Smart Thermostat Comparison – Nest vs Ecobee vs Honeywell vs Lennox

Nest Learning Thermostat vs Nest E Thermostat vs Ecobee 4 vs iComfort E30 vs Honeywell Lyric T6

In this article, we chose five popular smart thermostats to go head to head in our latest thermostat comparison. Two offerings from Nest Thermostats, one from Ecobee Thermostats, one from Lennox’s iComfort model line, and of course one from the big boy in thermostats, Honeywell.

We chose five that were similar in cost (including installation) from the more basic of the bunch; the Nest E, to the most advanced; the iComfort E30 – the price range swinging about $80 each way from the median price. The only other requirement was that the thermostats be compatible with most typical air conditioning and heating equipment. None of these thermostats are proprietary to a specific air conditioner manufacturer like the Nexia 1050 is to Trane or the iComfort S30 is to Lennox.

If this is the first time visiting my blog, you should know upfront; I own Magic Touch Mechanical in Mesa, AZ. – an air conditioning & heating company that sells & installs hundreds of thermostats every year. We sell all the brands mentioned here and then some, so this is an unbiased product comparison – frankly if you live in the Phoenix area and want a thermostat professionally installed, I want you to choose Magic Touch to do it, no matter which brand provides the best solution for your needs and budget!

If you are not in Arizona or plan on installing your new thermostat yourself, this article should help you choose the one that best fits the bill.


Smart Thermostats – The NEST Thermostat Changes the Game

When the NEST Smart Thermostat hit the scene in 2011, we saw an immediate spike in interest for what has become labeled the “smart” thermostat. NEST did something Honeywell, Braeburn, White Rodgers, and the rest hadn’t before – they made operating a programmable thermostat easy.

Programmable thermostats have been around for decades, and I’d estimate that we alone, installed literally thousands of them. The problem with older-style programmable thermostats was, most required a complicated process to set schedules and the user interface was lousy. Ultimately, nobody was saving money because they would become frustrated and abandon the schedule all together, defeating the purpose.

In 2011 NEST introduced a game changer in the industry with a programmable thermostat that “learned” your settings as you made them, and after a week or so of learning would make those adjustments automatically. In other words, if every morning at 6:30am you adjusted your thermostat from 72 degrees to 79 degrees, and then at 4:30pm you changed it from 79 degrees to 75 degrees, within a week or so it would just make those adjustments by itself at those times.


Wi-Fi Thermostats Become the New Normal

Mesa, AZ is a snowbird Mecca. Every year at summers end, the population explodes with part-time residents that live elsewhere part of the year. These part-timers were our typical client who asked about Wi-Fi capable thermostats, so they could control their A/C and heating units from afar when they weren’t here.

In recent years however, it’s even full-time residents want Wi-Fi thermostats. Some of the benefits of owning a Wi-Fi thermostat include:


  • Use your phone or tablet as a remote control when you are home – Don’t want to leave the couch to adjust the thermostat temperature? Just pick up your cell phone…even if you’re on the phone, you can control your thermostat.
  • No energy bill surprises – Is your teenager cranking down the AC when he/she gets home from school and then turning it back up before you get home? Now you not only know, but can change it from your office…or even password protect it!
  • Full control of your bill and comfort – I like to pre-cool/heat my home so it’s at the ideal level when I walk in the door, without having to leave it cool/warm all day. I change the temperature on my drive home so it’s just right when I arrive…but I don’t have to do it myself, thanks to geo tracking. I’ve enabled my thermostat to connect to the GPS in my smartphone to do it automatically.
  • Energy Use Tracking / Reports – The amount of money I save while still maintaining the comfort level I demand (“meat-locker cold”) is impressive. With geo-fencing aka “smart away”, my units run more optimally on my schedule because it adapts to changes in my schedule every day (think 1-2 hour unexpected trips out of the house). The reports show just how many opportunities to save a few dollars there are on a given day and just does it!


Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat Comparison: How Do They Stack Up Side by Side?


*Note: Some “communicating” AC Systems require a proprietary manufacturer thermostat. Additional control wires may need to be installed in some applications.


Pros and Cons of Each Smart Thermostat

NEST E Thermostat 

  • Lowest cost installed
  • Simplest to use
  • Not as full featured as its competitors


NEST Learning Thermostat

  • The first “learning” thermostat
  • Color options
  • Ease of use (best in class)
  • Often requires home equipped with “common” wire


Lennox iComfort E30

  • Most feature rich (this comparison doesn’t begin to cover the features built into the E30 its competitors do not
  • Beautiful display and weather reports (best in class)
  • “Feels Like” feature. (Think wind-chill factor and heat index)
  • Pricier than its competitors


Honeywell Lyric T6 Wi-Fi

  • Honeywell reliability (the largest player in the thermostat world)
  • Ease of use
  • Soft display is “easy on the eyes”
  • Doesn’t have as much wow factor as its competitors


Ecobee 4  

  • Ability to add data sensors in other rooms (at additional cost)
  • Sleek feel and design catching up to NEST
  • Crisp display but more basic than some of its competitors
  • A newer player, although constantly improving – not all HVAC Technicians may be familiar with it.


Bottom Line

If basic Wi-Fi capability is all you’re after, the NEST E is the best bang for the buck at $50 less installed than the closest competitor.

If all the bells and whistles, plus the kitchen sink, while being easy to operate is your thing – the Lennox iComfort E30 is all that plus a bag of chips. It really is like having an iPad control center! 

Personally, I own four NEST Learning Thermostats on different properties. They give me everything I’m interested in and have that Apple-esque design and ease of use that you might expect considering the original designer was also the original designer of the first iPod Touch.

If I had to replace one of the NEST’s I have now, I would probably fork over the additional $75 and upgrade to the Lennox iComfort E30…although $470 is nothing to sneeze at especially for a thermostat, but I’m a tech junkie and like Lennox products.

Written by:

Rich Morgan, President

Magic Touch Mechanical, Inc.