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How do smart thermostats work?

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You may have heard of the term “smart thermostat” and wondered, “What is a smart thermostat, anyway?” What exactly makes him ‘smart’ and how does he do his job? We’re going to go over the basics of how these devices work and how they can improve life in the home.

How does a thermostat work?

Thermostats control the heat or cold in your home. Before explaining the “smart” part of a smart thermostat, let’s take a look at the basics of how the thermostat works.

Thermostats are constructed in two ways. Mechanical thermostats rely on the expansion of metal bands as the temperature rises and falls. As metal expands with heat, it completes an electrical circuit, which then activates your home’s cooling system. Likewise, your home’s heating may turn on when this band cools, contracts, and activates a different circuit.

Digital thermostats work by a similar mechanism. While metals physically expand with heat, they also reduce their ability to conduct electricity. Digital thermostats can accurately measure this change in conductivity with a special resistance, then turn your home air conditioning system on or off accordingly.

What makes a thermostat smart?

Ecobee4 smart thermostat in a child's room.

Smart thermostats are able to communicate with more than just a home heating and cooling system. Common features include smartphone apps for remote control, internet connectivity to adapt to weather, and compatibility with voice assistants for hands-free activation. Over time, smart thermostats can learn the best time to heat and cool, which saves energy on excessive use and ultimately saves quite a bit of money on their bills. monthly electricity.

How do smart thermometers work?

These additional functions require additional hardware built into the thermostat. Smart thermostats require memory to store more information, antennas to communicate wirelessly, USB ports to communicate via cable if needed, and a processor to handle inputs. This hardware will tend to be installed on a unified motherboard, similar to desktop computers. Smart thermostats usually require a common wire in the wall for power, as they have many functions active in the background. The device is also equipped with a lithium-ion battery in case of failure or for pre-installation.

The displays will generally be of better quality on smart thermostats and will incorporate a touchscreen. Motion sensors are often included so the smart thermostat can detect if someone is at home and adjust the temperature in the house. Maintaining this level of comfort is less necessary when no one is home to trigger the motion sensor. A microphone and a speaker are sometimes present to activate the voice assistants without having to go through another device.

On the software side, mobile applications offer full remote control. Simply download the app for your brand of smart thermostat from the Google Play Store or the App Store, and follow the setup instructions. From there, you can usually set the target temperature, change presets, adjust the climate program, view usage history, and more.

What are the disadvantages of a smart thermostat?

The disadvantages of smart thermostats are rare. This cost used to create a significant barrier to entry, but now Amazon offers smart thermostats for as little as $ 60. The biggest challenge is education. Traditional thermostats only required users to turn a knob, but smart thermostats require additional configuration and tell users how to take advantage of advanced features (through apps, for example).

Now that you know how smart thermostats work, you are ready to start buying your first one.

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