As our homes continue trending toward complete connectivity and automation, we often forget about one of the first smart devices to receive an upgrade: the thermostat. Those new to the smart home market may ask whether or not it’s worth it to get a smart thermostat. How much of a difference does a connected thermostat really make? Perhaps the most well-recognized smart … [Read more...] about The Nest Thermostat – How Does it Work?
Getting Started with Smart Climate Control
There are many brands and types of smart thermostats and climate control devices available on the market today. Choosing one can be complex and confusing, but don’t worry, we’ve created a guide to get you started.
So with all the noise out there, how do you go about finding the one that works best for you?
Before you make a decision on which smart thermostat to select, there are a few factors to take into consideration. For instance, you’ll want a thermostat that meets both your automation expectations and keeps your home comfortable.
The various smart thermostats provide different sensors, automation levels, and smart home integration capabilities. You’ll also need to verify that the device you choose is compatible with your heating and cooling system.
Here are some things to consider when looking for the smart thermostat that best fits your needs.
To everyone’s advantage, most wifi thermostats are compatible with various HVAC systems. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t need to do your due diligence. You’ll want to ensure that the thermostat you want will work in your home.
Additionally, not all systems can be controlled via a thermostat, so it’s worth determining what limitations (if any) your HVAC system may have prior to purchasing your new smart thermostat. Many of the most popular manufacturers like Nest and Ecobee have an option on their website to determine compatibility.
The size of your house is something else to consider when looking for a smart thermostat. You want to be sure that you’re purchasing a device that can manage and monitor the temperature and climate throughout your entire home.
For instance, some smart thermostats, like the Ecobee3, includes room sensors which it connects to via your wifi network. You can put these sensors in specific areas throughout your home, which gives the thermostat the ability to monitor occupancy, humidity, and temperature. The sensors send data back to the Ecobee3, which tells your HVAC system to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that each area if comfortable for you and your family.
Automation and Scheduling
Perhaps the primary reason for purchasing a smart thermostat is to bring some level of automation into your home. Of course, not everyone needs or wants the same amount of control, so be sure that the wifi thermostat you purchase aligns with your expectations.
One of the simplest ways to automate your home climate is to create a schedule which will automatically make the adjustments for you. With many smart thermostats, you can set the temperature where you want it for each day of the week, on the weekends, and even at specific times during the day.
A really nice feature that most smart thermostats offer is the ability to control your device via your smartphone. The nice thing about the smartphone app is that you can control the thermostat remotely or when you’re sitting in your living room.
With most devices, the app will give you the ability to adjust your schedule, see your cooling and heating history, and change the temperature in your home. Many also provide the capability to see energy consumption as well.
If you want to get into more advanced thermostats, then you might consider something like the Nest. This smart thermostat has the ability to learn your patterns and preferences, and automatically adjust the temperature using an algorithm.
While learning your behaviors, the Nest also takes other factors into consideration. This might include past HVAC system performance, local weather, and indoor humidity. All of this data serves the nest to determine the appropriate temperature for your home.
Nowadays everyone has some time of smart home or automated device in their home. This paved the way for smart assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, both of which can connect to your system and adjust your temperature. This means if you’re sitting on your couch in the living room, you can tell your Google Home to change the temperature and it will happily oblige.
If you plan on installing a smart thermostat in your home, you may want to ensure that it is capable of integrating with your smart assistant. Some thermostats go as far as connecting directly to other devices. For instance, the Lyric T5 has the ability to communicate with your lights, appliances, and smart cameras through IFTTT channels. Thanks to these smart thermostats, you’re more connected than ever!
Every smart thermostat has its own features and capabilities. For instance, even some of the less expensive wifi thermostats have smart functionality. The most basic smart thermostats can be controlled remotely via a smartphone application. In many cases, this gives the user the ability to control or set temperature based on a schedule.
Having a remote sensor on your thermostat is crucial to controlling your device remotely. Some thermostats have them built-in, while others offer small units you can place throughout your home. Either way, these sensors allow your wifi thermostat to assess the temperature, humidity and determine whether or not the room is currently occupied. Based on the information it gathers, the thermostat can then adjust the hot or cool air accordingly.
