Is A Heat Pump Thermostat Needed?

Is A Heat Pump Thermostat Needed

Anthony Barnes

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One of the best alternatives to more traditional heating methods in the home is the heat pump. This is a useful device that can be used to heat your home, and is thought to be one of the cheaper methods of doing so.

What’s really great about heat pumps is that they can easily switch between cooling and heating functions so that you can create the best indoor environment for your needs.

In order to better control your heat pump, you will understandably need a thermostat. But what do you need to know about a thermostat that works with heat pumps?

Do you need to purchase a special thermostat that has been designed to work specifically with heat pumps (see also ‘Does Nest Work With A Heat Pump?‘) or can you use any old thermostat that you can find?

Today, we’re going to tell you everything that you need to know about thermostats and heat pumps.

The answer to your main question is that yes, you will need to purchase a special thermostat for use with your heat pump.

This is because your new thermostat will need to be able to switch your heat pump between the cooling and heating modes.

This will typically be done by communicating with your heat pump’s reversing valve.

The interesting thing about heat pumps is that unlike other methods of heating and cooling your home, they are reliant on electricity and air from outside.

So whereas a more traditional thermostat will only have 4 wires, a thermostat that has been designed to work with heat pumps will have an extra wire so as to make use of this reversing valve.

But this doesn’t mean that you have to opt for a complicated thermostat. There are so many different models to choose from – even for thermostats that are compatible with heat pumps.

You can opt for a smart thermostat (see also ‘Honeywell Vs Ecobee: Smart Thermostat Head To Head!’) or a model that is compatible with your WiFi if you find these easier to use.

Let’s take a look at everything that you need to know about thermostats for heat pumps!

Opting For A Heat Pump In Your Home Instead Of A Standard Furnace

Opting For A Heat Pump In Your Home Instead Of A Standard Furnace

One of the most efficient ways to heat and cool your home is by installing your very own heat pump.

This will cover both heating and cooling functions, so you won’t have to worry about buying a separate air conditioning unit to keep your home cool. This can even help you to save money in the long run!

However, in order to get the best results from your heat pump, you will need a compatible thermostat in place. If you don’t choose the right thermostat, you won’t be able to use it with your new heat pump.

But what about the key differences between a standard furnace and a heat pump (see also ‘Which Is Better For Your Home: Heat Pump Vs Furnace?‘)?

Whereas a standard furnace will be reliant on oil or gas in order to work, a heat pump only needs a refrigerant and electricity in order to function.

These two sources are typically cheaper than oil or gas, which will make a heat pump much kinder on your wallet.

Heat pumps (see also ‘Will Heat Pumps Work In Subzero Temperatures?‘) tend to work best with homes that are based in milder areas.

This is because even though heat pumps can help to save you money, they don’t tend to produce as much heat as your standard furnace tends to do.

However, it will need less energy than a standard furnace in order to heat your home.

Can You Use Any Thermostat With A Heat Pump?

Now when it comes to finding the right thermostat for your home, it will be crucial to make sure that it is compatible with your new heat pump. Sadly, not all thermostats are compatible with heat pumps.

This is because the vast majority of thermostats have been manufactured to be compatible with a HVAC system.

The standard HVAC system tends to feature a heating, cooling, power, and fan functions.

This is displayed in the appearance of 4 internal wires which can then be hooked up to each of these functions.

However, a heat pump will need a thermostat that features 5 internal wires.

This crucial fifth wire is what will need to be connected to the changeover or reversing wire inside your heat pump.

It is the function that is able to control your heat pump’s reversing valve, which can then allow you to easily switch between your cooling and heating functions at the press of a button. 

It’s important to note that this fifth wire isn’t related to AC at all, so it’s important to take care when installing this.

There may also be another wire in addition to these which is the emergency wire. This can be used to sever the power from your heat pump if you need to do this in a pinch.

So because not every thermostat is compatible with heat pumps, you will need to ensure that you have found the right thermostat for your needs.

