If you’ve made the decision to purchase a 4-wire thermostat for your HVAC system, but are now wondering which brand and model will be the best, you are not alone. Many prospective thermostat buyers have the same question.
We’ve looked at what is currently available in the marketplace and found at least 5 excellent 4-wire thermostats to choose from. They are available from Ecobee, Honeywell and Google Nest. For you to determine which of these 5 thermostats will be the best for you, you’ll have to look at a variety of aspects, like energy saving, compatibility, easy installation and many more.
It is difficult to label a thermostat as “the best” because the circumstances where thermostats are used differ and every homeowner expects specific features from the HVAC thermostat controlling the home’s systems. And while it is relatively easy to compare “good” and “not so good” thermostats, it is difficult to compare one “best” thermostat with another “best” one.
For this reason, we will not try to compare the 5 thermostats with each other, but we’ll discuss each thermostat separately. After you’ve read the discussions you can decide which one will be the best for you.
We looked at various models of the most commonly used 4-wire thermostat brands and labeled the following 5 as “the best:”
- Ecobee Lite Smart Thermostat
- Honeywell Home CT410B Thermostat
- Google Nest Smart Thermostat for Home
- Honeywell Home RTH6360D1002 Programmable Thermostat
- Honeywell Home 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat,
1. Ecobee Lite Smart Thermostat
With this thermostat, you can save up to 23% annually on heating and cooling costs. One of the ways how the Ecobee Lite Smart thermostat achieves this is that it automatically pauses the heating or cooling when a door or window is left open. Energy is not wasted on air escaping or coming into the house accidentally.
It also has a feature to manage hot or cold spots and delivers enhanced comfort only to the rooms you’ve chosen. A lot of energy is saved when your system is not cooling or heating an unused room unnecessarily.
The Ecobee Lite thermostat also allows you to activate its vacation mode for even more energy efficiency. And a very special feature to help you plan your energy usage is the free energy audit you receive every month. You can see when and where you’ve used energy and the audit also compares your usage with the usage of other homeowners in your area.
Apart from saving you energy with accurate temperature control, it also saves you money by helping to prevent water pipes from freezing and bursting. It detects rapid temperature variances and thus allows you to react quickly to prevent the pipes from freezing.
Easy integration and monitoring
This Ecobee thermostat Integrates seamlessly with your smart home system.
The thermostat makes it easy for you to monitor and make changes in the thermostat and HVAC settings. You control your home’s temperature with a tap, either on the thermostat itself or through the Ecobee app.
Controlling and scheduling
You can control the thermostat from anywhere at any time by using your Android or iOS device
It even supports voice control and smart home integrations via apps like Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings and devices like Apple Watch.
The Ecobee Lite offers a seven-day scheduling function, to provide a convenient way to track your home’s heating and air conditioning.
Price and color
With a price tag of $169 at Amazon, this thermostat is good value for money. It is only available in black.
2. Honeywell Home CT410B Thermostat
Mechanical operation and positive off option
Although the Honeywell Home CT410B is a manual thermostat we included it in our list of the best 4-wire thermostats. It is a mechanical, non-programmable thermostat, working with 120 – 240 volt and features 4 wires. It can control devices and systems up to 5,280 Watts.
Although it is a manual thermostat, it provides a positive off option. A positive off option assures that when a malfunction occurs in the thermostat which could result in the closing of the switch, the switch will always be open even if the switch has been set to its extreme or off-position.
Bi-metal temperature sensors
The thermostat also offers a bi-metal temperature sensor. In simple terms, this means that the sensor consists of two metal strips fixed together. The two metals have different thermal expansion coefficients and as the temperature of the switch changes, one strip expands more than the other, causing the device to bend to convert the media’s temperature into mechanical displacement. Bi-metal sensors are durable, and a cost-efficient way of temperature measurement.
Easy installation and compatibility
You can install the thermostat easily and it is compatible with baseboards, convectors and fan-forced heaters. This compatibility makes this thermostat a very practical option. Although it’s rugged, it is simple to install and very economical.
You can use this thermostat to replace virtually any two-wire or four-wire line voltage wall-mounted electric heating thermostat.
Price and color
The Honeywell Home CT410B is available for $18.68 at Amazon. The thermostat is available in 4 colors.
3. Google Nest Thermostat for Home
Nest 3rd Gen thermostat
Nest E thermostat
Programmable Wi-Fi operated
This Nest thermostat is a programmable Wi-Fi thermostat. Its dimensions are 3.31 x 3.31 x 1.07 inches and it’s compatible with 85% of heating and cooling systems.
Energy and money-saving
The Google Nest thermostat helps you to save energy and thus save you money while it is keeping your home’s temperature comfortable. The energy-saving aspect is enhanced as the thermostat turns itself down when everybody has left the house. So you never waste energy to keep an empty house cool or warm.
Because the thermostat is programmable you can create an energy-efficient schedule in the Google Home app on your Android or iPhone.
The app offers a Savings Finder feature that continuously looks for ways your thermostat can help you save energy. The Finder suggests small changes to your schedule in the app that will help you to save energy and money.
Can work without C-wire
In most homes, the Nest thermostat works without a C-wire, but if your HVAC system includes a heating only or cooling only function, is zone controlled, or use heat pump systems, you’ll need a C wire.
