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Is it possible to connect a simple light-switch to a thermostat?

I'd like to have a thermostat in my basement set to 72 degrees. However, I want it completely turned off most of the time. I was thinking about placing a light-switch at the top of the basement stairs, so when I think I'm going downstairs I can flip the switch to enable the thermostat and when I leave I can turn it off.

Is this possible?

  • Are you trying to disconnect the thermostat from the heating system or disable the whole system? – bib Feb 1 '16 at 17:10
  • How about a smart thermostat? I love my Nest. The smartphone app and energy usage information make it more than worth the $200. – isherwood Feb 1 '16 at 17:55
  • Also, I'm not sure killing power to the thermostat is wise. Furnaces have shutdown/cooldown sequences for a reason. – isherwood Feb 1 '16 at 17:56
  • I'm only talking about this method for my basement electric baseboard system. I'm using a 240v to 24v transformer and a traditional 3-wire 24v thermostat. I just thought it would be handy to have a simple switch at the top of the basement so when I'm getting ready to go downstairs I can have it heat-up to 72 degrees, etc. Would a simple switch on the W (white) wire work to disable it or would that cause other problems? – SofaKng Feb 1 '16 at 18:01
  • I'm only talking about this method for my basement electric baseboard system. I'm using a 240v to 24v transformer and a traditional 3-wire 24v thermostat. I just thought it would be handy to have a simple switch at the top of the basement so when I'm getting ready to go downstairs I can have it heat-up to 72 degrees, etc. Would a simple switch on the W (white) wire work to disable it or would that cause other problems? – SofaKng Feb 1 '16 at 18:02
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Yes, that should be very straightforward. Simply wire the switch to interrupt the "W" wire, which is the one the thermostat uses to ask for heat. Its request will be unanswered obviously. Do this between the thermostat and what I presume is a big relay with a 24v coil that switches the 240v power on to the heaters. Turn the 240v off at the breakers before touching the 24v signal line, in the off chance the transformer or relay has a 240v-24v fault of some kind.

As long as it's an old fashioned dumb thermostat, that'll be fine. Now, if you ever fit a Nest or other smart thermostat, different story. It configures by sensing if a relay coil is connected to each wire. It will not like a relay that disappears entirely.

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Yes, it is possible and relatively easy since it is all low voltage and simple circuitry. If you have multiple heat zones, you need to be sure you have the termostat controlling the basement zone. If you have one heat zone for the whole house, just set up the thermostat in parallel with the other thermostat(s) in the house. Note, you might want to use a different approach if there is any possibility of the basement temperature falling below freezing.
Update:
Here are two more thoughts now that you say you want to control electric baseboard. First, my comment above about low voltage is still correct if you use a typical thermostat to control the electric baseboard heat (such as http://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-RLV4305A1000-Programmable-Thermostat-Baseboard/dp/B008DF626K/ref=sr_1_11?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1454355929&sr=1-11&keywords=baseboard+electric+heater). Running 120v, high amperage wiring up and down the stairs is a more serious undertaking. Second, electric heat is very expensive. There are ways to try to increase the heat from a hot air system that you might try (such as http://www.amazon.com/Tjernlund-RB12-Register-Booster-Fits/dp/B005FNL0SS/ref=sr_1_3?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1454356448&sr=1-3&keywords=hot+air+vent+fan).

  • No, the basement has forced-air but it's not enough to heat the room. I added electric baseboard for supplemental heat but I only want it on when I'm downstairs which is completely random. I thought a light-switch at the top of the stairs would work good... – SofaKng Feb 1 '16 at 18:02

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