Curious about using ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters? Both are popular smart thermostat options, however, if you have electric heating, they may not be the best fit for your home. Why? It comes down to compatibility.
When shopping for a smart programmable thermostat for baseboard heaters, compatibility is the most important consideration. All thermostats do not work with all heating systems. A low voltage thermostat designed to control a gas-fueled furnace works very differently than a line voltage thermostat for electric heat.
While workarounds may be possible to get ecobee or Nest thermostat baseboard heater control, it’s complicated and could involve safety risks and loss of smart features.
Luckily, there are smart thermostats specially designed for electric baseboard heaters. We’ll help you find out how to tell if your heating is gas or electric and how to make your baseboard heaters more efficient. But first, let’s start by answering this — are Ecobee or Nest compatible with baseboard heaters?
Do Nest/Ecobee Thermostats Work With Electric Baseboard Heaters?
In short — no. Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats do not work with electric baseboard heaters. Most electricians, HVAC professionals, and thermostat manufacturers advise against installing ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters.
This is because Nest and ecobee thermostats are not compatible with electric heating systems. Nest and ecobee are low voltage thermostats. Low voltage thermostats are designed to control central heating systems like a gas furnace or hot water boiler. These thermostats can usually handle up to 24V of power.
Electric baseboard heaters are controlled by line or high voltage thermostats. Line voltage thermostats typically control 120V/240V of electrical load. So, a smart thermostat for baseboard heaters has to be able to control that amount of voltage.
But… Can Nest/Ecobee Control Baseboard Heaters?
You may have seen cases where electricians have connected an ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters. While in theory this is possible by adding an external relay, it’s not recommended. This is a complicated workaround that has to be done by an experienced professional, and even then it can be dangerous and you lose smart features.
Remember, electric heaters require a lot more electricity to pass through the thermostat than a central heating system. Low voltage Nest/ecobee thermostats are not designed to handle that amount of power.
To install a low voltage thermostat like Nest/ecobee to replace a high voltage thermostat for baseboard heaters, you'd have to add an external electrical relay. A relay receives a 24 volt signal from a low voltage thermostat like Nest/ecobee, which will trigger the relay to open or close. This helps control heat output. Essentially, a relay acts as a switch that transforms low voltage signals into higher current needed to power electric heaters.
Overall, adding an external relay to connect an ecobee or Nest thermostat for baseboard heaters requires complex rewiring and precise calculations to ensure safety and to follow regulations.
On top of the hardware hurdle, there’s a bigger software one that you cannot work around. Namely, the learning and heating algorithms used in Nest/ecobee that give you better control and help you save. Since Nest/ecobee are not designed for baseboard heating, by adding an external relay you could lose these benefits.
Installing a relay means your smart thermostat will no longer be able to measure your heater’s energy consumption. So, you’ll miss out on reports of how much energy you’ve used and saved. This means no more savings tips.
To work properly, smart technology has to be set-up to do the job it was designed for. If not, you lose the ability to increase the efficiency of your baseboard heaters and save.
Instead of trying to make ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters work, consider a better option. Installing a smart thermostat specifically designed to control baseboard heaters can be done in a fraction of the time and there’s zero risk involved.
What About Line Voltage Smart Thermostats With an Internal Relay?
Certain smart thermostats like the second version of the Mysa Smart Thermostat for Electric Baseboard Heaters are designed with an internal relay. These thermostats will work as expected, since the relay is built into the product and the thermostat was designed for electric heat.
5 Things to Know About Ecobee/Nest for Baseboard Heaters
If you’re looking to replace your old thermostats with smart upgrades, there are many options available. But it’s important to first understand what type of heating system you have, so you can compare devices that are compatible with your home.
With this in mind, if you have electric baseboard heaters (sometimes referred to as ‘wall heaters’), here are five things that you should know about ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters.
