ecobee SmartThermostat vs. Nest Learning Thermostat: Which should you buy?

ecobee SmartThermostat on a wall in front of person walking down stairs
ecobee SmartThermostat on a wall in front of person walking down stairs (Image credit: ecobee)

The ecobee SmartThermostat is the best smart thermostat option for most people with built-in Alexa and Siri support, HomeKit and Google Assistant integration, and better external room sensors. HomeKit support helps fill in some of the automation gaps between the ecobee SmartThermostat and the Nest, and it gives you more options when setting up your smart home.

Still, if you want a smart thermostat that learns your behaviors, the Nest Learning Thermostat is an excellent choice. As it learns, the Nest Learning Thermostat creates an automatic schedule, and you can still make temperature adjustments either on the thermostat itself or with Alexa or Google Assistant.

ecobee vs. Nest: Key hardware differences

Ecobee Room Sensor on a book shelf

Ecobee Room Sensor on a book shelf (Image credit: ecobee)

There are many similarities between the ecobee SmartThermostat and Nest thermostats, and both are great picks. But there are also crucial differences that are essential to be aware of before purchasing.

The ecobee SmartThermostat's most significant hardware advantage is the included room sensor which enables custom climate controls.

For starters, the Nest is a learning thermostat. It learns how you like your house to feel over time. Additionally, it can automatically set itself into Eco Temperature mode when you're away from your home (with location data provided by the Nest app on your phone) to save energy. The Nest Learning Thermostat will also offer suggestions for energy-saving settings that could help you save money on your heating and cooling bills.

The ecobee SmartThermostat's most significant hardware advantage is the included room sensor which enables custom climate controls. The ecobee room sensor provides external room temperature measurements allowing the SmartThermostat to react based on the temperature of specific rooms versus the room where it rests. These sensors detect the temperature of each room and whether or not anyone is in those rooms, letting you deliver heating or cooling as needed.

Here's the full-spec breakdown between these two heavyweights:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 ecobee SmartThermostatNest Thermostat
PowerWiredWired or Battery
Warranty (years)32
iOS AppYesYes
Android AppYesYes
Web AccessYesYes
Humidity sensorYesYes
Accessory controlYesYes
Annual feesNoNo
Remote sensorsYes, 1 included (Sense temperature and room occupancy)Yes (Sense temperature)
Learns habits over timeNoYes
Works with Amazon AlexaYesYes
Google Assistant supportYesYes
Amazon Alexa built-inYesNo
Siri built-inYes (requires HomePod mini)No

The truth is that no matter which of these thermostats you pick, you're going to be getting a quality product. Both thermostats offer clean, modern designs, and both allow you to control your home's heating and air from the comforts of your phone. The differences between the two are significant, and features like learning capabilities or remote room sensors will appeal to different people.

ecobee vs. Nest: Smart home integration

Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest Learning Thermostat (Image credit: Nest)

Another major factor to consider when deciding between the two thermostats is smart home integration. Like the Nest Learning Thermostat, the ecobee thermostat works with Google Assistant and Alexa. However, Alexa and Siri — if you have a HomePod mini in your home, are built right into the ecobee SmartThermostat, which features multiple microphones so it can hear your commands.

Beyond those two assistants, the ecobee SmartThermostat also works with Apple's smart home platform, HomeKit. HomeKit support lets you integrate the ecobee SmartThermostat with other HomeKit accessories, something you can't do with the Nest without configuring Homebridge or setting up a dedicated hub.

With HomeKit, you can even use the motion/occupancy capabilities in the remote room sensor to turn on and off the lights for activity through automation in the Home app. The ecobee SmartThermostat also works with the company's SmartCamera, plus Door and Window SmartSensors to offer a complete whole home monitoring solution through its Haven Home Monitoring Service.

ecobee vs. Nest: Which should you buy?

When picking a winner between ecobee vs. Nest, we recommend the ecobee SmartThermostat for most people. It's got Alexa and Siri built-in, which is great for direct control and HomeKit, letting you add it to your scenes with other HomeKit accessories and control the ecobee SmartThermostat with Siri.

Its external sensors in each room also tell you if people are in that room, letting your heating or cooling systems deliver what's needed more efficiently. Plus, it comes with one sensor in the box, which is not the case with the Nest.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.