What Are the Different Types of Thermostats? 

The thermostat is a critical component of any heating and cooling system, as it communicates the HVAC equipment’s operating instructions to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. While there’s a seemingly infinite number of device models on the market, there are only a few types of thermostats. The HVAC professionals of Grove Heating & Cooling explain the different types of thermostats and how they function so homeowners can easily understand the available options for controlling heating and cooling equipment in your Maryland home.

The Different Types of Thermostats

Differentiating the types of thermostats is done by looking at the way they operate. From there, thermostats are further categorized by the various functions and features they provide. 

There are two different types of thermostats: line-voltage thermostats and low-voltage thermostats. Each of these thermostat types works with certain types of heating systems and they differ based on the voltage they use to operate.

  • Line-voltage thermostats: Line-voltage thermostats are most often used to control electric resistance heating equipment. Typically, they are paired with electric baseboard heaters, in-wall heaters, radiant heaters, and other single heating units, but are sometimes installed to control central heat pump systems, including ductless mini split heating systems. 

The line-voltage thermostat gets its name from the fact that it runs on the same electrical circuit as the heating unit and uses the same circuit voltage, either 120 volts or 240 volts. This type of thermostat essentially acts as a switch that supplies the heater with power, as electrical current flows through the unit.

  • Low-voltage thermostats: Low-voltage thermostats are used with central forced air heating systems such as furnaces and heat pumps, as well as central boiler heating systems. Because electrical resistance is not used to create heat in these systems, much less voltage is required versus a line-voltage thermostat. A low-voltage thermostat requires around 24 volts to run, which is ideal for powering system equipment like blowers, pumps, and fans that are used to regulate temperatures throughout the house. Low-voltage thermostats do not run on the heating system’s circuit – the thermostat communicates with the heater through low-voltage signals to control operation rather than sending power to the heater to operate it.

Thermostat Categories

Amongst the different kinds of thermostats, more specific equipment categories exist. These thermostat categories offer different features and functions, providing users with options for varied control over temperature settings and convenience features. Categories of the different types of thermostats are:

  • Manual thermostats: The most basic of thermostats are the manual thermostats. The user must manually make all adjustments to thermostat and temperature settings when using this type of control. Mechanical and digital thermostat options are also available – older line-voltage thermostats are commonly mechanical while digital thermostat models are seen in both types of thermostats. 
  • Programmable thermostats: Programmable thermostats offer programming capabilities that automate temperature adjustments in the home, which can reduce household energy consumption when used correctly. There are four different kinds of thermostats available in the programmable category, which differ based on their programming flexibility: weekly units allow the same daily adjustments to be made for all days of the week; 5-2 models offer the ability to run one schedule on weekdays and a different schedule on weekends; 5-1-1 models allow homeowners to set a group of adjustments for weekdays, and separate schedules for both Saturday and Sunday; and 7-day models allow homeowners to run unique daily schedules each day of the week. 
  • Wi-Fi thermostats:  Wi-Fi thermostats offer the programming capabilities of programmable thermostat models, in addition to wireless internet connection. With the thermostat connected to the home’s Wi-Fi, homeowners are able to access it remotely for convenience, while in the home or away. These types of thermostats also come with additional features depending on the model, such as touchscreen display, weather data display, and the ability to track energy use data for the household.
  • Smart thermostats: Smart thermostat models are the most advanced options amongst the different types of thermostats. They can do everything a programmable or Wi-Fi thermostat model can, and more. Some of the different types of thermostats offer learning technology which allows the control to set temperatures efficiently based on your preferences, home occupancy, and other factors. HVAC system monitoring can detect the potential for problems with your heating or cooling unit and alert you to the need for repairs, as well as remind you to perform routine maintenance. 

Thermostat Installation in Maryland

With so many thermostat makes and models available, it can be difficult to determine the best choice for your home and heating or cooling system. When it’s time to upgrade your thermostat, work with Grove Heating & Cooling to explore your options. Contact us today to receive an estimate for thermostat installation in Maryland.