How to determine if heat pump has "aux/emergency/backup" heat?

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Ron_Jeremy

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I'd like to change the thermostat that controls an Amana heat pump because it's incredibly unintuitive. I often see the following warning on the back of many thermostat packages:
  • For use on heat pumps without aux heat.
Sometimes instead of the term 'aux heat' I see 'emergency heat' or 'backup heat' so I can only assume all three terms refer to the same spec.

House is in CA, USA.
My questions are:
  1. How can I tell if the heat pump has aux heat?
  2. Can I use a basic non-programmable thermostat?
 
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Fitter30

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Thoughts three terms all mean does the system have back up heat. Normally it's electric strip but could be gas furnace. They run when unit goes into defrost and or if the heat pump fails .
 

Ron_Jeremy

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Hey @fitter30 thx for helping.

I'm not interested in what the aux heat does, I just need to know if the heat pump has aux heat so I can buy the correct thermostat. Maybe these pics will help:

Heat pump:
amana-heat-pump.jpg

Heat pump model/info:
heat-pump-nameplate.jpg

Heat pump connections:
heat-pump-connections.jpg

Current thermostat:
current-thermostat.jpg

Thermostat wiring/settings:
current-thermostat-wires.jpg


gas-electric-settings.jpg
 

Fitter30

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Looking at the thermostat wiring no you don't have aux heat. The heat would be in the air handler not the outside unit.
 
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JerryR

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Your current thermostat is not wired for AUX heat. It’s only wired for heat pump heat and cool. That’s not saying that the indoor air handler has AUX heat capability (heat strips) or not. It’s possible the previous thermostat installer used the wire that originally was used for the AUX heat and repurposed it as a Common wire so they could use the WiFi capability of the radio thermostat.

If it were wired for aux heat there would be a wire on the “W” terminal.

The Radio Thermostat you have was pretty advanced in it’s day. It had WiFi capability. I had them installed in 3 of my homes. You are correct, it’s not very intuitive.

Typical wiring for a simple heat pump system:

C= Common 24 volt. Required for WiFi thermostats
O or B= Reversing valve to select either heat or cool. Some units use O and others use B.
Y= Air Conditioner control
Rh Rc = 24 vac. Notice the jumper between the Rh and Rc
G= indoor fan
W= Backup or Aux heat control
 
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JerryR

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Oh, and yes you can use a simple non-programmable thermostat. That’s what I installed on my 85 year old mothers house to keep it simple. A COOL-OFF-HEAT switch on the bottom and a simple Up/Down button to adjust the temp.
I like the $25 Honeywell basic thermostats. If you need assistance they have an excellent free phone help desk.
 
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