The ecobee3 has been our top pick for nearly 2 years, and the family just got bigger: the ecobee3 lite Smarter Thermostat rolled out this October!
Toronto-based ecobee slimmed down the feature set of its flagship thermostat and aimed at the “budget” end of the smart thermostat market with this new addition. It’s cheaper than the ecobee3 “classic” with few sacrifices.
The most notable change is the removal of support for “room sensors”, those little white doodads that get placed around your home to give your thermostat a better understanding of your home’s room-to-room temperature variations. The ecobee3 made a name for itself with this unique feature, so abandoning it for the ecobee3 lite is a daring move. (Read our full ecobee3 review here)
Ecobee is betting that their thermostat can stand alone, sans sensors – and we think they’re right.
What’s the difference? ecobee3 lite vs. ecobee3 “classic”
The biggest difference is the ecobee3 lite doesn’t include nor support room sensors. This means you can’t add them later, either.
The original ecobee3 comes with one room sensor (three if you buy the bundle) and let you add more to give the thermostat a more complete understanding of your home’s temperatures. They also act as motion detectors, so your ecobee3 would know which rooms were actually occupied. However, if your home is smaller, has an open floorplan, or is already wired for multiple zones, you may not actually benefit from the sensors.
The other major difference is that the ecobee3 lite doesn’t support humidifiers, dehumidifiers, or ventilators. If you have these accessories, you should get the ecobee3 so you can take full advantage of your home’s HVAC equipment. If you don’t have any of these things, though, the lite should suffice.
There’s a slight difference in the unit’s physical design, too. The ecobee3 lite has ever-so-slightly more rounded corners.
What’s the same?
Pretty much everything else.
The ecobee3 lite and the ecobee3 share:
- the same awesome 3.5″ touch screen
- the same easy-to-use app
- same easy installation
- integration with Amazon’s Alexa (voice control through Echo/Echo Dot)
- Apple HomeKit support
- usage reports
- same average savings of 23% on your energy bills
- power extender kit (PEK) included, for systems without a C-wire
- 3 year warranty
It’s really the exact same thing minus sensors and accessory support.
ecobee3 lite quick review
This is our first time rewarding a 5 star score to a smart thermostat in this site’s 3 year history, but the ecobee3 lite has earned it. (The ecobee3 “classic” comes close with a 4.5.) It represents the best of the ecobee3 design, minus the sensors and accessory support that not every user needs, and packages it up at an affordable price point. It even works with systems without a C-wire, thanks to the included Power Extender Kit. This is the smart thermostat to get.
Who is the ecobee3 lite for?
- Budget-concious shoppers
- Homes with multiple zones (the savings will add up)
- Open floorplan homes and smaller homes that don’t really benefit from multiple sensors
- Shoppers who just didn’t think the sensors were that cool in the first place
Best of all, the original ecobee3, which we’ve recommended for over 2 years, is still available and supported.
If you’ve always wanted an ecobee3 but didn’t need the room sensors or found the price a bit too high for your budget, the lite is for you. The lite version is poised to compete with lower-priced smart thermostat offerings, such as the LuxGEO and Emerson Sensi (our budget-friendly smart thermostat favorites), without sacrificing the features that really made ecobee3 great.
If you have an ecobee3 already, there’s no reason to switch. The lite isn’t an “upgrade”, per se, and the thermostat unit itself is almost exactly the same size. The apps are the same, the interface is the same, and you’d lose support for your room sensors.
We hesitate to make the ecobee3 lite our go-to recommendation quite yet because ecobee (the manufacturer) says this is a limited quantity launch. Whether they make more is probably dependent on how well this one sells, which we think will be very well. The only thing ecobee has to worry about is running out of stock.
Get yours now!
ecobee seems to be testing the waters with this “lite” thermostat and warns shoppers that “This is a limited quantity launch. Buy yours while supplies last.”
With the holiday shopping season rapidly approaching, it’d be wise to pick yours up now before they run out.