How to Install a Smart Thermostat

Brian Robson
Brian Robson
Staff Writer

Smart thermostats are becoming an increasingly popular addition to homes all over the country, especially among home automation lovers. They reduce the use of heating and cooling systems, give you control over the temperature in your home from anywhere, which makes it extremely enticing to homeowners. But before you begin experiencing these benefits, here’s what you should know to successfully install a smart thermostat system in your home.

What You Should Know Before a Smart Thermostat Installation

Before ever installing a smart thermostat in your home, you must find out if your HVAC can communicate with a smart thermostat’s technology. Typically, it comes down to what type of system you have and the wiring (or lack of wiring) between that equipment and the thermostat. Here’s what you should look for to ensure that your HVAC is compatible:

  • Most smart thermostats are powered by a common wire, or c-wire. The common wire supplies power to your thermostat. If your HVAC doesn’t have a c-wire, you can contact an HVAC professional to install the wiring for you. 
  • Most thermostats use low voltage wiring and are commonly used to connect with certain types of furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioning systems. You can consult with your HVAC professional to assess your current setup. 
  • Some smart thermostat companies like Nest have Compatibility Checkers that help you determine if your heating and cooling systems are compatible. 

It would be best if you considered the fact that you’ll have to cover up the rectangle of discolored paint in the outline of your old thermostat before installing its smart counterpart. If you have a security system installed, does your security network have the ability to connect to a smart thermostat? If so, what protocols does your security system use? It’s important that your home security system and smart thermostat use the same protocols to ensure easy communication and use. Most smart thermostats use WiFi, but some use Z-Wave or Bluetooth. 

If you install a smart thermostat system on your own, will it nullify any warranties that come with the thermostat? You should know if your smart thermostat needs to be professionally installed before changing your entire heating and cooling system. Lastly, if you have a voice assistant as part of an already existing home automation setup, make sure it’s compatible with the smart thermostat that you want to install and that there won’t be any voice assistant associated with connecting the new device.  

How to Uninstall Your Current Thermostat

  • Switch off the power to your thermostat from the circuit breaker. If your thermostat is battery-operated, remove the batteries. 
  • Remove your current thermostat’s faceplate.
  • Identify and label the wires connected to the current thermostat base plate, and remove jumper wires. 
  • Unhook or unscrew the wires from your current thermostat.
  • Remove the base plate from the wall and ensure that the labels don’t fall off of the wires.
  • Spackle or paint over any scuffs or holes that the old thermostat left on the wall. 

How to Install the Smart Thermostat

  • Read your manufacturer’s notes to install the smart thermostat base plate correctly. 
  • Connect the labeled wires to their respective ports. Again, read the instructions to ensure that you’re properly connecting wires.
  • Connect the thermostat faceplate according to instructions.
  • Turn on the power from your circuit breaker. 
  • At this point, your thermostat should boot up and take you through the necessary steps to properly set up your thermostat’s settings. 
  • Many smart thermostats can be controlled from a smartphone app, so download the app necessary to control the temperature in your home from anywhere and have total control over your smart thermostat. 

The Bottom Line

Smart thermostats are a great way to upgrade your home with an intuitive way to control temperature and save money. By doing your due diligence and taking the right steps to ensure that your home is compatible upfront, the installation of a smart thermostat should be relatively simple.

About the Authors

Brian Robson Staff Writer

Brian Robson has worked on for three years and has studied the insurance market as well as elements of personal finance including credit cards and credit monitoring. His work spans all categories, but he specializes in finance and insurance pieces.