Author

Mathew Kevin

Browsing

A thermostat is one of the most important device in any home – as it has a key role in making your life comfortable (by regulating the room temperatures) and saving your energy bills. You may already know there are different types of thermostats and not all thermostats are alike. In this article, we write about programmable thermostats – which can be programmed to manage your schedules & lifestyle preferences. A programmable thermostat help save more energy compared to non-programmable or manual thermostats. Let’s see in detail.

Programmable Thermostats – The Intro!

A programmable thermostat gives you more comfort & energy savings compared to non-programmable or manual thermostat models. The key highlight is they can be programmed according to your preferences. Some thermostats are 7 day programmable, while some others are 5 day or 2 day programmable. Smart thermostats are self learning and they program itself automatically (after learning your lifestyle and habits) to give you the best possible comfort and energy savings.

Programming gives you a lot of control on how to regulate your heating/cooling system – for example, you are at work on weekdays and at home (full time)  during week ends. In such a scenario, you can program the thermostat to turn OFF your heating/cooling system during your work hours and on weekends you can set the program to run your heating/cooling system full time. This kind of flexible programming helps to run your heating/cooling system at the best possible efficiency. Most of the programmable thermostats has holiday schedule option which allows you to either turn OFF the heating system or run at the minimal setting to prevent freezing. And that’s how programmable thermostats save more energy and save you more money compared to other models.

How they Save Energy & Money

Programmable thermostats, especially smart thermostats are really good at saving energy & thereby saving money on your wallet. They save energy by following the set program (your schedule & preferences) to run your HVAC system at the best possible efficiency. Smart thermostats can save upto 23% of annual energy usage (compared to ordinary thermostats) and the budget friendly 7 day programmable thermostats can save nearly 10 to 12% of annual energy usage.

How to Choose a Programmable Thermostat

As I wrote before, there are different types of thermostats designed for different types of HVAC systems. In America, 90% of the homes runs on low voltage HVAC systems like a central furnace or a boiler or heat pump based systems. Around 10% homes runs on line voltage systems like baseboard heaters or convection heaters which uses direct electricity to heat your homes. The very first thing to understand is that you can’t use a thermostat designed for line voltage systems (like a baseboard heater) with a low voltage HVAC system like a central furnace (and vice versa). So there are low voltage thermostats designed for low voltage systems and line voltage thermostats designed for line voltage systems.

In this article, we deal with low voltage thermostats only! We’ve reviewed programmable line voltage thermostats in our previously published guide.  Let’s see some important things to consider before choosing a programmable thermostat.

  • Low Voltage or Line Voltage – if you’re replacing an old thermostat, first identify if your old thermostat is low voltage or line voltage and buy your new thermostat accordingly. If you’re buying a thermostat for your newly installed HVAC system, first identify which type of thermostat (line voltage or low voltage) is suitable for your new heating/cooling system.
  • Type of HVAC System – The first step is identifying if your system is low voltage or line voltage. The second step is identifying your HVAC (heating/cooling system) type. As I said before, 90% of America is running on central furnace or heat pump based systems. The key point here is that a particular thermostat model may not be compatible with all types of HVAC systems. You’ve to identify your HVAC type and check if the thermostat model you consider is compatible with your HVAC system.
  • Single Stage or Multi Stage – A majority of homes in America is running on single stage HVAC systems. However, there are homes which uses 2 stage or even 3 stage heating/cooling systems. In the case of heat pumps, some homes are using single stage heat pumps only while a majority of homes use an auxiliary heating system along with heat pump. The key here is some thermostats support only single stage systems whereas some other models support 2 stage or 3 stage systems. You’ve to understand your system type and buy the thermostat accordingly.

Best Programmable Thermostat – Our Reviews!

We’ve seen the benefits of programmable thermostats – like how they save energy, how they give you best possible comfort and how they save you money. We’ve also seen how to choose a programmable thermostat wisely that suits your HVAC system. Now lets see some of the best programmable thermostat models in our world right now!

Smart Programmable Thermostats

Smart thermostats are basically programmable thermostats with “smart” capabilities & features built into it. They are really “smart” that you don’t need to program them manually by entering your schedule. Smart thermostats program itself automatically by learning your living habits & patterns. After installation, a smart thermostat starts to learn patterns of your lifestyle like when you come home, when you go to work, do you stay on weekends etc and based on this they program themselves to set your schedule automatically. A smart thermostat may take anywhere from 10 to 15 days (after installation) to learn the patterns and perfect the schedule. They continue to learn lifelong that they change themselves when your living habits change.

The key highlight of a smart thermostat is its high energy savings. Smart thermostats can save up to 23% of annual energy usage compared to an ordinary thermostat in place. In addition, smart thermostats can be controlled via WiFi, smartphone apps, most of them support voice control, they give energy usage reports and so on. Lets see some of the best smart programmable thermostat models.

#1 Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E – Smart Programmable Thermostats

The #1 choice we’ve in smart thermostat is Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E models. Nest 3rd Gen is the full featured smart thermostat model with all features & capabilities of a smart thermostat. Nest E is the budget model – which is basically a trimmed down version of the Nest 3rd Gen thermostat. You can read the comparison and see the difference between Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E in our review.

The prime difference between Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E is in features, compatibility and build quality. Nest E is compatible only upto 2 stage heating/cooling, whereas Nest 3rd Gen model is compatible upto 3 stage heating/cooling systems. Build quality is high for Nest 3rd Gen model and is available on steel or copper builds (Nest E is available only on plastic build). Some key features like Geo fencing is not avilable on Nest E. You can read our full review of Nest 3rd vs Nest E to see the comparison.

#2 Ecobee 4 and Ecobee 3 Lite – Smart Thermostats

Ecobee currently has two smart thermostat models available in the market – Ecobee 4 and Ecobee 3 Lite.  Out of these two models, Ecobee 4 is the full featured model with lots of features like self learning, built in Amazon Alexa, remote room sensor, and a lot of useful features. Ecobee 3 Lite is the budget model smart thermostat (a trimmed version of Ecobee 4 in features) which has all essential features needed for a smart thermostat but not as good as Ecobee 4.

The key difference between Ecobee 4 & Ecobee 3 Lite is that – the budget model Ecobee 3 Lite has no builtin Amazon Alexa & no remote room sensors are provided with. Also Ecobee 3 Lite is not compatible with HVAC accessories like dehumidifiers and ventilators. You can read our review of Ecobee 4 vs Ecobee 3 Lite to see the differences.

#3 Emerson Sensi – Smart Thermostat

Sensi is a popular WiFi thermostat from the automation giant Emerson. Sensi has all features of a smart thermostat (including geofencing) except the “self learning” feature. We’ve covered full review of Emerson Sensi in our guide.

In this article, we write about underfloor heating thermostats or radiant heat thermostats. Before diving into thermostat models, lets dig a little more about underfloor heating. “Underfloor heating” or “floor heating” is often referred to as “radiant heating” commonly in USA. Underfloor heating is applied to heat the floors to optimum temperature during the winter season. Even though most homes in USA employs central furnace based heating or heat pumps, the heat from these HVAC systems do not heat the floors properly. HVAC systems (like furnace or heat pumps) are designed to heat air and circulate hot air through out the interiors. They can keep your rooms & interiors warm but they fail to heat the floors to the desired temperature. You’ll feel a cold feet in such situations!

The solution here is “underfloor heating” – where a heating system is installed under the floor to maintain proper temperature during winters. Two types of systems are available for setting up “underfloor heating” – Electric based or Water based (known as Hydronic radiant heating). Read more about types of underfloor heating below this article.

Underfloor Heating Thermostats

As you know now, underfloor heating is setup as a separate system independent of the common HVAC system in your home. The thermostats you use for HVAC systems (like central furnace or heat pumps) may not be suitable for regulating your underfloor heating system. However, there are models that are compatible with both HVAC and underfloor heating systems. Nest thermostat is a classic example which can be used for regulating underfloor heating systems (suitable only for hydronic radiant systems). Companies like Honeywell has thermostat models dedicated for underfloor heating systems. Let’s see some of the best underfloor heating thermostats and how they differ!

Electric & Hydronic Thermostats – As we wrote above, there are two types of floor heating systems – electric & hydronic. A thermostat designed for electric floor heating system is not suitable for water/hydronic radiant heat system (and vice versa). So we’ve to list these thermostats separately to avoid confusion.

Electric Floor Heating Thermostats

Let’s first see some of the best electric floor heating thermostat models. An electric floor heating system uses electricity to heat the floors (a well insulated electric nest is installed underneath). They typically run on line voltage – 110 volts or 240 volts. So what you need here is basically a line voltage thermostat suitable for underfloor heating systems.

Programmable Thermostat for Underfloor Heating

Let’s first see the best programmable thermostats for electric underfloor heating systems. Programmable thermostats can be programmed to follow a preferred schedule (based on your lifestyle) and control your heating system accordingly. There are also WiFi enabled thermostat models for underfloor heating systems, which you can see below (#3 Nuheat WiFi thermostat) – which can be controlled via internet.

#1 – Honeywell TH115-AF-GA/U – Floor Heating Thermostat

This model from Honeywell (TH115-AF-GA/U) is one of the best selling underfloor heating thermostat. This model is 7 day programmable and it comes with a floor sensor (for better temperature control) and GFCI (ground fault protection) which is essential for line voltage systems. Three choices of heating mode are offered by this model: ambient or floor or ambient with floor modes – which can be set according to your system preferences.

Check Price & View Details

Technical Specifications to keep in mind:

 

radiant floor heating thermostat

Electric Underfloor Heating Thermostat

  • This thermostat is suitable for electric underfloor heating systems only.
  • Resistive load only – Make sure load type of your floor heating system is resistive.
  • Max current is 15A (in either case of 120 volts or 240 volts). If your heating system draws more than 15A, this thermostat is not compatible.
  • Max wattage is 1800 watts at 120 volts and 3600 watts at 240 volts. Check wattage requirements of your floor heating system and make sure its within the specified power rating.

#2 NuHeat Radiant Floor Heating Thermostat (Dual Voltage)

Our #2 choice is NuHeat radiant floor heating thermostat for electric underfloor heating systems. This model is  2 Day (week day/week end) programmable, comes with a 3.5 inch color touch screen display and is dual voltage (compatible with 120 volts or 240 volts). This model comes with “Energy Usage Monitor” – which helps to monitor your energy usage over a week or a month. You can reprogram your thermostat (based on the energy usage data) to save energy and save bills.

NuHeat - Check Price

Highlights:

  • Radiant Floor Heating Thermostat
    NuHeat – Underfloor Heating Thermostat

    Suitable for all types electric floor heating systems. Supports dual voltage (120 volts/240 volts)

  • GFCI – ground fault detection & cut off is builtin and is set at 5mA leakage.
  • Floor Type – suitable for tiles & stone based flooring. Temperature cut off limit set at 82°F for wooden floorings (laminate & engineered wood flooring)
  • Language support for English/French/Spanish
  • Customisations – like setting clock to 12h mode or 24h mode, screen brightness, °C or °F temperature display and a lot of other customisation options are available.
  • Auto/Manual mode – Choose an automatic schedule with auto mode and you can set a manual schedule with manual mode.
  • 3 operating modes – just like the Honeywell model above, this thermostat can regulate ambient air, floor temperature or both together in combined mode.

#3 WiFi/Wireless Radiant Underfloor Heating Thermostat by NuHeat

Our #3 choice is the WiFi variant of our #2 choice – NuHeat wireless radiant floor heating thermostat. This model has the additional WiFi feature along with all the features of the above listed #2 model. We placed this in #3 as WiFi models are a little costly and everyone doesn’t prefer an advanced WiFi termostat to manage floor heating thermostat.

