We rely on our thermostats to control the HVAC system to dial in the optimal temperature to keep our homes comfortable all year round. The best way to think of a thermostat is as the central brain for the entire heating and cooling system. So, any problems that affect the thermostat can have an impact on the HVAC system too. Many people don’t understand that the placement of the thermostat can affect how it performs. In this article, we will explain five thermostat placement issues in more detail.

1.  In Direct Sunlight

If you place your hand in direct sunlight, even if it’s shining through a window, it will feel warm. This is true in summer and winter, and this is a problem when it comes to thermostat placement. The unit contains a sensor that reads the ambient temperature to judge when the heating turns on and how long it needs to run for to reach the desired settings. So, if you have the thermostat located near a south facing window or under a skylight, there is a strong chance that the unit will be confused. The thermostat may register that the room is warmer than it actually is, and this can cause the HVAC system to work when it isn’t required. These are known as “ghost readings’ ‘ they introduce uncertainty that causes additional strain on the equipment for no appreciable gain. The HVAC system will also expend energy for no reason, and that’s a waste of money.

2.  In or Near the Kitchen

The kitchen is probably the warmest area in the entire home, and this is especially true when you’re cooking or running multiple appliances. The heat generated by the stove and oven as you prepare a meal will make this area much warmer than the rest of the home. When you place a thermostat, you need an area with a consistent ambient temperature to accurately judge home much heating you need to make the home comfortable. If the ambient temperature is rising and falling dramatically throughout the day, this is a problem. The thermostat will become “confused” and you’re not going to get the HVAC performance and energy efficiency that you need.

3.  Above an Air Vent

Heat rises, and the movement or air can confuse the sensor in your thermostat. So, if it’s placed above or near an air vent, it’s difficult to get an accurate temperature reading. The thermostat will “think” that the room is warmer than it actually is and takes appropriate action. The result is a lack of heat that you may need, and the air conditioner may even run for no reason. Again, these “ghost readings” cause unnecessary wear and tear on the HVAC system, and they waste a lot of energy.

4.  Near Windows or Doors

Many of the problems that we’ve previously discussed are equally applicable to exterior doors and windows. This is especially true if these areas are not sealed properly and there are drafts that can alter the ambient temperature. If a thermostat is located in a drafty area, it will tend to have readings that are cooler than they should be. The opening and closing of external doors can also bring cold air in, which may “confuse” the sensor. The thermostat sensor will be affected in different ways depending on the season. The HVAC system is likely to cycle on and off rapidly, which is known as short cycling. A comfortable and consistent temperature is hard to achieve and maintain, and the equipment is placed under considerable strain. The HVAC system may become prone to component failures, the frequency of repairs may increase, and the lifespan of the system may be shortened significantly.

5.  The Hallway

People don’t tend to live in hallways, so it may seem like this is a great placement location, but it isn’t. Why? Well, it’s hard to get an accurate temperature reading that’s relevant to humans when there are no people around for most of the time. Finding the optimal “real feel” temperature is a real challenge when you’re taking readings in an empty hallway area. The ambient temperature may be consistent, but the airflow is restricted, and people can bump into the unit, which may change the settings or cause damage. When you’re considering a thermostat replacement, it should be in or near the room where the family tends to spend the most time. This will ensure that the temperature readings and a “real feel” relevance for the people living in the home.

What is the Ideal Thermostat Placement Location?

This is a tricky question to answer. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to give because every home will vary in size, configuration, number of windows, and other factors. But, there are some general rules to thermostat placement location that can be useful if you follow them carefully. First, place the thermostat on an interior wall and keep it away from the locations discussed earlier: windows, doors, air vents, hallways, kitchens, and areas exposed to direct sunlight. Second, try to place the thermostat towards the center of the home in rooms where the family spends most of their time. This will ensure that the family will be in the most comfortable areas of the home. Finally, check the thermostat regularly to ensure that the optimal settings for the season are used and that the unit has sufficient power.

Identifying Thermostat Problems

Finding the optimal location for your thermostat is important, but there are some other issues that you need to be aware of if you want to avoid problems later. The sensor in the thermostat is sensitive, and most units are pretty accurate under normal operating conditions. But, the sensor can be affected by dust and dirt that can get into the thermostat casing. If the thermostat is acting erratically, it’s worth opening the unit and vacuuming the interior to see if this fixes the problem. Another common problem is a lack of power to the thermostat because a battery-powered unit has died or a mains powered unit has a tripped breaker.

If you’re considering a new or upgraded thermostat for your HVAC system, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.