Simple Two Wire Thermostats

August 8, 2009

The illustration is the interior of a common two wire heat-only household thermostat, used to regulate a gas-fired heater via an electric gas valve. Similar mechanisms may also be used to control oil furnaces, boilers, boiler zone valves, electric attic fans, electric furnaces, electric baseboard heaters, and household appliances such as refrigerators, coffee pots, and hair dryers. The power through the thermostat is provided by the heating device and may range from millivolts to 240 volts in common North American construction, and is used to control the heating system either directly (electric baseboard heaters and some electric furnaces) or indirectly (all gas, oil and forced hot water systems). Due to the variety of possible voltages and currents available at the thermostat, caution must be taken when selecting a replacement device.

  1. Set point control lever. This is moved to the right for a higher temperature. The round indicator pin in the center of the second slot shows through a numbered slot in the outer case.
  2. Bimetallic strip wound into a coil. The center of the coil is attached to a rotating post attached to lever (1). As the coil gets colder the moving end — carrying (4) — moves clockwise.
  3. Flexible wire. The left side is connected via one wire of a pair to the heater control valve.
  4. Moving contact attached to the bimetal coil.thence to the heater’s controller.
  5. Magnet. This ensures a good contact when the contact closes. It also provides hysteresis to prevent short heating cycles, as the temperature must be raised several degrees before the contacts will open. As an alternative, some thermostats instead use a mercury switch on the end of the bimetal coil. The weight of the mercury on the end of the coil tends to keep it there, also preventing short heating cycles. However, this type of thermostat is banned in many countries due to its highly and permanently toxic nature if broken. When replacing these thermostats they must be regarded as chemical waste.
  6. Fixed contact screw. This is adjusted by the manufacturer. It is connected electrically by a second wire of the pair to the thermocouple and the heater’s electrically operated gas valve.

Not shown in the illustration is a separate bimetal thermometer on the outer case to show the actual temperature at the thermostat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermostat

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