Progammable thermostat for heat pump with timer
September 24, 2010 12:53 PM   Subscribe

If this exists, help me find it: I would like a programmable thermostat with a timer that will work with a heat pump (used for both heating and cooling).

When I say with a timer, I mean that in addition to the standard programmable thermostat deal where I can tell it to go on and off at certain times, I want to be able to say "Turn the AC on for the next two hours." and have it turn on for two hours and then turn off. I do not know if this exists. If it does exist, I don't know if it's compatible with a heat pump. Ideally, I would like to find it for sale in Toronto, or for sale online from Canada, but worse case scenario I'd accept an international online store that ships to Canada.

For bonus points: Is this something that could be installed by me: A person with a decent tool set and a willingness to read instructions, but no particular thermostat, furnace, or electrical training?
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've always heard not to use programmable timers with heat pumps. It's better (saves money and electricity) to keep the temperature as constant as possible.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:05 PM on September 24, 2010

Take a look at these Robertshaw deluxe programmable thermostats. You'll need to look at the specs for the various models to see which one suits the equipment you have.

I put one in my house a couple of years ago, and it's really a nice thermostat. It normally just follows the program, but if you push the up or down arrows to override the program, it automatically asks you whether the change should be temporary or permanent. To do the timer thing you want to do, you'd choose "temporary" and indicate the time of day at which you want it to resume the normal program.
posted by jon1270 at 1:07 PM on September 24, 2010

Poked around a little more, and it looks like the same company's "Value" programmable thermostats have a similar timer function, but their cheaper "economy" units don't.

FWIW, I bought my thermostat on eBay for a fraction of the typical retail price.

I'm not sure you'd want to install it yourself if you don't have at least a basic understanding of electric wiring. The instructions presume that the thermostat will be professionally installed, so they don't exactly hold your hand through the process.
posted by jon1270 at 1:24 PM on September 24, 2010

seconding the robertshaw. have a rs5220 that we haven't installed yet.

the box says:

"5-2 day programmable with auto changeover
universal control up to 2 heat/2 cool
popup wizard"

husband was looking for this exact thing, for a long time, for the same purpose you mentioned.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 1:29 PM on September 24, 2010

The basic GE programmable one I have does this (and has extra connections for a heat pump, which I don't have). Got it in Rona. Fitted it in five minutes. Simple, but needed one of the more careful read of instructions I've ever seen.
posted by scruss at 1:41 PM on September 24, 2010

Just FYI, most of the thermostat wiring is very low voltage AC... nominally 24 Volts. At the point where you put the thermostat, it can be as simple as two wires and usually is. For multimode environment control involving more than one heating/cooling technology, they are a little more involved.

Some thermostats parasitically tap into the 24 VAC preferentially, and run on a replaceable battery that is not used while the 24V is present. Others just run on the battery. Not sure about the Robertshaws, since I haven't looked.

Installation of these things is usually more about mounting than wiring. You DO have to follow the instructions, of course, and they'll tell you anything that relates to system compatibility.

This is well within home-handyman territory and generally, not hazardous.
posted by FauxScot at 8:14 AM on September 25, 2010

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