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wifi thermostat

Upgrading thermostats; solving a "common" problem

HVAC Contractors, Support, homeownerszoning supplyComment

So, maybe you have decided to upgrade to a Wifi thermostat, or even just a standard "programmable" thermostat... only, you come to discover that your old thermostat has one less wire connected to it than the new thermostat needs.   This is usually the "24VAC Common" wire sometimes just called "C" or "24C".   This means that your old thermostat was either mechanical, power stealing, or battery operated... which isn't a problem if you don't want a modern thermostat.  MOST modern thermostats (especially WiFi) need a "C" wire from the 24V transformer to power the thermostat... this means getting a "C" wire to the thermostat.

This isn't a new problem, it started showing up in the 1980s with the first programmable thermostats... over the years, I have suggested and used several different methods to overcome this issue both with zoning and with typical single thermostat applications.  Until recently, I couldn't really recommend anything other than running a new wire... and running a new wire isn't always possible.

METHODS to add "C" Wire

  1. Run another wire to the thermostat
    The most straightforward and full-proof method is obvious: run another wire.  If possible, this is ALWAYS your best solution.
  2. Power thermostat from separate transformer
    Don't use this method... it is risky and not all thermostats support the ability to separate the "R" from the equipment transformer.
  3. Use the "G" wire for "C"
    This method DOES work but it limits the functionality of your thermostat control.  (ie. you will not be able to independently control fan from the thermostat)  The reason this works, is that the equipment automatically turns the fan on during a heating or cooling call, so the "G" wire controlling the fan from the thermostat is only necessary to turn the fan on by itself.  You will NOT be able to turn fan on from the thermostat by itself with this method.
    NOTE: This works with MOST equipment, but you should check or test before employing this method. (#3)
  4. ADD-A-WIRE Device
    It is the BEST method and really the only method I would use if a wire cannot be run.  This is a relatively new concept to me... it has been around for a few years at least but we just started recommending it within the last 2 years.    Several companies have started offering an "ADD-A-WIRE" device that allows the addition of a "COMMON" wire.  These devices range from $15 - $40 and are very simple to wire (you have to be able to get to your equipment furnace/blower). 
lux addawire.JPG

How an ADD-A-WIRE Device works:

venstar addawire.JPG

It will come in 2 pieces, one is a small box with several connections labled "R", "C", "Y", "G", "W".  You will follow the included wiring instructions to connect this box at your indoor HVAC equipment.  The other piece that comes with the ADD-A-WIRE is a wiring connector with 3 leads, this connects at the back of your thermostat as shown in the wiring instructions.
Once these two pieces are wired properly you will have the "C" you need for any thermostat... it's almost like magic (electrical engineering magic).

NOTE: Make sure all wiring is done with the power to the HVAC equipment OFF at the breaker.

A few different models to choose from (prices on amazon at time of writing)  There are many others available but they all do the same thing (NOTE: we are not compensated by any of these companies or any others for our opinions):

For more information about specific use with zoning and zone control systems such as SmartZone... contact us

Another thing to consider:  The ecobee3 and ecobee3 LITE both come with an "ADD-A-WIRE" type device.  So, if you are thinking about a WiFi thermostat and are afraid you will need to add a wire... keep the ecobee in mind.  See our WiFi stat roundup for more info

WiFi Thermostat Roundup 2017

homeowners, Other HVAC, thermostatszoning supplyComment

Just a few short years ago, WiFi thermostats were only made by a very few companies starting with Ecobee and RadioThermostat, followed by Nest.  A couple of years pass and big names in the HVAC industry (Honeywell, Emerson, Venstar, etc) join the WiFi thermostat party.  In 2017 we have more to chose from than can easily be kept up with.  Note: All prices as of this article publish date.

All of the WiFi thermostats listed below will work with any SmartZone

I am sure there will be even more on the market in 2018, we will keep watching the WiFi thermostat bubble grow!  More than 15 are listed here (and I know they are not all listed).  If you know of any more, comment or tweet to us @zoning_supply


wifi stat - bosch connected.JPG

Bosch - $ 170, 4-Heat, 2-Cool, GE/HP, Hum, deHum, Color: White
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073XHD8BB



TOP PICK

*Ecobee 3 - $ 169, 3-Heat, 2-Cool, Best for zoning in our opinion.
https://www.amazon.com/ecobee3-Smart-Thermostat-Works-Amazon/dp/B06W56TBLN/


wifi stat - ecobee4 w Alexa.JPG

PREMIUM CHOICE

Ecobee 4 - $ 247, 3-Heat, 2-Cool, Alexa-Enabled
https://www.amazon.com/ecobee4-Alexa-Enabled-Thermostat-Sensor-Amazon/dp/B06W2LQY6L/


wifi stat - emerson sensi color.JPG

Emerson Sensi Color Touch - $ 169, 2 Heat, 2 Cool, GE/HP
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N3CEUDH?psc=1


