Informational Guide

Putting a Thermostat on a Propane Heater

Discover how to put a thermostat on a propane heater with our easy DIY guide. Safely add some temperature control today!

by Josh M

Propane heaters are regarded as some of the most efficient and powerful. They are often used as portable heaters to quickly warm a specific space but are also used as the primary heat source in some homes.

Thermostats are used to control the temperature of the propane heater, but unfortunately, many propane heaters don’t have one installed as standard. In this guide, we’ll explain how to put a thermostat on a propane heater so you can get the most from your device.

Man Carrying a Portable DeWalt Heater

Propane heaters offer a lot of power, but a thermostat gives you full control of that power, so you can use it in the way that’s best for you. Before we get into how to fit a thermostat to your propane heater, let’s quickly explain the key benefits:

  • Sets & Controls Temperature
    A thermostat usually has a display, so you know exactly what the temperature is. You can set it for a comfortable temperature that works for you, and the heater will maintain that temperature.
  • On & Off Time Can Be Scheduled
    Thermostats can be configured to turn your heater on and off at certain times. This lets you set it just before you wake up, or come home, so it’s warm when you come in.
  • Saves You Money
    A thermostat means you’ll only use your propane heater when you need to. It will shut off when the room has reached the desired temperature and only turn on when needed again. Over the course of a year, this can lead to some real cost savings.

How To Put Thermostat On A Propane Heater (Step By Step Guide)

Putting a thermostat on a propane heater is not as difficult as it sounds, and anyone with some DIY experience will be able to do it. The key here is safety, and you don’t want to start interfering with the internal mechanism of your heater.

You will need a simple, external thermostat that can be attached simply and controls the temperature effectively. Anything too complicated will make the installation much harder.

To do this work, you’ll need:

  • Electrical Wire Pliers
  • Safety Gloves
  • User Manual (do not attempt this without the manufacturer’s instructions)

There are a few different types of thermostats available, and we’ll come onto that in a minute, but once you’ve selected yours, you need to follow these steps:

1. Shut Off The Power

In order to do this work safely, you need to make sure your propane heater is completely disconnected. Make sure the gas is disconnected, and any other power is disconnected.

2. Remove The Thermostat Plate

Some heaters come with a thermostat, so you’ll need to remove that first if you want to replace it or mount it on your wall. The plate is simply the surface that the thermostat sits on, and you’ll need to take it out of the packaging and determine where it’s going to go, directly on the heater or on another surface.

3. Wire The Thermostat

You should start by opening up the thermostat and locating the wires. You’ll need to check the instruction manual of the thermostat and the heater to make sure they are compatible, and you will get full instructions on how to wire it into the heater. This is different for every model, so make sure you follow the user manual closely.

This is usually a case of matching up colored wires with your heater and connecting them together. For some models, you will need to use wire strippers to remove about ½ inch of the casing to get to the wires and attach them together. Ensure there is no live power source while you carry out this work, or it could lead to injury. You will also need to connect the two grounding wires so that the device is electrically safe.

4. Secure The Thermostat

Now your thermostat is completely wired and connected to your heater; you’ll need to secure it in place. Some thermostats will sit right on the heater, and these can be held in place with clips, but wall-mounted thermostats need to be screwed in place.

Wall mounted thermostats have two parts, one which is fitted to the heater and a plate that is screwed onto the wall.  A signal is sent from the thermostat on the heater, to the control panel so you can see the temperature and control it remotely. This is sometimes reliant on an internet connection and may not be suitable for everyone. You will need to connect both pieces in place for this to work.

5. Switch The Power On

Turn the power on and make sure both the heater and the thermostat switch on.

6. Configure The Thermostat

Every thermostat is different, so follow the user instructions to configure it. You may need to hold down the reset button to start the device and then set it as needed. Many have a default heat of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can customize this as needed.

