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Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control vs. Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat

They're both great thermostats, but which one is right for you?

If you're in the market for a smart thermostat, the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control and the Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat are two solid options. These app-enabled thermostats offer intuitive technology so adjusting your home's temperature is a breeze whether you're at home or hundreds of miles away. While both models share a similar design and basic lineup of features, they're priced $80 apart. 

To find out where the two thermostats diverge -- and which one might be best for you -- we're taking a closer look at how the premium Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control compares to the more affordable Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The $249 Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is the company's most expensive smart thermostat. You can control it on your phone through the Ecobee app, but this model also has a built-in Amazon Alexa speaker. You can use Alexa voice commands to make phone calls, respond to texts and play your favorite music. You can also use the integrated Alexa to control your Ecobee thermostat, any other Alexa-powered devices.

Ecobee's SmartThermostat with Voice Control also plays well with other smart home ecosystems beyond Alexa. It's compatible with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT and Samsung SmartThings. This model works with Spotify and can pair with a Bluetooth speaker.

This thermostat has built-in temperature and occupancy sensors that automatically adjust your temperature based on whether you're home or away. Your purchase also includes a remote sensor called a SmartSensor. You can place the sensor in any room of your home, where it can read the ambient temperature and detect occupancy. Like the thermostat itself, the sensor's Smart Home & Away feature can make temperature adjustment coincide with whether you're home or away. You can buy additional SmartSensors for $80 (pack of two)

Read CNET's review of the Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control..

 

If you want a mix of savings and convenience, the Ecobee3 Lite might be the right fit for you. At $169, this thermostat is the most affordable offering from the company. 

The company gives you a variety of ways to monitor and make changes to your Ecobee3 Lite. You can control your home's temperature with a tap, either on the thermostat itself -- or through the Ecobee app. It also supports voice control and smart home integrations via Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings and Android and iOS devices like the Apple Watch. 

If you plan to go on vacation, you can activate vacation mode to maximize its energy efficiency. The system can help you detect rapid temperature variances, allowing you to react quickly to prevent your pipes from freezing. 

The thermostat also gets to know you. Each month, you receive a free energy audit complete with comparisons of your energy usage with others in your area. And with a seven-day scheduling function, the Ecobee3 Lite provides an affordable and convenient way to track your home's heating and air conditioning. Unlike the SmartThermostat, this one doesn't have a built-in occupancy sensor. It's compatible with SmartSensors, but you don't get one with your purchase. 

Read CNET's review of the Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat..

 

Features

The Ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control is more advanced than the Ecobee3 Lite. With the SmartThermostat, you receive access to all of the Eco Plus benefits. Those benefits include temperature change recommendations based on your activity, either at the thermostat or in other rooms, when you connect your SmartSensor to the Ecobee app. 

If you buy a SmartSensor for the Ecobee3 Lite, you do get some of those same benefits, but this less expensive model doesn't have an occupancy sensor built into the thermostat. And, while the Ecobee3 Lite works with all of the major smart home platforms, the SmartThermostat has voice control built-in. That hardware integration allows you to make temperature adjustments whenever you need it through a verbal command, without owning a separate Alexa-enabled smart speaker.

The SmartThermostat also works with Spotify -- and you can pair it with Bluetooth speakers to stream your favorite music, podcasts, and more in your home whenever you want. You can also make calls and listen to texts all hands-free. 

Accessories

Ecobee's SmartSensors work with both models. Your SmartThermostat comes with one SmartSensor; the Ecobee3 Lite doesn't come with any. You can buy SmartSensors a la carte in an $80 two-pack. 

The SmartSensors have temperature- and occupancy-sensing technology. If you have rooms in your home that run particularly warm or cool -- you can place the SmartSensor there and use that location as the default temperature setting for your thermostat. That way, your home's set temperature is based on the current temperature in the cold basement office -- or the hot upstairs bedroom instead of at the location of the thermostat. 

Which one is better?

Both are capable thermostats. While the Ecobee3 Lite Smart Thermostat doesn't have as many advanced features as the Ecobee SmartThermostat with VoiceControl, it gives you a lot of control over your heat and air conditioning. If you're looking for a simple way to manage your HVAC system from your phone, the Ecobee3 Lite is worth your money. You still receive features like Vacation Mode, seven-day programming, compatibility with Ecobee's wireless sensors and much more. And if your thermostat is located somewhere that's lightly trafficked, where you wouldn't commonly use voice commands or a smart speaker, the Ecobee3 Lite is a better choice. 

If you want a SmartSensor and a thermostat with its own occupancy sensor, the SmartThermostat makes the most sense. It comes with a SmartSensor that makes real-time adjustments based on a room's temperature, occupancy and more. The system can also play your favorite music through Spotify. And with integrated Alexa voice control, you can command your thermostat with the confidence of a James Bond villain.

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