All features & options are exactly the same as NuHeat Radiant Thermostat (#2 model). WiFi is the only add on feature for this model.

#4 SunTouch TouchScreen Underfloor Heating Thermostat

Our #4 choice is a touchscreen electric underfloor heating thermostat from SunTouch. This is a 7 day programmable thermostat with all essential features packed at an affordable budget. This model comes with a floor sensor for better regulation of temperature & heating system.

Highlights:

  • 3.5 inch touchscreen with bright display, 7 day programmable and Energy usage monitoring.
  • Compatible with electric underfloor heating systems upto 15A current rating.
  • Dual voltage compatible (120V/240V) and GFCI protection enabled.
  • Floor sensing & Air sensing modes available.
  • Floor sensor – 15 feet 10K sensor wire included with the model.
  • Upto 3 underfloor heating electric mats can be connected in a single thermostat (

Hydronic Floor Heating Thermostats

Hydronic floor heating thermostats are used to regulate hydronic underfloor heating systems – which are basically water based heating systems. Hydronic heating systems are usually two types : 1)Buried systems – where 1.6cm pipes are buried deep under the floor; 2) Surface mounted systems – where 1.2cm pipes are laid just on top of the existing floor. Hydronic thermostats are suitable for both types of hydronic heating systems irrespective of buried or surface mount. Let’s see some of the best hydronic thermostats available.

#1 Aube by Honeywell – TH140-28-01-B/U – Programmable Hydronic Thermostat

This model from Aube (by Honeywell) is our #1 choice in hydronic thermostats. Aube TH140-28-01-B/U is a 7 day programmable multipurpose thermostat suited for hydronic underfloor heating systems, millivolt gas fireplace heaters, boiler hydronic systems, radiant heating systems and line voltage heating systems.

Let’s see Highlights:

  • Compatible with a wide range of systems – 120 volts, 240 volts, millivolts, and 24 volts (low voltage).
  • Suitable for hydronic floor heating, gas fireplaces, line voltages systems (like baseboard heating). boiler hydronic systems and much more.
  • Current rating – 5A (resistive)
  • Pump protection to prevent pump seizure (activates pump for 1 minute in every 24 hours)
  • Low battery warning for 60 days

#2 Nest Smart Thermostat for in floor radiant systems

If you’re looking to install a smart thermostat for your underfloor heating system, Nest is the best option. If you already own a Nest thermostat in your home, you can use the same model to control your hydronic radiant heating system. Nest thermostat is equipped with “true radiant” feature which is specially built in for underfloor radiant heating systems or radiator heating systems.

Nest is a good choice (especially with true radiant feature), if you’re looking for a smart thermostat to regulate your whole home heating system (which includes an in-floor radiant heating system as well).  You don’t need to buy a separate thermostat for your underfloor heating system if you are opting Nest (which you can use for your conventional central heating system as well).

#3 Aube by Honeywell TH135-01-B/U – Non Programmable Hydronic Heating Thermostat

Our #3 choice is a non-programmable hydronic heating thermostat from Aube by Honeywell. If you prefer a low priced model (without programming option), this model is the best choice you can get with all essential features.This model is basically very similar to our #1 model in hydronic thermostats (Aube TH140-28-01-B/U) with no programming option.

Let’s see the highlights:

  • Compatible with hydronic floor heating systems, central heating systems, millivolt systems, & electric heat appliances using a relay.
  • Current rating: 2 Amperes (inductive load)
  • Low voltage thermostat – 24 Volts R,W
  • Remote input feature – change of temperature via telephone (if you’ve a telephone controller)
  • Low battery indicator – for upto 60 days.
  • Pump protection to prevent pump seizure (activates pump for 1 minute in every 24 hours)

The Learning Thermostat – Nest!

The Nest Smart Thermostats are manufactured by Nest Labs – an innovative company owned by Google currently. If you like stories, Nest Labs was started in 2010 by two Apple employees, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. The idea for an innovative, internet connected thermostat first sparked on Tony Fadell; when he was building a vacation home and found all the available thermostats inadequate. Driven by the idea, Fadell roped in Rogers to start Nest Labs in their garage. The first product Nest Learning Thermostat (1st Gen) was released in 2011 – and the product took off in no time. People really loved the new Nest smart thermostat – which was self learning, automatic and can be controlled via internet.

Nest released  2nd Gen thermostats with much improved design and features on October 2012. The company had grew from 0 to nearly 250 employees by this period. On January 14, Google acquired Nest Labs for USD 3.2 Billions in cash deal. So that’s the story about Nest in a nutshell – the first smart thermostat manufacturer.

Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E

Nest currently has two thermostat models – Nest 3rd Generation and Nest E. Both of them are smart thermostats, where Nest 3rd Gen is the full featured model and Nest E is basically a budget model (a trimmed down version of Nest 3rd Gen).

Check Price & View Details

The key difference between Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E thermostats is in compatibility, build quality and some features like display and color choices. You may read the complete comparison of Nest 3rd Gen vs Nest E give below.

Nest Thermostat Review
Nest E and Nest 3rd Generation Thermostat

Nest E and Nest 3rd Generation smart thermostats have many key features in common. They both are “self learning” – which means they program themselves automatically after installation. Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen – both are designed to give high energy savings, and they can pay for themselves within 2 or 3 years of installation (this will vary with your energy usage). WiFi connectivity is enabled for both models and they can be controlled from anywhere via Internet. They learn your living habits & patterns to re adjust the schedules themselves. Extra room sensors (temperatures sensors) can be interfaced with both Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E models – to manage any hot/cold spots in different rooms in your home.Voice control and Smart home integrations ( Apple Homekit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa) is enabled in both models of Nest thermostat.

In a nutshell, Nest 3rd Gen is compatible with different types of HVAC systems (covers nearly 95% of HVAC systems in USA), even with multi stage systems having 3 or 4 stages. Nest E is compatible with only 85% of HVAC systems, and when it comes to multi stage – Nest E covers upto 2 stages of heating/cooling only. Read our complete Nest thermostat compatibility guide to get more info. 

Nest 3rd Generation – Review

As you know, “Nest 3rd Generation” – is the full featured smart thermostat model from Nest. Apart from the key features mentioned above (common for Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E), what makes Nest 3rd Gen unique is its compatibility with more number of HVAC systems. Nest 3rd Gen also comes in different ring colors (choose from Copper, Stainless Steel, Black, and White colors) – where you can choose a color that best fits your interiors. Nest 3rd Gen also has unique features like “FarSight” – which lights up the display (to show temperature, time and weather) when someone is spotted in the room.  Let’s go deep into features of Nest 3rd Gen thermostat.

Features of Nest 3rd Gen Thermostat

As I said, Nest 3rd Gen is a true smart thermostat with a load of useful features. Many of these “smart features” are common to Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E. Let’s see all of them in detail.

Self Learning – is the highlight feature of both Nest thermostat models – Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E. You don’t need to program your thermostat by manually inputting temperature schedules. Instead, just install your Nest 3rd Gen or Nest E and leave it alone. The Nest thermostat will start building patterns based on your lifestyle/living habits and programs itself.

The “self learning” feature is built on top of sophisticated artificial intelligence software, that it understands when you’re sleeping (adjusts the temperature for a good nights sleep), when you wake up (adjusts temperature for a warm morning), when you go away to office (moves itself to eco mode to give you max energy savings) and more.

Note: If you prefer a custom schedule over the “self learning” feature, you can program Nest thermostats using the Nest App – the mobile app for android/iOS devices.

Energy Savings  – is the next key feature of Nest smart thermostats. Both models (Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen) are built to provide high energy savings by controlling your HVAC system to operate at maximum efficiency. As claimed by Nest, both thermostats are capable of giving an energy savings of 12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills. These numbers would vary with regions, types of HVAC and a lot other factors. I believe, anyone can expect a savings rate in the range of 8% to 15% on annual energy bills.

Paying for itself – if you look at a white paper in Nest, they claim a Nest thermostat can pay for itself in 2 years time frame. Nest claims an average savings in the range of $100 to $150 annually.

Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen are both “ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED” thermostat models. “ENERGY STAR” is a certification provided in USA (backed by government) for products that save energy and protect environment.

Voice Control & Smart Hubs – Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E can be controlled using your voice. To enable voice control, you need to interface your thermostat to a smart home hub like Apple HomeKit. Both Nest thermostats are compatible with all popular smart hubs like Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and more.You can change temperature settings, turn ON/OFF, and do many other things using voice control. The key benefit here is, you don’t need to depend on your mobile app to adjust temperature or do some action on your thermostat.

WiFi Connectivity & The Nest App – Does it sound cool to control your home thermostat sitting in your office chair ? Both Nest models are equipped with WiFi connectivity and can be controlled over internet using the Nest mobile App.

Energy Reports – helps to analyse your home energy usage. “Daily energy usage” is monitored and displayed on the Nest App. Reports are created every month showing analysis & patterns of energy usage.Based on the report, you can adjust your living habits or schedules to save more energy in coming months. Energy reports are available for both Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen models alike.

Extra Room Sensors – you can interface extra room sensors (you’ve to buy separate) with both Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E thermostats. You can install separate room sensors in individual rooms, say your kids room or master bedroom or wherever you prefer. This way you can manage any hot/cold spots in your home. A zoned hvac management system can be built using a single Nest thermostat and a couple of extra room sensors.

Unique Features of Nest 3rd Gen Model

All of the features discussed above are common to both Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E models. Now let’s see what makes Nest 3rd Gen model unique and premium.

FarSight – is a feature unique to Nest 3rd Gen model. “FarSight” activates the sleeping display whenever someone’s presence is detected on the installed room. Nest detects any human presence within 20 feet radius of the installed location.

Bigger Display – Nest 3rd Gen has a bigger display with high resolution. The screen is 40% larger compared to Nest 2nd Gen model and the display is clear, bright and sharp.

Ring Colors – Nest 3rd Gen gives you 4 choices in ring colors – Copper, Stainless Steel, White and Black colors. You can choose one that best suits your home interiors.

Higher Compatibility – Nest 3rd Gen is compatible with almost 95% of HVAC system types used in USA. Nest thermostats goes well with central furnace systems, boiler based systems, Heat pumps with or without auxiliary heating, and systems with central air conditioning – which are the most common used HVAC system types in USA.

Note: Nest thermostats (both Nest 3rd Gen and Nest E) are not compatible with line voltage systems like baseboard heater, convection heaters and forced fan heaters.

Secure Boot Technology: Ensures that the Nest software is running alone, by blocking all unwanted or  malicious software. It  also safeguards your data and hence protects your privacy.

Remote Control: Controlling the thermostat from anywhere is possible using your mobile phone, laptop or tablet using application making it very user friendly.

Alerts: Gives alert when something goes wrong.

 

Energy Efficiency: The Green leaf function helps you to identify when the thermostat is working in the energy efficient mode.

Geo-fencing: Sets temperature by learning your location with the help of your Smartphone.

To prevent overheating, they have “Heads-up” feature that will turn off the device to prevent overheating. This feature also helps to save energy.

Installation is pretty easy as it takes hardly 30 minutes for the entire procedure.

Pros

  • The  green leaf icon lights up when the thermostat is in energy saving mode. This feature helps us to reduce energy consumption.
  • Takes minimal time for installation.
  • Bigger display with greater resolution giving sharp and clear reading.
  • Enhanced learning capability.

