C-Wire is an abbreviation of Common Wire that offers a continuous flow of power up to 24 VAC in the thermostat. Herein, the wire extends from the furnace right up to the thermostat.
However, there remains a lot of obscurity surrounding C-wire, which is one of the reasons why this website experiences huge traffic. Thus, we have presented to you a detailed article that would assist you in understanding everything about C-Wire. Besides, it will also help find the system’s C-Wire and thereby decide which will be the best-suited thermostat you can purchase based on your current wires and if you are ready to install a new one.
How to know if my system has a C Type Wire
Step 1: First, confirm if your HVAC system has a low voltage of 24v, which can be done by visiting the visual guidance for thermostats. After you have finished reading, come back and follow the steps mentioned below:
Step 2: Place your thermostat on the wall and give a good look at it.
The best way to know if your thermostat has a C-wire is by popping it from the wall and locating the wires on the backside. Also, where are they all hooked too? Well, it has to be noted that the colors of C-wires do not carry any relevance or meaning, and it is neither a suggestion where a C-Wire which is blue, is considered a standard color. Well, that is false.
You may find five differently-colored wires, including red, blue, white, green, and yellow, and the possible one which makes the sixth color is black. All that you need to know about C-wire is in this article.
Another scenario: Herein, you may find 3 to 4 thinner wires that are again multi-colored.
If you cannot understand if the wire is C-type, all you need to do is look at the back of the thermostat. If your existing thermostat doesn’t require a C-wire or if there is a wire that can be used in the place of a C-wire, they might be rolled inside the wall. It is also true if you locate other relevant colored wires too.
Line Voltage Thermostat: Herein, you merely have two red and white wires in color, and these are also thick. You must have a line voltage system, and herein, not any smart thermostat has it available with it. However, there is some hope that an adapter might work, yet there is none that exists now.
There are numerous scenarios similar to the above, yet these three top the list and resemble the setup. Moreover, many manufacturers assume your thermostat has both cooling and heating functions. However, if you only have heating, there might be only a few wires you may assume are required. These include a 24v system that is low voltage and a C-wire.
On the other hand, if you have a boiler, a heat pump, or any other accessories, it is imperative to check the compatibility accurately. However, the chances are you may find something in the market that still seems compatible with the system.
Yes, you can find a 24v system with low voltage but that which lacks a C-wire. If your system lacks a C-wire, but you have decided to purchase a smart thermostat for your home, there are numerous options you can try out. These can either include smart thermostats with a C-wire or those that don’t require one to operate.
To make it easier for you, we have presented a few options that include most opted to not recommended options. So, let us begin:
The first few we will assume have a low voltage system. So here are the options:
Option 1- Run New Thermostat Wire which includes 5 conductors or more.
It is a nuclear option. You must pull an existing thermostat wire that fits well between your thermostat and furnace and run another wire through the walls or floor. Based on how huge your house is, it can either be a little distance or have daunting tasks. Herein, you will have to hire a professional who will get the job done with class.
On the other side, it future proves all your HVAC wiring wherein you can choose any smart thermostat you want to try out, and it makes the best option to swing it.
Option 2 – Venstar Add a wire to an adapter
If your thermostat already has four wires and you require a fifth one which is a C-wire, then the Venstar Add-a Wire adapter makes the best pick. It allows you to add a C-wire with a 24VAC system. However, the only con is you already have four wires attached to it. And then you may have to open the furnace by spending another 20 to 40 minutes getting the things up. Herein, read through the instructions and apply them to the situation.
Option 3 – Opt for a thermostat that produces an adapter
If your thermostat is a 24v HVAC system but lacks C-wire, check out the product line of Ecobee. All Ecobee ships comprise an adapter that is easy to install. Besides, you can do it yourself by attaching it to the furnace to cover the missing C-wire.
The wire is small and can be installed easily. Every Ecobee product includes an ultra-deluxe and integrated Alexa that makes it a budget-friendly option. The Ecobee3 Lite does not include an in-built Alexa or room sensors with no option of purchasing it and adding later.
If the Ecobee is not for you, you can also get your hands on a Venstar Add-a-Wire and connect it with thermostats that you like.
Option 4: Pick a thermostat that doesn’t require an adapter or a C-Wire
If your system is low voltage and has only a few wires, and it is impossible to run many new wires, then you can try out LuxGeo. Many users have reported that these HVAC systems work when no other system does.
The Lux Geo Thermostat with WiFi is our personal favorite. We recommend that all homeowners have thermostat wiring incompatible with the current trend of popular thermostats in the market. It can try out an AA lithium battery and is also best with systems comprising 2 wires.
If you own a line voltage, then you cannot get a WiFi thermostat that is suitable for a line voltage system.
Option for Live Voltage – Include an Adapter
You can get your line voltage system to the mainstream smart thermostat if you have an adapter that can set the voltage down. For example, the Aube RC840T-240.
If you have an adapter, you can purchase a low voltage thermostat that you like and fix it with the electric wall heater, radiant heat, electric baseboard heater, and much more. But it is bulky and may take quite a brainstorm to know where you can fix it on the wall. Also, you will require a line voltage heater, and if you have a few, it is not compatible.
Option for Line Voltage- Get Suitable Thermostat
Purchase a thermostat that is best designed for your line voltage system.
There are very few options for WiFi-enabled Line Voltage Thermostats. Thus, choosing Caleo by the CaSA makes the best option for a WiFi-compatible WiFi thermostat if your baseboard heating system. It is also compatible with IFTTT, which you can control with your smartphone or computer by merely logging into the web portal of Caleo. It is not an app but a website that is mobile-friendly.
Note: Caleo is not compatible with air heaters; thus, if you have a thermostat that can control the fan speed and heater, it is not the right pick for you.
Yet another lucrative option is Stelpro KI STZW402WB+ which is included in the line voltage system. The thermostat is, however, not compatible with line voltage heaters that are used for controlling fans.
Besides, the Stelpro is a ZigBee or a Z-Wave form of a thermostat, which is not programmable. Herein, you require a Z-Wave controller like that of Samsung SmartThings to enable the process. Moreover, if you want to control your Stelpro using your smartphone, you must connect it with a Z-Wave controller and that to the internet.
Related Article– Smart Thermostat C Wire Explained – Thermostat Wires explained?
Well, these were the basics we covered. There do exist many variations when it comes to cooling and heating systems. Besides, you may find a heating system that is different from what is featured herein. The best way to determine which is the best heating system and if it will work for you is to check out the manufacturer’s support and the accessories provided. Besides, many manufacturers provide a helpline where you can seek personalized support.
It is to be noted that the site is run by people who hold enthusiasm in learning about technology and not an expert in HVAC who is well familiar with the systems. Thus, be careful if you mess out with the wires!