There are different types of thermostats that are categorized based on their working principle or whether they can be programmed or not. Long story short, from a working principle point of view, there are the mechanical type and the digital type. From their programmability point of view, there are the programmable and the non-programmable type, as well as the smart type, all of which will be discussed in the following in more detail.
Types of Thermostats: Based on Working Principle
Mechanical thermostats are the older version. They heat and cool your water by using principles of thermal expansion that generate electricity using metal strips or gas. This expansion moves discs that activate the mechanism (you can see how they work here).
The later gas models use the gas’s expansion and contraction to operate metal discs that change the thermostat’s settings. This allows them to react more quickly to changes in temperature, saving you money by not running when the system isn’t needed.
- Their installation is cheaper
- Due to their moving parts, they are more resistant to power outages and fluctuations
- They are more familiar to most people and much easier to use
- Thermostat troubleshooting is quite easy with a simple device
- A longer delay on temperature changes
- Fewer options when it comes to control and customization
- Expensive maintenance
By contrast, digital thermostats simply use modern technology to sense the temperature of the room and use that information to turn on the heating or cooling system. This is a more direct, and therefore more efficient, means of controlling the circuits in the thermostat that operate your HVAC.
The negligible computing power needed in most digital thermostats makes them basic but effective managers of your house’s temperature. These models are getting smarter, however, as discussed below, and are quickly getting more options and capabilities when it comes to managing your settings.
- They offer many more options in terms of temperature control
- They are programmable to your specifications
- They are more energy-efficient
- Their response to temperature changes is much more immediate
- They take longer and cost more to install
Types of Thermostats: Based on Programmability
Non-programmable thermostats have no pre-settings or smart technology at all. They can only be manually set and adjusted using their physical interface.
There’s nothing wrong with this if you or at least one person is always home. However, since you can’t change the settings when you’re away at work or asleep at night, you can expect some high power bills, at least until you’ve gotten used to the responsibility of setting your temperature.
- They are generally cheaper to install
- They are easy to use with clear, traditional interfaces
- They are reliable at the settings you prefer
- They cannot be programmed: not ideal for people who are often away from home
- No efficiency features, though they tend to be cost-effective
These thermostats can be programmed for your temperature preferences on a daily or weekly basis and for the season of the year. This allows you to save money by saving on heating or cooling when you know that no one will be home. You can set it on a more average temperature during business or school hours, for instance.
These thermostats are most useful for residents of areas that experience drastic temperature changes. The US South, for instance, experiences hot days and cold nights for much of the year. You can program this type of digital thermostat for both of those eventualities separately.
Some models now even have smartphone compatibility. Using a basic Wi-Fi connection, you can change your thermostat’s settings right from your phone or tablet.
- More opportunities for customization
- Perfect for those in areas with drastic temperature changes
- The possibility of Wi-fi functionality
- More expensive than non-programmable alternatives
These are the latest models in thermostat technology. They use advanced learning algorithms to automatically adjust the temperature of your house to suit your preferences.
This means that after you set the temperature a certain way enough times, a smart thermostat will automatically program that in as your pattern. This way, you don’t have to worry about racking up your utility bill because you forgot to set the thermostat for the night, for a business trip, or for the busy workday.
Most come with Wi-fi connectivity that allows you to change the temperature with your phone or tablet for easy access to your settings.
- Smart technology promotes customization
- Learning algorithms provide a convenient, automatic helper when it comes to setting the thermostat for different times of the day, week, or year
- Wi-fi connectivity is convenient
- These are the most expensive models you can buy