Smart thermostats are becoming very common, even though there is no consensus on what actually makes the device “Smart”. However, there are two primary features that homeowners should be on the lookout for, Wi-Fi and state-of-the-art programing capabilities.
The Smart thermostat’s programing capabilities are far more complex than the time-and-temp programing features found in the traditional programmable thermostat.
Wi-Fi is so important, because it allows homeowners to control the thermostat from a companion app, which is most often available for both iOS and Android devices. Many consumers are turning to Smart thermostat brands that use a virtual assistant, like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant. These voice-automated services provide users with hands-free control, but this feature does require a separate hub. The hub could be the Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple TV.
The Wi-Fi compatible devices are capable of connecting to the Internet through a wireless access point or WLAN network. Unlike Bluetooth, which has a limited signal range of about 30 feet, Wi-Fi allows users to connect their iOS and Android devices to the Internet anywhere. The companion app further enhances the usability of the Smart thermostat, because it allows users to manage the device from a remote location.
Consumers have chosen the Nest Learning Thermostat as the top pick. Its sleek design, user-friendly interface and learning capabilities enhance its functionality. The embedded algorithmic smarts and built-in sensors will track the occupant’s whereabouts and create a custom temperature schedule based on those movements. In turn, the thermostat will automatically adjust the temperature accordingly. The homeowner can also make manual tweaks in the temperature settings via the Nest app.
The Ecobee Smart Thermostat comes in second, which includes multiple sensors that need to be placed in specific areas throughout the home. The thermostat will utilize the data collected from the sensors to create a comfortable environment. The thermostat integrates with Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, allowing users to control the device with voice commands.
Installation Requires C-Wire
Both the Ecobee3 and Nest thermostat require a C-wire, which is an electrical wire that supplies 24VAC power to the Wi-Fi thermostat. If your HVAC system is older, it will probably not have a C-wire, so you may need to hire a licensed HVAC tech to install the thermostat. Installing a new Smart thermostat on a new HVAC system will be as simple as removing the existing thermostat and replacing it with the new unit.
According to the vice president of public affairs at the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, Fracis Dietz, consumers are not ready to invest in Smart thermostats, even though they offer innumerable benefits. The high-price attached to connected gadgets is holding the Smart Home market back, but by 2022 the market is expected to reach approximately $53 billion, according to a report by Zion Market Research.
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