A C-Wire connects your wireless thermostat to your air conditioner so that it can have continuous power, and most modern thermostats require this type of connection.
Some air conditioner thermostats are hardwired right into the power supply of your home, and others are wireless and are powered by batteries.
Using a C-Wire will allow you to create a return path that will power a wireless thermostat without the use of batteries and it is quite easy to check and install.
The difference between a hardwired and wireless thermostat
Just as air conditioners come in many different shapes and sizes to suit a variety of spaces, thermostats also come in a variety of models. Although thermostats vary greatly in terms of their functions, the units also differ in terms of their power supply.
A hardwired thermostat is powered by a physical wire that is connected to the mains supply of your home, whereas wireless thermostats, usually the more modern models, are powered by batteries and communicate via radio frequency with a receiver, which controls the heating and cooling equipment of your air conditioner.
C-Wire connected to air conditioner
A common wire or C-Wire is an extra wire that is used to provide a return for any 24V appliance. With air conditioners, C-Wires are usually used to provide power to wireless thermostats.
This way, the wireless thermostat does not need batteries to operate and receive a continuous power supply through this wire.
It is not technically correct to say that a C-Wire gives a wireless thermostat its power, but rather that it creates a return path with your air conditioner.
For the air conditioner to function properly, there needs to be a complete loop to and from the control board so that current can flow through the air conditioner. The C-Wire does not interrupt this loop or the other wires in the air conditioner.
Most modern homes have a C-Wire for heating or cooling appliances, and this wire may even be labelled “C” on the back of the thermostat or be blue in colour to help users to identify it.
There are many benefits to having one of these C-Wires connected to your air conditioner and there are some ways to check whether you have one already.
Once you have checked whether you have a C-Wire installed already, or if you have used a C-Wire adapter to install one yourself, you need to choose a wireless thermostat.
However, not all modern wireless thermostats require a C-Wire, so you will still have options to choose from if you do not have or want a C-Wire.
The benefits of having a C-Wire connected to your air conditioner
There are several benefits to connecting your thermostat to your air conditioner through a C-Wire, which is why newer homes often already have C-Wires or why homeowners choose to install C-Wires using an adapter or any other method, like an Add-a-wire Kit.
The reality is that as thermostats have become more advanced and complex, now including Wi-Fi modes, mobile application compatibility, home hubs, and more, their power consumption has also increased considerably.
This means that wireless thermostats can use the power in regular batteries within a matter of days and this can make it inconvenient and expensive to keep purchasing new ones to replace them.
How to check if you have a C-Wire connected to your thermostat from your air conditioner
The simplest way to figure out whether you already have a C-Wire connecting your thermostat to your air conditioner is to look behind the thermostat.
To do this, you should ensure that the power supply to your thermostat and air conditioner is switched off at the breaker before you remove your thermostat cover.
Behind this cover, you need to look at the wires on the back panel of the thermostat. If there is a blue wire, or a wire connected to the “C” terminal, this is the C-Wire, and it has already been installed.
However, there are also other ways that C-Wires can be installed, and it is best to contact an electrician to investigate this, especially if you are unsure whether your C-Wire is installed or if it installed correctly.
Different types of wireless thermostats
If you already have a C-Wire connected to your air conditioner, there are a few wireless thermostat options you can consider, such as:
|Thermostat||Price||Where to buy|
|Honeywell Home Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat RTH6580WF||$119.99|
|EMERSON Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat||$169|
However, there are also some wireless thermostats that can be installed even if you do not have a C-Wire, some of which are:
|Thermostat||Price||Where to buy|
|Google T4000ES Nest Thermostat E||$213.99|
|The newest Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium||$248.28|