Otherwise you’ll just have to spend more money to buy the right thermostat for your heat pump!

What Is The Average Cost Of Installing A Thermostat For Your Heat Pump?

So now that we know you will have to purchase a special thermostat for your heat pump, you will of course be wondering what the average cost of installing this thermostat will be.

The price of the thermostat and installation will be between $15 and $300.

However, you will need to bear in mind that the cost of hiring a professional electrician to wire in the thermostat will differ depending on their rates.

The average hourly rate of an electrician tends to be between $65 and $100. So you can save yourself some money by trying to wire the thermostat yourself, if you feel confident enough to do so. 

However, it will always be best to pay a professional to do it, as this can ensure that they wire it correctly and it won’t be dangerous to operate.

Paying a professional electrician will also cut out any future costs that you might have to pay if you were to try and install it yourself and accidentally wire something wrong.

Concerned about your budget for a new thermostat with your heat pump? Then it will be best to opt for a thermostat that is non-programmable or is manual.

You don’t necessarily have to opt for a thermostat that comes with every function under the sun, as these often cost a lot more money.

The best option for most people will be an electric thermostat that is programmable so that you can find the best settings for your needs around the home.

Are Heat Pumps Compatible With Programmable Thermostats?

Are Heat Pumps Compatible With Programmable Thermostats

Yes, programmable thermostats are compatible with heat pumps. You will just need to make sure that your programmable thermostat comes with the fifth wire that you need in order to use it with your heat pump. 

You may think that there’s not really much point to a programmable thermostat when you can easily adjust the cooling and heating functions of your heat pump.

However, you could help to save yourself some extra money if you use a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature at certain times of the day.

A factor to bear in mind is that your heat pump may become reliant on electricity as well if you do opt for a programmable thermostat. 

How To Make Sure You Have A Compatible Thermostat For Your Heat Pump

The best way to ensure that your chosen thermostat is compatible with your chosen heat pump is to check the manual of both your thermostat and your heat pump.

Your heat pump will be able to tell you what specific requirements are needed from a potential thermostat, such as that crucial fifth wire.

This will allow you to control the reverse valve of your heat pump.

You can also check the manual of your chosen thermostat or take a look at the manufacturer’s website. This should give you a better idea of whether it is a suitable match for your heat pump.

If you’re really stumped as to how to tell whether your chosen thermostat is compatible with your heat pump, then it will be best to ask your electrician.

They will be able to tell you which is the best thermostat for your heat pump and save you from accidentally buying the wrong one.

Are Thermostats Widely Compatible?

Sadly, thermostats aren’t necessarily as widely compatible as you first think.

For example, if you are looking for a thermostat to use with your heat pump (see also ‘ What Is A Heat Pump And How Does It Work? ‘), you will need to purchase a specific type of thermostat that comes with a fifth wire and sometimes an emergency wire.

If you don’t buy this type of thermostat, you likely won’t be able to use it with your heat pump.

Is It Easy To Install A Thermostat?

This will ultimately depend on how much experience you have when it comes to installing wiring and other electrical components around your home.

If you have never done this before, it will be much safer and quicker for you to pay a professional electrician to do this for you.

A professional electrician will know what they are doing, and will be able to hook everything up correctly.

If you tried to install the thermostat yourself, you run the risk of installing it incorrectly or causing damage to your thermostat or heat pump.

In Summary

And there you have it! You now know that yes, a thermostat is needed in order for you to use your new heat pump.

However, you won’t be able to just buy any old thermostat. It will need to be a specific thermostat that has been designed for use with heat pumps. 

This is because thermostats for heat pumps require a fifth wire which is used to control the reverse valve in your heat pump.

Without this fifth wire, you won’t be able to switch between the heating and cooling functions of your heat pump.

So you will need to ensure that you select the right thermostat for your heat pump before you get started. If you don’t choose the right thermostat, you won’t get all the benefits of your new heat pump.

By choosing the right thermostat and heat pump combination, you will be able to cut down on the costs of heating and cooling your home.

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age