My house has 2 HVAC zones (main living area and upstairs bedrooms). The thermostat for the bedrooms is on the second floor. What I'd like to do is have a main control panel on the main floor, with the ability to control both zones. Seems like there are a lot of options out there, but would like to hear from someone who has a similar set-up. Thanks
I like to think I know a fair bit about hot water heating systems. But, my personal experience in answering questions on these Q&A forums is that people often get themselves into trouble by changing to a digital programmable thermostat that claims it's going to save them money by automatically lowering the temperature setting at night and during business hours on weekdays (and other such stuff).
My feeling is that nowadays integrated heating/cooling systems are becoming so complicated that you should rejoice that your system is working properly. If you start changing your thermostats, there will be factory settings in the new thermostat that may not match your house's heating system, and that's going to create problems.
For example, older thermostats had something called a "heat anticipator" in them, which was really nothing more than a small electric heater. The job of that heater was to fool the thermostat into thinking it was warmer in the room than it really was. And, the purpose of doing that is because hot water radiators are located around the perimeter of the house, but the thermostat is centrally located. So, by the time the temperature reaches the set point in the middle of the heated space, the temperature everywhere else is warmer. The heat anticipator fools the thermostat into shutting the heat off earlier in order to avoid that overshoot.
But, the problem is that you need a different heat anticipator setting for different heating systems. Cast iron base board radiators are going to keep convecting hot air into the room long after the thermostat shuts the boiler off, so the anticipator setting has to be different for a hot water heating system than a forced air heating system or electric heat.
It's all these variables that are different in each heating system that make switching thermostats particularily problematic.
So, I'm just trying to be helpful when I suggest you don't even start down that road you're thinking about going down. I've just read too many posts that start with the character string: "I just replaced my house's thermostat and now ...". You fill in the last part. It can be anything from "the air conditioning no longer works" to "I have several extra wires left over."
You'll be better off with two programmable thermostats - there really is no reason to have one convenient master. Much better to program in a schedule of temp changes based on your daily needs than to try messing around with the T-stats several times a day.
If you already have a zoned system, I'm surprised that you don't already have programmable T-stats. If you don't, then they are fairly inexpensive and easy to install in the original wired-in locations.
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