If you are looking to get your home geared up with a smart thermostat, it’s likely that you will come across two names; Nest and ecobee. Both companies are creating some excellent products, but how do their thermostats differ from each other?

In this article, we’ll be comparing the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee 4 to help you decide which option is best suited for your home and lifestyle. Both thermostats will also work great for a home you are renting out on Airbnb.

Nest Learning Thermostat vs ecobee 4 – The Overview

Before we get into a full blown comparison, I want to share the overall differences between these two products. Both options are excellent, but they both have their individual strengths.

Both the ecobee 4 and the 3rd generation Nest Learning Thermostat are smart gadgets, but the way they use their smarts is different. The option from Nest is best suited for those that like to let technological magic do its work. Nest will learn your patterns automatically to help you save as much money as possible whilst keeping your house at a comfortable temperature when you’re indoors.

The ecobee 4, on the other hand, is far more suited for those that want more control over their home temperature. The ecobee 4 has an initial setup stage that will ask you when you are usually home and what temperature you like. After that, the ecobee 4 will fill in the gaps with sensors and keeping track of your location via your phone to ensure your thermostat only kicks in when it needs to.

Let’s take a further look at these following categories to provide you more information about how these two thermostats differ:

  • AI Learning Power
  • Apple/Alexa/Google Assistant Support
  • Companion App Functionality
  • Overall Product Design and Setup

AI Learning Power

As the name would suggest, the Nest Learning Thermostat is easily the better option for those that want AI to do all of the hard work for them. What Nest will do during the first couple of weeks is monitor your thermostat usage.

Nest will notice when you usually turn up or down your temperature and it will also use location information from your phone to know when you aren’t home. Once the initial learning period is up, Nest will start to automatically switch the heat up and down at the most suitable times for you. If you come home at a specific time, Nest will also prep up your home by adjusting the temperature ahead of time so that you come home to comfort.

The great thing about Nest is that even if it gets things wrong to begin with, you can always manually adjust the temperature at any time and this will feed Nest with more information to go off of.

The ecobee 4 doesn’t have any of this AI learning power, but it does still have some smarts inside its circuitry. The ecobee 4 uses standalone sensors that it can communicate with for information. You get one sensor when purchasing the ecobee 4, but you can purchase more.

The sensors will detect motion in your house, and if no motion is detected for two hours, it will go into an eco-saving ‘away mode’. If you have sensors in all rooms in your house, you can use ecobee’s unique ‘follow me’ mode, which will adjust the temperature in the rooms you are in and save energy in the rooms that have no occupants.

In summary, ecobee has more potential if you set up your optimal temperature and invest in room sensors for each room, but at $79 for 2, it’ll really run up the costs. Nest’s AI power does a great job at doing the hard work for you at no additional cost.

Smart Assistant Support

This is the category where both the ecobee and the Nest Learning Thermostat take vastly different paths due to some unfortunate rivalry. Because Nest is now owned by Google, Apple HomeKit support is not available. If you’re an Apple Home user, Nest is immediately thrown out of the equation as a result.

ecobee 4 has great Apple HomeKit support – with the Apple Home app, you can set automations and rules to make more use of ecobee’s connectivity. The ecobee 4 can also do a better job at knowing when nobody is home if everybody in the house is using an iPhone thanks to Apple Home’s built in geofencing capabilities.

If you don’t use Apple, the ecobee 4 falls a little flat. It doesn’t have great compatibility with Google Home, and it’s unlikely it ever will now that Google owns the competing product. Amazon Alexa support is built in, but it just doesn’t have anywhere near the same functionality as Apple HomeKit.

On the other side of the fence, we have the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is 100% team Google at this point. Thankfully, you don’t need a Google Home or even an Android device to take advantage of Google Assistant. Even if you are an iPhone user, the Google Assistant can be downloaded from the App Store.

From here, you can then have some level of remote control over your Nest Learning Thermostat – you can check or adjust temperature. Ultimately, you don’t get quite the level of functionality that comes with Apple HomeKit. However, for users that just want to plug in a product and go, the Nest Learning Thermostat is more than enough.

Overall, if you are an Android user you’re stuck with Nest. But, if you don’t have a home assistant or don’t mind swapping over to Apple, the ecobee 4 easily has more functionality if you’re willing to take the time to set up your own automations and take full advantage of what the Apple HomeKit has to offer.

Companion App Functionality

As well as support for remote control via Google, Apple, and Alexa assistants, both thermostats have companion apps. The ecobee 4 wins this category. ecobee has spent more time refining their user experience – the app interface and the interface on the thermostat itself share similarities, so it’s very easy to learn.

Nest, on the other hand, has a somewhat frustrating built-in interface on the thermostat itself, and the app offers a completely different experience. Functionality in both apps is decent, but the ecobee app is, in my opinion, cleaner and it becomes far easier to access functions like scheduling or temperature change.

The overall differences in the app experience between the two products mirrors my earlier comments. The ecobee 4 is more suitable for tinkerers or those that want more control over how things operate. The Nest Learning Thermostat is more suited for those that want to get set up and never touch things again.

Overall Product Design and Setup

At first glance, the Nest Learning Thermostat is easily the more stunning device. The Nest design team did an excellent job at crafting a piece of tech that can sit beautifully in your home. The ecobee 4, on the other hand, sticks out like a sore thumb. The ecobee 4 isn’t exactly ugly, but it’s not going to blend into the design of your home.

Another big issue is the setup. Both thermostats are designed to support a connection straight to your C-Wire, but the Nest has a built-in battery so it’s not a necessary step. The ecobee 4 does require you to do some DIY work, either by wiring it up directly to the C-wire, or by connecting your HVAC to the ecobee 4 power extender kit. The Nest Learning Thermostat easily takes the win in this category.


In summary, the ecobee 4 and the Nest Learning Thermostat are both excellent choices that’ll help you to save money and stay comfortable at home. The Nest Learning Thermostat is better aimed toward those that want to set things up easily and never think about it again, whilst the ecobee 4 is better for those that like to have more control or don’t mind a bit of DIY work.

Do you have any questions about these smart thermostats? If you want to know anything else, leave a comment and we’ll get back to you. Enjoy!