All modern heating and air conditioning systems are controlled by a tiny, compact device called a thermostat. Like a boss who tells your cooling unit when to start and stop, the thermostat performs a critical function on how comfortable your home will be.
But, when it comes time to replace the thermostat in your home, who should you call? Who installs thermostats? Or should you install it yourself?
Who Should I Call To Install A Thermostat?
Your best choice for the installation of a thermostat is a heating and air conditioning contractor. Not all thermostats and air conditioning systems work together. Only an HVAC company will be able to diagnose what will work best in your home.
While others may claim to be able to handle the task, an HVAC technician can best help you pick which thermostat is right for your system, wire it properly and assist you in setting it up.
Do I Need An Electrician To Replace A Thermostat?
You do not need to call an electrician to replace a thermostat. Not only is it not required by any codes it’s not recommended. While electricians are well trained on electrical systems and wiring to power a home, they have little to no training with how a heating or cooling system operates and is controlled.
Professional Home Thermostat Installation 101
The air conditioning system has many impressively large and complicated parts. A central AC unit’s major components are the blower, evaporator, compressor, and condenser. Each one is equally important to the cooling process so that without one or the other, it would be impossible for the AC to perform its function.
Believe it or not, these massive AC parts only receive marching orders from a miniature device quietly sitting on your wall. But do not let the size of the thermostat fool you in regard to its significance.
A thermostat is an instrument that primarily senses the present temperature of an enclosed area. It can also detect the changes in the heat and coldness of the room compared to the temperature that the user initially set.
If the thermostat identifies that there is a need to increase or decrease the temperature, it will trigger the cooling or heating system to start to reach the preferred temperature set.
Once the thermostat recognizes that the desired level of room temperature has been met, it will send a signal for the furnace or air conditioner to shut down.
So, you see the thermostat is like the little boss of the very intimidating parts of an air conditioning system that you rely on your technician to understand. But the great thing about it is since it is quite small and just within your reach, you can be familiar with it to be able to control it.
Types of Replacement Thermostats
There are two main categories of thermostat based on how they work: the mechanical kind or the digital one.
Mechanical Thermostat. This is the older and cheaper version of thermostats with movable discs or knobs. Its interface is remarkably simple and straightforward and almost no installation is required.
To read the temperature of the room, a mechanical thermostat uses two strips of metal, sealed together in a bimetallic strip. Based on the principles of thermal expansion, the metals can expand or contract depending on how hot or cold the general area is.
One drawback of a mechanical thermostat is its inability to tell the exact temperature of the room. As a result, the temperature produced by your cooling or heating system could be five degrees off from your comfort level.
Digital Thermostat. This is more advanced and uses electronic sensors to measure the current temperature more accurately. The screens of most digital thermostats show the current temperature reading and you can adjust it by tapping on the touchscreen.
The advantage of the digital thermostat versus the mechanical is it can precisely read the level of heat or coldness in a room. Hence, it can signal your AC or furnace to keep the space’s temperature within a single degree of the preferred setting.
What can be considered as a downside of digital thermostats is that the user interface could seem to be more complex, and you might require the help of your technician or an expert to install it and understand how to use it.
Another feature of most digital thermostats that you should get acquainted with is the ability to program it.
Non-programmable Thermostat. This might be obvious from the name, but non-programmable thermostats do not require any pre-setting of any kind. It is more of a “what you set, is what you get” kind of device.
If you put 76 F as your preferred setting, it will be that way every day until you change it again using the physical buttons and knobs on the device itself.
Non-programmable thermostats suit those who only want inexpensive, uncomplicated devices and whose cooling or heating needs do not vary very much, or who do not have housemates that have different temperature preferences.
Of course, even if all the above-mentioned scenarios are true, there are still complications involved: What if the climate changes in the extreme such as from summer to winter? What if you leave the house and forget to adjust the thermostat? High consumption of energy resulting in huge electric bills is caused by forgotten thermostats.
Programmable Thermostat. This type of thermostat allows you to customize your preferred temperature in advance based on your daily, weekly, and seasonal activities.
If the family is away at work or in school during the day, the thermostat can be set so that no energy is wasted. During vacation that lasts for days or weeks, the programmable thermostat comes in handy so the temperature inside your home is not too cold that you will come home to pools of condensation, or too hot and humid that you will be welcomed by mold and stale smell.
Those who can afford a higher price for a thermostat usually go for the programmable thermostat.
The Department of Energy mentions the perks of installing a programmable thermostat such as “saving money on your heating and cooling bills by simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home… without sacrificing comfort.” Additionally, “programmable thermostats will avoid any discomfort by returning temperatures to normal before you wake or return home,” says the government agency.
Smart Thermostat. This type of thermostat is called “smart” for a particularly good reason: it “use[s] advanced learning algorithms to automatically adjust the temperature of your house to suit your preferences. This means that after you set the temperature a certain way enough times, a smart thermostat will automatically program that in as your pattern,” says Essential Home and Garden.
What makes it more advanced than the first two types is that it can be connected to Wi-Fi and linked to your smartphone. This way, you can change the setting of your thermostat even if you are not at home.
As you might expect, smart thermostats are the most expensive versions in the market. Not to mention the costs for installation, possible repairs in the future, and parts replacement.