1) Nest/Ecobee Are Not Compatible With Baseboard Heaters
This is an important point, so it deserves repeating — Nest/Ecobee thermostats are not compatible with electric baseboard heaters.
Ecobee and Nest are low voltage thermostats designed for use with central heating systems like a furnace or hot water boiler. These systems operate on a lower voltage (24V) and do not use electricity directly. Whereas electric baseboard heaters operate on a higher voltage (120V or 240V), so a thermostat has to control more power.
While it might be tempting to try to work around the incompatibility, this is a complicated and potentially dangerous process. It also could eliminate many of the benefits of having a smart thermostat in the first place.
2) Loss of Smart Functionality
Finding a way to make ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters work may sound like a smart idea. But, there is a trade-off for doing so — a loss of smart functionality.
As discussed, the software and algorithms in Nest/ecobee products are for low voltage thermostats. So, an external relay and complex rewiring is needed to connect Nest/ecobee with baseboard heaters (which should instead be controlled by a high voltage thermostat).
Adding a relay reduces Nest/ecobee’s ability to help you save energy. You’ll still be able to control your thermostat remotely, along with other basic thermostat app features. But, not much else. Not only that, but any functionality is not optimized for electric heat. So, this workaround won’t give you the ecobee or Nest wall heater control you’re looking for.
There are easier ways to get smart baseboard heater control. If you’re planning to invest in smart technology, it’s best to make sure that you’re choosing a product that will let you use all the smart functionality that you pay for. So, consider an electric baseboard smart thermostat instead.
3) Loss of Energy Insights
When you install a smart thermostat that’s compatible with your home — whether it’s low voltage or line voltage — you can take full advantage of all features and benefits.
A major feature of most smart thermostats is accurate energy insights. These show you how much energy in kWh you are using, as well as how much money you’re saving (in dollars). This information can then be used to track the value of your smart investment and make changes to help you save even more.
When you use a smart thermostat that’s not compatible with your heating system, you lose access to these valuable insights. Unfortunately, an ecobee or Nest line voltage thermostat doesn’t exist. Even though Nest/ecobee thermostats do have an energy insights feature, you won’t be able to access it if you use it with baseboard heaters.
A smart thermostat designed for electric heating can measure the power consumption of your heaters and report it back to you in kWh and real dollars. This is something that, even after a complicated workaround, ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters won’t be able to do. Ecobee or Nest high voltage thermostat control just doesn’t work.
4) Difficult to Install
Smart thermostat installation can be an easy DIY project. However, if you’re installing a smart thermostat that’s not compatible with your heating system, it becomes complicated. Getting ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters to work is a difficult task that requires extra wiring, installation of relays, and a professional electrician to get right.
In contrast, learning how to install a baseboard thermostat that has been designed for electric heating can be set up out of the box in a matter of minutes.
Unfortunately, there is no ecobee or Nest line voltage thermostat. So, if you’d like the control of a smart electric heating system, it’s best to get a smart wifi thermostat for electric baseboard heat instead.
5) Extra Costs
Installing smart thermostats is an investment. But, luckily, given all of the energy-saving features, it’s an investment that should pay for itself over a few years.
The average price of a low voltage smart thermostat like Nest or ecobee is $250-500. But, if you try to use ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters, you'll also have to factor in the cost of an external relay. So, that’s at least $250 + $30 for each thermostat you’re looking to upgrade, plus the cost of an electrician’s time for the complicated set-up.
Compare this to the cost of a smart line voltage thermostat that’s designed for baseboard heaters. The average cost of a line voltage smart thermostat is $119-139. Since the device is compatible with electric heat, you won’t have to purchase an external relay or any additional hardware. Plus, installation is much less complicated, making even more room for savings.
Let’s do the math. Installing an ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters would cost at least $280 per thermostat. If you have 8 thermostats in your home, that’s a total cost of $2,240, plus extra electrician time. If you instead invest in a high voltage smart thermostat for electric heating, the cost would be at least $119 per thermostat, for a total of $1,190.
