Is my HVAC compatible with a smart thermostat?

Smart home accessories are everywhere. You can find lightbulbs, thermostats, door locks, and even major appliances enabled with smart technology. What is the purpose of these high tech gadgets? Sometimes, it’s simple convenience. At other times, it’s designed to save energy costs.

Let’s focus on thermostats today. Smart thermostats improve heating and cooling efficiency and in turn, work to reduce your overall energy usage. However, suppose you have an older HVAC system. Is your HVAC compatible with a smart thermostat?

Alexa, Google, or Siri
Before we answer that question, we should talk about “Virtual Assistants.” There are three main virtual assistants, depending on your smart home ecosystem. Alexa and Google are the most common and compatible with the majority of smart thermostats (as well as other smart devices). Most commonly, you can trigger a command via a smart device, such as an Echo Dot. As you may already know, Alexa is owned by Amazon; Google by Alphabet, the parent company of Google; and finally Siri is Apple’s solution.

Special Note: HomeKit
Which brings us to HomeKit. HomeKit is marketed as the more secure of the three system’s based on Apple’s various technical requirements. However, this severely limits HomeKit compatibility, meaning you’ll have fewer (and often far more expensive) options if you want to use Siri.

Ecobee Smart Thermostats
However, along those lines Ecobee is HomeKit compatible. It’s a line of Smart thermostats that are universally compatible with all of the smart home assistants. It’s probably the most popular of the HomeKit-based systems, though surpassed by the next one on our list.

Nest Smart Thermostats
And that is Nest. Google purchased Nest in 2014 as the Nest brand itself became almost synonymous with smart home thermostats, making massive strides in the early 2010s. Nest has a simple design and can blend in seamlessly with almost any style of decor. Of note is that Apple’s HomeKit is not compatible with Nest directly. If you’re an Android user it’s a piece of cake to set up and use. In addition, Amazon has proactively developed Alexa shortcuts for Nest.

Resideo (formerly Honeywell)
One final note is Resideo. While other brands are out there, this lesser known brand is compatible with all three virtual assistants. Honeywell was the initial owner of the brand, selling them under the Lyric family of accessories. Later, the division was sold off to Resideo while continuing to maintain compatibility with existing smart home setups.

Smartphone connections
Finally, regardless of which brand of smart thermostat you choose, some homeowners prefer to use their smartphone. Speaking to a device feels too off-putting, and some of the virtual assistants have a less-than-stellar track record of understanding requests. This means that the manufacturer’s app is an easy way to control your smart thermostat without saying anything.

Is my HVAC compatible with a smart thermostat?
So, looping back to our initial question: is your HVAC compatible with a smart thermostat? The primary factors:
Whether your system has an accessible grounding wire;
If you’re using baseboard heat (if so, it’s not compatible);
And if your system uses a millivolt setup.

Generally speaking, most newer HVAC systems will be smart thermostat-ready, and even wiring from a few decades ago will most likely have the necessary setup. However, if you’re in doubt, that’s why we’re here. You can request a simple quote for the installation of your smart thermostat HERE. We’ll ensure that, regardless of the age of your system and the smart thermostat brand you choose, that your connections are in place the way they’re supposed to be. You can also contact us to set up your appointment by calling our office at (801) 980-0903.

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