DIY Smart Thermostat: Is It Worth It?

DIY smart thermostat

The heating and cooling systems that operate inside of your home are responsible for keeping you comfortable, and a smart thermostat allows them to do this automatically.

If you don’t want to fork out a few hundred dollars to buy one of these smart gadgets, there may be an option for creating one yourself.

Can you make a DIY smart thermostat?

It is possible to make a DIY smart thermostat with tools like a WiFi microcontroller, LED lights, solder wire, temperature sensor, jumper wire, and micro-servos. The process requires you to create a circuit and control unit, and then wire the sensors to the chip, create the software to control the thermostat, and connect them all together.

With the price of smart gadgets coming down all the time, having to make your own thermostat might not be required for much longer.

However, to show you what’s possible with a little bit of electrical knowledge and the right tools, we’ve got a guide to building a DIY smart thermostat so you can see what’s involved.

What Does a Smart Thermostat Do?

smart thermostat benefits

A smart thermostat goes above and beyond what a regular one can do, and it allows the homeowner to create settings and automation that adjust with various factors and rules.

These smart gadgets can be set to change temperature with the outside weather conditions, whether somebody is in a room or not, and based on daily schedules that you live with all the time.

When compared to a standard thermostat, the smart alternative is more efficient at saving energy by reducing waste and tailoring your home’s heating and cooling to what’s actually going on around it.

They connect to your household wireless network and can be controlled remotely, with an app, or voice commands, and also sync up to the other devices in the home.

The role of a smart thermostat is to automate your home’s heating and cooling, and it does this in a number of ways. Thanks to the simplicity of the device, you might look for a way to create one as a DIY project, and although it can be a challenge for some, it’s certainly possible.

Can You Make a DIY Smart Thermostat?

assembled thermostat

Although there’s a huge variance in price and features when it comes to the smart thermostats on the market, it’s almost always cheaper to make one for yourself.

However, with a lot of tools and know-how required to get it done, it’s not going to be easy for everyone to pull off, so consider your expertise before you jump into the project.

Depending on what you want out of a smart thermostat, it might be easier to buy one of the cheaper models that cost less than $100. They’re easy to use, reliable, and give you plenty of smart features to work with, and without the hassle of wiring, coding, and creating yourself.

However, if you prefer the DIY process, you can use your existing thermostat with a few adjustments to get the smart version.

It might not have the detailed features that today’s modern varieties do but it’ll make your heating and cooling systems more autonomous and allow you to modify them to be more energy efficient as they do.

The Steps and Tools to Make a Smart Thermostat.

arduino wifi microcontroller

Making a smart thermostat can be a challenge, especially if you’ve never soldered or coded before.

Here’s a brief idea of what’s required to get it done so you can see if it’s a project you want to dive into further.

Tools Needed

  • DHT22 module
  • WiFi microcontroller
  • Power supply
  • Relay
  • Perfboard material
  • Solder wire and jumper wire
  • Metal case
  • Plexiglass
  • LED s
  • NPN-transistor and resistors

Rundown of Steps Needed to Make a Smart Thermostat

Steps and Tools to Make a Smart Thermostat

There are many steps required to create a smart device like this, and it includes coding the software, creating the case for the thermostat, and connecting all of the wires.

Here’s an outline of the steps you’ll take to make a DIY smart thermostat, with more information needed if you want to go ahead:

  1. Solder together the relevant parts including the WiFi microcontroller and the protoboard, the microcontroller and the power supply, and the chips on the protoboard to the power supply.
  2. Wire the temperature sensor and the relay to the DHT22 chip using jumper wires, and connect the loose ends to the perfboard that forms the base.
  3. Code the software that will run the smart thermostat using publicly available scripts that can be copied and pasted, and then write it onto the chip. If required, create an app that allows you to control the thermostat when you’re not at home.
  4. Create the case that will house the components inside on the wall, and the gauges. There’s no need to get fancy here as your phone will be the main control panel for this thermostat.
  5. Power up the gauges that are used to show temperature and goal temperature using your power supply and the voltage already available. Attach the LED lights to keep these illuminated and easy to read.
  6. Create a capacitive touch switch that lets you adjust the temperature just by touching the metal housing of the control panel. This is done by connecting a resistor to two digital pins and then soldering the resistor to the control panel case. Adjust the settings so they’re in line with what you want each of your touches to indicate.
  7. Decide on a power source for the thermostat, including a LiPo battery or the existing wire that’s been used to power up the old thermostat.
  8. Test out the software and hardware are working together. Once you’ve become accustomed to the smart thermostat, spend some time tweaking it and changing settings so it becomes truly ‘smart’.

The Best Smart Thermostats on the Market

nest thermostat

If the thought of coding and soldering a thermostat yourself sends you into a tailspin, never fear.

There has never been such a huge selection of smart gadgets out there, and cheaper than ever as well. These are some of the top sellers of the moment and affordable options that mean you don’t have to DIY to go smart.

Honeywell Home WiFi Thermostat: This is the cheapest and most effective way to get smart HVAC at home. This wireless connected thermostat is pretty basic in its design but it does everything you want, and for well under $100.

Nest Thermostat: The Google Nest Thermostat is compatible with most other smart devices and it costs around $130 for a cheaper alternative. The Nest doesn’t have a lot of fancy features or intuitiveness but it does just as good of a job as a DIY model can, and without the fuss.

Nest Learning Thermostat: At almost double the cost of the basic version, this is a learning thermostat in every sense of the word. You’ll never have to think about HVAC again as it does it for you, keeps you comfortable, and saves energy and money.

EcoBee Smart Thermostat: This sensor promises 23% energy savings but costs around $250, so you’ll want to be sure it can get your money back. With smart sensors, voice control, and learning abilities, it’s the bee’s knees of smart thermostats and worth every penny if you can afford it.

Smart Tech For the DIYer

assembled thermostat

Creating a smart thermostat from scratch can be tricky business, but if you’re knowledgeable in coding and general soldering work, it’s not that hard.

You can save a lot of money in the process, but it’ll take more effort, so weigh up whether this is a DIY job worth doing before you go ahead.

Related Questions

Smart thermostats are an easy way to automate your home, making life easier and energy bills smaller.

Whether you want the DIY approach or would rather buy one straight out of the box, they have a lot to offer, so we’ve answered some FAQs about these enticing smart gadgets.

How Does a Smart Thermostat Save Energy?

Installing a smart thermostat lets you save energy in several ways not possible with your regular thermostat.

You can access it remotely to see if your HVAC systems are running when you’re not there, program it to learn routines and schedules to save improper use, and monitor how much energy the household systems use so you know how to improve on them.

Do Smart Thermostats Work On All Furnaces?

Smart thermostats are designed to work with low voltage heating and cooling systems, which are the most commonly used ones in North America.

Therefore, your household furnaces, boilers, central air conditioners, and heat pumps should all be compatible with a smart thermostat.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *