Which Mindstorms EV3 set best to buy 45544 or 31313 ?

This article covers the difference between the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Home Edition 31313 and LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 45544 products.

One robotics platform, two targets

The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robotics platform has been developed for two different target audiences. We have:
     - home users - children and hobbyists
     - educational users - students and teachers

LEGO has designed a base set for each group, as well as several add on sets. There isn’t a clear line between home users and educational users, though. It’s fine to use the Education set at home, and it’s fine to use the Home Edition set at school. This article aims to clarify the differences between the two product lines so you can decide which product works best for you and gives the result which product is best to buy.

Which set to choose?

The facts and figures on this page may help you decide which set works best for you in terms of hardware and software, but there are other criteria as well. Which set is the best to buy?

LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Home Edition 31313

The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 set (LEGO #31313) is the one you’ll find in toy stores and many online stores. It is often referred to as the Home Edition or Retail Edition. Right out of the box you can build 5 robots including EV3RSTORM, GRIPP3R, TRACK3R, R3PTAR and SPIK3R - (link) and 12 bonus models (link).

You program the robot with software that you can download from the LEGO MINDSTORMS website for free (link). You can also control your robot with your smart phone, or with the infrared remote control that comes with the set.

The set contains
• 1x EV3 programmable brick 
• 2x Large Motors
• 1x Medium motor
• 1x Touch Sensor
• 1x Color Sensor
• 1x Infrared Sensor and an infrared remote, as shown in Figure 2.
• 7x Connector cables
• 1x USB cable for programming

You’ll need 6 AA batteries for the EV3 brick, and 2 AAA batteries for the remote. Instead of using 6 AA batteries, you can purchase the LEGO EV3 Rechargeable Battery and charger. (See “The EV3 Rechargeable Battery” below.)

The set further contains nearly 600 building elements, including beams, axles, gears and connectors, as shown in figure below.

LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 45544 Set

The LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Core Set 455444 is available from Lego-discounter.com or others. The set includes building instructions for one vehicle with various sensor attachments. More building instructions are available, click here. Software tutorials are available as part of the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 programming software, which can be downloaded for free, click here.

The set contains
• 1x EV3 programmable brick
• 2x Large Motors
• 1x Medium motor
• 2x Touch Sensors
• 1x Color Sensor
• 1x Ultrasonic Sensor
• 1x Gyro sensor
• 7x connector cables
• 1x USB cable for programming 
• 1x Rechargeable battery 45501

Optional
• 1x Charger 45517

The set contains nearly 540 building elements, including beams, axles, gears and connectors. The sturdy plastic box further contains storage bins for your technic elements.

‘Upgrading’ Elements from Home Edition to Education Edition

When you have the Home Edition set - 31313, you may still want to build the robots of the Education Core Set - 45544. To do so, you’ll need to purchase separately the Ultrasonic Sensor 45504 (link) and the Gyroscopic Sensor 45505 (link), as well as certain technic building elements. Note that the Infrared Sensor has exactly the same shape as the Ultrasonic Sensor. Both sensors can sense distance, but the Ultrasonic Sensor is more accurate for distance sensing. On the other hand, the Infrared Sensor also serves as the receiver for the Infrared Remote. It’s up to you to decide whether you need both sensors.

EV3 Programming Software Versions

LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robots can be programmed from a computer (PC/MAC) or a tablet (iOS/Android). The tablet app is a simplified version, leaving out several programming options. The PC/MAC programming software is the full version (and just as easy to use). Both the computer software and the tablet app comes in two versions: The Home Edition and the Education Edition for teachers and students.

Home Edition Software

The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Home Edition set - 31313 does not include a software CD in the box. Instead, you will need to download the Home Edition software for free from the LEGO MINDSTORMS website (link). The software includes a programming environment, and building and programming instructions for the robots you can build with the Home Edition set. The software does not require a license key, so you can download the software early to see if you like the programming language, and to avoid waiting for a big download when you want to get started building and programing. The installation file is about 700 MB in size. I found the following system requirements in the installation folder. I added a few comments in parentheses–they are not official comments. If you’re in doubt: Download and run the free software to see if it works before you buy the set!

Education Edition for Teachers and Students

The LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 software - 45544 can be downloaded here for free (link). The installation file is about 700 MB in size. The system requirements are the same as given above. As of 2017, no paid license is required to download, install, or run this software. The software includes a programming environment, and building and programming instructions for the robots you can build with the Education Core Set 45544 and the Education Expansion set 45560. In addition, it contains a data logging environment for science experiments. For example, you can plot a graph of the light level in a room, and see it change over time.

Using the Home Edition Software with the Education set

The EV3 brick in the Home Edition set is the same as the EV3 brick in the Education Core Set, so you can use either version of the programming software to control your robot. In fact, you can install both versions of the software on the same computer, if you like. So it is perfectly possible to use the Home Edition software with the Education Core Set and vice versa. When you do, you’ll need to add a few programming blocks to the software to be able to control the Gyroscope and the Ultrasonic Sensor.

LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Expansion Set 45560

You can upgrade the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Core Set 45544 with the LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 Expansion Set 45560, (link). This allows you to build bigger robots such as an elephant and a stair climber (link). The set includes over 850 building elements including beams, axles, and gears, as shown in Figure below. It does not contain any electronic elements.

While this add on pack was made for the Education Core Set, it’s also an excellent parts resource for use with the EV3 Home Edition 31313. You won’t be able to build all of the models from this add on pack because you may be missing some elements from the Education Core Set, but the pieces are very useful to create your own robots. In particular, the set contains 9x O-frames, 6xH frames, 13x 15M beams, and numerous gears including a differential and a turntable.

The EV3 Rechargeable Battery

The LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Home Edition set does not include a rechargeable battery. You can simply use 6x AA batteries. You may want to invest in 6 high performance rechargeable batteries with a dedicated charger. If you do, you’ll probably want to get at least 12 batteries so you can use one set while you charge the others.

You can also purchase the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 rechargeable battery 45501, (link) and the charger 45517, (link). This allows you to charge your robot while it’s on. No need to take your robot apart when the batteries run empty. The battery does make your EV3 a bit bigger (precisely one LEGO unit), as shown in Figure below.

Apps for Smartphones and Tablets

You can control your EV3 from your iOS (link) or Android (link) smartphone or tablet. The official Commander app is targeted at Home Edition users, with specific controls for the Home Edition robots, but it also works with the Education Core Set. In particular, if you have the Education Core Set, you can use the TRACK3R controls to drive the Educator Vehicle. In addition, you can create their own customized remote to control each motor connected to the EV3 brick. You can also program the EV3 with a tablet (link).

Conclusion: which set best to buy ?

When you compare both sets in quality of delivery, price, education possibilities, First lego league etc. our advise is to buy the Lego Education EV3 45544. This unit is used in schools, the First Lego League needs always this set together with the Lego Expansion set 45560 and all sets will be delivered in a very nice handy storagebox. The best price for this set is € 379,95 and is very competitive with the cheaper Home Edition model 31313. This set is to buy here (link)


The Winner is..................... Lego Mindstorms EV3 Education 45544. 

Congratulations in buying this wonderful EV3 Education 45544 set.