It’s vital that you choose the right thermostat and follow the instructions closely. It’s dangerous to try and change anything internally in propane heaters, and you’ll want something which can be attached simply from the outside. This might mean it’s a bit less tidy than you want, but it will still do the job.

Remember, keep the heater and all power turned off until you’re done with the work, or you could injure yourself. If at any point you aren’t sure, then you should ask a professional as this will be a basic job for them.

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Different Types Of Thermostat For Propane Heaters

The type of thermostat you select is vital as it will influence how you install it on your propane heater. Here’s a quick list of the main types of thermostats you can use:

Sensor Type

These thermostats are designed to sense the temperature of the air around the heater. They can then relay this temperature into the device and determine if more or less heat is needed. These are great for those who aren’t in the room to set the device and just want it to maintain a certain level 24/7.

Bimetallic Strip

A bimetallic strip is a very simple but effective way of turning your heater on and off. Two metal strips are connected together, and when it gets too hot, one wire will start to bend slightly. Once it’s bent too far, the circuit will break, the power stops, and the heater turns off. As the room starts to cool, the wire then moves back into shape, and the circuit will reconnect. The heater will then switch on again and start to heat the space. This is an affordable option that works well but is less precise than other thermostats.

Digital Non-Programmable

Digital non-programmable thermostats are the most basic option. They allow you to see the temperature on an LED screen and manually control the heat level by pressing up or down. There’s no function to automatically switch on and off at certain times or adjust the temperature at different times of day. This is a useful step up if you don’t currently have a thermostat, but a programmable thermostat is generally preferable.

Programmable

Programmable thermostats allow you to customize the heating and create heating schedules. You can adjust the temperature based on the time of day and set it to automatically come on or switch off at specific points. These are useful and user-friendly and one of the best ways to use your heater economically to save money on energy bills.

Wireless

Comfort Sync ThermostatWireless thermostats generally need an internet connection to work and have several parts. They are essentially programmable thermostats, but the display and programming are done on a separate panel. A signal is sent from one part of the thermostat to the display, and you can control it from there. Modern wireless thermostats allow you to control the temperature from your phone, but you will need a good internet connection for this to work.

Learning Type

The most advanced thermostats are now learning from our patterns and behavior. They see how you use the heater, at what times of day, and what temperatures you prefer, and then they configure themselves to match it. This means you can have optimum heating without any effort on your part. These new thermostats are impressive but will cost you more.

Communication Type Thermostat

Communicating thermostats have that name because they communicate with other home devices, primarily air conditioning. They are able to switch between and control the heating and cooling in your home to keep it at the correct temperature all year round. These are a bit more expensive and require 4 different wires instead of 2. If you have AC and heating set up in your home, this is a great option to keep it simple.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Can you use a remote-control thermostat?

Yes, as long as you buy the right model and have a compatible heater. Make sure you check all the specifications of both before you purchase anything new.

Can I replace the thermostat myself?

Yes, it is usually relatively easy to remove the wiring from one thermostat and rewire it into another. Make sure all power sources are switched off so you can carry out this work safely.

Can I replace my thermostat with any thermostat?

No, not all thermostats are compatible with all heaters. Your heater needs to be able to recognize signals from the thermostat, or it won’t work. The specifications of the device should let you know if it is compatible.

How much does a propane heater’s thermostat cost?

Thermostats vary massively depending on their features and functions. Cheaper models will cost $30-50, but expensive thermostats could cost over $200.

Conclusion

Many heaters come with thermostats, but if they don’t, then it’s worthwhile installing one. They allow you to get the most from your heater and use it in a way that suits your preferences and needs while keeping your energy bills down. Hopefully, this guide has given you some useful information about how to install a thermostat on a propane heater.

The key is to follow the user manual closely and get the wiring done right, so follow the instructions, take your time, and work safely. This should mean you get to enjoy a thermostat controlled propane heater for a long time.

Check other propane and similar heating solutions:

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Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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