Evaluating Smart Thermostats for Home and Business

Over the course of just a decade, thermostats have evolved from the basic, manually adjusted models with limited capabilities to comprehensive energy management systems that occupy our walls today.  These systems regulate the heating, cooling, and ventilation of our homes and businesses, and selecting the most well-equipped device is an important financial decision to keep overhead costs as low as possible.  With a wide variety of options to choose from, finding an energy management system that best suits your needs takes deliberation. Here are several key elements to consider when evaluating your next smart thermostat.

When vetting energy management systems, it is crucial to determine whether your current system is compatible with the smart thermostats you are investigating.  Many newer thermostats operate on low voltage and will not function with high voltage systems.  In fact, you run the risk of frying the thermostat if you hook it up to a high voltage system.  This can be a costly mistake.  Systems labeled 120V-240V, or ones with thick wires and wire-nuts, are high voltage.  If you are unsure, ask for the assistance of a home automation provider or HVAC installer.

User Interface and Experience
Life is already complicated, and there is no reason that controlling your HVAC system should be.  Simple, easy-to-use navigation of your thermostat is a desirable feature for many shoppers.  Thermostats with the ability to set schedules are ideal.  Models you can adjust remotely while you are away from your home or business offer added convenience.  Seamless integration with wireless technology is now commonplace.  Place a higher value on smart thermostats that allow you to modify settings no matter where you are.

Authorized Users
In addition to functionality, look for energy management systems that allows permissions for different users.  This will prevent young children or non-managerial staff from adjusting your system without prior approval.  The purpose of a smart thermostat is not only for convenience, but also to cut energy bills and gain a stronger return on your investment.

Installation of your thermostat should be simple.  Most smart thermostats come complete with everything required in the box, and are accompanied by comprehensive instructions that make it possible for do-it-yourselfers to complete installation.  However, always ensure that the thermostat is compatible with your heating and cooling system.  Not doing so can damage your thermostat.  If you are unsure, contact a HVAC professional.

Customer Support
There will come a time when you may require the over-the-phone or in-person assistance. While the latest energy management systems are developed for ease-of-use, problems happen, and having quick, efficient customer service facilitates stress-free solutions.  A good place to start is by reading reviews online from other consumers.  If you’re feeling adventurous, give the company a call and identify yourself as a potential purchaser.  Allowing them to answer your questions will provide a decent gauge of what’s to come should an issue arise.

Carrying less weight than the other noted items, but still, something to include in your decision-making process is the overall design.  While many smart thermostats possess similar abilities, their appearance alongside the interior design of your home or business is a separate matter altogether. Look for an elegant design that best fits into your home or business


For more information on the full suite of Zen Ecosystem’s energy management systems and solutions, check out our products for your business or home.

Beth Spence