ecobee4 one-ups other smart Wi-Fi-equipped thermostats by including remote sensors. They allow you to not only measure the temperature of the room or hallway where the thermostat is installed but also any other room as well. As such, you get more granular control and better comfort and energy efficiency in your house. With the new Alexa-enabled ecobee4, you get all the magic of the HomeKit-enabled ecobee3 and built-in Alexa voice control. Even better, thanks to the built-in speaker and microphone setup, Alexa is just as powerful on the ecobee4 as it is on Amazon's Echo products. With HomeKit compatibility, you also get full support for Siri control, including the ability to change temperature with your voice and trigger more complex actions with scenes, using your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch.
Bottom line: With extra temperature and occupancy sensors you can place throughout your home, built-in Alexa voice control, and HomeKit compatibility, the ecobee4 is hands-down the most integrated, powerful, and doggone fun Wi-Fi smart thermostat you can buy.
One more thing: ecobee is an independent company, not part of a search engine giant. So, if you want to avoid even the slightest chance of your data being harvested or shared, you want ecobee.
Why the ecobee4 is the best
Remote sensors, Amazon Alexa, and easy remote control make ecobee4 the complete package.
I love the idea of controlling my home with my iPhone, iPad, and especially my Apple Watch. When I needed to replace my thermostat, I first looked at Nest. I'll be honest — their being owned by Google was a concern of mine. I'm incredibly concerned about online privacy and I just don't like the idea of a data company having a sensor in my house. So, I went with ecobee – first the original and then the HomeKit version as soon as it was available.
Given some of the stumbles Nest has made since then, the continued lack of HomeKit support, and the general neglect that seems to have plagued their products, I'm more convinced than ever that I made the right choice. You don't really appreciate the convenience of a connected thermostat until you have one. It was relatively easy to set up, and since then it's been incredibly easy to control on my iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
The original version required its own app, but the current version works with HomeKit, which is Apple's home automation framework. That means that once you're set up with the app, you can use Apple's virtual assistant, Siri to control your ecobee4. You can also integrate it into scenes with your other HomeKit enabled accessories.
With iOS 10, you can use Apple's new Home app to do all the setup and management as well, and with tvOS 10 and the current generation Apple TV, you can control ecobee4 with the Siri Remote and also access it remotely from anywhere in the world. That's one of the big advantages of HomeKit.
While the ecobee4 comes with one additional sensor, you can get dozens of others to place around even the biggest house. That way, even if the temperature fluctuates from room to room, you can make sure everything is set just the way you like it.
The ecobee4 is a full-featured, Alexa-enabled device. It comes with embedded microphones that feature far-field voice recognition (the same technology that makes the Amazon Echo hear you from across the room) and a speaker that makes Alexa sound loud and clear, despite coming from a thermostat fastened to your wall. That means, on top of having all the same great features as the ecobee3 (HomeKit-enabled, satellite room sensors, energy-saving benefits), you can use the ecobee4 in the same way you'd use an Echo, Echo Dot, or Tap. Ask Alexa to set a timer, adjust the lighting, give you the steps to a recipe, play some jazz — you can do it all right from your smart thermostat. You can also — of course — use Alexa to adjust the temperature in your home but that's just one tiny detail. ?
Those four factors — not being tied to Google, integration with HomeKit and Amazon's Alexa, and the extra sensors — combine to make ecobee4 the best Wi-Fi thermostat for anyone in the Apple's ecosystem.
Best for less: ecobee3 lite
ecobee3 lite is more or less the ecobee3 thermostat without the extra sensors. It has all the same great features, including HomeKit compatibility and Siri control; it's just constrained to the area where you install the main unit.
If you have a small apartment, condo, or home, or just don't feel the need for extra sensors in other rooms, it's a great way to get started with ecobee3 and save a little money while doing it.
Bottom line: If you want ecobee3 but you don't want to pay for the full starter kit, you can get the essentials with lite.
One more thing: You can still add extra sensors at any time to expand your ecobee3 setup.
Best of the rest: Nest
Alphabet's Nest may not be the newest smart thermostat on the block any longer, but it was the one that sparked a generational shift. The HAL-like dial is futuristic, largely easy to operate (albeit sometimes clunky to type with), and Nest comes with a great iPhone and iPad app for controlling your house's temperature. It also supports the Works with Nest program, which provides integrations with dozens of other smart home products.
Ultimately, what separates it from our top pick is its age and lack of HomeKit support — though ultra-modern when released, Nest is showing signs of not being quite as technologically advanced as its competitors. It doesn't offer room sensors, like the ecobee, nor does it let you connect to Apple's HomeKit framework.
That said, if you have other Works with Nest products in your home and few HomeKit options, Nest might be the better of the two picks.
There's also the question of privacy: Nest is owned by Alphabet (A.K.A. Google), and the thermostat's operating ability centers around web access.
Bottom line: If you're inside the Works with Nest ecosystem and don't mind Google's ownership, Nest is a great non-HomeKit alternative to Ecobee.
One more thing: Works with Nest is really the best bit of the Nest thermostat. You can use it to tell items in your home to go on or off at a certain temperature or clue Nest in to when you're home or away.
Smart, Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats are maturing rapidly, but they're still very new — a lot is still changing and fast. But if you're all-in on Apple, and you want a smart thermostat now, ecobee4 is your best bet.
Note: The Honeywell Lyric is a third option and one that also supports HomeKit. It hasn't beat out ecobee4 or Nest in any of the comparisons we've seen to date, but we look forward to testing it ourselves and updating in the near future.