Cons

  • Nest Gen 3 has no remote sensors, hence the thermostat monitors only the temperature near it.

Inshort

This version of Nest offers some great features as like updation from near field technology to far field technology. The improved resolution and bigger display gives more clarity to the readings. It is considered to be the easiest model to install and works with many Smart Home Partners. It supports water boilers and comes in different colour options. Works with Alexa for voice control. It is great choice for every home giving a very attractive appearance.

Nest E Review

It is the latest model of Nest thermostat, launched in 2017. It comes with a new simplified design with almost all features and is cheaper in price. They look much plainer rather than having a big metal Ring with a bright screen. Nest E thermostat looks duller with Plain White puck and they really can’t be noticed easily. All you need to do is setting the thermostat in the initial few weeks and then the rest will be taken care by its own built-in intelligence. Frosted glass tops the display making the display look dimmer. It has a simpler interface. Like all other Nest thermostats, E version can be connected to internet and can be controlled using mobile application. Using your phone and other sensors, Nest E can easily identify whether you are at home or not and thereby sets temperature accordingly. It helps to save about 12% on heating and 15% on cooling bills each year. The only difference from other thermostats is that it doesn’t have ‘farsight’ feature which enables you to know the time and temperature by turning the display on automatically when you are around. E version is compatible with almost 85% of heating or cooling devices at your home. Like all other thermostats, E has sensors to detect motion, humidity, proximity and temperature and can also integrate with third party services like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant or Apple’s HomeKit . Few of its main features are:

  • Remote Control:  You can control the thermostats from anywhere using your mobile phone, laptop or tablet using application making it very user friendly.
  • Energy History: They help you to know how much you save on your energy bills and also provide awareness on how to save more.
  • Fault Alerts:  Nest can indicate if any of your HVAC systems that are connected to the thermostat goes faulty. Hence you can identify and rectify the faulty system.
  • Nest Leaf: The display lights up when the temperature setting you have chosen is an energy efficient one. This feature clearly helps you to identify if you are on the right setting.
  • Scheduling: Set the thermostat in the initial few weeks of purchase as per your requirement, later on the thermostat itself will learn your schedule and sets the temperature accordingly but providing you with the choice of changing it anytime from anywhere.
  • Sensors: The sensors added to it help you to identify temperatures of different rooms and enables you to set priority accordingly.
  • Away Mode: With the help of motion sensors and by studying your current location with the help of your mobile phone, the thermostat can turn itself off after ensuring you are away.
  • Easy Installation: Its simple structure made the installation part easier and it hardly takes around 30 minutes to install Nest E.
  • Attractive Design: The display is topped with glass giving it a frosted look and thereby it blends beautifully to where it is affixed. One can hardly notice it especially when it is off.
  • Alexa Enabled: You can just talk to your Echo or Dot regarding temperature settings and the thermostat responds accordingly.

Pros

  • They can study your routine
  • Very attractive model
  • Compatible with most of the HVAC devices
  • It can be programmed to set desired temperature
  • Simple installation
  • Simplified design where you can twist the dial to adjust the temperature
  • Reduced price but  offers all important features
  • They have pre-cooling or pre-heating features

Cons

  • Have the need to have a C wire
  • Fails to support certain HVAC systems
  • Absence of farfield technology
  • Blurred display can cause inconvenience for people with vision problems

Inshort

The strength of Nest E is mainly its simplicity to use and its simple design at a reduced price. The Nest Thermostat E box contains the thermostat, back plate with wire terminals, two mounting screws, optional mounting plate and a detailed installation guide book. Its display hides all unnecessary readings making the display look neat and jus displaying the temperature in a bigger size. Except for its inability to support some of the HVAC systems, it is great for your home offering you get all the important features at a reduced price.

Nest E Vs Nest 3rd Gen

Nest E and Nest Generation 3 both look almost the same with almost similar features. Your choice can mainly depend on the budget or the appearance. Both have similar learning routine and uses Nest App. There are only slight variations which will be discussed below.

    • Price: E is much cheaper as it is made of plastic and not metal like the other versions. Hence it is definitely a budget model.
    • Design and Appearance: E has an inferior display. It has a frosted glass over the dial giving a dimmer reading. Whereas Nest 3 has a bigger screen with greater resolution giving a sharper and clear reading. The frosted display of E blends the thermostat beautifully with the wall giving it a very classy look. Nest 3 comes in 3 different colours unlike E which is white.
    • Farsight : Nest 3 has this feature which wakes up the display when it senses your presence near the thermostat and shows you the information you prefers to see. E lacks this feature even if it has this same motion sensing sensors. This  cannot be considered as a major drawback.
  • Compatibility with HVAC systems: Nest 3 is compatible with more HVAC units when compared with E. Say if Nest 3 goes well with 95% HVAC units, then for E it will be around 85%. Nest compatibility tool helps you to check compatibility with your devices.
  • Pre-set scheduling: This feature comes with E which helps you to save money instantly. You can also reprogram it using Nest App or using Smart Home Assistance.
  • Sensors: Nest 3 comes with few more sensors than E.

Below table shows a quick overview of the similarities and difference among the two

 

Category Nest Gen 3 Nest E
Size 3.25 in diameter

1.21 in thickness

3.19 in diameter

1.14 in thickness

Display Superior Display

3.25 in diameter

480 x 480 px resolution

Inferior Display

1.76 in diameter

320 x 320 px resolution

Sensors Temperature(10 nos)

Humidity

Near-field activity

Far-field activity

Ambient light

Temperature

Humidity

Proximity/ Occupancy

Ambient light

Connectivity 802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz
802.11a/n @5GHz
802.15.4 @2.4GHz
Bluetooth LE
802.11b/g/n @2.4GHz
802.11a/n @5GHz
802.15.4 @2.4GHz
Bluetooth LE
Features Auto-Scheduling
Airwave
Nest Leaf
Auto-Away
Energy History
Time to Temperature
System Match
Early On
Heat Pump Balance
FarSight
Water / Boiler control
Auto-Schedule
Airwave
Nest Leaf
Auto-Away
Energy History
Time to Temperature
System Match
Early On
Heat Pump Balance
Water / Boiler control
Price More Less
Material used for making Metal Polycarbonate
Appearance Easily noticeable Blends really well with the walls
Far-sight feature Yes No
Compatibility with HVAC systems Compatible with 95% of HVAC Systems Compatible with only 85% of HVAC Systems

 

Conclusion

To wind up, it is very much clear that both versions of Nest aren’t much different except for very few features. So either Nest E or Nest gen 3 is going to make your home smarter, ensuring a comfortable atmosphere all around.

Ecobee – a new generation home automation company, launched their first thermostats in 2007. Just like Nest, Ecobee is a company which was founded only recently (just 10 years old) and made a mark of its own with flagship smart thermostat models – Ecobee 3, Ecobee 4 and Ecobee 3 Lite.  Ecobee thermostats are the most energy efficient ones available in the market right now. Their products integrate with Amazon AlexaApple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings,  Microsoft’s Cortana, and other home automation hubs.

Ecobee thermostats can be controlled using the touchscreen (available on thermostat) or your smart phones/tablets from anywhere in the world. They also help to set reminders for HVAC maintenance, UV lamp or furnace filter replacement, alerts for low/ high temperature or humidity. They offer you a feeling of comfort in no time.

Ecobee 4 and Ecobee 3 Lite

Ecobee currently has two smart thermostat models available in the market – Ecobee 4 and Ecobee 3 Lite.  Out of these two models, Ecobee 4 is the full-featured model with lots of features like self-learning, built in Amazon Alexa, and a lot of useful features. Ecobee 3 Lite is the budget model smart thermostat (a trimmed version of Ecobee 4 in features) which has all essential features needed for a smart thermostat but not as good as Ecobee 4.

The prime difference is Ecobee 4 has built in Amazon Alexa & comes with a room sensor (1 room sensor included); where as Ecobee 3 Lite has no built in Amazon Alexa & no room sensor provided with the product (you’ve to buy room sensors  & Alexa device separately).  See our comparison Ecobee 4 vs Ecobee 3 Lite for more differences!

Ecobee 4 & Ecobee 3 Lite – Compatibility Guide

Before buying an Ecobee Thermostat, you’ve to first check if  the model in your mind (Ecobee 4 or Ecobee 3 Lite) is compatible with the current heating/cooling system in your home. We are listing out a few important points to check & verify.

#1 – Line Voltage or Low Voltage  – identify if your heating/cooling system is line voltage or low voltage. Ecobee thermostats (both models) are designed for low voltage systems only. They work well with 24V HVAC systems like central furnace, boilers, heat pumps etc.  You should not buy an Ecobee model, if you’ve line voltage systems like Baseboard heaters, forced fan heaters as your heating source.

#2 – Stages of Heating/Cooling systems – Conventional HAVC systems (like a central furnace) are either single stage or multi stage. Ecobee thermostats (Ecobee 4 & Ecobee 3 Lite) support both single stage and multi stage systems. In the case of a multi stage HVAC system, they support 2H/2C – which means 2 stages of heating & 2 stages of cooling.

#3 – Heat pumps – Ecobee thermostats support all heat pump models including heat pumps with auxiliary/emergency heating. Ecobee 4 supports heat pumps (4H/2C – 4 heating stages & 2 cooling stages) and for heat pumps with aux heating (2H – 2 stages auxiliary heating). Take note Ecobee 3 Lite supports only 2H/2C (2 stages of heating & cooling, marked as Y1 and Y2) of heat pumps and 2H (2 aux heating stages, marked W1 and W2) of Heat pumps with aux/emergency heating.

Note: In case of auxiliary heating, both Ecobee models support gas, oil, electric or dual fuel sources.

#4 – Boilers – Both models support 2H/2C (2 stages of heating W1 and W2) in the case of boilers. For cooling, they support 2 stages of forced air cooling (known as 2 transformer configuration).

#5 – Accessories – Ecobee 4 supports all types of accessories like humidifiers, dehumidifiers, ventilators (ERV & HRV). Ecobee 4 comes with terminals for connecting accessories. Pleas note Ecobee 3 Lite does not support any accessories and there are no terminals provided on Ecobee 3 Lite to support accessories.

#Final – Use the compatibility checker tool provided in Ecobee website and see if your system is compatible.

Ecobee4  Smart Thermostat Review

Ecobee4 – is the fourth generation smart thermostat from Ecobee, with built in voice control feature. The Amazon’s Alexa is built into Ecobee4 – which means just talking to the device from anywhere inside your home (the microphone has high sensitivity that Ecobee4 will capture your voice even across the room) is all you need to do to control – like setting the timer, or turning it OFF or whatever! .

Energy Savings! The Highlight

The highlight feature of an Ecobee thermostat is energy savings! Ecobee claims to save on average 23%  of energy utilization every year.Obviously the company might have tested this on ideal conditions (without extreme temperature variations) but I think its great if you get anywhere near 20% and that’s considerable savings of money. You can get the money invested in an Ecobee thermostat back in just 2 or 3 years with this kind of energy savings.

Check Price & View Details

Real Time Control via Mobile Apps

Ecobee4 works on real time when connected to the internet. Both models (Ecobee 4 and Ecobee 3 Lite) comes with a mobile app which you can install in your smartphones to control the device from anywhere (anywhere in the world provided your thermostat is connected to internet).

Room Sensors

 Ecobee4 comes with an extra room sensor (only 1 sensor provided) which  helps you to manage hot/cold spots. You can install this room sensor in a favorite room of yours (possible your master bed room) and this sensor will help to eliminate any hot/cold spots in this room. Usually thermostats (which has built in sensors) are installed in the common living room and it wont sense temperature/humidity level in other rooms leading to uneven temperature in some areas. This extra sensor solves this pain point. 

