Smart thermostats are all the rage when it comes to managing home utilities now, especially with the cost of heating and cooling continuing to rise anywhere from 5 to 10 percent every year. Some regions have seen a 50 to 100 percent increase in the cost of home utilities just in the last decade alone. So, it’s been making sense to a lot of homeowners to get control of their home’s expenses again.
However, before getting started, there are a few things to check. A professional HVAC technician can help in this regard.
A Low-Voltage Connection is a Must
The home’s HVAC system needs to be compatible for a smart thermostat to work with it. This involves the use of a low-voltage wiring system.
Most newer home HVAC systems are designed with this in mind, but older systems could be an issue. If the home has a central heat and air system, it’s almost a given to be using a low-voltage wiring grid except where more than one thermostat is discussed below.
Separate systems could be a challenge, however.
Where there are multiple thermostats involved, the system is likely not low-voltage. This is common in homes with two stories versus a flat single-story setup, for example.
If you’re not sure, an HVAC technician can confirm your system.
Wiring Needs to be Sufficient for Connection
Wiring should be long enough to address a smart thermostat correctly, including keeping it powered continuously. The connection is the only way it can maintain monitoring of the HVAC it’s connected to.
This typically requires wiring to make sure the C-terminal is wired (the power delivery). There should also be enough different wires to match the setup of the smart terminal.
If not, then the system won’t be compatible without a wiring change, requiring the assistance of an electrician. This could involve running a new separate wire for the additional need or using an adapter.
Track and Photograph the Old System
Because many homes and HVAC systems may have been installed 5 to 10 years earlier before upgrading, the current market may not have the same model available anymore, or a good diagram of what they look like connected.
To solve this problem when things are removed, it’s a very good idea to photograph everything before removal, so there is a visual record of how the original thermostat equipment was installed and which parts were used.
Even with a technician doing the work, it’s quite easy to make a photographic record with a phone camera or similar. Then just download the images to a computer for easy reference later on if needed.
Wall Changes & Renovations
If needed with upgrading to a smart thermostat, some minor changes to the wall area around the thermostat may be needed. Again, this combination of work is standard fare for an HVAC technician, but it can soon be overwhelming for a do-it-yourself type.
Wall-patching, small drywall repair and then repainting is typical in some of these instances.
In some instances, the thermostat kit will come with a wall plate that helps cover up any immediate damage or paint mismatch around the area where the old thermostat used to be. Of course, for someone good with a paint brush and color-matching, the change could be a nice hobby of a paint challenge too.
A Professional Approach Solves a Lot of Headaches
With a professional HVAC team involved, a smart thermostat installation can happen smoothly without frustration and without glitches. Given the experience and know-how, an HVAC team can work with multiple thermostat models and wiring needs.
It’s a smarter way to go, no pun intended, and once finished, the thermostat will have a tested control of your utilities as expected.