There are loads of options for thermostats available in the market nowadays. Whether you are looking for a non-programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat, you are bound to find one suited to your needs. When it comes to choosing a baseboard heater thermostat however, you won't have a lot of options to choose from. The reason for this is that baseboard heaters are line voltage systems that use direct electricity to heat your rooms. Only about 10% of homes are using this kind of heating system. Due to the small market size, manufacturers didn’t bother to make them up until recently
What are Baseboard Heaters?
Baseboard heaters are heaters that sit directly on the floor or a few inches above the floor which are either convection or hydronic powered. Convection baseboard heaters transmit electric currents through wires encased in piping whereas hydronic baseboard heaters draw water from your water heater into pipes installed in the baseboard heater.
Electric baseboard heaters range from 500 watts to 2000 watts in power and can heat about 50 to 200 square feet of space. This type of heaters can be used to heat the entire house, rooms or as a supplemental heating in offices and hallways.
Baseboard heaters are designed to give warmth to the room without using a lot of electricity. This means that you can save a considerable amount of money on energy bills. They are also perfect to install in rooms that are hard to keep warm such as the basement or the interior garage. These areas are known to be very drafty because cold air from the outside tends to get inside and the temperature drops dramatically as a result of this. With baseboard heaters, you won't need to install an expensive heating system, which again, saves you a lot of money.
Many consider baseboard heaters as the most efficient type of heater but they still must be used with a thermostat to control the temperature.
Smart Thermostats and Baseboard Heaters
Smart thermostats are home devices that control your heating and cooling system automatically. They can schedule heating and cooling and intelligently learn your patterns and preferences so it can automatically adjust the temperature accordingly.
Smart thermostats connected to baseboard heaters provide the best opportunity for saving money and reducing your energy consumption.
Smart Thermostats, Relays and Transformers
Most brands in the market nowadays sell low voltage smart thermostats which only use 24 volts. Electric baseboard heaters work with line-voltage thermostats, which uses 120 to 240 volts. If you hooked up a low voltage thermostat to your electric board heater then it would fry the thermostat.
To fix this, you will need to install a transformer in order to convert the line voltage power into low voltage power and a relay to act as a bridge between the thermostat and the heater, allowing the low voltage thermostat to control the line voltage heater. Keep in mind that you need a relay and a transformer that is properly sized in order for this system to work. You will need to consult the manufacturer of your thermostat, transformer and relay in order to get this right.
Choosing a Smart Thermostat
You can opt to use relays and transformers to convert the high voltage energy from your electric board heater to work with your low voltage smart thermostat. You will also need professional input in order to get the wirings right. This obviously requires a lot of work.
As mentioned at the start of this article, there are limited options of smart thermostats for baseboard heaters. But line voltage smart thermostats do exist. Now, line voltage smart thermostats are available for you to purchase from several brands. If you are looking for smart thermostats and other HVAC supplies, visit Blackhawk Supply and browse through our catalog.
Here are a few things to consider before buying a line voltage smart thermostat.
Identify the units that require a line voltage thermostat
Line voltage thermostats only work on electric resistance heaters. These include electric baseboard heaters, wall convectors, fan forced wall convectors and heaters installed under the floor.
Fan coil heaters do require a high voltage thermostat but they also need multi-speed fan control. As of today, there are no line voltage smart thermostats that are capable of separately controlling a multi-speed fan. Therefore, if you have fan coil heating units inside your house, line voltage smart thermostats won't work with them.
Know how many thermostats you need
Each of your heaters will need its own thermostat in order for smart control. A home that is heated by electric resistance heat approximately has at least 5 different heaters installed in different areas of the house. All of these heaters will need their own thermostat so the more heater you have, the more smart thermostats you have to buy.
If you need to buy more than five smart thermostats for your home, you might become wary of the price. However, manufacturers are aware of this and most brands have priced their products accordingly. This is why line voltage thermostats are about half the price of low voltage ones.
Wireless thermostats option
WiFi smart home devices require a lot of power. For this reason, many homeowners don't want to go for a WiFi enabled thermostat because it consumes more energy instead of saving some. However, line voltage thermostats won't have this problem because they get their power from the main line. Smart thermostats that have wireless capabilities will allow you to control them remotely from your smartphone.
Single pole or double pole
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a "pole" refers to the number of separate circuits that the switch operates off one circuit. A single pole line voltage thermostat operates on one circuit. This means that the power to the unit can only run in one direction and can't be turned off completely unless you shut the power from the breaker. One the other hand, double pole thermostats operate in two directional currents. This means that they can be turned off completely.
Installing a line voltage smart thermostat only involves matching 2 wires (if you have a single pole thermostat) together. But these wires run on high voltage and can give shocks that are dangerous. If you plan on doing the installation on your own, make sure to turn the power off first.
If you are looking for a thermostat, choose from a variety of high-quality thermostats that are sure to be the perfect fit for your baseboard heater.