ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Lite – Ultimate Smart Thermostat Guide

Wondering about the differences between the ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Lite?

Let’s face it, our world and our homes are getting smarter.

You’ve doubtlessly heard the term smart home. Everything from our lighting to even our appliances is now getting hi-tech and connecting to our Wi-Fi signal.  We can do so much more than we ever could before all with the touch of a button.

Digital thermostats, Wi-fi thermostats or so-called smart thermostats are hugely helpful in getting your smart home set up.

Just imagine hearing that your kids are getting released early from school and your AC program is set to a high temp since no one is usually home. Or you go on vacation and realize your house is still set at 72°.

No problem! From your desktop, laptop or smartphone, it’s easy to make temporary or permanent changes to your home’s smart thermometer in a matter of seconds. ecobee was actually the first smart thermostat to offer a mobile app to control it, so they are the leader in the industry.

In the world of smart thermostats, there are a lot of choices. So in this post, we’re going to dive deep into the ecobee3, ecobee3 Lite, and the ecobee4. Specifically, we’ll compare the ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 lite so you can make the best decision for your home.

ecobee4 smart thermostat Middle Class Dad ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Liteecobee3 smart thermostat Middle Class Dad ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Liteecobee3 lite smart thermostat Middle Class Dad ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Lite

What is the difference between ecobee3 and ecobee3 Lite?

Here are the primary differences between the 2:

  • The ecobee3 Lite eliminates the sensor cover which comes out of the regular version
  • The ecobee3 Lite doesn’t support humidifiers, dehumidifiers, or ventilators
  • ecobee3 Lite doesn’t come with room sensors

Here are the similarities:

  • Both have a 3.5-inch touchscreen
  • Both can be controlled by the mobile app
  • Installation is identical 
  • Each comes with a Power Extender Kit for homes without the blue C wire.
  • Both integrate with Amazon Alexa & Apple HomeKit (must be 2nd generation units)
  • They both have a three-year warranty
  • Both claim an average annual energy savings of 23% and are ENERGY STAR® certified

The price difference between the 2 is about $50 as the lite is currently on Amazon Prime for $167 and the regular 3 is $219 (of course Amazon prices may change at any time).

ecobee3 Lite is the only smart thermostat that doesn’t support geofencing.

Geofencing helps the thermostat track the location of its occupants of the house. For example, as you get closer on your commute home from work, Ecobee automatically adjusts the temperature to be as comfortable as possible by the time you arrive.

A little creepy; yes. But cool nonetheless.

Click the image to buy on Amazon Prime or to learn more!

  ecobee3 lite smart thermostat Middle Class Dad ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Lite   ecobee3 smart thermostat Middle Class Dad ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Lite

What is the difference between ecobee3 vs 4

One of the coolest differences between the ecobee3 vs 4 is that the 4 is the first to have a built-in Alexa.

So just like with a standalone Amazon Echo Dot (fast becoming known simply as Alexa), ecobee4 allows you to, for instance, order food, play music, call Mom and tell jokes.

In looking at the side profiles of the ecobee3 vs 4, you’ll also notice the ecobee4 is noticeably thicker than the ecobee3. It’s almost 1/4″ thicker due to the additional microphone hardware built into it.

Due to the redesign, the backplate of the ecobee3 is not compatible with the 4, so you will need to completely remove the 3 to upgrade to the 4.

Beyond that, the other primary difference between ecobee3 vs 4 is the remote sensors.

Unlike the Lite, ecobee3 was the first smart thermostat to introduce remote sensors. This enhances room temperature monitoring by detecting uneven temperatures in different rooms. Ecobee4 now has an additional feature called a ‘room sensor’. This makes it even better at reading and controlling the temperature throughout your entire home.

The ecobee4 also has the biggest price tag in the ecobee line, coming in (at current Amazon Prime prices) at $246.98.

Get your ecobee4 today on Amazon Prime!

ecobee4 smart thermostat Middle Class Dad ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Lite

Amazon Alexa voice service is integrated into ecobee4

As I mentioned above, the biggest difference in comparing the ecobee3 vs 4, is that Amazon’s Alexa is built into the ecobee4.

Essentially, you now have an Echo Dot inside your thermostat on a slightly limited level. Do note that the thermostat speaker isn’t designed for listening to music (and the music streaming options won’t work on it).

Do note that the ecobee3 can still be controlled by another Alexa; it just doesn’t have her built in.

But it does have most of the Alexa features you love including the ability to tell it commands and have her respond.

