A thermostat controls a heating or cooling system. The device contains a sensory element when the temperature needs to be changed, determined by a predesignated temperature.
Two basic types of thermostats are line voltage and low voltage thermostats. Line voltage thermostats are used with baseboard heaters and radiant heating systems. Low voltage thermostats operate most central heat and air systems, including gas, oil and electric furnaces and air conditioners.
An electric current runs through a line voltage thermostat and directly into the heater. This type of thermostat normally runs off 240 volts. The current running to low voltage thermostats is more easily controlled through the device and runs off 24 to 50 volts.
Mechanical thermostats are a type of line voltage thermostat that are easy to install. These operate using metal bars that trigger the thermostat to kick on as they heat up or cool down. Electronic thermostats fall under the low voltage thermostat category and contain a sensor that detects when the temperature moves below or above the desired room temperature. Many are also programmable.
Line voltage thermostats, in the form of mechanical thermostats, have a tendency to let the temperature go below or above the desired temperature. Low voltage electronic thermostats have the ability to keep a room at the particular temperature desired.
Mechanical thermostats can only be set to one particular temperature. Unlike mechanical thermostats, programmable electronic thermostats allow a specific temperature to be chosen and preset for a future time. These thermostats are perfect for those that want to conserve energy when they are not home.