Emerson Sensi - $ 99, 1 Heat, 1 Cool, GE/HP
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HHE6CW2?psc=1


wifi stat - nest.JPG

Nest - $ 249, 3-Heat, 2-Cool
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0131RG6VK/





wifi stat -Honeywell 7-day.JPG

Honeywell Basic 7-day - $ 90, 1-Heat, 1-Cool, GE, Color: White (Yes this is WiFi--even though it doesn't look like anything other than an inexpensive thermostat)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Y6M2OUC/




wifi stat - Lux Pro Black.JPG
wifi stat - Lux Pro.JPG

VALUE CHOICE #1

Lux PRO GEO - $ 115, Geofencing, Mount Vertical or Horizontal, Color: Black or White
https://www.amazon.com/Lux-Products-GEO-WH-Thermostat-Amazon/dp/B010PTKWW6/


wifi stat - RadioThermostat.JPG

RadioThermostat - $ 99, 2-Heat, 2-Cool, GE/HP, Modules for Zigbee & Z-Wave
https://www.amazon.com/Radio-Thermostat-Programmable-Enabled-Controls/dp/B00KQS35XA/


wifi stat - Vine.JPG

VALUE CHOICE #2

*Vine - $ 99, Settings Knob, Color Screen & Night-Light
https://www.amazon.com/Vine-Programmable-Thermostat-Touchscreen-Nightlight/dp/B01JU1DZN8/



Any information in this article should be verified with the manufacturer of each product listed.  Specifications, prices & availability are all subject to change and will not be kept current on this post.  Please email us if you have any questions.

ALSO NOTE:  We (I) have not been paid or compensated in any way for this article by any of the manufacturers of these products.  I have not even received any free product... anything reviewed has been purchased through retail outlets and tested with SmartZone zone control products for the use of ZoningSupply.com customers.  This information is not intended to be exhaustive or claim expert knowledge about all of these thermostats.  Thank you.

Air balancing information & IOT evaluation from ContractingBusiness

Other HVAC, HVAC Contractorszoning supplyComment

Good articles that can affect HVAC zone control

If your technicians aren’t checking system airflow on every service call, you’re doing your company and your customers a disservice. Air balancing is the missing link in getting residential HVAC systems to perform at or near their peak levels.
— ContractingBusiness.com

Photo by scyther5/iStock / Getty Images
It is easy to be confused when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), with so many products and objects being connected and made more intelligent. It sounds overly complex, but one application that is easy to understand is HVAC IoT.

HVAC IoT is made up of a system of smart thermostats placed throughout building zones. The devices, and therefore the zones, are connected over wireless and software and work together as one brain. The brain has a nervous system with sensor endings in every room, hallway or lobby to monitor any environmental changes that could prompt the HVAC system to react
— ContractingBusiness.com

Wireless or Wifi Thermostats... What's the difference?

homeowners, Products, thermostatsWhitney PitzerComment

Despite often being used interchangeably, wifi and wireless thermostats refer to 2 very different types of devices.

Wifi stats (like the Nest or Ecobee) have surged in popularity over the last few years. Wireless stats have actually been around for a quite a while but are not quite as popular. Both types of devices perform the same basic function of controlling your heating and cooling unit as the room’s temperature changes. Both can be programmable and have touch-screens. Both can help you reduce energy consumption, especially when paired with a zoning system like SmartZone.

Key Differences:

Wireless thermostats can essentially be placed anywhere in your home. Think of it like a remote control for your HVAC. They do not need to be WIRED to the wall or to the HVAC unit.

WiFi thermostats are not wireless and are generally wall-mounted. They enable users to control the thermostat remotely from a phone, computer, or tablet. In some areas, even the local energy companies can request access to your wifi stat.

The differences are as simple as their names imply. Wireless stats operate without being wired to the wall or system. Wifi stats are stationary, but can be controlled from peripheral devices.

Benefits:

A person in the market for a wireless thermostat is looking for a device that can be placed anywhere in the home and not necessarily on a wall.

A person in the market for a wifi thermostat is looking for the ability to control their thermostat from anywhere. They might also be looking for the benefits that come with having your stat connected to the internet. Some top of the line wifi thermostats can display weather info, news headlines and more. They can also integrate with various home-automation systems.

After looking at the benefits of the 2 types of devices, it’s easy to see why wifi thermostats have out-paced wireless thermostats in popularity. However, both inventions are remarkable examples of how the HVAC industry is racing forward to meet the comfort and convenience requirements of 21st century homes and buildings. 

For more information about innovative thermostats and HVAC energy-efficiency, visit:

www.zoningsupply.com

http://www.gadgetreview.com/6-of-the-best-wifi-thermostats

www.ecobee.com

www.nest.com