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How a Thermostat Works

Thermostats are wonderful instruments that regulate heating and air conditioning units so that a constant room temperature is maintained. There is some confusion, however, over just how hot the air is when a thermostat is set at a given temperature. There also are some questions about how exactly a thermostat works as it regulates a space heater.

Here are the basic principles of how a thermostat works on a space heater:

  • The most basic explanation of how a thermostat works on a space heater is that when the temperature of a room reaches a certain level, the space heater either kicks on or turns off. There is a thermocouple or probe inside the space heater that is attached by a wire and able to monitor the room temperature. The all-on or all-off option is due to the use of what is called a non-proportional thermostat, which is standard in most space heaters.
  • Just because you set the thermostat way up to 100 degrees, the air coming out of the space heater will not be any hotter or heat the room any faster. Turning up the temperature on your thermostat does not make the space heater work any harder or faster. Trying this method to heat a room faster is pointless.
  • The average space heater pumps out air at about 120 degrees when it turns on in response to the room temperature being colder than the temperature set on the thermostat.
  • Many space heaters use inexpensive analog knobs to set the thermostat. As a result, some space heater owners add another thermostat so that they can program their space heater for different times of day and temperature. This is not a complicated DIY project, but you can bypass it by purchasing of the newer models, which have digital remote controls. This has been hailed as a huge upgrade in thermostat regulation, saving power/fuel and money.