Line Voltage vs Low Voltage Thermostat?:What Is the Best for You?

Home electrical appliances are great, and we need them for luxury. There are a lot of energy-conscious items and practices in our homes or commercial spaces. Today we have decided to narrow down the differences between a line voltage and a low voltage thermostat.

Understanding the differences between these two thermostats is crucial before you buy and install a new thermostat. Manufacturers are trying to produce greener products that consume less energy. Now that winter is approaching; I thought you should know the difference between a low voltage and a line voltage thermostat.

The meaning of a line voltage wiring

The meaning of a line voltage wiring

When you come across either the line voltage wiring or line voltage wiring terms in an electrical appliance, it simply refers to the number or amount of volts in a socket or a circuit. Therefore, a line voltage circuit is merely a typical 120-volt thermostat that you may find in any commonly used devices like a vacuum cleaner, blender, coffee maker, or ceiling fan.

Many of these household appliances are designed in such a way that you can directly connect them to a power source. They are ready to be used whenever power is diverted to the junction box or an outlet.

Benefits of line voltage wiring

This wiring comes with several advantages like:

  • Lower appliances’ costs and fixtures
  • You don’t need a transformer for the wiring to convert voltage
  • There are a wide range of items to choose from
  • It is a typical line voltage for almost all American products
  • Installing the appliance is straightforward

The meaning of low voltage wiring

The meaning of low voltage wiring

Some experts recognize low voltage wiring as all the equipment and circuits that run at not more than 50 volts. For appliances or tools, many low voltage devices operate at 12-24 volts. They are commonly utilized infrequently or in high areas. Over some time, low voltage wiring is known for saving money through energy consumption reduction.

Furthermore, a low voltage appliance typically needs a transformer responsible for line voltage reduction to the desired voltage. This art increases the initial cost as well as the installation can be relatively more complex.

After going through the above basics, let’s now dig deeper to understand the difference between the two thermostats:

Line voltage thermostat       

Line voltage thermostat

This type of thermostat is often used in electric space heaters like baseboard heaters and direct-wired electric furnaces. Additionally, operating line voltage thermostats is straightforward and installing them is not a big deal. Their power consumptions range from 120v to 140v on average.

A line voltage thermostat tends to have either double pole wiring or single pole wiring based on the thermostat and heater features. The two types of pole wiring come with their benefits like:

Double pole thermostat

  • Runs on independent/separate currents
  • Have four wires connected to the main circuit/switch
  • You can use the thermostat to turn it off

Single pole thermostat

  • Single current
  • Two wires are connected to the main circuit/switch
  • You must disconnect the unit to put it off

Some good examples of Direct-Wired Units

  • Electric Space Heaters
  • Single-Zone Systems
  • Electric Furnace
  • Wall Mounted Mini Split System

Low voltage thermostat

Low voltage thermostat

This is another type of thermostat that’s air conditioning control and direct-wired heater, found in most of our homes. They run under 30 volts, hence save on energy consumption. Line voltage thermostats are famous because they don’t need a low power to operate; 24 volts on average.

When compared to a line voltage thermostat, low voltage thermostats are much better for economists. Remember, you can use a low voltage thermostat to virtually control any system. Some of the units that such a thermostat can control include; furnaces, radiant heat, boilers, heat pumps, baseboard heaters, or air conditioning.

However, installing some of these thermostats can be messier since they come with many wires; nine is not a joke. Therefore, you need to have the necessary skills as well as the required tools and time. Be patient while installing the gadget, don’t hurry the process.

Examples of low voltage thermostats

  • 7+ Wires with heat pumps
  • Powered by step down transformer
  • Thin Wiring
  • 4-5 Wires with cooling
  • 2-3 Wires without cooling

These thermostats are primarily used with:

  • Single-Stage heat pumps
  • Electric Furnaces
  • Multi-Stage cooling and heating heat pumps

Therefore which thermostat should I opt for?

line voltage vs low voltage thermostat

A line voltage is an average 120 voltage found in junction boxes and outlets in Canada and the United States of America. For this reason, line-voltage fixtures are primarily plug-and-play. On the other hand, low-voltage lighting operates at 12v and 24v and needs a transformer to minimize the line voltage. Such an art reduces the chances of a low-voltage bulb from burning immediately after installation.

Furthermore, the low-voltage lighting transformer is either located remotely or built in the fixture. Remember, the Wattage rating of the available transformer should be either higher or the same with combined lighting system wattage. Transformers usually require a reduced combined wattage to run the lighting system smoothly, without humming or flickering.

Based on the initial cost, the line voltage is much better than the low voltage thermostat due to lower-cost light bulbs and fixtures and easy installation. Line-voltage lighting dimmers are also relatively inexpensive compared to those used in low-voltage lighting.

However, the operating costs of line-voltage lines can be a bit higher even though the initial price is lower. But, if they are installed in low-use places, the operating cost can be reasonable.

Heaters and furnaces aren’t interchanged easily and aren’t designed to mix and match. Using both of these controls comes with different benefits; therefore, you need to consider the usage. Before purchasing a new thermostat, you must verify the capability of your circuit line.

If you don’t know how to do this, I would advise you to seek the help of experienced personnel to do it for you.

Frequently asked questions:

  • Can you use a line voltage for a low voltage thermostat?

No. a low voltage thermostat is not compatible with line voltage wiring. Interchanging heaters and furnaces isn’t easy and aren’t designed to mix and match. Using both of these controls comes with varying controls; consider the usage.

  • What voltage does a ceiling light operate at?

Many fixtures are mainly line voltage, i.e., 120 volts, but several under-cabinet and track lighting operate at a lower voltage (12 volts). This implies that you must buy a transformer to convert the voltage.

  • How should I convert a line voltage to a low voltage thermostat?

The primary method is to purchase a switching relay that’s run by a low-voltage thermostat. You have to use the switching relay instead of the line voltage thermostat and then top up a low voltage wire from your thermostat.

Final words

Before deciding which thermostat you require, it’s advisable to understand the circuit type with you. Remember, a low voltage thermostat is not compatible with line voltage wiring. Hopefully, the above discussions educate you about the differences between line voltage thermostats and low voltage ones.

Remember, all these thermostats come with varying benefits, but the usage and cost are what you need to consider. 

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