Different Types Of Thermostats Explained

setting temperature with thermostat

A thermostat is important for ensuring that the HVAC system installed in your house works optimally. This gadget can be set to turn your heating or air conditioning on or off, and it allows you to dictate what the temperature should be set to.

When used responsibly, a thermostat can be your greatest partner in managing your power bills. When shopping for a thermostat of any design, it is advisable to select one with an ENERGY STAR symbol to further optimize your heating and cooling use.

How They Operate

In terms of operation, thermostats are available in two basic types: line-voltage and low-voltage.

Line-voltage thermostats

These thermostats are used in single heating systems, including radiator systems and baseboards. Line-voltage thermostats are installed in series with heaters, mostly at 240V. In this type of connection, the current flows through the thermostat and into the heater. Unfortunately, it is possible for the thermostat itself to reach the set room temperature, causing it to shut off even before the heater has brought the entire room to the set temperature.

Low-voltage thermostats

Low-voltage thermostats are more efficient when it comes to controlling the current of air. These thermostats are used in central HVAC systems that use electricity, gas, and oil. They are also used in water heating systems, particularly in zone valves, and in electric unitary systems. With a low-voltage thermostat, you will not only be able to accurately control current, but also have an easier time using programmable controls. This ease is mostly because they operate between 24V and 50V, as opposed to the 240V used for line-voltage thermostats.

Types of Wall-Control Devices

Once you know which type of thermostat operation will work with your home's HVAC system you can choose the wall device you want.

Programmable Thermostats

If you install a programmable thermostat, you can have the temperature in your house automatically adjusted according to preset times. This means that you will have an easier time conserving energy since you can let the gadget reduce the temperature in your hours of absence and increase the heat when you are around.

Programmable thermostats can be purchased in several models. The simpler ones allow you to program daytime and nighttime temperature settings, while the more complicated ones can be programmed to adjust temperature differently for different days and times of the week.

Mechanical Thermostats

These are perhaps the cheapest and easiest thermostats that you can install. They feature either vapor-filled bellows or bi-metallic strips, which respond to variations in temperature. Mechanical thermostats are often considered unreliable, particularly the cheapest models that make use of bi-metallic strips.

A major letdown you will likely experience with these thermostats has to do with slow response of the bi-metallic strip, which may result in significant temperature variations either above or below the desired set points.

Electronic Thermostats

Unlike mechanical thermostats, these thermostats make use of electronic gadgets to detect temperatures and subsequently initiate control for your heating system. They are quicker in responding to temperature variations.

You can have electronic thermostats either for line-voltage or for low-voltage purposes. These gadgets will offer you much convenience with features like programmability and automatic setback. For these reasons, electronic thermostats will cost you more than the mechanical alternatives.