Digital security continues to be a concern as the number of connected devices grows. Hackers and crackers are always looking for a way to break into your network, and oftentimes smart devices give them the access they need.
It’s imperative that you take selecting your smart thermostat seriously since you want to ensure that your home is protected from someone stealing your information. Keep in mind that your home is only as secure as its weakest link, and you don’t want your smart thermostat to be that link.
It behooves us to have an effective climate plan in our home, and using automation devices can create energy-saving practices. These practices then save you money on your energy bill every month. With the remote capabilities mentioned in the previous section, you can set the thermostat to automatically adjust when you leave home so you’re not wasting energy on an empty house.
Of course, the more advanced climate control devices learn your behaviors and patterns and adjust without you needing to tell them to do so. Additionally, some of these smart thermostats have the ability to know when you’re not home and reduce energy consumption automatically.
Determining the availability of a C-Wire might be a little more technical, but its importance can’t be stressed enough when it comes to choosing a smart thermostat. Your C-Wire, also known as the “common” wire, is a low-voltage wire that provides power to your thermostat.
Many older HVAC systems don’t have a C-Wire since older, mechanical thermostats don’t have a need for them. However, just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Some homes have a C-Wire, but because it wasn’t being used, it was placed somewhere in the wall and out of sight.
If you’re unable to locate your C-Wire, you do have a few options. First, you can find a smart thermostat that doesn’t have to have a C-Wire. The Ecobee3 and the Honeywell Lyric are two smart thermostats that can work without a C-Wire. Instead, these thermostats get their power from batteries or through your HVAC system.
You can also get adapters that will provide a substitute for the C-Wire. Of course, if you’re not comfortable with any of this, you can always reach out to an HVAC professional and have them install your smart thermostat for you.
Types of Smart Thermostats
Now that you know what to look for in a wifi thermostat, let’s take a look at some of the different types of smart thermostats. Keep in mind that one thermostat may fall into several different categories.
Wifi thermostats are often referred to as wireless thermostats. These devices are connected to your home wifi network and then managed via a smartphone application or through your PC. In addition to your home wifi network, these thermostats can connect to other smart gadgets like room sensors.
The thermostat uses these sensors to detect occupancy, humidity, and temperature throughout different areas of your home. Additionally, since these devices have a connection to the internet, they can receive the local weather and take the information into account before adjusting the temperature in our home.
Similar to the wifi thermostats are the Z-Wave enabled thermostats. However, these devices use a somewhat different type of technology. Your thermostat using Z-Wave technology works on a radio frequency different than the one your wifi network uses.
Z-Wave components connect to one another to establish a network referred to as a mesh network. Within that network, a specific message is handed from one device to the next until it reaches the intended device with the appropriate message.
The advantage to using a Z-Wave thermostat is that they typically do not require the connection of a C-Wire. Instead, they rely on batteries for power. Additionally, Z-Wave thermostats are typically cheaper than smart thermostats.
Smart therostats are often referred to as wifi thermostats since they may have learning capabilities and are programmable. There are a variety of thermostats that fall under the smart thermostat category, including Z-Wave thermostats. Smart thermostats have a variety of features and functions that help to automate the climate within your home while saving you on your energy bills.
Learning thermostats, as we’ve discussed, adjust the temperature in your home based on its capability to understand your behaviors using machine-learning algorithms. Initially, you’ll let the thermostat know where you prefer to have the temperature in your home and will learn as you make manual adjustments to it.
This type of thermostat learns your patterns and uses the data it collects to make changes to the temperature without the need for you to interact with it. Additionally, learning thermostats can detect when you are away from home so they can turn off your cooling or heating system to help save on energy.
Using a smart thermostat is a great way to reduce your energy bills without sacrificing comfort. There is no sense in freezing during the winter or suffering from the summer heat just to save a few dollars. Find out here all about the latest smart thermostats and HVAC products out there!
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