One of the basic concerns that every apartment renter has on their mind is to cut down the expenses wherever that is possible. Although we live in a modern age where smart thermostats are replacing old thermostats, there are many households and buildings whose air conditioning systems use old fashioned manual thermostats to regulate the apartment temperature.
If you consider yourself as a technically aware tenant, perhaps one of the first questions you will ask yourself is can you install a smart thermostat in the apartment? Technically speaking the answer is yes, you will just have to check whether all technical preconditions are met. Speaking from the perspective of whether you are allowed to install the thermostat or not, you will first need to inform your landlord and ask for permission.
This is just a short answer to the question, I will try to explain it a little more from two different perspectives – from a technical perspective and from a legal perspective.
1. Technical Preconditions for Installing Smart Thermostat
When I talk about technical preconditions, I mainly mean compatibility. We are interested in whether your smart thermostat will be compatible with the existing setup like the voltage, wiring between the HVAC and current thermostat, HVAC itself, etc. Most popular smart thermostats like Nest or Ecobee have their own compatibility checkers.
Take for example the Google’s Nest compatibility checker. It will tell you from the very beginning that Nest is not compatible with your system if the current thermostat has stranded wires or if it is labeled 110V or 120V. Next, by selecting the connected wires, it will finally tell you whether it can fit into your current air-conditioning setup.
Ecobee have their own compatibility checker as well. If your choice is any other thermostat model, then check on their website or simply call their support number and ask for advice.
So, what you will need to do before buying a smart thermostat is to carefully dismantle the current thermostat and look into the voltage it uses and the wiring (wires that are actually connected and their labels). Then you will click the button at the end and wait for the result.
2. Are you Allowed to Install Smart Thermostat in Apartment
The second, not less important aspect is to inform your landlord and ask for permission. Although there are people who will maybe do the installation incognito, I would prefer to negotiate this with the landlord on the first place.
It is in their best interest to accept this initiative because having a smart thermostat will reduce their energy bills in the long run. In most cases, they will agree, but also will share the information about the current air-conditioning setup that will help you towards installing the thermostat.
If the landlord gives you a green light for installing the smart thermostat, they will usually require from you to put back the old thermostat when you move out.
Is it Worth Installing a Smart Thermostat in a Rented Apartment?
Speaking in terms of improving your comfort and having optimized temperature levels throughout the day, definitely it is worth installing a smart thermostat.
It won’t only decrease your energy bill and make your living more comfortable, but can also learn your schedules, when you are home and when you are out, so it will better optimize the heating/cooling of your apartment. On top of that, using an application installed on your smartphone, you always have insight into the temperature levels in your apartment, and you can manage the thermostat right from your phone.
Can you Install the Thermostat Yourself?
If you are an experienced DIYer and have proper knowledge of electrical wiring, then the answer is Yes – you can install the thermostat yourself. Especially considering the fact that for some smart thermostats like Nest, there are online compatibility checkers that will tell you exactly whether they are compatible with your existing conditions.
The first thing is to talk to your landlord and ask, because they may insist on their handyman or HVAC professional to do the job, thus ensuring the thermostat is installed properly.
Here is a video where you can see how easy is to install a smart thermostat:
How Much Does it Cost to Install a Smart Thermostat?
The costs for replacing a thermostat varies between $100 and $200 for labor only, presuming that the unit is provided. In the table below, you will find the average prices for some popular thermostat units as well as prices for thermostat units plus the installation costs.
|Cost per Thermostat Unit
|Thermostat Unit + Installation Cost
|$150 – $249
|$250 – $450
|$170 – $240
|$270 – $440
|$99 – $229
|$200 – $430
|$220 – $320
|$103 – $149
|$200 – $350
|$95 – $128
|$200 – $330
There are many online services where you can get estimates for hiring a Thermostat Installation Pro based on your ZIP code. You may check HomeAdvisor for example.
How Do you Install Smart Thermostat in Apartment?
In order to install a smart thermostat in the apartment, you should first power off the system by using a switch or to turn off power at the fuse box. In general, access to the fuse box is allowed to the tenants, but you may also read what are the legal rights of tenants to access fuse boxes.
After you are done with powering off the system, next is to remove the cover from your current thermostat. Depending on the model, the cover may pop off, and in some cases, you will have to unscrew it.
Next, you will have to very carefully check the electrical wiring i.e. how is the current thermostat wired to the HVAC or central air-conditioning system.
Most of the modern smart thermostats have their own compatibility checkers that will guide you through the entire process.
Pay special attention to the wires and the input voltage, and secure a safe working environment before you start. Most smart thermostats work on 24V. If you notice that your old thermostat operates on 110V or 240V, do not attach that wires to the smart thermostat, because improper handling could lead to electrical shock.
Also, if the thermostat is not wired correctly in terms of getting proper working power it may lead to low battery issues.
Will Smart Thermostat Work without WIFI?
If disruptions of the WIFI signal occur, the smart thermostat will continue to work but will only be limited to its basic functions for managing heating or cooling. It will follow the previously set schedules, but won’t be able to accept any changes in the schedule if you want to do that over the mobile app. This is emphasized especially in situations when you are outside and you want to manage the thermostat over your phone. However, setting the temperatures or similar actions can be done by pressing the buttons on the thermostat unit.
Also, some advanced features like live updates, alerts, remote management, low battery, etc, are mainly available when the smart thermostat is connected to the Internet.
Other Smart Devices That Can Manage the Temperature in Your Apartment
If installing a smart thermostat in your apartment is not possible for any reason, don’t be despaired. There are other smart devices that could help you manage the temperature and set schedules while you are away.
If you use traditional air conditioning system such as Split AC, Mobile AC or Window AC, there are special devices available on the market, so called Smart AC Controllers, that can make your old air conditioner smart.
These smart AC controllers are capable not only of replacing your AC remote control, but even more to provide smart features such as weekly schedules, geo-based control, also known as geofencing, humidity regulation, filter checks, etc. – all these by using an application from your mobile phone.
If you want to learn all about Smart AC Controllers, check this article.
Sensibo Sky Smart Air Conditioner Controller
If you have a classic air-conditioning unit, perhaps the best solution that will make your air conditioner smart is the Sensibo Sky smart air conditioner controller. It is compatible with the majority of air conditioning models such as Split ACs, Mobile ACs, Window ACs but also with Central ACs that have a remote control.
Sensibo monitors the temperature and humidity and you can control the air conditioner from anywhere. You can also set schedules, it has the geofencing feature built-in, which means it can turn on the air-conditioner before you arrive or turn off when you leave, based on your phone location. Works with Google Home, Amazon Echo, and Siri.
Check this link on Amazon for the latest price.