Tip & How-To about Heating & Cooling
R - The R terminal is the power for the thermostat. This comes from the transformer usually located in the blower section for split systems but you may find the transformer in the condensing unit. For this reason, it is a good idea to kill the power at the condensing unit and the blower section before changing or working on the wiring at the thermostat. If you have a package unit then the transformer is in the package unit.
Red for the R terminal.
RC - The RC terminal is designated for the power for cooling. Some HVAC systems use two transformers. A transformer for cooling and a transformer for heating. In this case the power from the transformer in the blower section would go to the thermostat terminal. It should be noted that a jumper can be installed between RC and RH for a heating and cooling system equipped with a single transformer.
Red for RC terminal.
RH - The RH terminal is designated for the power for heating. See RC above for an explanation. It should be noted that a jumper can be installed between RC and RH for a heating and cooling system equipped with a single transformer.
Y - This is the terminal for cooling or air conditioning and goes to the compressor relay. Typically a thermostat wire pull is made to the air handler on split systems and then this wire is spliced for the separate wire pull which is made to the condenser. Some manufacturers put a terminal board strip near the control board in the air handler so a splice is not needed.
Yellow for Y Terminal.
Y2 - This is the thermostat terminal for cooling second stage if your system is so equipped. Many systems only have a single compressor but if you have two compressors which should only operate off of one thermostat then you need the Y2 thermostat terminal for second stage cooling.
*The most common color I've seen used for this terminal and wire designation is light blue but this varies and is completely up to the installer what color to use. Most installers use the color coding as noted but be aware that some do not use the thermostat color coding.
W - This is the thermostat terminal for heating. This wire should go directly to the heating source whether it be a gas or oil furnace, electric furnace, or boiler,
White for W Terminal.
W2 - This is the thermostat terminal used for second stage heat. There are gas furnaces with low fire and high fire and some depend on control from a two-stage heating thermostat with a W2 terminal. Heat Pumps use staging for auxiliary heat and need a W2 terminal.
*The most common color I've seen used for this terminal and wire designation is brown but this varies and is completely up to the installer what color to use.
G - This is the thermostat terminal used for the fan relay to energize the indoor blower fan. On a split system the blower fan is in the blower section while with a package unit the blower fan is in the outdoor package unit.
Green for G Terminal.
C - This is the thermostat terminal which originates from the transformer and is necessary to complete the 24 volts power circuit in the thermostat but only if the thermostat consumes electricity for power. Many digital thermostats require 24 volts for power so the common wire is necessary.
C stands for common and there is no universal color used for this terminal although black is the most common color I've seen.
O or B - These thermostat terminals are for heat pumps and the B thermostat terminal is used on for Rheem or Ruud and any manufacturer that energizes the reversing valve in heating mode for the heat pump. Most other manufacturers of heat pumps will utilize the reversing valve for cooling and the O thermostat terminal will be utilized for this purpose. This wire goes to outside heat pump condenser where the reversing valve is located.
Orange for O and Dark Blue for B depending on the installer of the heat pump and the manufacturer. If you have a Trane, Carrier, Goodman, Lennox, Ducane, Heil, Fedders, Amana, Janitrol, or any other manufacturer other than Rheem or Ruud you will be utilizing the orange wire for reversing valve. Rheem and Ruud will usually utilize the blue wire for reversing valve.
E - This thermostat terminal is for heat pumps and stands for Emergency Heating. If for whatever reason the heat pump condenser fails and it is necessary to run the heat there is an option on heat pump thermostats for emergency heating. Basically this simply utilizes the back-up heat source many heat pumps have to heat the home without sending a signal to the condenser to run for heat.
E - There is no universal color used for this thermostat terminal designation but this should be wired directly to the heating relay or the E terminal on a terminal strip board in the air handler or package unit if you have a heat pump package unit.
X or Aux - This thermostat terminal is for back-up on a heat pump and allows for auxiliary heating from the back-up heat source usually located in the air handler.
X or Aux - There is no universal color used for this thermostat terminal designation but this should be wired directly to the heating relay or the Aux terminal on a terminal strip board in the air handler or package unit if you have a heat pump package unit.
S1 & S2 or Outdoor 1 and Outdoor 2 - Some thermostats have this terminal and it used for an outdoor temperature sensor. The wire uses for this should be special shielded wire and completely separate form the other thermostat wires.
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