Additional Sensors: If you need extra sensors, you can purchase a couple from Ecobee separately and pair them with your thermostat.

In addition, the company provides excellent customer support and a long three-year warranty. The following are its main features:

# Built in Alexa: – This makes Ecobee4 more than a simple smart thermostat. All you need to do is just talk to your new friend, Ecobee4. Accordingly it sets the temperature, timers, alerts and reminders.  The best thing here is you can avail all features of Alexa along with the thermostat, like you can integrate it with almost all your home appliances and control them. The integrated alexa can also read news, make changes in temperature, turn on/off the lights, play music, book uber etc.

# Design: – Ecobee4 has a beautiful design with a classic touchscreen that displays the mode, humidity level of indoors, current temperature settings and various updates and alerts. There is a blue LED line at the top which indicates when Alexa responds to your queries. The product dimension is 1x4x4 inches.

# Ease of installation: –   While most other smart thermostat models take up to 40 minutes to install, the Ecobee4 takes less than 15 minutes as it comes with a built in leveler making it ready to install.

# No Need of C-wire – If your home doesn’t have a C wire, installation can take a little longer because you need to install the included Power Extender Kit. It works with nearly every kind of HVAC system (except baseboard heaters/line voltage systems) and there is a detailed walkthrough in the manual that comes along with it. Read the compatibility guide we have presented above.

Note: If you don’t know which is your current thermostat or which is your present heating/cooling system, read our guide to – Identify your heating/cooling system.

# Far field technology: – This feature enables you to talk to the thermostat from anywhere across the room. As I wrote before, Ecobee 4 has a powerful microphone which fetches voice commands from far away places (than where the thermostat is installed.

# Sensing and operating: – These smart thermostats save energy by learning your habits and thereby adjusting to maximize your comfort (and max energy savings).

# Geofencing: – This feature tracks the location of the owner and the thermostat automatically acts to make the temperature at the most comfortable level when owner arrives home.

Check Price & View Details

                                  Ecobee4 is truly a smart thermostat with Alexa built in making the interaction as interesting as talking to your friend. A true friend to your smart home, with the ability to control everything from its voice activated assistance. If you wish to own a fully featured, truly smart thermostat – go for Ecobee 4 without second thoughts! You’ll be rewarded in the long run!

On the other side, if you don’t have that high budget and still wish to own a smart thermostat – go for Ecobee 3 Lite. Read the full review given below.

Ecobee3 Lite Review

As I already wrote before, Ecobee 3 Lite is a budget model smart thermostat from Ecobee. This model is basically a trimmed down version (in features) of Ecobee 4. The prime difference is Amazon Alexa and enclosed room sensors – where Ecobee 3 Lite doesn’t have a built in Alexa feature and no room sensor is enclosed with the package. You’ve to buy both separately! The good side is compatibility – Ecobee 3 Lite is compatible with Amazon Alexa & extra room sensors can be interfaced if you really want them later.

 

Highlight Features:

  • Self Learning – Just like Ecobee 4 , this model is ‘self learning‘ and programs itself after analyzing your living habits and patterns.
  • Budget Model (lower price) – when compared with Ecobee 4 -the full featured model.
  • Monthly Energy Reports can be obtained to study about the device’s performance and even gives you tips to improve savings.
  • Smart Hub Integrations – with IFTTT, Amazon Alexa,  Echo, Echo Dot, Apple HomeKit, Wink and SmartThings.
  • Smart Recovery – feature can track your local weather throughout the day with the help of internet and heats/cools your home accordingly.
  • Easy to use and has a very fast responsive touchscreen.
  • Vacation mode can be activated when you are away from home for an extended period of time.
  • Alerts and reminders help you by notifying at the correct time when something goes wrong.
  • Effortless control at your finger tip as you can adjust the temperature and comfort settings from anywhere around the world using your android and iOS devices including apple watches.
  • Room Sensor Compatibility – comaptible with wireless Ecobee room sensors. You can interface upto 32 room sensors with an Ecobee thermostat (be it the Ecobee 4 or the Ecobee 3 Lite model)
  • Sleek Design –  The display size is 3.5 inches. The product dimension is 4.05×4.05×0.84 inches

Drawbacks:

  • Lacks Geofencing – which is a feature that detects if you’re away or nearing home from work. When you are near your home, this feature will turn the heating system ON and preheats your home to a comfortable level before you reach home. 
  • Lacks accessory terminals – required to control HVAC accessories such as humidifiers, dehumidifiers and ventilators.

Ecobee Thermostat – C Wire Requirement

Most of the smart thermostat models require a C wire or common wire in your home electrical circuit. Ecobee thermostats also works well with a C-wire connection. If you don’t have a C-wire or common wire in your home electrical circuit, dont worry! Ecobee has a workaround for homes that don’t have a C wire. Ecobee thermostats (both models) ships with a PEK (Power Extender Kit) – which is to use for homes without a C wire. You may check the installation steps of Ecobee to get a detailed idea.

So the conclusion is, you can buy an Ecobee thermostat without worrying about C wire/common wire in your home. Ecobee thermostat can be installed irrespective of you having a C wire or not. If you’ve a C-wire in home, you don’t need to use PEK (power extender kit) that comes with Ecobee pack. You can install the thermostat directly powering it from your C wire. Now if you don’t have a C wire setup, you can install the thermostat by powering it using the PEK kit provided. Simple enough!

Ecobee4 Vs Evobee3 Lite – Comparison

To exactly know how they are alike or differ, let us discuss some of the most critical aspects of the Ecobee thermostats

# Setup Process – Even if installation of Ecobee is not as easy as Nest, it comes up with a fantastic guide that explains the whole process in detail. So it can take only 10-15minutes for installing Ecobee4 and lite versions. 

# Design and interfaces – Both models look almost the same. Ecobee4 has a glowing LED bar on top which shines when Alexa is activated. There is only few variation in the dimension. Ecobee3 lite is 4.05×4.05×0.84 inches and Ecobee4 is 1x4x4 inches.

Interfaces of both are mainly the same with only few minor unnoticeable differences. Both models display current temperature, alerts, reminders and features for various manual adjustments. Ecobee4 has a new button to activate Alexa manually. Ecobee4 has better sensors that enables it to function at higher level. Both models have same display size of 3.5 inches touchscreen. Mobile apps and web apps are available thus making it  user friendly.

# Integrations – All Ecobee models are third party integration friendly. Ecobee4 has built in Alexa making it smartest of all thermostats. You need to buy Amazon Echo or Echo Dot separately to pair it with Ecobee3 or Lite versions. Ecobee4 eliminates the need for this separate purchase as it has Alexa built into it. Except for this all Ecobeessynchronise perfectly with IFTTT, wink, smartThings and Apple HomeKit.

# Operating patterns and sensing – They save upto 23% of energy by learning habits and routines and there by maximizing your comfort. Ecobee4 have room sensors to attain better control.

Unlike Ecobee4, Ecobee3 doesnot support geofencing which helps to automatically track you and make your home comfortable when you reach near. Ecobee4’s mobile app has geofencing feature. All Ecobee thermostats can check and change temperature of your HVAC using mobile application or through web.

    From the above observations it is clear that Ecobee4 version is the smartest. So if you have enough budget, then go for it without  second thought. The smarter ones for a smarter home.

Lets Wind up!

Ecobee thermostats are undoubtedly the best in smart thermostat category, and they stand at par with Nest by all standards. If we compare Ecobee 4 vs Nest 3rd Generation, I would give some extra points to Ecobee 4 as it ships with a remote room sensor (and an option to add more remote sensors as required). Remote room sensors helps to manage uneven heating in some zones or areas. If you don’t prefer remote sensors, then Ecobee 4 & Nest 3rd Gen stand equal in many important parameters.

The budget models of Ecobee & Nest  – Ecobee 3 Lite and Nest E are also comparable by all standards. So when it comes to choosing Nest or Ecobee, its more of a personal choice than judging by features. However there are compatibility differences (for heating/colling systems), so you may ensure your choice is compatible with your system.

They help to save upto 23% of annual energy utilization thereby saving more money in coming years. In fact the money you invest in Ecobee smart thermostat will be returned to you as energy savings within 2 to 3 years. They have sensors to understand and study in detail about the owners habits or the weather outdoor and thereby making necessary changes in the settings. Ecobee products comes with various alerts and reminders which help you in your day to day life.  The Alexa and other interfaces makes it highly user friendly and easy to communicate. They can be operated efficiently and effectively from anywhere around the globe. So smart they are, isn’t it. Go get it.

If you’re a homeowner, you’ll definitely have a heating/cooling system installed in your home. Based on your location, home size & other factors – the type of heating/cooling system would vary. In this article let’s learn more about types of heating/cooling systems and how to identify the one you’ve in your home. Basically, we can classify heating/cooling systems into two types based on the stages of heating/cooling provided – they are 1) Single Stage and 2) Multi Stage – heating/cooling systems. Let’s see them in detail.

A heating/cooling system is technically known as an HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning). A single stage HVAC system has only one stage of heating or cooling output. They are either running at full capacity (ON state) or not running at all (OFF state).

A multi stage HVAC system has more than one stage of heating/cooling output. The most common multi stage system is Two stage heating/cooling system – which has two output levels of heating/cooling. A two stage HVAC system will have a low setting & high setting suited for moderate climate conditions & extreme climate conditions.

If the winter/summer is not on the extreme side, you just need to run your two stage HVAC on “low setting” which will adjust your room temperature gradually. If the climate is on extreme side, put your 2 stage HVAC on the “high setting” which will adjust your room temperature quickly.

Other than two stage systems (the most popular and common model), there are three stage & four stage systems – in multi stage heating/cooling systems. The cost of the system increases with the number of stages. In North America (USA & Canada), most of the homes runs on single stage or two stage heating/cooling systems. Single stage systems are the least priced & easy to install. But they’ve the disadvantage of lesser fuel efficiency & uneven heating (recall they are either running at full capacity or OFF). Two stage systems costs high to install (& setup) but they are highly efficient (fuel costs would be lesser) & they provide even temperature to all rooms.

Do you know which type of HVAC system are you having in your home? If not, don’t worry! We will help you identify your type of heating/cooling system.

How to identify your heating/cooling system ?

The very first step in identifying your hvac system correctly is to first check if you are having a line voltage (120V/240V) system or low voltage (24 volts) system in your home.  If you have a line voltage system, you probably have an electricity based heating or air conditioning system in your home. In such case, you would be having a baseboard heater or a forced fan heater or a wall heater in your home. Now if you have a low voltage system in your home, you would be having a furnace based system, or a boiler system or a heat pump (this could be single stage or multi stage).

Now how to identify if you have a line voltage system or low voltage system? This is very simple – just check your thermostat wiring. The easiest way is to check the backside wiring of your current thermostat. If you have a line voltage system, your thermostat (which would be a line voltage thermostat running on 120 volts/240 volts) would have either two or four wires coming out of its backside. These wires will be thick (just like your mains line wire) and the color of wires will be either Black & Red or Black & White.

If you have a low voltage system, your thermostat (which would be a low voltage thermostat running on 24 volts) would be having 2 to 9 wires (or more) on its backside – which will be very thin sized and the wires will be having different colors like Green, Yellow, Red, White etc. Read our complete guide on how to identify between Low Voltage & Line Voltage Systems.

