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TECH | One Engineer's Opinion: Electro-mechanical Thermostats Should Be on Their Way Out Commercially

 November, 27th 2017     Comments     Views

With the availability of Wi-Fi thermostats, why in the world would anyone specify an electro-mechanical thermostat on a commercial building? Wi-Fi thermostats have many features that are useful, especially to facility managers of commercial facilities. Additionally the cost is comparable.

They are available with vibrate color touchscreens that work just like our smart phones. You can swipe your way to multiple screens to set system parameters like heat pump vs gas electric. You can even set it up to operate a dual fuel system.

Remote control of these thermostats is available by PC, Smartphone or Tablet. With multiple thermostats on the same building the PC, Smartphone or Tablet will display a list of units by the name assigned by the Owner.

One of the screens you can swipe your way to is the colorful display of heating and cooling set points. Heating and cooling set points should be different i.e. heating set to 70 and cooling set to 75. Also separate setback set points i.e. heating 55 and cooling 85.

The vibrant full-color LCD goes dark after a while, in case the thermostat is in a sleeping area. However, a proximity sensor detects your approach and lights up for easy viewing.

Each day of the week can have its own schedule of multiple occupied and unoccupied periods. The thermostat displays the date, time and day of the week. Because the thermostat knows the date, you can schedule up to 10 holidays.

Sometimes the local utility has a rebate program for allowing them to put your units into setback. This can come over the internet via Wi-Fi.

The thermostat can have a remote sensor. If multiple areas are served, one, four or nine sensors are installed. The stages of heating and cooling are based on the average of the sensors.

The Wi-Fi thermostats can sense humidity and control the de-humidification cycle of the HVAC equipment.

The thermostats software can be automatically updated over the internet through the Wi-Fi. In addition, the Wi-Fi can email or text alarms to facility management.

W. Bruce Longino, P.E., LEED AP, may be reached by email at