We all know the importance and role that thermostats play in our everyday lives, whether that be for your home’s HVAC system or your commercial heating and air.
They control the temperature and humidity by adjusting the operation of the HVAC system for whatever area or space they’re in. The temperature is set, the thermostat monitors the current temperature of the room or space and sends the on or off signal to the heating or air conditioning until the temperature reaches the set level.
It’s a pretty simple invention that dates back to the 1600’s and is an integral — if not undervalued — device of our time.
Even though the concept of the function of the thermostat has changed little since its early beginnings, the technology used to carry out that function surely has.
The Pre-Connectivity Era: Analog & Digital Thermostats
In the pre-internet connected era, two types of thermostats were most abundant: analog and digital.
Analog thermostats relied mostly on mechanical means to sense temperature, often using the expansion and contraction of a two metal strips that would then trigger a mechanical on/off switch depending on their position.
Digital thermostats on the other hand, use no moving parts to detect temperature; rather they rely on semiconductor (electronic) sensors that can improve the accuracy of detection. These models also have other electronics within them that allow for programmed settings, such as turning on/off at specific times of the day for example.
While the analog models are still hanging around in some areas, digital thermostats have all but replaced them due to their more advanced functionality.
In the age of internet-connected devices, or the Internet of Things (IoT) era as many people refer to it, perhaps one of the first “non-computer” home devices ever to connect to the internet were thermostats.
This added connectivity allowed users to control and operate their home’s HVAC system by connecting through the internet, often through a web or app interface on their computers or mobile devices.
This useful connection, however, is not necessarily what makes a thermostat “smart thermostat”.
Smart Thermostats: Next Level Connected Thermostats
What makes an internet-connected thermostat a “smart” thermostat is it’s ability to store and analyze data about your home’s HVAC operation, give you real-time energy usage and offer automated ways to make your system more efficient.
Instead of simply manually programming your HVAC system to operate during the times when you’re away, by connected your thermostat with your home security system for example, it automatically turn on/off based on when you activate or deactivate your alarm system. Since this event-based and not time-based, it will never perform actions if you’re not home, allowing for a more flexible schedule and improved operational efficiency.
Smart thermostats also can be setup to send you reminders for things like tune-ups, air filter changes and notify you and your local HVAC company if there may be an issue with your system.
These added features allow you to always know the state of your system and help extend the lifespan of it by catching issues early before they cause a major breakdown.
With smart thermostats, connecting-to and monitoring your home or commercial heating and air system is easier than ever, leaving you more time to do things you like rather than worrying about your HVAC system.
If you haven’t thought about integrating a smart thermostat before, hopefully after reading this you have a better understanding of the different types of thermostats out there and how a smart thermostat can help lower your stress levels when it comes to your HVAC system.