A thermostat is one of the most important devices in any home, especially the homes in USA and Canada. Choosing the right thermostat helps you save money & energy alike. In this article, we share you 5 useful tips to select the best fit for your home.
As you already know, thermostats help maintain a comfortable temperature in your home by controlling the heating/cooling system – be it furnace based or boiler based or electricity based. Thermostats maintain the room temperature by turning the heating/cooling system ON/OFF intermittently (after sensing the current room temperature). Let’s dive into choosing the right model for you.
1. Identify your heating/cooling system
The very first tip is that not all thermostats are alike. To replace a thermostat or to install a new one, the first step is to identify your heating/cooling system. 90% of the Americas runs on central furnace based heating/cooling system – which is low voltage systems. For this type of systems, you need to choose a low voltage thermostat which runs on 24 volts or 40 volts. Most of the thermostat models out there in the market are low voltage thermostats. All those smart thermostats models like Nest, Ecobee, Emerson Sensi are all low voltage thermostats.
On the other hand, there are heating/cooling systems which run purely on electricity. Such systems are line voltage systems. About 10% of American homes use electricity for their heating systems. Such systems require line voltage thermostats for controlling them.
2. Smart Thermostat or a Pocket-Friendly Programmable Model?
The next tip is to choose between a smart thermostat and an ordinary programmable thermostat. Smart thermostats come with a lot of features like self-learning, geo-fencing (where it tracks you are away from home and adjusts itself), farsight and a lot of other useful features like WiFi connectivity, controlling from anywhere via Internet etc. But these features come with a good price tag as well. Most of the smart thermostat models cost anything above 150 USD per piece. And full feature models would cost above 220 USD for Nest & Ecobee (there are also budget models like Lux Kono (as in the image above) which costs in the 150 USD range). If features & convenience are important for you (and budget is not a constraint), go for a smart thermostat without any second thoughts. A smart thermostat is worth the investment!
If you have budget constraints, then choose a normal programmable digital thermostat which costs in the range of 40 to 50 USD. These budget-friendly digital thermostats really serve all the essential purpose of a thermostat. They save energy and they regulate temperature really well. The only difference with a smart thermostat is in the convenience & high-end features. These thermostats don’t have learning ability (you’ve to program yourself based on preferences), they don’t have WiFi capability and they lack such high-end features. Otherwise, these models are value for money and never holes your pocket.
3. Single Stage or Multi-Stage HVAC system
The 3rd factor you should consider is the number of stages in your HVAC system. Some systems are single stage, while some others are multi-stage. Single-stage systems will be having 1 Heat/1 Cool option, while multi-stage systems will be a combination of either 2 Heat/ 2 Cool or 2 Heat/1 Cool (as in most cases). Please be noted there are 3 stage systems as well but they are rare owing to high installation costs. All thermostats don’t support all systems. However, almost all thermostat models are compatible with single stage systems but not all models support multi-stage systems. You’ve to first identify which stage is your HVAC system – like if it is 1 stage or 2 stage. If it is 2 stage, identify if the system is 2H/2C or 2H/1C or some other variant. Now you’ve to check with thermostat manufacturers sheet to see if the model you’re considering is compatible with your system.
4. You’ve a Heat Pump installed or not
Some HVAC systems will have a heat pump installed along with the central furnace. And in some other cases, a heat pump will be the primary source of heat production. In any case, be informed if you’ve a heat pump with your system, you’ve to choose a thermostat that supports heat pump option. There are dedicated models of thermostats for the heat pump which serves the purpose.
5. Your system has Aux Heat or Emergency heating system
If your HVAC system has emergency heating (sometimes referred to as Auxiliary heating), then you’ve to choose a thermostat that supports systems with Aux heat. Be informed not all thermostats support aux heat mechanism in HVAC systems.
We’ve covered the most important 5 tips to select the right thermostat for your home. We could’ve added more & more criteria but we believe these 5 are the most crucial when it comes to choosing a thermostat. If you are replacing a thermostat, detach the thermostat and inspect to identify which model is it and you can identify your HVAC system as well by inspecting your current thermostat. If you are buying a new one, first identify your HVAC system type and buy a model which is compatible with your system.