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Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4 Review

Want to bring your smart home game to a whole new level? Smart thermostats aren’t just convenient. They can also reduce your cooling and heating bills dramatically. In fact, ecobee claims you can save up to 23%, while Nest claims you can save an average of 10 to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. Of course, there are a ton of other factors that influence which smart thermostat is right for you: its smart platform integrations, how it is powered, its mobile app; the list goes on.

In this review, I’m helping you choose between the Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee4, two top smart thermostats from some of my favorite smart home brands. I’ll go over everything you need to know to make a buy decision, from key similarities and key differences to design, features, installation, and apps. I have a lot to share with you, so let’s get started!

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ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
  • Black
  • Integrated with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, etc. 
  • $195 

Doesn't expire

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Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Polished steel, brass, mirror black, stainless steel, white, black, copper
  • Integrated with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, etc. 
  • $249 

Doesn't expire

Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4 Key Similarities

To make sure you’re in the right ball park, I want to tell you about what the Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee4 have in common.

  • Battery-powered: Both thermostats have easy installation processes, as they’re powered by batteries; however, only the Nest Learning Thermostat’s batteries are rechargeable.
  • Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integrations: If you’re in the Amazon or Google smart home ecosystems, you’ll be able to command either smart thermostat using your voice alone.
  • Geofencing and schedules: You’ll be able to put your thermostats on schedules and connect them with your phone’s GPS.

Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4 Key Differences

Of course, you’ll decide which one to choose based on their differences more than their similarities.

  • HVAC compatibility: While the Nest Learning Thermostat works with 24 volt systems, the ecobee4 works with gas, oil electric, and dual fuel systems.
  • Smart platform integrations: The ecobee can also be commanded through Apple HomeKit, unlike the Nest Learning Thermostat.
  • Prices: At $249, the Nest Learning Thermostat is $54 more than the ecobee4 at $195.

Now that you’ve got a basic overview, let’s move on to design.

Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4 Design

I don’t consider myself to be a superficial person, but let’s be honest: if you’re going to put a smart thermostat in your home, you want to make sure it’s nice to look at. As far as aesthetics go, I put the Nest Learning Thermostat ions above the ecobee4. A simple black circle with a silver rim, it’s much more minimalist and sleek that the oddly-shaped ecobee4. But alas, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Adjusting the Nest Learning Thermostat
Adjusting the Nest Learning Thermostat

More importantly, both have full color LCD screens, however, only the ecobee4’s is a touchscreen. If you want to control the Nest Learning Thermostat from the device itself, you’ll simply turn the rim like an old-school thermostat, making it a great choice if you have a less tech-savvy member of your household. The Nest Learning Thermostat comes with many colors: polished steel, brass, mirror black, stainless steel, white, black, and copper, in metal or polished finishes. The ecobee4 only comes in black.

Both thermostats are only a few inches across, although the ecobee4 is slightly larger. Neither requires a c-wire to install, but they work in different types of HVAC systems. While the Nest Learning Thermostat works in 24 volt systems, the ecobee4 is more flexible, compatible with gas, oil, electric, and dual fuel systems. Both are ENERGY STAR certified, which means that they’re energy efficient according to the Environmental Protection Agency. They’ll use less than one kWh per month, bringing down your utility bills even further.

ecobee4 on Wall
ecobee4 on Wall

As far as power goes, both thermostats are battery-operated, although only the Nest Learning Thermostat has rechargeable batteries so you won’t have to go out and buy new ones. While both thermostats use Wi-Fi to connect to their respective apps, only the Nest also uses Bluetooth. And that’s it for design!

Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4 Features

Now, the main purpose of a thermostat is to control your home’s temperature, but only a smart thermostat lets you do that remotely through the mobile app.

Smart Thermostat Geofencing

But the methods of control don’t end there. Both the Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee4 have geofencing, meaning you can hook up your phone’s GPS with your thermostat so that it adjusts automatically based on where you are. However, you can only use geofencing on the ecobee4 with Android devices, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Scheduling for the Nest Learning Thermostat
Scheduling for the Nest Learning Thermostat

Both thermostats also allow you to create schedules to change your thermostat throughout the day without you having to do anything. Both of these features help you save energy, using it only when you’re home and bringing down your utility bills in the process.

Smart Platform Integrations

Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4 Smart Platform Integrations
Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4 Smart Platform Integrations

You can also use your voice to control your smart thermostat. Both the Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee4 work with Amazon Alexa, but while the Nest also works with Google Assistant, the ecobee4 is Apple HomeKit-compatible. If you’re already in a smart home ecosystem, I’d choose a smart thermostat that you can control using your trusted voice assistant.

