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Energy, Heating

Electronic thermostat vs mechanical thermostats

11 June 2020

The electronic thermostat already has a great reputation, but do we really know why that is? It is by far more interesting than the mechanical thermostat, either one pole or two pole. To better recognize the two, let’s quickly see what distinguishes them.


The electronic thermostat consists of integrated circuits and mini fixed components. Depending on the model, we can program the thermostat with exposed or concealed buttons or directly on a touch screen. The big advantage of this device is that it allows for perfectly controlled temperature, very stable and uniform. It is constantly in the temperature analysis mode. Unlike mechanical thermostats, which operate by allowing a deviation of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius, the electronic thermostat limits variations by plus or minus 0.1 degree Celsius. This means that electronic thermostats are very precise and therefore more efficient.

Electronic thermostat models are more sophisticated, you can program the temperature of the rooms of the house for the night or for times you are absent. This programming will decrease your energy bill! Furthermore there have been innovations in the last few years: smart home thermostats controlled remotely by our smart phone and the internet.

The built-in electronics have another advantage. Since a baseboard or convector controlled by this type of thermostat is constantly in function (short cycles), the heater will rarely get too hot to the touch and will work quietly and without unpleasant temperature contrasts during the big heating season as opposed to mechanical thermostats.


The mechanical thermostat is a kind of current switch. It usually consists of a knob and a housing which hides some moving parts. Among them, a fixed contact and a movable lever composed of two metals with separate expansion coefficients that respond to the effects of temperature change. The end of the lever will make contact with the fixed contact when the room temperature is decreasing (which turns on the heater) and detaches if the room temperature increases (which shuts off the heater). The result, depending on the demand, is the baseboard or convector can run full throttle for a good while and become very hot or, conversely, does not run for several minutes and creates a noticeable discomfort.


The installation of an electronic thermostat designed for the baseboard or convector is not more complicated than the mechanical thermostat. However, it is best left in the hands of a licensed electrician.

For ideal operation, the thermostat should be far away from a heat source such as a lamp or a household appliance, a cold outside wall or even a staircase, a passage or any other place conducive to air currents. In addition, the thermostat should ideally be installed about 1.5 meters (5 feet) from the ground.

In some cases, we have no choice but to purchase a baseboard or a convector equipped with a built-in thermostat to avoid fishing additional cables in the walls of the house. If this is the case, you should opt for heaters with electronic thermostats.

The price of an electronic thermostat is certainly higher than that of a conventional thermostat but you must keep in mind that it saves energy. According to comparative testing done in a Stelpro laboratory, electronic thermostats can help save up to 20%.