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Wi-Fi vs. Smart Thermostats. How Do They Differ?

Wi-Fi vs. Smart Thermostats. How Do They Differ?

Wi-Fi vs. Smart Thermostats. How Do They Differ?

Programmable thermostats are common, but not everyone knows the difference between Wi-Fi and smart thermostats. Despite its convenience, a wireless HVAC controller doesn’t have smart features. Are you ready to upgrade your home? We’ll examine the differences between standard Wi-Fi thermostats and the latest smart models to help you choose the best option.

What Is a Wi-Fi Thermostat?

A wireless thermostat can be linked to your smartphone or another device. It’s controlled via an app, which lets you set the temperature from anywhere. You can reset the temperature if you forgot to before you left or adjust it based on unexpected changes in your schedule. A smart unit can be controlled wirelessly too, but a Wi-Fi system functions more like a programmable thermostat. 

A Wi-Fi thermostat is similar in design. Therefore, it should seem familiar and be relatively easy to operate. Its functions are limited to sensing the temperature in your home, cycling your HVAC system based on a schedule, and turning it on and off to maintain a set temperature. 

The benefits of a Wi-Fi thermostat include:

  • Remote Access: The thermostat can be accessed via an internet connection, avoiding the need to set the unit at the wall display. You can control your HVAC system from a smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
  • Real-Time Alerts: You can receive alerts when the temperature rises or falls outside a specified range and adjust the thermostat accordingly.
  • Cost Savings: Instead of your HVAC system running constantly, the unit adjusts the temperature based on your needs (although not automatically or by sensing whether you’re home or not).

What Is a Smart Thermostat?

While a smart thermostat can also be monitored and controlled via your phone, it can do so much more. It doesn’t just make adjustments when you prompt it to. The system is capable of learning on its own.

Smart thermostats learn your habits and adjust temperature settings without any manual input. By comparison, a standard Wi-Fi model adjusts only if you set the temperature or prompt the unit to change it. A smart model recalls when you leave your home and arrive each day and can be integrated with your home’s entire automation system.

Installing a smart thermostat can yield these benefits:

  • Automated Temperature Control: Sensors detect when you or your family arrive home and send signals to your HVAC unit to begin a heating or cooling cycle. The thermostat can even anticipate your arrival and preheat or pre-cool your house.
  • Adaptability: The thermostat continuously learns, so if your habits change, it adjusts to your schedule and delivers the appropriate amount of heating or cooling. Geofencing (if your model has it) detects when you’re close to home; therefore the comfort level will be adjusted before you arrive.
  • Efficiency/Cost Savings: You can save with more precise temperature control, utility company rebates, and maintenance alerts that may avoid system breakdowns and costly repairs. Depending on the model, it may analyze energy usage to help you find even more ways to save.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Any Disadvantages of Installing a Smart Thermostat?

A smart model is typically more expensive than a digital or Wi-Fi unit. There are also installation considerations. These include ensuring a smart thermostat is compatible with your HVAC system and whether you need a professional. For example, some units need complex wiring work that requires an experienced electrician.

How Do I Choose a Smart Thermostat?

There are many options to choose from. An Energy Star-certified model has more features, such as feedback on system settings, information on energy use, and a connection to your local utility (which may lower bills by adapting to demand-based utility pricing). Smart systems are compatible with most newer forced air HVAC units but require professional installation if you have a variable-speed, multi-stage, or zoned system. A technician can identify your options based on the system you have.

Can I Replace Any Thermostat With a Smart Model?

You can upgrade to a smart thermostat from any traditional model. However, the brands and models you can choose may depend on whether you have a C-wire installed or an adapter. Some old wires may be reconnected to the new unit, but this depends on their condition and the model you’re installing. Consult with a professional to be sure.

Contact Monarch Home Services

We install “smart” Wi-Fi thermostats in homes throughout Central California. Our EPA- and NATE-certified technicians help you choose the right model for your home that controls your cooling, heating, and air quality systems. They’ve helped customers across the San Joaquin Valley see improved comfort, energy savings, and usability. The equipment we install can also analyze energy usage and provide emergency alerts. Call (661) 215-6580 to speak to one of our climate specialists.

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