Ecobee3 vs Ecobee4: What are the differences?

Ecobee3 vs Ecobee4

Ecobee is one of the most established names in the smart thermostat market, releasing several products with incremental innovations. The upgrade from the Ecobee3 to the Ecobee4 is more concerned with the control and smart capabilities of the thermostat, rather than the quality of the outcome. This article will compare the Ecobee3 vs Ecobee4 in detail by covering the main similarities and differences. The most important features will be ticked off and after reading this you will understand whether these are suitable for you. For more information about the top two brands of smart thermostats, Nest and Ecobee, check this article out.

1. Design

ecobee3 Smarter Wi-Fi Thermostat with Remote Sensor, 2nd Generation
  • Works with Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold...
  • Smart, really smart - intuitively understands when to...
  • Knows you have a life - senses whether anyone's home...

Upgrade of the design from the Ecobee3 to the Ecobee4 is very subtle.  The original Ecobee3 measures 3.95 x 3.95 x 0.93 inches and weighs a mere 1.35 lbs. Styling-wise it is a rounded square with an aesthetic minimalist black coloring with the interface text and other controls being white.

ecobee4 Smart Thermostat with Built-In Alexa, Room Sensor Included
  • SAVE MONEY: Homeowners save up to 23% annually on...
  • ROOM SENSORS: Place them in the rooms that matter the...
  • EASILY INSTALL YOURSELF: It only takes about 30...

Very similar is the design of the Ecobee4 which is a practically identical shape and design. It is ever so slightly bigger, measuring 4 x 1 x 4 inches weighing just 1 lb. The coloring scheme is the same except for a blue LED strip along the top of the thermostat which represents Alexa thinking, just as it does on a traditional Echo.


If your upgrading from an Ecobee3 to an Ecobee4, you should be aware that the backplate of the newer model has changed. The locations of some of the terminals are different so you must be careful when doing the installation. It is wise to always hire a professional if this if you lack competence.

2. Alexa Integration

A key difference fo the Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 is the integration of Alexa into the newer model. The Ecobee3 worked with Alexa but required an additional Alexa device like those from the Echo range. With the Ecobee4, hardware has been built into the device so the Alexa system can live solely within it.

ecobee4 alexa

A key factor to remember is that the version of Alexa inside the Ecobee4 is limited to compared to the version found within an Echo. For example, the Ecobee4 is good for operating 3rd party skills but is limited when it comes to Amazon skills. This makes it the right option for those who just want some easier use and voice control of the Ecobee4, as well as some basic home automation. Anyone who wants the best from Alexa, Amazon Skill and smart home control should probably opt for an Echo.

Far-Field Voice Recognition

In addition to the new microphone and Alexa found in the Ecobee4, Far Field Voice Recognition technology has also been added in order for the microphone to recognize commands from a distance. An important consideration to remember is where the Ecobee4 is placed. It needs to be relatively close to your living area in order to get anything out of the voice control features. If you have to get near it each time, this defeats the purpose of the voice control in some ways. In some instances like this, an additional Echo in your living room would work better.

3. Touch Screen Interface

Both the Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 use an LCD touch screen as the primary basis for daily control. On this screen, you have a few data and control points:

  • Indoor temperature
  • Indoor humidity
  • System Mode
  • Menu
  • Live Weather and Forecast
  • Quick Changes
  • Temperature Slider

The Ecobee has specific voice recognition controls which include, enabling/disabling Alexa, the volume of Alexa and whether the microphone is on or off.

ecobee3 buttons

4. Room Sensors

Room sensors allow each Ecobee to manage temperatures across your home in a more accurate way. Traditional thermostats will take the measurement from just one place which isn’t always entirely useful for getting temperatures across the home on point. Essentially, the room sensors are a separate piece of kit to the Ecobee models and are therefore the same. Every model comes with one room sensor included, so from this point of comparison, there is little difference between the Ecobee3 and Ecobee4. More sensors with your Ecobee device has several benefits including more comfortable temperatures, saving more money and greater control.

5. Power Extender Kit

A Power Extender Kit (PEK) comes included with each Ecobee device and serves the purpose of enabling installation in homes that don’t have a C wire. The PEK is installed at your furnace control board and is wired to your existing thermostat, which effectively creates a C. For those who are a little less competent at installations, it is recommended to use a professional to the job as fiddling with electricity mains can be dangerous. Whether you go for the Ecobee3 or Ecobee4 bares little relevance to this but it is certainly worth noting.

6. HVAC Support

In order for a smart thermostat to be useful in any way, it must be compatible with a wide range of HVAC systems, especially yours. As well as controlling temperature, the Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 can both control the humidifier and dehumidifiers of compatible systems. The compatibility of each is the same across the board, so here is a rundown of which HVAC systems will work with Ecobee devices:

HVAC compatibility

7. App & Reports

Ecobee have developed a well-rounded app compatible with iOS and Android systems. The Ecobee app adds a new dimension to controlling and reporting of the smart thermostats at work, in a simple manner. Whether you’re using the Ecobee3 or Ecobee4, the benefits of the app are exactly the same. Here are a few examples:

  • Scheduling heating and cooling
  • Remote access
  • Easy installation
  • Control other smart devices

Final Word

When comparing the Ecobee4 vs Ecobee4, the outcome of the task of heating and cooling your home is the same. The differences here lie within the ease of use, mostly through the Alexa and voice control that comes along with it. However, this is not necessarily the best solution as this version of Alexa isn’t as complete as the one found in the Echo. Another consideration is the placing of the Ecobee4, for example, if it is too far away from your living area then you will have to walk near it to be heard by it, which somewhat defeats the purposes of voice control. Much of the benefit of the Ecobee3 and Ecobee4 comes from the room sensors as this fine-tunes the control.

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Rupert Pople

Rupert is the founder of this website and a smart home tech enthusiast fascinated by the power of connected devices. Within his Business Management (BSc) degree at the University of Nottingham, he studied the technological impact of the Internet of Things.

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