Identify between – Single Stage/Multi Stage – for a 24 Volts/Low Voltage System

In America, only 10% of homes runs on line voltage system (electricity based systems). The big majority (about 90%) of homes in USA & Canada runs on central furnaces, boilers or heat pumps – which are low voltage systems (which don’t need electricity to produce heat) and these systems are controlled using low voltage thermostats. These type of HVAC systems would be using a central furnace (in most of the cases) or a central boiler or a heat pump. In some cases, a combination of furnace & heat pump is used to setup the HVAC system. In any case (be it a furnace or boiler or pump), your HVAC can be either single stage or multi stage depending upon the levels of output provided by your system. This means it is possible to setup single stage or multi stage system using furnace or boiler or whatever source of energy. Our objective here is to identify if your system is Single stage or Multi stage – we are not bothered about if you have a furnace or a boiler.

Let’s see how we can do it easily! For this case also, lets grab the thermostat and look at its backside. Take the base off your thermostats and look at the wires. Check the wires going into terminals W, W1, Y and Y1 in particular.

Identifying Single Stage Heating/Cooling Systems

Conventional Single stage systems – will have one wire leading into W or W1 terminal (for heating) and one wire leading into Y or Y1 terminal (for cooling). So that’s the easiest way to identify single stage conventional hvac systems (which would be furnace based or boiler based).

Thermostat for Single Stage Heating or Cooling System
Single Stage HVAC System Thermostat – Source

Single Stage Heat Pumps – will have only one wire (for both heating and cooling) leading into Y  terminal.

Note: If the heat pump has emergency heat/auxiliary heating facility, you will find a wire leading into AUX terminal.

identifying single stage heat pump
Wiring – Heat Pump Thermostat (Single Stage)

Identifying Multi Stage Heating/Cooling Systems

Multi stage HVAC systems will have multiple wires (both for heating & cooling) leading into different terminals. The wires for heating purpose will be leading into terminals marked “W” (like W, W1, W2) and the wires for cooling purpose will be leading to terminals marked “Y” (like Y, Y1, Y2)

  • 3 Stage conventional heating system – will have wires leading into W, W1 and W2 (or W1, W2 and W3) terminals of thermostat.
  • 2 Stage conventional heating system – will have wires leading into terminals W and W1 (or W1 and W2)
  • 2 Stage conventional cooling system – will have wires leading into terminal Y and Y1 (or Y1 and Y2)
Two Stage Thermostat – 2 heat/ 2 cool option

Note: This image given above is of a thermostat which supports 2 stage systems (2H/2C – 2 stages of heating(W1, W2) & cooling (Y1, Y2) in a single thermostat). But this thermostat is actually wired as 1H/1C system as there is a jumper wire connecting W1 to W2 and another jumper wire connecting Y1 to Y2. This could be because the HVAC was either single stage or they want to use only 1 stage (possibly the moderate setting) of the 2 stage HVAC system. If the HVAC was a two stage system, we would have seen two separate wires going into W1, W2 and another two wires (if the system has air conditioner)  going into Y1 and Y2 terminals.

3H/2C – Thermostat with 3 Heating and 2 cooling option

Note: This image above is a thermostat that supports 3H/2C. But it is wired for as 2H/2C (2 stages of heating & cooling). You can see the jumper wire connecting W3 to W2 – which wires the thermostats as 2H.

Some systems have emergency heating (or auxiliary heating)

Thermostat with Two Labels (Double Label)

In some cases, a thermostat will be having two labels at the terminals (as shown in image below). One set is for conventional systems (furnace or boiler) and the other set is used if you have a heat pump.

Double Label Thermostat
Two Label Thermostat – Credits

Note:  In the image above, even though the wires are coming out of label marked “conventional” – this thermostat is actually wired for “heat pump”. So be informed, in this type of cases you can’t judge your HVAC system just by looking  where the wires are coming out from. You need to have an idea of wiring diagrams in this kind of cases.

 

A furnace is one of the vital requisites for our homes to make sure that the place stays warm and comfortable. The decision to have one requires thorough research as most of us know that the choice we make will have its implications for quite a long run.

There are different types of heating systems available to choose from, say furnace is one option, boiler is another option, some areas (where electricity cost is low) prefer electric heaters (like baseboard heaters or forced fan heaters), where as some other homes prefer heat pumps to produce & transfer heat. In this article we discuss about furnace based heating systems – where a central furnace is used to produce heat (from a fuel source like natural gas, lpg or propane or other fuels) and the heat is then distributed to various rooms through a channel (often a duct based system).

A majority of homes in North America (USA & Canada) uses furnace based heating system. A central furnace produces heat by burning fuel (which could be natural gas, lpg, propane or oil) and warms up the interiors of the home via an intermediary fluid movement through a distribution channel.The fluid in movement would be hot/warm air in the case of most furnaces. 

Note: If the intermediary fluid is steam or hot water, then the heating system would be called as boiler (not a furnace).

 The furnaces used at our homes are usually designed keeping convenience-of-use in focus. Modern-day furnace systems are designed for optimum energy and fuel efficiency so that the bill is not overburdened. A typical modern furnace is upto 98% efficient (where as the older models were only 80% efficient) 

The heat distribution mechanism

Heat is distributed in different ways in a furnace and a boiler. A furnace always distributes heat via air medium (as warm air) through ducts from the central furnace to other areas. A fan/blower is used to force the “warm air” from furnace area to all other interior spaces. Such systems are usually called ‘forced air’ distribution systems. A boiler uses hot water or steam to distribute heat from central boiler to all other interior areas.

 In case of the forced air systems, ducts are used to distribute the air. The ‘duct work’ begins from the central furnace and traverses to each and every room where heating/air conditioning is required. A fan/blower forces the ‘warm air’ from central furnace through the duct work. The ‘warm air’ expands on course, and the ‘cooler air’ is collected (with help of another fan) back to furnace for reheating. In America, separate ducts are used to transfer ‘warm air’ from furnace and  to collect ‘cooler air’ back to furnace. This practise brings an advantage of using the same duct work for air conditioning as well.

At the furnace, the cool air passes through an air filter (to filter out unwanted dust and particles), then the blower and passes through the furnace heat exchanger – where the ‘warm air’ is created and then blown to different rooms with the help of another blower. As I said, separate ducts are used to  blow ‘warm air’ and then to collect ‘cool air’. This makes it very easy to install an air conditioner simply by adding a cooling coil at the outlet of the furnace.

Air is circulated through ‘ductwork’ – where the ducts would be made of sheet metal or flex plastic material. The ductwork should be covered and insulated completely to avoid wastage of heat while traversing . Insulating the ductwork directly affects the efficiency of furnace based system.

 

Types of Furnaces

Heating furnaces are available in many types and categories to heat our homes. The constant improvements in these furnaces improved the functionality from time to time and also make these furnaces easy to use and control. The two most traditional options that we all are aware of are the electric and gas furnaces. These electric and gas furnaces are also categorized differently to suit the needs of the users. The gas furnace, as the name, indicates, completely dependent upon the fossil fuel to keep it running. These furnaces are quiet yet efficient and have been in use in a large number of homes. The gas is consumed in the burners and then converted into heat that is supplied to the home for keeping it warm. Broadly speaking, gas furnaces are of three types; single stage furnace, Two-stage furnace and a modulating furnace.

  1. The single stage furnace:

This type of furnace is a host to only one kind of operation- an easy on and off operation. These furnaces work with a gas valve that is opened and closed. The flow of gas occurs at one rate. The kind of furnace operates around eighty percent fuel utilization efficiency. The furnace lacks complete control and is not as efficient as the other modern-day options. The pro here is that the installation cost is very low.

 

  • Two-stage furnace:

 

The two-stage furnace can be controlled with two settings. Full speed and a half. Thus offers control on the temperature in your house and is a lot quieter. This system is capable of communicating with thermostats and can read the heating load of the home and adjust accordingly. The air does move at a slower pace, but this furnace provides the required comfort when winters are around.

 

  • Modulating furnace:

 

The modulating variable speed furnace can control the heat output and speed in coordination with the outside temperature and the comfort. This furnace can be controlled to the max just as wanted and is one of the most energy-efficient option available in the market. The furnace keeps the circulation of air continuous even when the process of heating is stopped. The furnace can cost a bit on the heavier side but can save a lot of money in the long run in form if energy costs. Modulating furnaces are a must have in very cold climates and can work fabulously to regulate the temperatures throughout.

The electric Furnaces on the other hand distribute warm air throughout the home evenly. These furnaces are laced up with 3-7 resistance coils and utilize the ductwork for air distribution. These furnaces are less economical and should be a resort when other options are not a fit. Oil furnaces have been one of the options as well, but the fact that they depend on the non-renewable source of energy make them a little less relevant.

How do furnaces work?

Heating furnaces are detailed systems wherein each component is integrated in a way that serves the purpose in most convenient and efficient way possible. The system works in conjunction to keep a house winter ready, and the process should be understood to know how to run and maintain a furnace for a long term.

In a typical furnace system, thermostats and a furnace are in the process of interaction. The thermostat constantly reads the temperature of the air and regulates it accordingly by sending a signal to the furnace that further decreases on increases the heat quotient. The two main types of furnaces discussed above viz; gas and electric furnace work through this mechanism. In a typical setting, the thermostats send a signal, and the furnace adjusts the temperature of the air and keeping it going through the duct system.

In case of an elaborate setup, the furnace system might as well come in additional components besides the thermostats and the furnace. The temperature to be regulated may require one or all of the additional components to keep the process efficient and in control. A humidifier is one of such components that forms a part of the system and is used to regulate the humidity inside the home. This, in turn, increases the quality of air and makes the space comfortable.

The humidifiers may also prevent wooden products, that form a part of your living space, from warping or cracking. Another special component is the central air conditioner. The conditioners help cooling down the temperature of the indoor air just in the case the temperatures rise above what is comfortable. One of the additional components of the system is the air filter. Many furnace systems include an air filter to improve the overall quality of indoor air.

The process that gets the modern furnace working starts with the thermostat receiving a signal. Many furnaces give notice of the signal being sent by making a clicking sound. This is when the fuel is supplied to the burner for a controlled flame. When the burners are lit, the furnaces carry on an internal check to make sure that are the burners are working, and in case of a problem with any of the burner, the entire system is shut down for a brief period before an attempted re-ignition process.

When the burners start working, a heat exchanger device starts working by warming the air. This air is pushed forward only when the exchanger reached the operating temperature. This is the stage when blower motor starts working by circulating the air throughout the home via the network of ducts.

Modern-day furnaces are much more efficient and simple to use than what existed the long time ago. The maintenance of these furnaces is easier when the process is known, and the components are identified. The know-how protects from a failure and ensures that the safety mechanism stays in place. With continuous innovations, the fuel efficiency of these furnaces has reached up to a ninety-eight percent. The control has become easier, and the furnaces with sensors make it easy to live in a home that is constantly being monitored for warmth and comfort.

Identify the type of furnace in your home

To know how your furnace works and how to keep maintaining it, it is mandatory to know what kind of system is a part of your home. There are different ways to categorize the type of heating furnace. The major three categories include distinguishing in the basis of system type, for example, hot water, forced air, etc., on the basis if fuel type and on the basis of heat distribution. The heat distribution part is visible to the eye, and this can help to identify the type without having to go too thorough.

