The Key Differences Between Thermostats

It is an undisputable fact that we as humans like comfort. Our homes for starters; besides providing us with basic shelter, are meant to act as sanctuaries, the places we can feel safe and enjoy the tranquility it accords.However, as we all know, comfort sometimes can be elusive. One of the key aspects that may make comfort elude us is our complex, rather unpredictable environment. So as to be in control of the environment, especially the heating and the cooling elements, we usually fit our houses with facilities that can regulate the internal temperature to fit our preferences. One of the commonly used devices for this purpose is a thermostat.Unfortunately, when it comes to purchasing a thermostat, often people get confused and end up buying items they didn’t intend to. In this article, we will be discussing in details, the key differences between thermostats and finalize with a guide on how to decide which best thermostat to purchase and which one not to.

To start with, there are actually many factors that one needs to take into consideration when shopping for a thermostat. However, this guide will mainly touch on the key differences between thermostats briefly highlighting in the course of discussion which one is best for you. The main differences between presently existing thermostats include:

1. Programmability

Programmability basically refers to the level of control one can have over a certain system/device. When we say that a thermostat is programmable, what we mean is that, it can be adjusted to give certain temperature readings of your preference of certain days and different times. Like for instance, a 7 day programmable thermostat can let you decide what temperature you would like it to provide you with at exactly four days from now. In addition, you can even customize it to provide different readings in a single day.

A non-programmable thermostat on the other hand only allows you to manually change the temperature and on/off functionality only at the hour of need. In summary, it only works when set and instantly, you cannot schedule it to provide other reading for another day.

With programmable thermostats, you can significantly save on energy, since you have the power to decide when it can come on/off even when you are not around. In addition, by having total control over it, you are guaranteed of uninterruptible comfort at all times with Wi-Fi thermostat, one of great kinds of programmable thermostats. Therefore, when purchasing a thermostat, the first thing you should look for is its programmability feature.

2. Number of Stages

This actually refers to the precise number of cooling or heating sources that may/can be controlled by a single thermostat. For instance, if under the descriptions you find out that it contains baseboard heat, air conditioning and hot air system, then definitely it comprises two heating stages, and one cooling stage.

Number of stages may be presented in several different ways. The common ways include; 2H/1C or 2 Heat/1 Cool. When purchasing a thermostat for your home, one should actually settle for a thermostat that supports a number of stages, and not just one.

3. Compatibility

It is basic knowledge that different thermostats support different types of HVAC system. Therefore, when purchasing a thermostat, one should be keen to purchase one that supports the specific heating and cooling sources they are using. For instance, there are thermostats that can operate with a heat pump while other can’t. Definitely, if you have a heat pump, logic dictates that you should choose the one that can handle it.

4. Brand

This may actually seem somewhat irrelevant to you but it actually matters. For high quality thermostats, you are advised to purchase thermostats from well-known brands such as Nest, Honeywell, Ecobee, Lux, Wirsbo(uponor), Tekmar, Robertshaw and White Rodgeres(Emerson).

5. Features

Again, thermostats exist in varying features. Depending on your needs, you should be able to comfortably pick one that will meet all your needs. However, note that, additional features often tend to add to the cost of a thermostat. A few features you should look for include things like: password protection, humidification control, indoor/outdoor sensor, to mention but a few.

6. User Interface

User interface is simply the manner in which one interacts with their system (thermostat) by touching directly the device or simply using their web/mobile application. However, only Wi-Fi-thermostat provide remote connection through those applications or web on mobile and PC. Note that there are thermostats being annoyingly difficult to interact with and there are others that are surprisingly easy to interact with; there are thermostats that may be operated using a single simple button; others may have a fully equipped touch screen display while others may simply be digital bit containing buttons. Pick a thermostat that depending on your complexity will give you an easy time to operate.

7. Mounting Type

Currently, thermostats can only be mounted in two different orientations: either horizontally or vertically. Purchase a thermostat that will fit in the space you intend to place it on and in the orientation you want it to be.

8. Voltage

Another thing to look for when purchasing a thermostat is the voltage. Thermostats that are presently available in the market run on either low voltage or line voltage. To tell whether you need a low voltage or line voltage thermostat, simply look at the wires. If your wires are very thin, then you need a low voltage thermostat, otherwise, you need a line voltage thermostat.

9. Changeover Type

Another aspect discussed in our Thermostat Buying Guide is Changeover type. Changeover in this context refers to the way a thermostat shifts from heat to cool. Auto changeover thermostats will automatically shift from heat to cool while manual changeover thermostats will require manual adjustment for them to shift.

10. Color

Finally in our Thermostat Buying Guide, is the color, again this is entirely dependent on ones preferences.


In summary, when purchasing a thermostat, only settle on a thermostat that is going to serve you efficiently. As mentioned before, the more advanced a thermostat is, the more costly it will.

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