The best reason to buy one, of course, is that you can call out commands to the thermostat anywhere within earshot. For instance, you can request “Alexa, turn the temperature down”. You can also get specific and say “Alexa, turn the temperature up 3 degrees”.

If you have other Alexa-based smart home devices, such as the Phillips Hue LED Bulbs and Hub that are compatible with Alexa, you can also say things like, “Alexa, turn the lights on”.

Philips Hue White A19 60W Equivalent LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit (4 A19 White Bulbs and 1 Hub Compatible with Amazon Alexa Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant) Middle Class Dad ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Lite

Don’t want Alexa in your thermostat? You can disable this feature if you wish.

You can also turn off the microphone that is built into ecobee4 to stop it from listening.

Alexa features that don’t work on ecobee4

Unlike stand-alone Echo Dots, you can’t change the wake word so you’re stuck with calling her Alexa.

If you have another Alexa nearby, you’ll want to change the wake word on that (done through the mobile app) so they don’t both answer every time. As I mentioned, music streaming is disabled too, nor can you call or text anyone like you can on regular Echo Dots.

When you first install it, you’ll need to then install the ecobee in your Alexa app to be able to access its features.

In addition to being a smart home thermostat, you can also have your ecobee4:

  • Set alarms, timers or reminders
  • tell you the time or the weather
  • make shopping lists
  • tell you jokes, riddles, and fun facts

Check out all the voice commands that will work with ecobee4.

It’s also worth noting that ANY Alexa-enabled device can be used to control your thermostat once you have the app set appropriately. So if you have an Echo Dot by your bed and the thermostat is downstairs, you can still make changes to the temperature from your bed.

Do ecobee3 sensors work with ecobee4?

Yes, all the ecobee wireless sensors are compatible with the ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Lite; they work with any of them.

If you already have wireless room sensors from your ecobee3 or ecobee3 lite, they will connect and work with the ecobee4.

Speaking of sensors, if you find you need additional sensors, you can get a 2 pack on Amazon with free shipping!

ecobee sensors Middle Class Dad ecobee3 vs 4 vs ecobee3 Lite

What is the ecobee Homekit?

HomeKit is Apple’s system for controlling Smart Home accessories.

Thus it allows you to control lights, locks, music systems, security systems, and your ecobee3 or ecobee4 smart thermostats from your Apple device such as an iPhone or iPad.

HomeKit allows you to use standard Siri voice commands to access your ecobee.

You can also group a series of commands into a “scene” and execute that with a single command. Lastly, the ecobee Homekit allows you to set location-based triggers to turn on various scenes when you arrive or leave your home.

To use any HomeKit-enabled accessories when you aren’t at home, you will need an Apple TV (3rd generation or later) with software version 7.0 or later.

See the complete list of Homekit compatible devices on CNET.

Middle Class Dad Ecobee3 vs 4 vs Ecobee3 Lite woman on iPhone with a smart home in the background

What is the C wire for?

The C wire, also known as the “common wire”, sends power to the thermostat. Unless your house is brand new and never had a thermostat before, it will have a C wire.

If you don’t have a C-wire, you’ll have to run a new one from your HVAC unit to your thermostat to take advantage of most smart thermostats. Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal color used for the C-wire. When in doubt, consult a pro.

But in most cases, you’ll be replacing an existing thermostat, in which case you’ll simply connect the same wires that were connected to the old one.

Installing with a C-wire, check out the installation instructions here:

No C-wire? Follow this guide instead:

Did I cover everything you wanted to know about the Ecobee3 vs 4 vs Ecobee3 lite?

In this ultimate guide to smart thermostats, we looked at the Ecobee3, Ecobee3 Lite, and the Ecobee4.

Specifically, we compared the Ecobee3 vs 4 vs Ecobee3 lite so you can choose the perfect smart thermostat for your smart home. I had previously reviewed the Emerson Sensi smart thermostat, so if you aren’t sold on an ecobee, make sure and check out all that the Sensi has to offer.

If you have questions, comments or concerns, please let me know! Comment here or email me anytime!

Not ready to change your thermostat yet? Why not save this pin to your favorite Pinterest boards so it will be there when you need it? I update it frequently too!

Middle Class Dad Ecobee3 vs 4 vs Ecobee3 Lite bio
The ecobee3 vs 4 images used in this post were acquired from the web and are considered “fair use” under US Copyright law given this post is for the purposes of reviewing these products. That being said if the original photographer prefers us to not use their photo, we will happily swap them out upon being contacted.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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