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December 4, 2019 • In Electrical • 3 Min Read

How to Know If You’re Ready to Install a Smart Thermostat: The C-Wire

GEM

By GEM

If you’re looking to install a smart thermostat this winter, you may want to evaluate whether your current heating and cooling system is compatible. 

The quickest way to determine your home’s compatibility is by knowing whether you have a C-wire. A C-wire, otherwise known as a ‘common wire,’ works with all smart thermostats on the market.

WHAT IS A C-WIRE?

A C-wire, or a common wire, runs from your low voltage heating system (24v) and carries continuous power to your thermostat. In today’s electric market, most newer heating and cooling systems have C-wires, which guarantees compatibility for the installation of all smart thermostats. 

If you do not have a low voltage heating system, you will not have a C-wire. If this is the case, you still have options, discussed below. 

HOW TO FIND YOUR C-WIRE

If your home operates on a low voltage heating system, you should be able to locate the C-wire behind your current thermostat. 

You should be able to pop the cover off of your thermostat with ease. When you open your thermostat, you can quickly identify your C-wire among five coloured wires by locating the wire (usually blue) connected to ‘terminal C.’ 

You may find there are fewer than five wires, or there is no wire attached to terminal C. It’s possible that the wires are tucked inside the wall. You can assess this situation in one of two ways.

REMOVING YOUR THERMOSTAT TO LOCATE THE C-WIRE

DO IT YOURSELF: 

If you choose to remove your thermostat to locate the wires yourself, here’s what you need to do. Gently pull the thermostat bundle from the wall and look behind it. Look to see whether the C-wire is there, but  not connected to the C-terminal. 

CALL AN EXPERT: 

If you would prefer to leave it to the pros, you can count on GEM to help you. GEM’s Electricians are highly experienced and equipped with the latest tools to help you locate your C-wire. 

GEM will walk you through the process, from appointment booking to locating next steps to get your smart thermostat installed. From on-time arrivals to factory-authorized installers, we make sure that you are getting the very best in electrical service.  

HOW TO INSTALL A SMART THERMOSTAT

INSTALLING A SMART THERMOSTAT WITH A C-WIRE

If you have confirmed that your thermostat has a C-wire, then you are in good shape. Next up, choose what smart thermostat you would like installed in your home. There are a number of brands to choose from, each with different features to choose from, including:

  • Automated temperature changes
  • Calibration with an app for remote temperature changes
  • Clear and touch screens
  • Scheduling temperature changes
  • Geo-fencing
  • And many more

GEM’s professionals are happy to help you find the best solution for your home, and once you have selected a smart thermostat, our electricians will have it installed. GEM’s licensed electricians are trained and equipped with cutting-edge equipment to ensure proper installation of your smart thermostat. Book an appointment today to talk to an expert and have your smart thermostat installed.

INSTALLING A SMART THERMOSTAT WITHOUT A C-WIRE

It is still possible to install a smart thermostat without a C-wire. There are a few creative solutions out there that allow you to get around this issue. Here are a few:

SOLUTION #1: FIND A SMART THERMOSTAT THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE A C-WIRE

There are smart thermostats out there that will work without a C-wire, including thermostats with adapters. They might not work as well as they would with one, but it is a viable option. Call GEM today to ask what options might be best for you and your home. 

SOLUTION #2: GET A C-WIRE INSTALLED

Remove the wire that runs from your heating system to your thermostat (if there even is one). Then, replace that one with a C-wire that is smart thermostat compatible. 

We highly recommend having a professional take care of this, because it can be dangerous. Call GEM today to learn more. 

SOLUTION #3: GET A SPLITTER/HUMPER MODULE INSTALLED TO FILL THE ROLE OF THE C-WIRE

A splitter module is a little wire bundle that borrows power from another wire to extract the electricity it needs. In this case, the splitter would likely borrow from the Rh wire used for your furnace to power your thermostat. Speak to a professional today about how they can help you install a jumper module to power your smart thermostat.

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