The thermostat is the central hub of the HVAC system giving homeowners control over their furnace and AC units. Not all thermostats are created equally. Over the years, thermostat technology has evolved for more customization and energy efficiency. The type of thermostat in your home can have a huge impact on your HVAC systems efficiency. Choose the best thermostat here at HomElectrical, while we break down the different categories of thermostats.
Traditional Analog Thermostats
Traditional analog thermostats, or mechanical thermostats are the original and most basic kind of thermostat available. Although mechanical thermostats are the cheapest option they do come with some limitations in features. For starters, the temperature setting must be physically changed, usually with a turn dial or sliding switch.
The display typically shows the room temperature and furnace temperature, although the thermostat temperature accuracy can be off by a couple of degrees. Mechanical thermostats lack the coveted feature, programing. If you want to be able to set different temperatures for different times of day then the traditional analog thermostat is not the one you want.
How they work
Most analog thermostats work using a bimetallic strip. Two different pieces of metal expand and contract based on the increase or decrease of temperature. Similar to a light switch, as the bimetallic strip moves it will open or close the contact to turn the HVAC on or off. Analog thermostats feature only on/off settings for heating/cooling and fan positions.
Digital thermostats are an electronic version of the traditional mechanical thermostat. They include an easy-to-read display and are most often used to replace aging thermostats. Although these are electronic, they still need to be controlled manually from the mounted thermostat. The display will show modes for heating and cooling, as well as a fan control position to on/off and automatic. The automatic feature will shut off the AC once the home has reached the desired temperature.
How they work
Digital thermostats work in the same way that the mechanical thermostats work, but instead the electronic thermostats use electronic controls and connectors, instead of bimetallic coil, to sense temperature changes. Overall, digital thermostats are much more accurate at reading the temperature than the mechanical ones.
Programmable thermostats are a customizable version of a digital thermostat. Programmable thermostats still include a clear display of the room and HVAC unit temperatures and must be set up manually from the wall mounted thermostat. The main, and arguably most important, difference between a plain digital thermostat and a programmable one is right in its name. A programmable thermostat can be programed. In other words, it has controls for setting the day of the week, the time, and the temperature. Homeowners can save up to 10% annual on electricity cost by switching to a programmable thermostat.
How they work
Using a programmable thermostat’s controls, a homeowner can set their AC unit and boiler to specific temperatures based on the time of day and day of the week. For example, the thermostat can be set to a higher or lower than comfortable temperature when no one is home and can then be set up to return to the desired temperature when everyone returns. During the weekend when everyone is home the thermostat can be programmed to a more ideal temperature.
Smart Thermostats bring the latest and greatest technology to world of thermostats. Smart thermostats take programing to a whole new level, they can learn! A smart thermostat will learn your preferences and adjust accordingly. For example, a sensor can be set up to notice if no one is home and will shut off the AC or heating units.
The thermostat can be controlled through the high-quality display on the wall mounted unit, or using the thermostat's companion app.
Wait an app? That’s right, these thermostats can be controlled from most tablets, computers, and smart phones. The best part is that you can control the temperature and fan level from anywhere.
Gone are the days of worrying about if you turned your furnace off before you left on vacation. As a bonus, many of the apps come with detailed statistics about heating and AC usage so that you can optimize power savings. HomElectrical carries a variety of smart thermostats from leading companies like and Ecobee.
How they work
Unlike the other thermostats a Smart Thermostat is connected to both your HVAC system and your home Wi-Fi network. The connection with the Wi-Fi allows the thermostat to communicate to the internet, which sends the information to the app
The installation is relatively easy; however, these newer models of thermostat are not always compatible with older furnaces. Add this in conjunction with other smart devices, such as any Z-Wave devices, for complete control of your home lighting, securing, heating, and cooling, all from the convenience of your smart phone.
There are numerous options when it comes to finding the best heating and air solution for your space. The best option is to consult with a certified electrician before choosing your thermostat. Here is a quick wrap-up of the features of each of the thermostat types discussed so you can find what works for you.
Be sure to check your HVAC compatibility before making a purchase, and don’t be afraid to reach out to us at HomElectrical with any questions.
Got an upcoming heating project? Let us help you find the perfect HVAC solution for you!
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