Identify the type of furnace categorized on the basis of physical appearances is:

  • Hydraulic radiators: if your system involves functioning on hot water, this is your furnace. The fuel used in these furnaces include oil, gas or electricity and involves a series of hot water piping throughout the house. The heat is distributed through hot water or steam which is admitted via a valve, and this warm air keeps the air within the house at the optimum favorable temperature
  • Electric Furnaces: These kinds of furnaces will involve the use of high current voltage in association with the heater coils and related elements. This furnace may involve having a propane tank as well. Electric furnaces can be recognized on the basis of the supply and the bills it generates.
  • Gas Furnace: the gas furnace has a visible flame while in operation. You can also identify this kind of furnace if you have a pipeline moving towards the origin of the furnace.

Identify the type of furnace on the basis of fuel:

  • Gas furnace: This furnace will require a supply of bottled gas or a pipeline of natural gas to keep functioning.
  • Electric system: This is when your furnace needs electric baseboards to circulate hot air throughout the space.

There are a lot of other ways that can help to identify the type of furnace used. For example The space from where the warm air flows in, your ducts, the process of heat distribution. In case of the metal radiator furnaces, copper tubing, wall convectors can help you recognize this type. Many such things are required to be noted to exactly conclude what type of furnace is being used.

A knowledge of the type of furnace being used can make you confident about the maintenance issues if any and you might be able to save yourself the trouble in case of any problem. The technicians tend to hype the bill in case you lack the knowledge.

Being aware will save some costs as well. Furnaces have been an integral part of our houses, especially during winters. With the cost efficiency and many more improvements being made on the part of the functionality, it is easier to have one around. It is also recommended to go for some research before deciding on which one to use. Look for the option that is most suitable on the basis of energy available to you or the climate you live in.

If you are shopping a thermostat for your baseboard heater (or for any line voltage based heating system), you may have heard the terms – Single Pole Thermostat and Double Pole Thermostat. If you are a bit confused looking for differences between the two, you are not alone! In this article we help you understand the exact difference between a Single Pole Thermostat and Double Pole Thermostat.

The Basic Difference

The very basic difference between a Single pole and Double pole thermostat is – a Single pole thermostat cannot be turned “OFF” completely. Hence a single pole thermostat never turns the electric heater OFF by cutting power supply line from the heater. A double pole thermostat has an “OFF” setting and a double pole model can be turned “OFF” completely by isolating the electric heater from power supply line. A double pole thermostat (when set in the OFF position) completely turns OFF the electric heater from power supply line.

Stelpro - 2 wire thermostat
Stelpro – Single Pole Thermostat

Take a look at the pictures given above & below:  You can see the single pole thermostat has no “OFF” position, while a double pole thermostat has an OFF position.

Stelpro – Double Pole Thermostat

What happens in a Single Pole Thermostat?

We saw that a Single pole thermostat has no “OFF” setting in the device. You might be thinking  what is the left most position (the minimal setting) in a Single pole thermostat. Well, that’s actually a low setting (usually set at 45 degrees Fahrenheit). The heater will be turned “ON”  when temperature dips below the set point (45 degrees or whatever set value is minimal setting). So in the case of a single pole thermostat, the power line is always connected to the thermostat and to the baseboard heater.

Unlike a Single pole thermostat, the leftmost position in a Double pole thermostat (turn the knob all the way in counter clockwise direction) is marked “OFF”. In this position, the thermostat and the heater will be isolated from power line. The thermostat will not measure/sense the surrounding temperature as well when kept in OFF position. So in this position the heater will not turn “ON” even if the temperature dips below a certain value.  The heater will be kept “OFF” until the thermostat is turned “ON” and set to a certain temperature value.

What’s the takeaway ?

We now know the difference between a single pole and double pole thermostat. So what’s the takeaway from what we have learned ? Well, the most important one is that a single pole thermostat throws some safety concerns owing to the fact that the electric heater is always connected to power line (even at the low setting).

Electric heaters are usually required only during the cold season. In most homes electric heaters are not used during summer. Consider a scenario in which you have a single pole thermostat controlling your heater. During summer you set the thermostat to its low point and goes away on vacation. Since the heater is not in use, you might have placed many items carelessly near your heater (worst case: directly in front of your heater). Now what if there is a sudden climate change and temperature dips unexpectedly? Your single pole thermostat will turn the heater “ON” when temperature falls below its minimal setting. Since you are away, you don’t get a chance to move things kept near your heater. Potential fire risk is very high in such a scenario.

Note: All kinds of heaters have certain minimal clearance requirements. Read about baseboard heater safety tips in our guide.

Its always safe to turn your electric heater OFF (completely isolated from power line) when you are away. However if you don’t take long vacations (staying away from your home) and if you always keep a check on things placed near your heater, you can go with the single pole thermostat option.

Identifying a Single Pole Thermostat and Double Pole Thermostat

Now as you know the basic difference between a Single pole and Double pole thermostat, let’s see how to identify between the two. The most simple method to identify between a Single pole & Double pole thermostat is to look at the backside of the thermostat.

 2 wire thermostat
Cadet – Single Pole Thermostat or 2 Wire Thermostat

If you see two wires coming out of the back of your thermostat, you have a Single pole thermostat in your hand. And if you see four wires coming out of the back, you have a Double pole thermostat in hand. Easy & simple identification – right ?

4 Wire Thermostat
Cadet – Double Pole Thermostat or 4 Wire Thermostat

Note 1: If you are checking a connected thermostat (thermostat connected to electric heater line), first turn OFF the main power line or turn OFF power at the breaker that powers your electric heater. Now take off the thermostat from wall (or the attachment) and inspect the backside.

Note 2: If you have more than four wires coming out of the back of your thermostat, you might have a low voltage thermostat in your hand. Please note low voltage thermostats can not be used to control electric heaters (baseboard heaters). Low voltage models are used to regulate other types of heating systems like heat pump, boilers, gas furnaces etc.

It hardly matters if you have a big family or just you and your lovely pet member – multiple inhabitants in a house always call for catering various needs. And probably as a homeowner, you are providing all the needs of your adorable pet. But do you pay attention to your home’s thermostat setting while leaving behind your pets alone at home?

It’s true that pet animals like dogs, cats or rabbits can survive at the temperature ranges from 30 F – 115 F. (Read more about Thermoregulation in animals) But the pet animals usually grow up in pleasant ambient temperature. Moreover, they don’t feel similar in the same temperature as you feel. Hence, extra care should be taken while setting the temperature of your home’s HVAC system for your pets well being.

How does room temperature variation affect a pet animal?

Pets have their own biological temperature control capability. Hence, they easily adapt to the temperature they usually grow up in. This means they are comfortable with the same temperature as their homeowners.
However, like a human body, a pet’s body is also prone to disease and uncomfortable feeling for abrupt temperature changes. The reason behind it is, though a pet’s body can regulate its body temperature to the comfort level of the home temperature, it can’t control the impact of sudden temperature change on its body.

So, the rule of thumb is while lowering or increasing the temperature of the thermostat it should be set comfortable for you, and so for your pet! And switching off the thermostat either in summer or winter is not at all a good idea. This will leave a pet in a miserable condition with either extremely hot or cold temperature.

Few physical traits of a pet which must be considered:

It’s not only your perception or “own feeling” that should be based to adjust your home’s thermostat setting. There are many other factors which should be considered because not all dogs or cats belong to the same league. The first factor is to identify how acclimated they are to temperature changes.

#1 – Origin and Climate zone: A dog that lives outside most of the time in a hot and humid climate can tolerate higher temperature and humidity. On the other hand, a dog that is shifted from a colder zone to a hot climatic condition like 90F needs a warm surrounding.

#2 – Age:- is a prime factor for pet animals which affects their senses and body temperature regulation capabilities. With age, animals cannot cope well with abrupt temperature changes. Cold atmosphere could cause joint pains, numbness or other health issues. On the other hand, hot surroundings leave them with risk of dehydration.

Again, kittens or puppies need higher temperatures than adult ones. Because it takes time to develop their body temperature controlling system after birth. Hence, they prefer to keep their body warmer. Otherwise, they can suffer hypothermia even in normal room temperatures as they posses lack of capacity to retain body heat.

#3 – Breeds: The physical & genetic traits (breed characteristics)  plays a vital role in temperature balance & regulation. For example, a dog with double coats (a coat works as an insulation layer for animals) feels warmer than a slick coated dog. Similarly, a Siberian cat with long hair feels warmer than a cat with less hair.

#4 – Size: The size of the pet animal also decides their heat retention capacity. For example, a smaller cat or dog with slim structure normally carries less fat. Hence, they need more heat to keep their body warmer. On the other hand, a fatty dog or cat retains more heat due to their body fat.

#5 – Health:  Your pet may undergo different health conditions. If your darling has a thyroid problem, it cannot tolerate too much heat. Similarly, if the animal is suffering an infection or other types of sickness, they need a warmer environment.

Further, if the pet is diagnosed with hormonal imbalances, or any organ conditions of  heart/kidney, or a medical condition like diabetes, they could not maintain regular body temperature themselves in such conditions and are prone to get sick with changes in weather.

What is the best temperature for pets in summer and winter?

Of course, it depends on the type of pet animal that belongs to your home. Here we will discuss from the perspective of dog and cat.

Best temperature settings for dogs:

Dog’s normal body temperature runs a little higher (3-4 degrees) than humans. However, their comfort levels are same as humans. Hence we advise not to leave them at freezing temperature (32F) or too hot temperature (105 F). The recommended thermostat setting during summer is from 78 degrees F and 69 degrees F in the winter.

However, as mentioned above several factors play significant roles in their sensitivities. Hence, a pet’s discomfort level should carefully be monitored before setting the thermostat temperature level.

Best temperature settings for cats:

Usually, cats can tolerate quite high temperatures than humans as they evolved in the desert. Cats can easily tolerate up to 126 F, and without any discomfort up to 133 F. However, it is ideal to maintain thermostat setting between 86 F and 96 F during summer.
During winter keep the temperature between 78 F and 80 F. However, if the cat is less tolerant to heat then maintain the temperature between 60F-68F.

Maintaining a consistent temperature helps a lot:

As we mentioned above, sudden temperature change affects pets adversely especially dogs. Though they have their own sweat management capability or panting ability, they cannot cope up well with extreme conditions. Moreover, this leaves them in an uncomfortable situation sometimes making them furious or away from normal behavior.
Hence, though this may sound against energy saving, it is a good practice (considering pets well being) to maintain a consistent temperature at home (a setting that you and your pets are already used to in Summer and Winter conditions)

Conclusion:

To conclude, always consider the factors mentioned here before setting the thermostat in any weather condition. From energy-saving invest in a programmable thermostat to get rid of an extra headache while maintaining a healthy and comfortable living for both of you and your pet.
And last but not the least during your pet’s veterinarian check-up make sure your thermostat setting is working well for them, or whether it is causing any potential health issues for them. Research and invest in your thermostat and its setting to ensure a healthy life for your loving pet!

Heating and cooling systems installed in a home may vary from central furnaces, boilers, electric baseboards to heat pumps. The most common type of heating/cooling (HVAC) system used in USA is the central furnace  – which may be singles stage or multi stage. A heat pump is used in regions with moderate climate, where summer/winter is not that extreme any time. In this article, we guide you through heat pump thermostat models, ideal to control the heat pump in your home.

As I wrote above, a majority (90%) of  homes in USA rely on central furnace based systems, or boiler based systems or heat pump systems. Only about 10% of homes in America uses electric baseboards for heating (these homes would be either old constructions or located in places where electricity is cheap). In regions with moderate climate, a heat pump (with emergency heat) alone is usually enough for home heating/cooling. Homes located in extreme weather regions often use a heat pump along with the central furnace/boiler based HVAC system. Before going ahead, let’s see the best heat pump thermostats in a nutshell.

