You are planning to wire a thermostat, but unfortunately, the C-wire is missing. Smart thermostats always need a continuous power flow to enhance constant network connectivity and displays. Therefore, a common wire (C-wire) is essential in ensuring the continuous 24 VAC power flow to the intelligent thermostat.
Of course, you can wire a thermostat without a C-wire because the power will go via the red wire. The flow won’t be continuous, so there’s a need to use a common wire to complete the process. Your smart thermostat will have a smooth 24-volt energy supply when everything is complete.
Features in smart thermostats that require a Common wire (C-wire)
A common wire is necessary for various thermostat models for continuous energy flow from the furnace to keep the device functioning. Smart thermostats come with a Wi-Fi feature, allowing them to connect to the internet. Such a feature requires the common wire, enabling you to control or adjust your house’s temperature even when you’re away.
Additionally, thermostats are also equipped with lit color displays that require power. Batteries can run a thermostat but won’t provide the necessary energy for extended usages. Therefore, the C-wire is needed from the boiler or furnace.
However, there are some of these smart thermostats that don’t need a C-wire. Newer models come with circuitry responsible for capturing the intermittent energy from the red wire for charging and inbuilt battery. This implies these devices can run comfortably without a C-wire.
For instance, Nest E and Nest thermostats are common models that can operate without the need for a common wire.
Read also our another comprehensive article about: Nest Thermostat Delayed? Here’s a Fix
How should I know if I have a common wire (C-wire?)
The only way to confirm whether you have a C-wire or not is to detach your thermostat from the wall and observe it. Inspect it correctly, and if you see a blue wire connected to the ‘C’ slot, you are free to use any smart thermostat. This blue wire helps send a continuous energy flow to your unit and needs no changing.
If you see nothing like a common wire, it’s a clear indication that you are missing one. Sometimes this wire could have been hidden in your wall; that’s if the current thermostat doesn’t require it. Inspect your thermostat’s bracket because it may have an extra wire(s).
Sometimes these wires might get pulled in the wall, so you need too much care to prevent such. I would advise you to wrap all the wires around your screwdriver to prevent them from being pulled back into the wall.
I confirmed there’s no thermostat’s Common wire. No Problem!
For those people with old homes or who’re using outdated heating systems, you are likely to lack a C-wire. But, this doesn’t imply that you will be unable to use a newer thermostat. There are a few options that can help you wire a thermostat without a Common wire.
However, when doing so, you need to be much careful and remember to cut the power to the HVAC system. Even though the thermostat utilizes low voltage power and low amperage, it’s advisable to switch off energy flow to the HVAC system to prevent damages and injury while wiring.
Option one: Running a new thermostat cable
This is the best and cheapest option that you can implement when wiring a thermostat without a C-wire. 8-wire thermostat cable remains the commonly used cable, for instance. Buying this cable is relatively cheap, but hiring a professional can be costly based on how the run is sophisticated.
There are 7-wire and 5-wire thermostat cables, but running an 8-wire thermostat cable will spare you from running another line. It’s significant if you have no plan to use all the wires.
Running a new thermostat cable should be straightforward since you have to use the existing cable’s path. If you don’t want to engage yourself in unnecessary hassles, attach the new line to the existing one. What you only need to be much concerned with is ensuring you don’t change the thermostat position.
The initial HVAC installer or engineer chose that to mount the thermostat to ensure your system runs efficiently. However, you can change the thermostat’s location if you have a robust reason. If it’s always hit directly by sun rays, change the location.
Option two: Running a single wire
If the distance between your HVAC system and the thermostat is accessible, short or straightforward, wiring a 2-conductor 18-gauge wire can be a good solution. Buying the wire is cheaper; you will have to spend more on the labor. The engineer will have to use the current wire’s path instead of following the old wire pull string.
This option is therefore recommended only if the run is easy and straightforward.
Option three: Using an Adapter Kit
You will find some Companies producing adapters to supplement your thermostat, four-wire to five. So, for you to successfully use an adapter kit, there’s a need to have not less than four wires with you.
On the other hand, some new thermostat models come with an adapter for systems that lack C-wire. Other companies sell extended kits separately. Using a Venstar Add-A-WireTM adapter can be the best way to supplement your thermostat with an extra C-wire. It directly mounts on your furnace, requiring you to twist and match up the wires together.
The option remains essential for inexperienced homeowners and amateurs because it’s straightforward and easy. I say so because a handy installation guide accompanies this adapter. The method is easy and recommended by many experts; snaking wires into the wall can be frustrating.
Option four: Using a thermostat that doesn’t require Common wire
Finding a thermostat that doesn’t need a C-wire is another best and most straightforward way to wire a thermostat without a c-wire to HVAC. Doing so will spare you from avoidable complications.
Ecobee Thermostat is one of the commonly used options under this category. However, even if this device doesn’t need a common wire, you’ll still have to own a four-thermostat cable because they need an extended kit.
You will then be required to connect the furnace to your energy extender kit and your thermostat. Once this process is successful, go on and mount the extender kit on the furnace.
Frequently asked questions:
- Can I get a Wi-Fi thermostat that doesn’t need a common wire?
Yes, the Ecobee thermostat is the best and commonly used model that doesn’t require a common wire. It features remote sensors and a power extender kit that you can use instead of a C-wire. The Ecobee Power extender kit works with several thermostats from the same company like Ecobee 3, Ecobee 3 Lite thermostats, and Ecobee4.
- Do all thermostats require common wire?
Many non-connected and conventional thermostats do not require a C-wire to operate. However, newer thermostat models come with advanced features like Wi-Fi that needs to be powered constantly. A common wire helps provide a constant energy flow.
- What is the color of a C-wire?
Look for the blue color connected to the “C” slot; that’s your Common/C-wire.
Go on and wire a thermostat without a C-wire, but remember to use the above options. The article tries to make you understand the importance of a C-wire and what can happen if it’s missing. Besides, the report provides you with knowledge on how to know if you have a c-wire.
In this video we teach you Wiring a Thermostat Without C Wire to Hvac