Hand adjusting smart home thermostat

How To Make my Thermostat Smart

With $120 thousand and college education, anyone can seem smart. But a thermostat is somehow more and less tricky at the same time. Thankfully, it’s typically less expensive than a college education.

So if you’ve wondered how to make your thermostat smart, keep on reading. 

Before you start, be sure that your chosen thermostat is compatible with your heater. Be sure your HVAC system is off before you start. After removing the faceplate, take a picture of the wire configuration.

You will also possibly require a c-wire or wire adapter if you don’t already have one.

Below, we will dig into the steps you need to consider to make your thermostat smart. We will also provide important reminders to ensure you have a proper installation. 

Things You Need to Know Before Replacing Your Old Thermostat

Before you jump into this project, there are a couple of quick things worth mentioning:

  • Do not replace your thermostat during particularly cold or hot weather.
  • Be sure you have an available wire cutting or stripping tool. 
  • Ensure your heating and cooling system works with your chosen thermostat. 

Many thermostats have a compatibility chart listed to provide you with the right information. For example, The Lyric T5 Honeywell thermostat doesn’t work with dual fuel HVAC systems

The Google Nest Learning Thermostat is a simple start in this case. They have a compatibility tester that brings you through the steps quickly. 

You commonly need to pay attention to the number of wires and the labeling on the cables. Google’s compatibility checker will assist you in identifying these wires after you remove the faceplate.

Otherwise, you may wish to have a trained HVAC technician assist you in labeling the cables. 

The technician may suggest an adaptor or C-wire simplify the issue. Your goal is to produce a wiring diagram that allows you to avoid determining which wires do what before you make a mistake. 

Before You Begin

Before you begin any of these steps, be sure to turn off your HVAC system. You can do this from the breaker box, which should have apparent labels. If your breaker box is unlabeled, now might be the time to figure out who does what.

Have some tape and a permanent marker available for labeling.  

A Step-By-Step Guide To Installing a Smart Thermostat

  1. Remove The Faceplate and Backplate 
  2. Inspect Your Wiring
  3. Screw-In The New Backplate
  4. Reconnect the wires
  5. Install the new Faceplate
  6. Connect your thermostat to the WiFi using a mobile app

Remove the Old Faceplate and Backplate

After you’ve done the legwork to determine the best smart thermostat and had it shipped to your house, your first step is to take off the old one. Most faceplates connect to the wall via a clip. Otherwise, check to see if they have a hidden screw underneath the plate.

Once you remove the faceplate, you get access to the backplate. If you are lucky, the wires will already be labeled and have the right number. Regardless, take a picture of the wiring set up before removing the backplate. 

Inspect Your Wires

Using your last picture as a guide, you should have a good idea of how your wires should fit. However, not all cables are the same, so be acutely aware of what goes where. With stickers or flags, this should be much easier.

If you are uncertain, you need to contact an HVAC specialist. 

Check to see if your thermostat manufacturer comes with an adapter, like the Apple HomeKit. If they do, follow the instructions on their adapters closely; otherwise, install a c-wire.

C-wires (standard wires) are typically blue or black, but each HVAC installer has a different preference. Do not go forward without professional help if your wires are unclear. 

Screw-In the New Backplate

If you are lucky, the new backplate will have the same configuration as your old backplate. However, installing a smart thermostat is rarely that easy, so you will need to use spackling and the right paint color to repair those holes. 

Place the new backplate on the wall as a guide and mark the screw holes. Use a drill that matches your new backplate’s size. If you are uncertain of the new backplate’s drill holes’ size, consult the owner’s manual.  

Reconnect the Wires

Using the wiring guide developed from the adapter or c-wire, you should easily handle this step. The guide can either from the picture taken earlier or assistance from an HVAC specialist. Make sure the wires have labels just in case you want to upgrade to another smart thermostat.

Install the New Faceplate

The new faceplate should fit snuggly with the compatible backplate. Please don’t force it, and ensure that all of the wires are tucked in neatly to avoid damage. After you’ve determined that no additional damage is there, flip back on the breaker.

If the installation was correct, you should see something pop up on your smart thermostat. 

Connect Your Smart Thermostat

Download the application of your respective smart thermostat systems. Like most smart home devices, you should be able to find them easily via Google Play or The Apple Appstore.

Apps are less likely to appear on Amazon’s variant, so be sure to double-check if you only have Amazon devices

Stay nearby your smart thermostat to see if any on-screen prompts change. Different models have various ways of connecting. These can include Bluetooth, a QR code, or other potential items. Your new smart device should have on-screen prompts that help you out. 

Congratulations! (Almost)

If you did things right, you should have a connection to your smart home devices (Amazon Alexa, Google Home, etc.) To have remote access from your smartphone, you will need to install these respective apps. Search for Alexa or Google Assistant if you have an Android and Apple system. 

From your phone or other devices, you should be able to use a voice command to adjust the temperature or have preset temperature settings. Given that these are voice controlled, these products differ heavily, it would be best to familiarize yourself with those commands to save time. 

Final Thoughts

Smart thermostats are excellent devices to save you money on utility bills. With proper understanding and scheduled temperature changes, you will have greater control over your budget. 

We hope that this short guide helps you with the installation process. As always, be sure you pick a compatible thermostat and turn off your HVAC systems before beginning any thermostat replacement. 

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