Smart thermostats have advanced capabilities and innovative features largely because of their ability to connect to the Internet. Using a WiFi connection, smart thermostats can connect to other devices, use remote monitoring, and display local weather conditions, among other notable features.
However, it may be unrealistic to assume that your smart thermostat will never fall offline. Simply put, internet connections may be faulty at times. So, how will a dropped internet connection impact your smart thermostat?
Mobile App Functionality
Generally, features that must be controlled through the app won’t be accessible when your smart thermostat is disconnected from WiFi. This may pose a greater inconvenience if you’re away from home and need to control the thermostat remotely.
Common smart thermostat features that are controlled through a mobile app include geofencing, humidity levels, and scheduling. You may lose access to these features if your smart thermostat loses WiFi.
You should know that many smart thermostat models will send a push notification to your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device when the thermostat loses its WiFi connection. An email may also be sent to your account that corresponds with the thermostat.
Live Updates and Alerts
When your smart thermostat is offline, it will stop sending updates, reports, and notifications to its corresponding mobile app. So, you won’t be notified in the case of emergency or abnormal temperature conditions.
The following issues with your HVAC system will trigger an alert to your mobile app when most smart thermostats are connected to the Internet:
- Water leaks
- Electricity cut-outs
- Temperature outside of set levels
- Humidity outside of set levels
- Low battery on the thermostat itself
The risk of missing an emergency alert may be worrisome to some homeowners while they’re away from home on vacation or a business trip, by the thermostat will may commonly reconnect to WiFi relatively quickly, so you may still be alerted in plenty of time to react to the issue.
Heating and Cooling
A lack of WiFi connection with hinder your ability to use all of the advanced features of a smart thermostat. However, its basic function as a thermostat, (i.e. the control of your home heating and cooling systems), will continue to work as usual even when the internet connection is down.
So, your home will still be heated and cooled to the temperature that the thermostat is set at, even if the WiFi cuts out. For example, the Google Nest smart thermostat will stay in its “Eco” mode, the mode that sets temperature to the most energy-efficient level, if that was the mode that it was set to before it lost connection. this may bring users peace of mind when the connection cuts out and they’re away from home.
Although the scheduled temperature will largely remain untouched, you won’t be able to make changes to the heating and cooling schedule when the WiFi connection with your smart thermostat cuts out. To do so, you’ll need to wait for the device to reconnect.
How to Reduce Losing WiFi
Although smart thermostats can typically continue to perform basic functions after losing a WiFi connection, you might not want it to stay like that for long. After all, you likely purchased a smart thermostat because of its advanced capabilities – otherwise, you could have saved some money and purchased a basic thermostat.
To give your thermostat the best possible shot at keeping a consistent WiFi connection, follow these tips:
- Before installing your smart thermostat, test out the WiFi connection in the area that you’re planning to place it. Using a smartphone, tablet, or other WiFi-connected device, try downloading a file or streaming a video. If it streams quickly, smoothly, and without complication, you’re good to go ahead with the installation of your smart thermostat.
- Consider the strength of your home WiFi network. If the connection commonly cuts out or is unreliable, you may want to look into switching to a stronger Internet plan prior to purchasing a smart thermostat.
When your smart thermostat is disconnected from WiFi, try the following troubleshooting tips to regain full functionality.
- Unfortunately, to resolve connection problems with your smart thermostat, you’ll need to have physical access to the thermostat itself. This means that you’ll need to fix it in person, not just through the mobile app. If your smart thermostat is having connection issues while you’re away from home, you’ll likely need to wait until you return home to resolve the problem.
- Test your home WiFi connection by trying to connect with a different device (using WiFi, not cellular data). If you can’t connect to WiFi with a different device, reach out to your internet provider to address the issue.
- Check your smart thermostat server to see if it’s down. You can likely do this just by visiting the website of the company of your smart thermostat. If it’s down, you may just have to wait for the issue to be resolved.
- Review the thermostat’s battery level and replace or recharge the batteries if it’s low. Many models of smart thermostat will disconnect from WiFi when the battery charge gets below a set level.
- Restart the smart thermostat to reset the WiFi connection.
- If restarting the thermostat doesn’t work, try restarting your WiFi router.
- If restarting the router doesn’t work, try resetting the thermostat network settings. You can usually reach the settings page through the thermostat interface.
For those with dual-band routers, keep in mind that many smart thermostat can connect to 2.4 GHz networks, not 5GHz. If you’re having WiFi issues, ensure that the thermostat is trying to connect to the 2.4 GHz band. Read more about these two types of WiFi frequency with this resource from CenturyLink.
Can I Install a Smart Thermostat Without WiFi?
You wouldn’t be the first person to ask the question of whether a smart thermostat can be installed without WiFi. Although you won’t have access to a large number of the thermostat’s features, it can, in most situations, be installed without WiFi.
You can install your smart thermostat like a regular thermostat and skip over the steps for WiFi configuration. If you do this, the thermostat with work like a traditional thermostat and you’ll be able to control heating and cooling in your home.
However, by skipping the WiFi configuration steps, you also skip the process of registering with the smart thermostat company (i.e. Nest, ecobee, Honeywell, etc.). So, you won’t have an account set up, which you need to use the corresponding app.
Installing a smart thermostat without WiFi is a choice that’s usually only made in unusual circumstances. For example, if you just moved and have a delay in setting up a home WiFi network, you may want to go ahead with the thermostat installation so that you can control basic heating and cooling. But, if you spend the money on a smart thermostat, you’re likely eager to use the advanced features that it can offer with a WiFi connection.
View this YouTube video for further installation insights and two different methods for installing a thermostat, depending on whether or not you have a C wire to work with.
In short, yes, a smart thermostat will work without WiFi. But, the functionality will be limited to basic heating and cooling control. So, it may be in your best interest to establish a secure, reliable Internet connection for your smart thermostat.