So, installing ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters involves complicated work arounds, potential safety risks, loss of smart features and energy insights, and also cost at least $1,050 more upfront. Given all this, it seems like a smart programmable thermostat for electric baseboard heaters is the way to go.
How to Find the Right Smart Thermostat?
Finding the right smart thermostat for your home comes down to knowing what type of HVAC system you have (i.e. how you heat and cool your home).
If you have a central HVAC system (a furnace, hot water boiler, ducted heat pump, etc.), you will need a low voltage thermostat. Nest or ecobee are great options for central heating. If you have electric heat (baseboard heaters, in-floor heating, etc), then you will need a high/line voltage thermostat. Mysa is a great smart option for electric heating.
What Kind of Heater Do I Have? Is My Heat Gas or Electric?
Generally, there are two types of heating systems:
Central heating systems controlled by low voltage thermostats.
And electric heating systems controlled by high voltage thermostats.
Central Heating Systems
Central heating systems usually have one central heating source controlled by a single thermostat that provides heat to different distribution systems in a home. Central heating systems are ducted, or possibly hydronic (radiator) based, and can use a variety of heating fuels such as water, gas, oil, wood, etc.
Furnace heating, forced air, ducted heat pumps, and boilers are all different types of central heating systems.
If you only have 1-2 thermostats in your home, you likely have a central heating system. So, you’ll need a low voltage smart thermostat upgrade like Nest or ecobee.
Electric HVAC Systems
Homes with electric heating usually have multiple thermostats, as many as one per room. Electric heating systems are powered entirely by electricity.
Baseboard heaters, fan-forced heaters, in-ceiling radiant heat, and electric in-floor heating are all examples of high voltage electric HVAC systems.
If you have multiple thermostats throughout your home, you likely have electric heating. So, you’ll need a smart high voltage thermostat like Mysa instead of trying to use ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters.
What Thermostats Work With Baseboard Heaters?
Electric baseboard heaters are controlled by high/line voltage thermostats. Baseboard heater thermostats can handle up to 120V or 240V of power. If you’re considering a smart baseboard heater thermostat replacement, it’s important to find a compatible line voltage thermostat.
Luckily, there are smart 240/120 volt thermostats on the market. Even though no ecobee or Nest line voltage thermostats exist, companies like Mysa make smart baseboard thermostats.
How Do I Control Multiple Electric Baseboard Heaters?
If you have electric heating, you likely have many baseboard heaters throughout your home and usually a thermostat in each room. Controlling multiple electric baseboard heater thermostats is simple with smart technology. All you need is to upgrade any thermostat you’d like to control with a smart thermostat and set-up the thermostat app.
App features like Scheduling, Zoning, Geofencing, and Remote Control make it easy to control all of the heaters in your home in the palm of your hand, while also saving.
Mysa’s Smart Thermostat for Electric Baseboard Heaters
If you’re looking for a smart thermostat compatible with your electric baseboard heaters, Mysa’s Smart Thermostat for Baseboard Heaters is the product for you. Mysa thermostats do exactly what Nest and Ecobee smart thermostats do, but for electric heat.
Make the Smart Choice
So, can Nest be used with electric heat? Simply put, no. Unfortunately, an ecobee or Nest thermostat compatible with electric baseboard heaters does not exist.
Instead of trying to use ecobee or Nest for baseboard heaters, consider a smart thermostat that was designed for electric heat. This would mean no navigating complicated compatibility hurdles; no complex rewiring, loss of smart features, additional costs or safety risks.
Choosing a thermostat that’s compatible with electric baseboards is a smarter investment. Thermostats designed for use with baseboard heating come with all the same benefits and savings you’d expect from a Nest or Ecobee, without the headache.
Mysa has line voltage thermostats specifically designed to control electric heaters. If you have baseboard heaters and are looking for a smart update, check to see if we’re compatible.