Old Thermostat (2 photos)

My photo of the month for November is this image of the old thermostat in the house that we bought in mid November.

“What the… ?” you might ask – and rightly so, since it’s not exactly the most typical photographic subject for me. :) But the house (and before that, the whole escrow process) has pretty much occupied me and my mind, and somewhat limited the amount of photography I was able to do. This ages-old thermostat (notice the gauges filled with mercury in it? yikes!) is a pretty good symbol for that. And besides that, I found this old design quite fascinating, and interesting to look at.

Old Thermostat with mercury-filled gauges
Old Thermostat with mercury-filled gauges. November 2015.

The thermostat is probably from 1974, when the house was built. When our HVAC service guy took the cover off, I was blown away by the crazy amount of analogue & mechanical “stuff” in there. Until I noticed the mercury gauges (mercury is very toxic). So I made a photo, and then went to get a new thermostat.

Tech: a photo like this is actually more challenging than it looks like. At 50mm focal length and a relatively close focus point, depth of field is tricky (and only using f/16 would give me enough of it). It’s more challenging though to get the camera aligned properly to the wall so that all lines are straight. It’s easy enough to get the camera level, but there’s no tool (that I know of) to eliminate the sideways rotation that would make horizontal lines tilt in one direction or the other.

And once I had the new thermostat and removed the section with the timer and the mercury gauges, the circuit board came to light – and wow, it’s not even a printed circuit board! :) Funny how behind all this complicated-looking, strangely fascinating “ancient” tech, four wires are all that’s needed: Fan, Heat, Cool, Power.

Circuit board of old thermostat.
Circuit board of old thermostat. November 2015.

And now that whole thing is gone, replaced with a fancy “Nest” thermostat – which is still in the learning phase… :)

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6 Responses

  1. I did do a double take when I saw the photo – not your normal subject. But it is interesting, and surprisingly colorful. I actually went and took the cover off of mine – it’s much newer, but the outer design is the same except for being digital. The levers at the bottom haven’t changed a bit. Congrats on the new house!

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