Nest Learning Thermostat Compatibility
Nest Learning Thermostat Compatibility

Of course, the smart platform integrations don’t end there. There are a bunch of other connected devices that you can sync with your smart thermostat, from LIFX to Samsung SmartThings to Wemo. By having devices trigger one another, you can automate your smart home, making it more convenient than ever before. For example, I have the ADT Samsung SmartThings Starter Kit, which works with my ecobee4, so I like to have my thermostat’s temperature go down as soon as my security system is armed, meaning I’m not home. With everything happening so seamlessly and automatically, I don’t have to worry about my home’s security or its energy usage. Talk about killing two birds!

Sensing Capabilities

Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4 Sensing
Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4 Sensing

Your smart thermostat is even smarter than you think. It doesn’t stop at sensing temperature alone. Rather, both the Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee4 can also sense humidity, proximity, and occupancy. However, only the Nest can sense ambient light. What does these categories mean and why do they matter? Don’t worry, I can explain!

  • Humidity: It’s the bane of my existence, but also, a very important factor if you’re talking about what a temperature actually feels like versus what a normal thermostat would say. It’s the windchill of the indoors.
  • Proximity: If you pass in front of either thermostat, they will sense your motion and adjust accordingly.
  • Occupancy: Sometimes we’re home and not moving, whether we’re asleep or laid out on the couch. Does that mean your thermostat will think you’re not home? Fortunately, both sensors can read humans’ unique body heat signature, so they’ll know if you’re home or not, regardless of whether you’re moving.
  • Ambient light: Only the Nest Learning Thermostat brights or dims its screen based on the amount of light in the room, which makes the screen easier to read.

Out of all these sensing capabilities, ambient light is the least necessary, so I’m happy with both thermostats’ capabilities overall.


Nest Learning Thermostat Closeup
Nest Learning Thermostat Closeup

Now, the main advantage that the Nest Learning Thermostat has over the ecobee4 is the “Learning” part of its name. After a few days of adjusting your thermostat manually, the Nest will learn your schedule all by itself. It also has a feature called Farsight that makes the thermostat display the temperature, weather and time in digital or analog.

If you want to add multiple users to your thermostats, you can add an unlimited number of devices to your ecobee credentials, or up to nine with the Nest Learning thermostat. Because your friends and family deserve to join in on the fun!

Installing the Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4

Installing the ecobee4
Installing the ecobee4

The ecobee4 is really easy to install, as long as you have the wires placed properly.

Be sure to turn off your power before installing the Nest Learning Thermostat, then, set up the wiring plate to cover your current thermostat’s holes.

Installing the Nest Learning Thermostat
Installing the Nest Learning Thermostat

Replace the wires, then the Nest app will guide you through the rest of the process.

The Nest vs. ecobee Apps

The ecobee App
The ecobee App

You’ll control and monitor your Nest Learning Thermostat and ecobee4 from the Nest and ecobee apps, respectively. While the Nest has a better Android app, ecobee is the clear winner for iPhones.

“I can find no fault with the ecobee app, and I have found their support to be extremely good. I would certainly recommend this product, and would definitely buy another if I ever need a new thermostat! However, it seems unlikely that I will need a new one as this one does everything I want it to and more,”

wrote an iPhone user in a five star review.

Nest Learning Thermostat on the Nest App
Nest Learning Thermostat on the Nest App

Recap of the Nest Learning Thermostat vs. ecobee4

Usually by the end of a comparison, I have a clear idea of which product I like better, but for this comparison, I have to say that they’re both great options; it truly just depends on what you’re looking for.

Go with the Nest Learning Thermostat if you’d like…

  • Integration with Google Assistant: If you’re in the Google ecosystem, the Nest Learning Thermostat will fit right in.
  • Ambient light sensing: Only the Learning Thermostat’s screen adjusts to the ambient light in the room.
  • A.I capabilities: After a few days, the Nest Learning Thermostat knows your schedule to a T.

Learn more by reading our full review of the Nest Learning Thermostat.

But choose the ecobee4 if you’re looking for…

  • More affordable option: At $195, the ecobee4 is at an average price for smart thermostats, while the Nest Learning Thermostat is a bit over-priced.
  • Integration with Apple HomeKit: Use Siri to adjust your temperature!
  • Compatibility with more system types: Whether you have gas, oil, electric, or dual fuel, the ecobee4 is likely to be compatible.

Want to learn more? Read our full review of the ecobee4.

To see other fantastic options, read my review on 2019’s top smart thermostats.

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is an attorney and journalist with a passion for home tech and secure, efficient living. Since graduating from NYU Law, he has maintained a paradoxical existence of trying to live life adventurously while remaining staunchly risk-averse. He is torn by the dual desires of wanting to only be in Brooklyn writing about housing policy and smart home tech and aspiring to visit his friends scattered across the globe. Gabe believes that stable, safe communities are the cornerstone to a vibrant and healthy society, and it is this passion that brought him to contribute to Security Baron.

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