Controlling and monitoring features and alerts
The Nest thermostat comes with a remote control function that allows family members to change the thermostat temperature from anywhere at any time on a phone, laptop, or tablet. The thermostat also monitors your heating and cooling systems and alerts you if something doesn’t seem right. It also reminds you of regular maintenance functions.
It is easy to install the Nest thermostat, even if you are not a skilled technician or DIY enthusiast. The installation will take you not more than 30 minutes as all the tools and accessories you need for the installation are included in the box.
Price and color
The thermostat is available in a color named “snow,” and is available at Amazon for $114.
4. Honeywell Home RTH6360D1002 Programmable Thermostat
The great feature of the Honeywell Home RTH6360D1002 thermostat is that you can schedule comfort throughout the week and weekend. It offers flexible programming with its 5-2 schedule that you can do on its LCD screen.
With the Honeywell Home 5-2 Day Programmable Thermostat you get smart response technology that continually adjusts heating and cooling to ensure the right temperature at your programmed time. You don’t have to wait for the room to get to the right temperature – if you’ve programmed the time you’ll need a specific temperature in a room, the Honeywell Home will ensure that the right temperature has been reached at the programmed time.
Smart response learning and technology
Your thermostat learns your heating and cooling cycle times to automatically deliver the right temperature when you want it. It also changes automatically from heat to cool when needed. You don’t have to activate the changes.
The thermostat also reminds you to change your air filter and alerts you when the batteries are running low. Its real-time clock automatically adjusts for daylight savings time.
A handy feature is that it retains the scheduled programs in memory in the event of a power outage.
Easy to install and operate
It is easy to install the thermostat even if you are not a technician. And when installed, it is easy to operate with its large backlit display, Program scheduling is straightforward.
Price and color
Available in white at $49 from Amazon.
5. Honeywell Home 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat
Easy to program
The Honeywell Home 7-day programmable thermostat offers you the possibility to program a 7-day program with 4 periods per day. With a large, backlit touchscreen, it is easy to set your schedules for every day of the week, and you can see your current and set temperatures at the same time.
The 7-Day Touchscreen Programmable Thermostat includes smart response technology and automatic switching between heating and cooling. This feature makes your life more comfortable.
Its compatibility is one of its great features. It is compatible with:
- single-stage heating and cooling,
- multistage heating and cooling,
- heating only,
- cooling only,
- furnace (warm air),
- central air conditioning,
- heat pump without auxiliary heat,
- heat pump with auxiliary heat, hot water, steam or gravity, and
- gas fireplaces
Smart response technology and control alerts
Your thermostat learns how long the furnace and air conditioner take to reach specific programmed temperature settings. This feature ensures comfortable temperatures at all times. To assist you to protect your system from damage, the thermostat has a setting that makes the compressor wait a few minutes before restarting. It can also alert you when filters have to be replaced.
Price and color
The Honeywell Home 7-Day Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat is available in white for $59 at Amazon.
Other relevant information
What is a 4-wire thermostat?
The 5 thermostats we’ve discussed above are all 4-wire thermostats. But what is a 4-wire thermostat? In addition to heating that needs a 2-wire thermostat and a C –wire or fan wire that necessitates 3-wire thermostats, a 4-wire thermostat includes a cooling wire. This wire is usually in blue or yellow color.
Wiring color code
Thermostats with 4 wires are normally used in standard HVAC systems that use an air conditioner and a furnace. The wires are color coded:
- Red Wire = Rh = Power
- White Wire = W = Heating Wire
- Yellow Wire = Y = Cooling Wire
- Green Wire = G = Fan Wire
Sometimes a blue wire is used instead of a yellow wire for cooling depending on the brand of thermostat wire. So sometimes the blue wire is the cooling wire if you have 4 wires.
In a typical 4-wire thermostat the Red wire (R-wire) provides power to the thermostat and system for control. When it reaches the thermostat after you’ve selected what you want – heating, cooling, or the fan running – the thermostat will provide power to the relevant device or system.
Simply put, the R-wire is the power and the other wires are the pathways to the HVAC system to control it.
You may wonder what happens if you connect the wires incorrectly to the terminals. Sometimes nothing will happen, and sometimes your HVAC system will run unintentionally. Usually, the worst that will happen is that your HVAC system will blow a fuse. Fortunately, fuses are not expensive!
Can you connect 4 wires to a 2-wire thermostat and vice versa?
In principle, yes, you can. Replacing a four-wire thermostat with a 2-wire thermostat or vice versa is not complicated. It is not difficult to install the new thermostat and you can do it yourself.
If you see two wires coming out of the thermostat in the back you have a single-pole thermostat. If there are four wires, you have a double-pole thermostat.
Pros of a 4-wire thermostat
A thermostat works on the principle that when you adjust the temperature in your home it is like flipping a switch to provide or cut power to your HVAC system.
The main benefit when you use a 4-wire system is that the thermostat automatically decides where to route the power to turn on your HVAC system to make it heat, cool or run the fan.
To choose the thermostat that will be the best for you, you have to look at what your HVAC system needs and with which thermostat it is compatible. Then you also have to look at what you expect from the thermostat. Does it only have to save you energy and money, or are you looking for a thermostat to use with many smart applications?
We hope that this article helps you to decide!