Quick Review - Heat Pump Thermostat

Heat Pump – How it functions?

A heat pump is simply a heat exchange system which can be used to heat or cool a place. Heat pumps use the outside air to heat/cool a home during winter/summer. A heat pump can be used for climate control in a home through out the year – during winter and summer.

 A heat pump can be used for cooling, heating and dehumidifying. The working principle of a heat pump is same as that of a refrigerator. In simple words, it makes the cool place cooler and hot place hotter – by pumping out the heat from the cooler area to hotter area.

Heat pumps use air, water or ground as a medium to pump out the heat. Accordingly they are classified as air source, water source and geothermal heat pumps (ground source). The most common model is the air source heat pump.

During winters,  a heat pump (air source) moves heat from the outdoor air to your indoors, making your rooms cosy and warm. Similarly, during summers, a heat pump will pump out the heat from your indoors to the outdoors making your rooms cooler. As you know it now, a heat pump simply transfers heat from one place to the other. 

Compared to electric baseboards and electric furnaces, heat pumps offer better efficiency in terms of electricity usage, as they don’t use resistance heating. Also, with new advancements, high efficiency heat pumps are available that provide better dehumidifying feature than the air conditioners. As we’ve seen how a heat pump functions, let’s move on to see in detail the best thermostat for heat pumps.

Thermostat for Heat Pumps

A thermostat helps in regulating the room temperature by turning the heating/cooling system ON/OFF intermittently (by sensing the current room temperature with the help of sensors that comes with every thermostat). In the case of a heat pump thermostat, the device switches the heat pump ON/OFF to maintain the desired room temperature constantly.

Thermostats always improve the energy efficiency of heat pumps as it regulates the system really well. A good thermostat helps to save energy and money in the long run. While choosing a heat pump thermostat, the most important fact to keep in mind is “not all thermostats are compatible with heat pumps”. You’ve to choose a thermostat that is compatible with your heat pump.

In this article, we help you choose the best thermostat for your heat pump. Let’s first see some important facts you should keep in mind while choosing a heat pump thermostat.

How to choose the best Heat Pump Thermostat?

#1 Compatibility – The very first thing to keep in mind is not all thermostat models are compatible with a heat pump system. There are thermostat models that do not support hvac systems with a heat pump. You’ve to read the specifications very clearly before you order your thermostat.

#2 Wiring – The wiring required for a heat pump is different from other hvac systems like a central furnace system. So the thermostat you’re considering should support the wiring required for a heat pump. You’ve to check with the manufacturers specifications or check the model number online to see if it supports a heat pump system.

#3 Heat Pumps with Aux/Emergency Heating – If your heat pump has aux/emergency heat option, then you’ve to choose a thermostat model that supports the same. Keep in mind there are thermostat models that support a heat pump but not compatible with an aux/emergency heat system. So if you’ve a heat pump with aux heat, choose a thermostat that specifically supports heat pumps with aux heat.

Heat Pumps with Auxiliary or Emergency Heating – Explained

A heat pump is really an energy efficient system and works well with moderate climates. But if the climate goes to an extreme, say a really cold winter, then heat pumps will take longer than usual to heat your rooms properly. To manage such situations, some heat pumps comes with auxiliary/emergency heating option. When aux/emergency heating mode is turned ON, rooms are heated really quickly. But this option (aux heating) is not energy efficient and adds to energy expenses. However, aux heat mode is really quick and heats the rooms much faster.

#4 – Smart Heat Pump Thermostat or Budget Friendly Programmable Model ?

Finally, if you’ve done the most important matter of shortlisting a couple of thermostat models that supports your heat pump, then its just a matter of choosing which all features you want and your budget. There are smart heat pump thermostats (like Nest, Ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, ) which comes with a full load of useful features like self learning, auto programming, wifi & controlling via mobile app, geo-fencing , voice control etc.

All looks good with a smart heat pump thermostat, but those high end features comes with a price tag as well. If your budget is low, you can go for a normal programmable thermostat  for heat pumps, which is more than enough and serves the purpose of regulating temperature & maintaining efficiency.

Let’s have a look at some of the best heat pump thermostats available in market.

Smart Thermostat for Heat Pumps

As we’ve explained above, smart heat pump thermostats come packed with a bunch of smart features like self learning, auto scheduling, geo-fencing, energy savings and more. If you’ve enough budget, its always wise to choose a smart programmable thermostat for heat pumps – as they save energy like no other thermostats. In fact, a smart thermostat can pay for itself in 2 years time-frame as energy savings on your bills.

#1 – Nest – 3rd Generation Smart Thermostat

Our first pick as the #1 choice for a heat pump smart thermostat is Nest 3rd Generation thermostat. This model supports heat pump systems and heat pumps with auxiliary/emergency heating. In the case of heat pump with auxiliary heating, this model supports upto 2 stages of heating/cooling with aux heat for heat pumps.

Check Price & View Details

Nest 3rd Gen & Ecobee 4 are the best smart thermostats for heat pump based systems. They both supports multi stage heat pumps and when it comes to aux heating, they both support upto 2 stages of heating. Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats are WiFi enabled, and is probably the best WiFi thermostat for heat pump systems.

Smart Heat Pump Thermostat
Nest – Smart Thermostat for Heat Pumps

Nest 3rd gen model will turn ON the aux heat system only when it is necessary (only when the outside temperature falls below the aux heat lockout temperature). By default Nest will activate the heat pump balance, which then automatically determines the aux heat lockout temperature. You might already know that Nest is a self learning thermostat and it learns your living habits to program itself automatically. A nest thermostat usually takes 7 to 10 days (from the day of installation) to learn patterns and to program itself to give you maximum energy savings.

Read our full Review  – Read Nest 3rd Gen Review  – Nest 3rd Gen vs Nest E compared 

Nest E Thermostat – Nest has a budget friendly heat pump smart thermostat named Nest E – compatible with heat pumps and also with aux/emergency heating. We’ve detailed the difference between Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen in our review article. Both Nest E and Nest 3rd Gen are WiFi enabled and can be used as a WiFi heat pump thermostat.

If you look at the backside of Nest Thermostat, you can see labels (O/B , AUX/E) – which means this thermostat is compatible with heat pumps (O/B) and also compatible for heat pumps with aux/emergency heating (AUX/E). So a convenient way to check if a thermostat model is compatible with heat pumps is to check its wiring labels. If you see O/B – it is heat pump compatible and if you see both O/B and AUX/E – it is compatible for heat pumps with aux heating.

#2 – Ecobee 4 – Heat Pump Smart Thermostat

Heat pump smart thermostat
Ecobee 4 – Smart Thermostat for Heat Pump

Ecobee 4 is our #2 choice but this thermostat is as good as Nest 3rd Generation model by all means. Ecobee is a Canadian company making smart thermostats for North American regions and they are really good at it! Ecobee 4 is their full featured smart thermostat model and it supports Heat pumps (4H/2C – 4 stages of heating & 2 stages of  cooling) and also Heat pumps with auxiliary/emergency heating (2 stages of aux heating).

Check Price & View Details

Notes: Ecobee 4 supports accessories (that usually comes with heat pumps) like a humidifier, dehumidifier, ventilator, ERV or HRV.

Ecobee 4 Highlights:

  • WiFi Enabled – Ecobee4 is one of the best WiFi heat pump thermostat model, just like Nest 3rd Gen variant. You can connect Ecobee4 to your home WiFi and control via smartphones or your PC.
  • Builtin Amazon Alexa – Ecobee4 comes with built in Alexa which enables voice control of the device. You can also avail full feature of Alexa like read news, search the web and like more!
  • Learning Ability – learns your living habits and programs itself via machine learning. Ensures maxium energy savings.
  • Away Home Control – control the device via Internet using mobile app. Ecobee4 is also compatible with Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings.

Read our Full ReviewReview of Ecobee 4 Thermostat – Ecobee 4 vs Ecobee 3 Lite Comparison

Ecobee 3 Lite (Budget Model) – Just like Nest E, Ecobee also has a budget friendly smart heat pump thermostat named Ecobee 3 Lite – which is a trimmed down version (in features & build quality) of Ecobee 4. This model Ecobee 3 Lite is compatible for Heat pumps (2 stages Y1 and Y2) and also for Heat pumps with aux heating (2 stages of aux heat – W1 and W2).

Note: Ecobee 3 Lite does not have accessory terminals to control whole humidifier, dehumidifier or a ventilator.

#3 – Honeywell (RTH9585WF) Heat Pump Smart Thermostat

Heat pump smart thermostat
Honeywell – Smart Thermostat for Heat pumps

The 3rd one in our list is a model from Honeywell, with model name RTH9585WF. This is one of the best selling WiFi Heat Pump Thermostat with smart features like WiFi/Wireless control, touch screen, voice control using Amazon Alexa, long distance control via internet using mobile apps and a lot such features similar to those offered by Nest and Ecobee models. The only major drawback is its conventional box shaped design which is not appealing & contemporary! Nest & Ecobee follows a sleek, round shaped, minimal design pattern for all of their models – which is definitely trendy & suits any modern interiors. 

Check Price & View Details

Note: This model is in fact an upgrade of the best selling model – Honeywell RTH9580WF. Both are still available for sale in online stores. But we believe the newer model RTH9585WF is the best choice and value for money.

Compatibility:- This model RTH9580WF works with both Heat Pumps & Heat pumps with Aux/Emergency heating. This model is compatible upto 2 stages of heating. For cooling, you can set the “cooling changeover valve” mode  – which is set by default (refer installation manual for more details).

Aux/Emergency Heat – Honeywell thermostats refer to Aux/Emergency heat as “backup heat” in its software. You’ve to connect your heat pumps Aux/E wires to W2-Aux/E terminal of this Honeywell thermostat. Backup heat mode will show up in software only if this wire is connected. If your heat pump has two separate wires labeled Aux and E, then connect them together to W2-Aux/E terminal of thermostat (RTH9580WF)

Read our full review ofHoneywell RTH9585WF – Smart WiFi Heat Pump Thermostat.

Highlight Features:

Essentially Smart – Almost all essential features of smart thermostat except ‘self learning’ of Ecobee & Nest. Essential features like voice control (compatible with Amazon Alexa), WiFi control, remote control using mobile apps (iOS & Anddroid versions), touchscreen, holiday scheduling, smart energy savings are available in this model.

Big Display & Touch Screen – Unlike Ecobee & Nest (which are sleek & minimal) this Honeywell model has a bigger display. This is a blessing for people who prefer bigger displays & easy readability while setting up & programming schedules. Big displays also serve well people with vision problems. The touch screen has multi colors & you can set a color that match your indoors.  Note: Touchscreen can be locked (with password) for safety as well.

Drawbacks: 

Not Self Learning – Ecobee & Nest are self learning thermostats. This means you don’t need to program them manually. They learn your habits & schedules and they program themselves a schedule that best suits your lifestyle & at the same time saves you maximum energy bills. In the case of this model (RTH9585WF) – you’ve to program the thermostat manually.

Sensi Smart Thermostat for Heat Pumps

Heat pump smart thermostat
Emerson Sensi – Smart Thermostat for Heat Pump

The next in smart thermostat category for heat pumps is the Sensi smart thermostat for heat pumps. This thermostat is a product from Emerson thermostats and is designed to work with your existing wires. Therefore it has an easy and quick DIY installation procedure. It does not require a common wire(c-wire) and hence is compatible with most of the heating and cooling systems.

