartThermostat and the Ecobee3 Lite and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any substantial difference. Based on specs, however, the Ecobee3 is just a few millimeters smaller and thinner. It’s hardly noticeable, though. After all, both sport a rectangular form with rounded edges that lend the thermostats a minimalist aesthetic. They also come with the same 3.5-inch, full-color LCD that’s seamlessly incorporated into an all-black front panel.
Now the displays are touchscreen-enabled for ease of navigation. It’s one of the nifty features that gives Ecobee thermostats an edge, over let’s say, the Nest. You can read more about this in our Ecobee vs Nest Thermostat comparison. Users will also appreciate how the interface on the Ecobee thermostats is the same as in the app. It certainly makes for a more fluid and intuitive user experience.
Where these two thermostats really diverge is in the hardware. Inside these smart devices are a couple of sensors. On the Ecobee SmartThermostat, you get instruments for monitoring temperature, humidity, proximity, and occupancy. On the Ecobee3 Lite, you get all sensors except for occupancy. Ecobee’s flagship model is also sold with a SmartSensor included. If you get the Ecobee3 Lite, you will have to purchase the accessory separately.
Scheduling and Geofencing
The Ecobee SmartThermostat has more advanced scheduling features compared to the Ecobee3 Lite.
Despite not having an occupancy sensor, the Ecobee3 Lite shares many of the thermostat capabilities found on the premium Ecobee. For instance, both devices come with Smart Recovery. This allows the thermostats to monitor your heating and cooling patterns at home. Once they have learned your schedule and preferences, the Ecobee and Ecobee 3 Lite will automatically heat and cool your home.
If you don’t have a humidifier, then the Ecobee and Ecobee3 Lite can also lower indoor humidity using your air conditioner. It’s a feature the company calls AC Overcool to Dehumidify. Users can also maximize the heating or cooling from your HVAC through Fan Dissipation. In this case, your Ecobee thermostats will automatically run your fans after a cycle.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat, however, has a couple of extra capabilities. Since it comes with a built-in occupancy sensor, it can detect which room is in use and adjust the temperature accordingly. Ecobee’s premium thermostat also supports geofencing. Using your paired phone’s GPS, the SmartThermostat will know when you leave the house so it can adjust or turn off your HVAC. It also works the other way, readying your home even before you arrive.
Ease of Use and Compatibility
Ecobee’s SmartThermostat with voice control enjoys more extensive system compatibility compared to the Ecobee3 Lite.
Ecobee thermostats are compatible with 95% of HVAC systems. However, installing them is where things can get tricky. According to Ecobee, both the SmartThermostat and Ecobee3 Lite require a constant power source via a C wire. Unfortunately, not all homes have this feature. If you’re in this predicament, Ecobee does have a power extender kit to create a C with your existing thermostat wires. The company also offers a detailed tutorial on how to use the kit.
Nonetheless, once your Ecobee and Ecobee3 Lite are installed, setup is a breeze. The interface on the thermostat is quite intuitive. The accompanying Ecobee app also guides users in the setup process. One of the steps includes providing the smart devices your schedule as well as preferred temperature settings. This gives the thermostats an idea of when you’re home, away, or sleeping.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat and Ecobee3 lite also support third-party control. You can manage both thermostats using Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Amazon Alexa. The flagship model, however, comes with a built-in Alexa voice assistant and is compatible with Spotify Connect. Not only are these features missing on the Ecobee3 Lite, but the budget thermostat doesn’t work with HVAC accessories. This means you can’t control humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and ventilators with the Lite version.
Other Features and Accessories
The Ecobee SmartThermostat and Ecobee3 Lite are both compatible with SmartSensors.
Reporting is a key feature of these devices. The SmartThermostat and Ecobee3 Lite, for instance, both record usage history. In fact, the SmartThermostat gives you historical data up to 18 months back. It’s a great way to gain insight into your energy consumption and make meaningful changes to reduce costs. Through the HomeIQ feature of Ecobee’s web portal, homeowners can even compare their energy usage to the other homes in the area.
Ecobee thermostats also come with alerts and reminders. Users can be notified through the app if there are any issues or concerns with one’s heating or cooling system.
As mentioned earlier, the Ecobee3 Lite is not equipped with an occupancy sensor. But if you want your thermostat to know which rooms are in use or detect when you leave the house, there is a workaround. The Ecobee3 Lite is compatible with SmartSensor, giving your budget device additional temperature and occupancy sensors. While it is purchased separately, you can set up as many as 32 of these smart accessories in your home.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control comes with advanced features that make it worth the extra bucks over the more affordable Ecobee3 Lite.Amazon product
Although the Ecobee3 Lite is a budget device, it doesn’t cut too many corners. You’re still getting the basic features found in Ecobee thermostats. Voice control and geofencing may be absent, but you still have access to comprehensive reporting and smart scheduling. In any case, you can always purchase the SmartSensors if you want additional occupancy and temperature sensors.
But this is where the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control makes its case. Yes, it’s about $80 more expensive, but the model includes a SmartSensor in the box. The Ecobee SmartThermostat has a built-in occupancy sensor, too, so you’re essentially getting two of the same sensors. It’s comparable to how much you’ll spend getting the two-pack SmartSensor for your Ecobee3 Lite.
And even with the accessory, the budget model still doesn’t come with Spotify and Bluetooth Streaming, along with a built-in voice assistant. While the first two features aren’t exactly necessary, there’s nothing more convenient than controlling your thermostats with your voice alone.
The Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control comes with a built-in voice assistant and occupancy sensor — features missing on the Ecobee3 Lite. The SmartThermostat also comes with a SmartSensor, whereas with the Ecobee3 Lite, the accessory has to be purchased separately.
Ecobee recommends that its smart thermostats are installed only in a dry, indoor location.
All Ecobee thermostats, including the SmartThermostat with Voice Control, offer a seven-day weather forecast as part of their features.
Ecobee shares that the Ecobee3 Lite can deliver up to 23% savings on annual energy costs.