What Is a Plug-In Thermostat?

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  • Written By: Mal Baxter
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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A plug-in thermostat is a small electrical device that combines the functions of a temperature sensor and electrical outlet adapter. It essentially reads temperatures in order to activate a power switch to turn on and off portable heaters in changing environmental conditions. Typically a small device possessing a three-prong power adapter for use with standard electrical outlets, the plug-in thermostat allows the efficient and safe operation of varieties of heaters, such as radiant, oil filled, or conductor and fan heaters.

The simpler of these devices will essentially activate or deactivate the appliances plugged into them when a room's temperature reaches a preset threshold. Some units have more than one receptacle in order to accommodate the operation of several appliances. These small components allow users to protect against heating system failures by activating a portable heater in the event of cold temperatures, or they might be used with heat lamps, tank heaters, or engine block heaters in garages and marinas. They can even be linked with lights or strobes to create an instantly recognizable, highly visible freeze warning.


Larger units might be designed in a mountable housing with programmable sensitivities to activate in custom temperature ranges. These heavy-duty components are generally rated for higher power specifications to be compatible with various brands of fans, space heaters, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) installations. Midsized plug-in thermostat products might have electronic readouts that display temperatures with digital alphanumerics. They might have their own onboard battery power systems to allow adjustments even outside of a mains socket. Batteries are sometimes rechargeable to permit long-lived backup use.

These devices may offer useful versatility for preparations against extreme temperature variations without having to rely upon more expensive equipment or installations. A thermostat typically detects a range of temperatures in order to activate automatic responses from various electrical equipment. In light of the functions involved, safety measures are called for when operating these units. For example, temperature sensors are not intended for placements in direct sunlight or in the vicinity of the heating unit itself. Unattended heating units can also present a fire or electrical hazard. Smaller plug-in thermostats are designed for limited circumstances rather than use with powerful electrical equipment like air conditioners.

Some plug-in thermostat products plug directly into a wall outlet, while others might have connecting extension cord with simple knob operation. These might switch between high and low ranges with two or three adjustment settings. When a programmed temperature causes the thermostat to activate, it will kick on the heat and then turn off automatically once the desired temperature is reached. Such devices are also useful for preventing a pet's environment from getting uncomfortable. The control possible with a plug-in thermostat, when used in the appropriate environment and dry conditions, affords users more controllable and comfortable environmental conditions with a better-managed energy impact.



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