Some of you might feel like scoffing at the idea of engaging the services of an electrician to install a smart thermostat. Well, first off, everybody is not comfortable tackling such jobs, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution. It’s wise to ask for help when you know your knowledge and expertise in that context are limited. Secondly, smart thermostats may appear simple, but once you undertake the job, you might just realize you’ve bitten more than you can chew. The whole point is, don’t make up your mind about not asking for an electrician’s help beforehand. Don’t let your ego crowd your judgment.
What’s Different About Smart Thermostats?
Since you are thinking about installing a smart thermostat to leverage its advantages, we know you are already aware of what opportunities it presents. So we shall not get into it. Instead, we shall talk from the perspective of why installing a smart thermostat is different from that of other regular thermostats.
Traditional thermostats did not have any added bells and whistles features. They were simple devices to help regulate indoor temperature. Unlike them, smart thermostats have features like Wi-Fi connectivity, learning capabilities, and so on. Therefore, its wiring requirements are a bit different.
Old thermostats required just one wire to provide power to the building’s HVAC system. Due to the advanced capabilities of a smart thermostat, they require a special “C-wire” or “Common wire” to complete the circuit adequately. Only when the wiring is done correctly will all the functionalities of the smart thermostat work properly.
Is There A C-Wire In Your Home?
The first order of business is to check whether there is a C-wire in the home’s HVAC wiring. It is a simple matter of removing the thermostat and checking the labels of the wiring. If you don’t see a C-wire, don’t fret. Check the access panel of the furnace to see if a C-wire is there or not. In many cases, the C-wire was indeed run from the furnace, but it was left taped behind the thermostat. If that is the case, you can still access it and make the connections.
Typically, a C-wire is either black or blue in color. Although, it would be better to bank on the labels instead of taking the colors at face value because there is always a possibility someone changed the wire during repairs or installation with whatever color was handy at the time.
If There Is A C-Wire, Can I Install The Smart Thermostat Myself?
If the C-wire is present in the HVAC wiring of the house, that makes matters much easier, at least for those who are moderately handy. There are complete guides available online from manufacturers of smart thermostats and others that teach how the installation can be executed accurately. You can install your thermostat by watching these videos or following step-by-step instructions provided by the manufacturer. Nevertheless, if you want the guarantee of a job well done, it is advisable to ask your HVAC technician to install the thermostat.
What If There Is No C-Wire?
Okay, so yes, it may happen that the HVAC wiring in your home does not have a C-wire. However, don’t lose heart, for there are ways around it. But to exercise these options, you will need an expert’s help which in this case is the HVAC technician. Here are the ways in which they can sort out the matter –
1. Run A New C-Wire – If there is no C-wire, the ideal course of action is to run a new one to complete the circuit. It will save future headaches and allow the smart thermostat to live up to its promises.
2. Use G-Wire As C-Wire – The G-wire is usually for powering the thermostat fan. If there is no C-wire in your HVAC wiring, the technician can use the G-Wire as its replacement. But in that scenario, your HVAC fan will no longer be able to run independently of heating or cooling.
Options If I Don’t Want To Rewire Or Install A New C-Wire
If you are not big on rewiring the thermostat or installing a new C-wire, you still have two options. These are –
1. Buy An Adapter And Install It – These can be bought online or from any home improvement store. They have a diode that splits the current supply from one of the existing wires into two new wires. The box with the new wires will need to be installed on the furnace’s control panel.
2. Buy A Smart Thermostat That Does Not Need A C-Wire – Yes, these are also available in the market. So it is best to assess your HVAC wiring before buying a smart thermostat. In case there is no C-wire in yours, you can always go for an option that does not require one.
Do I Need An Electrician To Install A Smart Thermostat – The Verdict
In essence, getting a professional to do the job guarantees that the said job will be completed safely, accurately, and timely. Some of us may be able to tackle it ourselves, but:
1. It will take a lot of research to brush up on what needs to be done.
2. We will do it slowly because it is not a job we do regularly or are well versed with.
3. Any error on our part may even spell doom for the new thermostat.
With so many ifs and but’s involved, it would be safe to say letting an electrician install the smart thermostat is the wisest choice one can make.
Smart thermostats are a blessing in today’s hectic lifestyle. It takes away a boatload of unnecessary pressure from having to face high-energy bills. Having an electrician come and install the thermostat accurately and timely is a small price to pay. Nonetheless, if you still want to do it yourself, our best piece of advice is to follow the instruction manual to the “T” as provided by the manufacturer. To gain more knowledge, look up online tutorials for the same and read about others’ experiences before tackling the task yourself.