A thermostat is a component which senses the temperature of a physical system and performs actions so that the system's temperature is maintained near a desired setpoint by controlling the supply of gas or electricity to the heating or cooling system. Thermostats are used in any device or system that heats or cools to a setpoint temperature. A thermostat operates as a "closed loop" control device, as it seeks to reduce the error between the desired and measured temperatures. Sometimes a thermostat combines both the sensing and control action elements of a controlled system.
A thermostat exerts control by switching heating or cooling devices on or off, or by regulating the flow of a heat transfer fluid as needed to maintain the correct temperature. A thermostat can often be the main control unit for a heating or cooling system including central heating, air conditioners, as well as kitchen equipment including ovens and refrigerators.
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