Do I Need A Special Thermostat For A Heat Pump?

Heat pumps can switch between heating and cooling to create a comfortable indoor climate. However, you may wonder whether a heat pump requires a special thermostat. So, we researched more about thermostats for heat pumps to provide you with an answer.

You need a special thermostat for a heat pump because it needs to be able to communicate with the reversing valve when changing from heating to cooling. Heat pumps rely on outside air and electricity. Heat pump thermostats will typically have a fifth wire explicitly for the reversing valve. Regular thermostats only have four wires.

Thanks to advancements in technology, you can successfully install programmable Wi-Fi or Smart thermostats with various heat pump models. Discover more interesting information about using heat pumps, thermostats, and controlling your home's climate in this post. Without further ado, let's get into it!

A white heat pump unit placed outside the house under the entryway stairs, Do I Need A Special Thermostat For A Heat Pump?

Thermostats And Heat Pumps

Instead of relying on a standard furnace for heating and a separate air conditioner for cooling, install a heat pump. However, if you plan on using a heat pump to control your home's climate year round, you'll need the right thermostat.

So, what's the difference between a heat pump and a furnace and why does it matter? For a furnace to function, it relies on gas or oil for fuel. In comparison, a heat pump uses electricity and refrigerant, which is usually less expensive.

A smart thermostat installed on the side do the wall set at 47 degrees Fahrenheit

If you choose a heat pump, it is ideal for homes in areas that don't get too cold, as heat pumps don't generate as much heat as a traditional furnace. Also, a heat pump transfers heat and requires less energy than a heat-generating furnace.

Be advised, if you will ever experience prolonged periods where the temperatures fall below freezing, you will want a secondary heat source to take over. Heat pumps warm a home by drawing outside heat inside and using electricity.

Will Any Thermostat Work With A Heat Pump?

The average thermostat most people encounter is designed for an HVAC system that controls the fan, power, cool, and heat. There are four wires with this type of thermostat. But a heat pump needs a special thermostat with five wires.

The fifth wire in a heat pump thermostat is the reversing or changeover wire, which controls the reversing valve, allowing a switch between heating and cooling. This wire is not an AC wire and care should be taken with connections.

Additionally, there may be an emergency wire to cut off the heat pump when needed. Also, many thermostats for heat pumps are designed to be energy efficient, leading to a lower energy bill than when using a standard central furnace.

Do your homework before settling on a new thermostat for your heat pump. Know what your lifestyle needs are, consider average temperatures, energy costs, and how your choice of thermostat model will impact your aesthetics.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Thermostat?

Manual thermostats are usually less expensive than high-end, internet-connected devices that are programmable. Prepare to spend anywhere from $15 to $300 for a thermostat. The rates for hiring professional installation vary.

You will most likely need to employ an electrician, with an average rate of $65 to $100 an hour for rendering services. If you feel confident enough to handle installing a thermostat without professional help, you can save money.

A home's square footage also impacts the cost of a thermostat installation. The average price range for a thermostat and installation altogether is between $112 and $254. Poor installation is risky and dangerous, so hire help if needed.

If you are on a strict budget, opt for a manual or non-programmable thermostat versus a fancy smart thermostat with all the bells and whistles. A programmable electric thermostat is a middle-of-the-road choice that most will accept.

Should You Use A Programmable Thermostat With A Heat Pump?

Heat pump units placed on a concrete pedestal surrounded with white stone to avoid getting dirty

You don't really need a programmable thermostat if you have a heat pump. Because a heat pump may need to quickly shift from heating to cooling, it doesn't make sense to set the thermostat at a set temperature for extended periods.

When a heat pump is in heating mode, there may be more energy inefficiency when a programmable thermostat sets the temperature back at designated times. However, there are newer programmable thermostat models for heat pumps.

With a programmable thermostat, you don't want to cause a heat pump to rely on backup electric resistance systems. You usually save on energy and lower bills by keeping your heat pump in cooling mode versus heat mode.

Keep your home comfortable if you use a heat pump. You may want to set the temperature at a lower point when you're away from home or asleep. A wide range of thermostat settings for a heat pump isn't as necessary compared to a furnace.

Check out this programmable thermostat on Amazon.

How Do I Know If My Thermostat Is Compatible?

Two Goodman heat pumps placed outside the house

Know before you make a final decision on a thermostat for your heat pump. A thermostat for a heat pump needs to have a wire included that allows you to reverse the valve containing refrigerant from heating to cooling.

Choose a brand you trust, but look to see if the thermostat will most likely work with an HVAC system that includes a heat pump. Your heat pump may require a thermostat with a wire for auxiliary or emergency mode.

You may also be interested in a thermostat that is smart, Wi-Fi compatible, as well as being programmable with plenty of available modes for convenience. Many new thermostats can be controlled via voice or with an AI-based assistant.

When possible, ask questions and investigate your top choice of thermostat models. You may be able to open up a floor model and look at the wiring or see specific capabilities on the back of the device you are most interested in installing.

Are Thermostats Universal?

A white cased heat pump on the side of the house

When it comes to thermostats, they are not all one-size-fits-all. You have to look over your choice of thermostat before attempting to install it with a heat pump, furnace, or another type of HVAC system. There are no universal thermostats.

Thermostats designed for a heat pump will have specific modes listed on the back or will contain wiring for the reversing valve, emergency, and other settings. However, the average thermostat for a furnace or boiler is different.

Don't make the mistake of thinking you can utilize any thermostat with your HVAC system. Also, be aware that there are smart thermostats that may require integration with your internet-connected devices or other needs to function.

Some thermostats are programmable, which allows you to set your HVAC system as you desire at specific points throughout your day. Other cost-effective thermostats are manual and require you to set it to cooling, heating, or fan.

Check out this smart thermostat on Amazon.

Are Thermostats Easy To Install?

If you have significant experience with wiring and installing components related to your HVAC system, installing a thermostat may be effortless and quick. However, if you are unsure of your skills, hire a professional.

It is essential to make sure that a thermostat, whether manual or programmable, is correctly connected to your heat pump or another device to control your home's indoor climate. The wiring for a thermostat has to match.

A heat pump thermostat will usually have more than four wires, which is needed to control the flow of refrigerant and emergency cut-off if applicable. There may be a longer learning curve with newer thermostats that are Wi-Fi-ready.

Typically, installing a thermostat if you have prior experience should take no more than one to two hours. If the wiring for a thermostat is in good condition and the device it is being hooked up to is solid, installation should be a breeze.

In Closing

A white heat pump unit placed outside the house under the entryway stairs

We hope after reading this article that you'll be more informed about thermostats for heat pumps and what makes them special. It is essential to install a special thermostat for a heat pump with wires to control the reversing valve.

Since heat pumps need to switch between heating and cooling, the thermostat used has to communicate with the heat pump to reverse the flow of refrigerant. Look for brands with a good reputation for a quality thermostat for your home.

Before you go, don't miss out on the following helpful articles:

Do I Need A Special Thermostat For Gas Fireplace?

Can A Heat Pump Replace A Furnace? [And How To]

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