Friday, January 12, 2018

Line Level Thermostats: Smart, Connected

Back in September 2014 I put together a blog post about how to save money when using electric baseboard heat, commonly found in condos and smaller residences, or locations not easily served by natural gas, propane or heating oil.

At that time, there were three primary options:
  • Analog, mechanical thermostats
  • Digital, electronic thermostats
  • Timer based smart thermostats (~$50 these days)
Over time, I've upgraded my residence to include four smart thermostats - bedroom, living room, yoga room, and basement office. And I could probably use one in the kitchen. They have been pretty reliable and useful; when I occasionally turn the heat up for comfort, they come back down to more economical settings at the next time change. The heat goes down to 58F at night, warms up to 65F in the morning before my wake time, and drops down to 62F during the day (when I am typically in the basement working or out of the house). A spare room I use for yoga practice is closed off and kept at 55F unless I'm practicing (~85F) and the thermostat resets if I forget to lower the temp when I'm finished. A little bit of hassle changing the time in the spring and fall, but not a big deal.

With the Consumer Electronic Show going on in Las Vegas this week, I thought it might be a good opportunity to poke around and see what's out there in terms of smart thermostats for line level applications. Here's what I've found:
I'm not at the point of purchasing yet - looking at ~$500 to swap out all the thermostats I'd like to be programmable. But if I were buying right now, I'd go with the Stelpro device - seems to be the most mature technology, works with a lot of smart / programmable house systems.