Here’s a list of other features it posses:

  1. WiFi Enabled – Sensi ST75 is also one of the best WiFi thermostat for heat pumps. Just like other WiFi enabled thermostats, you can control your Sensi ST75 via home WiFi.
  2. Choose the geo-fencing feature and your thermostat will automatically set the temperature according to the local climate.
  3. Reduce the unnecessary energy usage by creating a 7- day programming schedule.
  4. Remote control feature helps you control the temperature and time settings from your smart phones, tablets and computer.
  5. It is not compatible with electric baseboard heaters.
  6. It is compatible with almost all HVAC systems, although a c wire would be required for heat-only , cool-only and heat pump systems without aux.

WiFi Heat Pump Thermostat

All the above listed smart thermostats come with a wi-fi feature. The ones listed below are economical and pocket friendly when compared to the smart thermostats mentioned in the section above but still has the useful WiFi feature inbuilt

We’ve crafted a dedicated guide featuring exclusive WiFi enabled thermostat models suitable for different types of HVAC systems. If you’re looking for a WiFi heat pump thermostat, you should definitely read our guide.

Honeywell RET97E5D1005/U Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat

Heat pump thermostat with WiFi
Honeywell – Heat pump thermostat with WiFi

This thermostat from Honeywell gives you remote access to control the temperature and time.   It comes with a push button interface and can be configured to almost any scheduling environment. Some of its features have been listed below:

  1. It comes with Wi-Fi remote access so that you can use your iOS or android device to control its settings from anywhere. You can mange one or more thermostats using this feature.
  2. It comes with smart response technology that learns to pre-heat or cool your home at pre-programmed times.
  3. It is pre-programmed with schedules that aim at reducing your energy usage.
  4. It is compatible with heating and cooling and heat pumps, but does not work with heat pumps with electric baseboard heat (120-240V).

Honeywell TH6320WF1005

WiFi Heat Pump Thermostat by Honeywell

The Honeywell TH6320WF1005 Wi-Fi FocusPRO 6000 thermostat comes with a 7-day programmable memory. It has a large, backlit display with push buttons for easy control interface. Apart from this it also has the following features:

  1. The installation process is easy thanks to its browser interface/smartphone app interface, that guides you through the installation process.
  2. You can set the settings even without a Wi-Fi, as it has all the functions of a conventional programmable thermostat.
  3. Apart from giving you remote access to the temperature settings through your iOS or Android devices, this Wi-Fithermostat sends you updates via email, when asked to do so.
  4. It requires a c-wire, hence is compatible with 3Heat/2 Cool heat pumps and 2 Heat/2 Cool conventional systems.

Touch Screen Heat Pump Thermostats with WiFi

Bosch Connected Control Wi-Fi Thermostat (Alexa-Enabled)

Heat pump thermostat with WiFi
Bosch Touchscreen Thermostat for Heat Pump

This  Wi-Fi thermostat from  Bosch, allows easy scheduling to make your home cosy and comfortable during chilly days. Like all the Wi-Fi thermostats mentioned above, this one also provides remote access (through mobile App) to control its temperature and time settings. Some other key features of this thermostat are:

  1. 5-inch colour touch-screen display.
  2. Alexa-Voice enabled, this means you can control the thermostat with your voice when you are at home.
  3. You can manage schedules of up to 4 thermostats using the BCC100 mobile app.
  4. It is compatible with Heat Pump (4 Heat, 2 Cool) or Conventional (2 Heat, 2 Cool) systems, any 1-wire internally powered humidifier or dehumidifier, and most 24 VAC HVAC systems. 

Honeywell TH9320WF5003 WiFi 9000

Heat pump thermostat with touchscreen
Honeywell – Heat pump thermostat with touchscreen

This product from Honeywell is aimed to increase your energy savings. It comes with a 7-day programmable memory that can be used to reduce your energy consumption. Also, you can change the color of its customisable touchscreen to suit your wall decors. Some other features include:

  1. Connect to an existing Wi-Fi network at your home, and remotely program the schedule over the app or browser on your device.
  2. Control the thermostat using your voice, as it is enabled with Alexa voice recognition technology.
  3. The 7 day programming is simple and selectable. This means if you are not inclined towards programming the schedule, you have the option to use this thermostat as a non programmable one.
  4. It comes with energy savings mode feature.

Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Thermostat

Heat pump thermostat with touchscreen and WiFi
Emerson Sensi: Heat pump thermostat with Touchscreen

Emerson sensi touch thermostat has been named the ‘Best Overall’ smart thermostat of 2017 by USA Today’s Reviewed.com. It has HD touch screen that displays the room temperature and has intuitive menus and back glow. It is designed for hassle free DIY installation, with step by step guide given in its app.

The other features include:

  1. Download the Sensi app on your mobile and enjoy the remote accessibility of the control features of this thermostat.
  2. It will alert you in case of extreme temperature and humidity levels in your home.
  3. It has geo fencing feature that can be used for location based temperature control.
  4. 7-Day flexible  scheduling helps to reduce the HVAC related energy consumption.
    1. It has a 7 day programmable schedule with four periods for each day.
    2. Setting the schedule is easier with its large, easy-to read backlit display.
    3. The easy install wizard guides you through each step of installation.
    4. It has compatibility with heating, cooling and heat pump systems. Heat pump systems – Up to four stages of heating and two stages of cooling (with or without auxiliary).
    5. Also compatible with gas, electric, oil systems, as well as millivolt applications.It is compatible with the gas, oil, geothermal, heat pump and radiant heat systems – up to 4 stages of heating and 2 stages of cooling.

Heat Pump Programmable Thermostat

These thermostats although programmable do not have Wi-Fi and smart learning features. If you are looking for a simple digital thermostat that has a programmable memory, this category of thermostat will suit you. Here we have listed some of the heat pump programmable thermostat:

Emerson UP310

 

 

This programmable thermostat for heat pump with auxiliary heat, gives you temperature accuracy of about 1 degree that means you have got the option to maintain the temperature of your home within one degree of where you set it. It has some other features too, like:

  1. It has a 7 day programmable schedule with four periods for each day.
  2. Setting the schedule is easier with its large, easy-to read backlit display.
  3. The easy install wizard guides you through each step of installation.
  4. It has compatibility with heating, cooling and heat pump systems. Heat pump systems – Up to four stages of heating and two stages of cooling (with or without auxiliary).
  5. Also compatible with gas, electric, oil systems, as well as millivolt applications.

 

 

Honeywell RTH6450D1009

Honeywell has a wide range of thermostats; this programmable thermostat is one of them. If you are looking for a replacement for your old Honeywell thermostat, the installation for this newer version is super easy. Apart from its easy installation here are some of its other features:

  1. Easy to set up the schedule, with customisable control for a cosy home.
  2. It automatically changes from heat to cool, depending on the program set up.
  3. It gives a precise temperature of 1 degree.
  4. It is compatible with heating and cooling system plus single stage heat pump systems

 

Honeywell RTH2300B1012

 

 

The Honeywell RTH2300B1012 is one of the best thermostat for heat pumps with lots of features. It is 5-2 day programmable thermostat, this means that you can schedule a program for the weekdays and the weekends separately. Some other features include:

  1. You can program a schedule for four different intervals a day.
  2. It has a temperature precision of 1 degree farehenheit.
  3. The push button display interface is extremely user friendly and so is its installation.
  4. It is compatible with heating, cooling and heat pumps without auxiliary heat, but does not work with electric baseboard heat (120-240V) OR multistage HVAC systems. 

 

 

Emerson 1F83H-21PR

This heat pump thermostat from Emerson comes with a dual fuel option. This means there is no need for additional sensors. Also, it has a large backlit display which has a key lock option so you won’t accidentally reset your programmed schedule. Some other features include:

  1. It can work like a 7 day programmable thermostat as well as a non programmable thermostat, according to the mode you choose.
  2. It has 5-1-1 day programming capability; this means you can set a schedule for 5 weekdays and two different schedules for the other two days of the week.
  3. It has inbuilt advanced features such as keypad lock, temperature limits and backlight button.
  4. It is compatible with  Heat Pump (2H/1C) but not compatible with   electric baseboard heat and some other systems. 

 

 

Honeywell TH6220 

This is another product from Honeywell thermostat range. It has the largest backlit display among its kind, making it easy and clear to read the settings on the display. It is dual powered (hardwired/battery). It has other features such as:

  1. It comes with built-in instructions on how to use various features efficiently.
  2. The 5-1-1/5-2 day programming schedule is built in to reduce your energy consumption via HVAC systems.
  3. The adaptive intelligent recovery feature ensures programmed temperature is reached by programmed time.
  4.  It works well with all central heating and cooling systems including heat pumps without auxiliary heat source.
  5. It is designed to provide electronic control of 24 V ac conventional and heat pump systems or 750 mV heating systems.

Lux Products TX9600TS 

 

 

This product from LUX is a good choice if you are on a tight budget and yet want to make your home comfortable along with a reduction in u=energy usage by HVAC systems. It has a simple, white frame and a large backlit display. Ome of the other features include:

  1. It has a keypad lock feature that prevents the thermostat from unauthorized users
  2. It has a selectable periods(2 or 4) per day.
  3. You can program different schedules for the weekdays and the weekends.
  4. It is compatible with heating and cooling systems apart from systems with electric baseboard heat (120 or 240 volt) and systems with 2-cooling stages.

 Digital Non Programmable Heat Pump Thermostats

 This one category of thermostats is ideal for those who like the conventional thermostats. It does not have a programmable memory but has digital display and simple control settings.

Some of the thermostats of this kind are listed below:

Honeywell RTH3100C1002/E1

 

This non programmable thermostat is mercury free and thus the precision is quite good. Also with easy to read, green backlit digital display the control of this thermostat is convenient.You can set the temperature according to your comfort and then let the thermostat do the rest.

It will maintain the room temperature at the set value. It is dual powered (hardwired/battery). It has push button interface that is very convenient to use.This thermostat works well with Multistage Heat Pump Systems (Heat Pumps with and without Auxiliary heat source).

Honeywell TH5110D1006

 

This is another non programmable digital thermostat from Honeywell. It has a 1.5 square inches, green backlit display and push button interface.It has an easy access battery replacement door and is dual powered(Hardwired/battery powered).

It is designed provide electronic control of 24 V AC conventional and heat pump systems or 750 mV heating systems. It is compatible with 1 heat/1 cool conventional systems and heat pumps with no auxiliary.

 

Honeywell RTH5100B 1025 Deluxe Manual Thermostat

This one non programmable digital thermostat from honey well features advanced temperature monitoring that is aimed to minimize temperature swings to give you a comfortable and cosy home to live in.

The green backlit display along with the soft key push button interface makes it extremely user friendly. It is very easy to set the temperature with the up/down buttons.The set temperature is maintained even when the thermostat restarts after a power outage.It is compatible with Works on all central heating and cooling systems including heat pumps without auxiliary heat source.

These are some of thermostats that I have picked up to guide you through the process of choosing the best option when it comes to buying heat pump thermostats. As already mentioned, the first thing you should know while shopping for thermostat is the type of heating/cooling system you have at your home. Then comes in the budget and the kind of features you want. The smart thermostats are equipped with ample number of features from setting the schedule for you to even reading out the daily news for you. Most of the Wi-Fi thermostats come with remote access to the control settings. The non-programmable thermostat is the most basic type and all you have to do is set a temperature and it will maintain the temperature with precision of about 1 degree Fahrenheit.

This is all about heat pump thermostats in this article.

Thanks for reading!