The thermostat uses a common wire. The C wire gives the thermostat a constant flow of power (24VAC). By completing the circuit from the hot wire to the HVAC’s control board, the C wire gives a smart thermostat the power the device needs to operate.
How To Connect C Wire To Thermostat?
1). Get your tools. That includes a wire stripper, caulking gun, fish tape, and a screwdriver.
2). Turn your HVAC system off. If possible, switch the power off at the breaker.
3). Take the thermostat off the wall. Use stickers to label the wires connected to the thermostat. This will keep you from confusing them. You can also wrap the wires around a pencil to prevent them from falling back into the hole in the wall.
4). If your old thermostat did not use a C wire, and you’ve decided to replace it with a model that uses a C wire, you may have to drill holes in the wall to accommodate the new thermostat and its anchors.
5). If your old thermostat did not have a C wire, and you have failed to identify the C wire among the cables coming out of the wall, get a 5-conductor thermostat wire that includes the C wire.
You can run this wire from your HVAC system to the thermostat. If you have a boiler in the basement, you must snake the wire from the hole down to the basement.
This section of the project encourages people to hire professionals because it is not easy to move cables from the basement to the thermostat or vice versa.
If you have experience with this process, you can use a fish tape to get the wire where it needs to go. Though, depending on the distance between the boiler and the thermostat, don’t be surprised if this project forces you to knock a few holes in the wall.
6). Once you successfully snake the cable to its destination, you can connect each wire to the appropriate terminal. The Red wire goes to the boiler, white to the boiler, yellow to the transformer, and blue to the transformer.
7). Once you connect the thermostat to the transformer and boiler, you can test the thermostat to see if it works.
If you have a smart Nest Thermostat, watch this video showing how to connect a C wire using a transformer.
Thermostat C Wire Color
The C wire is the blue wire. But manufacturers have the option of using any color that suits them. Most of them prefer blue because technicians and homeowners expect to see this color whenever they encounter a common wire.
It provides consistent power to the thermostat. Don’t expect every brand to use this color for their common wires. Common wires do not have a standard that manufacturers must follow.
Cost To Add C Wire To Thermostat
It is worth noting that the $96 to $218 estimate only covers the thermostat. Labor could cost you as much as $218 to $265. The average price could cost you around $172. That figure comes down to $119 if your home has a C wire.
The access points and placement affect the final figure. Installations of this kind are complicated because, in some cases, you have to account for the cost of drywall repair.
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What Happens If You Install Thermostat Without C Wire?
C wire guarantees a continuous flow of electricity by completing the circuit (From the hot wire to the control board on the HVAC). If you have a C wire, your thermostat will run at all times of the day or night. If you don’t have a C wire, you should get a professional to install one. Otherwise, your smart thermostat won’t work.
Homes with ordinary thermostats can get by without a C wire. You only need common wires in settings with Wi-Fi thermometers that have additional features.
These devices stand out because you can control them with an internet-enabled smartphone. Not only can they track your energy consumption, but they can adjust your HVAC system to save energy.
But because they have so many functions, you have to give these thermostats a constant flow of electricity (24 VAC). A smart thermostat has R wires that act as a source of power. These R wires cannot provide the continuous electricity a thermostat needs.
This is where the C wire enters the picture. The C wire is not the source of the thermostat’s power.
C wires are becoming more common because smart thermostats are becoming more prevalent.
Do Thermostat Work Without C Wire?
Ordinary thermostats will work. They have batteries. Smart thermostats could also work. But smart thermostats use a lot of power. They can’t rely on battery power to operate.
You have to give them a constant flow of electricity because the Wi-Fi connectivity will drain these batteries quickly. But some smart thermostats have rechargeable batteries. These smart thermostats can recharge themselves.
In an ideal situation, they will do this by waiting for you to activate the HVAC system. The thermostat will divert a portion of the system’s power to its batteries when the HVAC starts, charging them.
But if you spend long durations without turning the HVAC on, the thermostat can still charge its batteries.
These devices can turn the HVAC on briefly to draw power from the system’s 24V transformer. People call this ‘Power Stealing,’ and it only stops when you turn the HVAC on.
Power Stealing is not harmless. It can reduce the lifespan of the HVAC because the thermostat is turning the system on and off at a rapid rate.
Some people have observed strange noises coming from their boilers and furnaces and fans that have become stuck in the on or off position. If you have the option, you are better off getting a C wire. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of adding the wire, get an adapter.
What If There Is No C Wire For Thermostat?
Before you do anything, make sure the C wire is missing. Some people have C wires, but they don’t know how to identify them. Follow these steps to find the C wire:
1). Start by propping the thermostat off the wall. Look at the wires behind the device. The C wire is typically blue. This is not the standard. Manufacturers can use any color they want. But you should start by looking for a blue wire. If you have five or six wires, one of them is probably the C wire, even if it isn’t blue.
2). Look for the C terminal on the thermostat. The wire attached to the C terminal is the C wire.
3). If the C terminal doesn’t have a wire, look in the hole. The person that installed the thermostat could have stuffed the C wire into the wall because they did not want to use it.
4). Check the wires inside the furnace. Don’t forget to disable the furnace. If it doesn’t have a C wire, you might as well conclude that you don’t have one.
If you don’t have a C wire, you have several interesting options at your disposal, including:
1). Avoid Smart Thermostat
Avoid smart thermostats. Get an ordinary thermostat that doesn’t need a C wire. You can also get smart thermostats that can charge their batteries by stealing power from the HVAC.
2). Use C Wire Adapter
You can get a C wire adapter, a device that uses the existing wiring to add a new wire. Adapters are the most convenient solution because you can install one in less than an hour.
3). Use A 24V Stepdown Transformer
If you have an outlet in the vicinity of the thermostat, you can use a 24V stepdown transformer adapter to transmit continuous power to the thermostat.
For many people, the best option is to ask a technician to install a C wire. This process is more expensive. It is also an inconvenience. But it saves a lot of time in the long run because you can use that C wire in the future.
Can I Use Other Wire As A C Wire?
If you don’t have a C wire, you can use a G wire as a C wire. But this wire controls the fan independently. If you use the G wire as the C wire, you cannot run the fan independently in situations where the HVAC’s heating and cooling systems are not operating.
Use of C Wire
The C wire is necessary because intelligent thermostats have a lot of complicated features and functions. Those features and functions will deplete their batteries. They could recharge by stealing power from the HVAC when it’s off or diverting some of the energy from the HVAC when it’s on. But it is more efficient to use a C wire.
Do All Smart Thermostats Require A C Wire?
Ordinary thermostats don’t require common wires. Smart thermostats need C wires because their Wi-Fi connectivity consumes too much power, not to mention all the other functions they possess.
Ordinary thermostats can get by without a C Wire. You also have smart thermostats that can steal power from an HVAC. As such, they don’t require a C wire either.