What is a Bulb Thermostat?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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A bulb thermostat is a specific piece of hardware that utilizes a bulb shaped design in order to control temperatures. It is a special variety of thermostat, the mechanical/electrical item responsible for maintaining temperatures in heating and cooling systems. Many of the bulb thermostat models on the market represent more primitive approaches to this kind of technology solution.

One main kind of bulb thermostat is a mercury bulb thermostat. These items contain an amount of mercury that expands and contracts based on temperature. As the mercury expands, it pushes outward and eventually hits a wire element which closes a circuit. This produces an outcome in the operation of the heating or cooling system.

In the array of modern bulb thermostats that manufacturers offer to builders, renovators, and others, some designs may include bulb type thermostat units that do not use mercury. Since scientists have become progressively aware of health dangers related to this chemical element, newer bulb thermostat may still have a bulb design but not be filled with mercury. Innovating away from dangerous chemicals and substances is part of what drives the modern building industry, along with providing energy efficient solutions, where thermostat design is critically important.


Different types of bulb thermostats may operate on their own, or in conjunction with other thermostatic elements. The installation of bulb thermostats and heating systems is something that electricians and other professionals often plan on paper, with a designation for each piece of hardware that has a role in providing temperature controls or other parameters for the operation of a furnace, boiler, or other power source. The fact that electrical elements are part of a greater design means that these systems may require the collaboration of a structural engineer and a dedicated electrician for their installation, maintenance or repair.

Homeowners who want to upgrade their heating systems from a simple original design may be wanting to replace mechanical elements like mercury bulb thermostats with smart or programmable thermostat options for more direct control over temperature. This kind of upgrade can save a household money and cut down the overall carbon footprint of heating and cooling for a home. Looking at these kinds of ways to save energy is part of numerous programs being promoted by government and private groups to help cut collective energy consumption, and save the environment.



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