Get smart and turn up the heat

Noel Campion on an excellent heating system device with a host of comprehensive features
Get smart and turn up the heat

As the sun shines and the temperatures rise, now doesn’t seem like a great time to be looking at upgrading your heating system. That being said, many are looking at things to do and ways to save money and do home improvements. I’ve been testing the tado Smart Thermostat V3+ for a while now and although it took a little time to get everything installed (mostly my fault), it has helped my heating system work smarter and more efficiently.

Every home heating system is different and far too complex to try and cover here, but Tado has a clever software setup system to assist those who are willing to give the installation a go themselves or for professionals.

I love technology but hate messing with 240 volts A/C, so I approached installing a new smart thermostat with caution. Eventually, thanks to great support from online tado support I was able to get my system up and running. However, unless you’re confident of your electrical skills, please get a professional to do the installation. Thankfully, my install turned out to an easy one in the end, but if you’re in doubt at all don’t do it yourself regardless of what smart heating system you get.

I received the Smart Thermostat Starter Kit (V3+) from Tado for this review. For my particular install, I also required the tado Extension Kit, which can also control your hot water if required. It’s needed to connect the tado Smart Thermostat to your boiler if there is no wired room thermostat or if you have a wireless room thermostat.

The tado smart thermostat claims to save both energy and costs (by up to 31%). tado back up this claim with a 12 months money-back guarantee, so if a user doesn’t save within the first 12 months, they can get their money back, no questions asked.

Like any smart home device, you control the device via an app and the tado is no different. Also, this particular system is compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, IFTTT and even Apple HomeKit, so all your bases are covered.

The Air Comfort Skill is a key part of the app for the V3+ product suite bringing a beneficial, wellbeing aspect. This feature helps users to achieve healthier indoor air, by giving insights into the home’s air climate and providing concrete, meaningful and actionable advice on how to achieve more comfort as well as tips to help to prevent health risks such as mould.

This advice can be as simple as when and for how long to open windows or tips on how to reduce humidity. Recommendations will vary depending on the room in question whilst factors such as the air freshness inside, presence of people and weather will also impact on any advice given. Not only is tado affected by indoor air and behaviours, the app can now track what kind of pollutants and pollen are in the air.

Giving real-time and predictive data as well as insights on air quality can help people to reduce the poor air they’re breathing. tado° users can now see the Air Quality Index (AQI) score outside their home, the most significant pollutants in their environment and pollen forecasts on grasses, weeds and trees to help them to manage their day and act upon the information as relevant.

Some of the nice to have features include geofencing, which when enabled will turn on the heating when you’re withing a pre-defined distance from your home, based on your phones location services. It will also turn it off when you leave.

Of course, you can set up schedules for times during the day when you want the heating on and off, or set the heating to manual for times say during the summer where you only want it on occasionally.

The tado system can also control your hot water as well as several different rooms or heating zones. However, this may require additional smart thermostats, extension kits for the hot water and Tado Smart Radiator valves.

The hardware in the kit consists of a small internet bridge (hub), which has to be connected to your broadband router with the supplied ethernet cable. The hub also has to be powered via micro-USB. The cable that comes with this is very short but thankfully, I had a much longer cable that assisted in making the install a bit easier.

The Smart Thermostat which is white and square with rounded corners wirelessly connects to the hub. It’s stylishly minimalistic and only lights up with information on it when you press it or ask it to blink from the app. When it does light up, it looks pretty cool.

Most of the features in the app are logical and easy to use. However, the Auto-Assist feature is a premium option that requires either a monthly (€3) or yearly (€25) subscription. I’m not sure how much use you’d get during the summer months, but you can choose to pay a month at a time.

Without paying for anything you get a smart schedule, energy-saving reports, insight reports, weather adaptation, air comfort, open window warnings and geo-fencing.

You get the Auto-Assist feature with a subscription and this will, for example, automatically turn off the heating in response to an open window to save energy, whilst the free version will just give you a notification. Geo-fencings works similarly by turning off and on the heating automatically with Auto-Assist.

Overall, the Tado Smart Thermostat is an excellent system with comprehensive features and usability. It works perfectly even with just one Smart Thermostat. However, to get the most from the system, especially in a property that doesn’t have zones, you’d have to put the Smart Thermostat Valves on most of the radiators in the house, which will end up getting expensive.

The Smart Thermostat Starter Kit V3+ is available to buy from tado.com/ie for €199.99. The Smart Radiator Thermostat Starter Kit V3+ is €129.99. The Smart Radiator Value cost €79.99 (x1), €149.99 (X2) or €279.99 (x4).

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