What are the Types of Smart Thermostats?

The thermostat is an important component of an HVAC system. Its job is to regulate the temperature of the heating, cooling and ventilation system in your home. For many decades, the thermostat was an analog control. In 2007, the first smart thermostat was invented. Its claim to fame is that it connected to Wi-Fi. At Wenbrooke Services in Frederick, MD, we help customers decide if a smart thermostat is right for them. To gain a better understanding, here is some information about smart thermostats, including the types to consider.

Learning Algorithms

In 2017, it was determined that there are three main types of smart thermostats. The first type is learning algorithms. The thermostat uses sensors and software to learn your habits. You begin by programming your schedule into the dashboard. This is similar to a traditional thermostat. The difference is that the smart version continues to learn and evolve with what you actually do. When you go to work, for example, because you programmed it into the hardware, it knows that you are away from 9–5 p.m.

Let’s say you take your vacation days for a week and you use them to stay home. The thermostat’s sensors are going to sense your movements. So, they will adapt to you being home. It would do the same if your work schedule changed. If you started to work an afternoon shift, the hardware would learn that you are now home in the morning instead of gone.

Because it works off an algorithm that was developed to learn, it gets close to perfect if you are consistent. When you take a detour on your schedule, you may have to make manual adjustments, but all in all, it can be convenient. The convenience comes from setting it up and not having to worry about turning it off and on every time. More importantly, you are not going to leave it on by accident.


The geofencing thermostat type works in tandem with your smartphone. Through an application, you set-up the geofencing feature. You establish a perimeter like 500 feet. The sensor in the thermostat automatically goes into away mode if your phone goes outside of that 500-foot perimeter. The number of feet you can set up varies. Since the technology is evolving, some models can go out as far as seven miles.

Those in the tech industry have had positive things to say about the logic behind this type of smart thermostat. The favorable features are that when you get within the range that you programmed into your smartphone, the thermostat goes into home mode. In home mode, it turns on. This way when you arrive at your home, it will already be at the temperature you desire. For truly warm days, this is a nice feature because it is cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Plus, it affords you comfort. You do not have to wait a few minutes for the temperature to reach the one you want.

Thanks to the application and software, you can update the geofencing at any time. If you are going to be home or working nearby, it is a good idea to update the settings. When you are not home and not going to be home right away, there is no reason to turn on the cooling system. The ability to change the setting at a moment’s notice is convenient.

Motion Sensors

The remote sensor type relies on sensors to operate. Sensors are common in HVAC thermostat technology. In regions where the temperatures are particularly hot or cold, when guests leave their hotel room, for example, the cooling and heating system shuts off. Then, when they return, it turns back on after someone crosses the threshold.

In a smart thermostat, when the sensors catch your movement, they turn on. Then, when you are out of their range or have made no movements for a specified period of time, it turns off or goes into away mode. Schools use a technology similar to this in their classrooms. When there are students inside, there is enough activity to keep the lights on. When the students leave, after a given period of time, they turn off. These work so well that if a student stays behind to speak with a teacher or professor, they have to ensure that they make some movement. Otherwise, the lights will shut off.

For this thermostat to work well, industry professionals recommend that they be placed in high-traffic areas. If you are working in your study and you do not move because you are focused on reading, the AC or heating is going to turn off. If there are people in the house, the remote sensor should be placed in a spot where people are going to walk back and forth. A connected hallway or the living area are two options.


You can opt to install the smart thermostat yourself. You can also hire professionals to do so for you. Whether or not you can do this on your own depends on how comfortable you are with technology. The instructions are always included with the device. Instructions for tech gadgets are broken down into the simplest explanations per step possible. Today, there are usually links to videos. Help forums are also common. One of the tricky parts may be correctly connecting the Wi-Fi to the device. Then, you have to ensure you correctly sync the app to the thermostat. All models and types vary based on features and functions.

Main Points

A smart thermostat must have access to a Wi-Fi connection in order to operate correctly. This means that if you have Wi-Fi in your home, it has to remain on at all times. If the signal goes down, the thermostat could go down, too. So, be sure that your internet service is reliable. You can also set up a backup thermostat just in case.

Smart thermostats are catching on because they are convenient. The internet, smartphones and Wi-Fi are things that many people have access to at all times today. It only makes sense that in an effort to deliver more energy efficiency, everything would get connected to each other. Smart homes are also gaining popularity due to the connectivity. One way to get started on a smart home is with this kind of thermostat.

A smart thermostat is a software-enabled device, so there will be updates that have to be downloaded and installed. Those updates optimize the thermostat. It helps the device operate at a higher level. Updates are usually released because a new feature has been rolled out. They also fix any glitches that could occur due electricity use. It also adds to its ability to be more energy efficient. The data collected is useful for HVAC technicians, too. If something goes wrong, they can take a look at the information. Once they have determined potential issues, technicians have an outlined path they can take instead of guessing at the potential problems.

For more information about smart thermostat types, give us a call at Wenbrooke Services in Frederick, MD. We also offer heating, cooling and solar services.