Choos­ing a... Smart ther­mo­stat

Computer Shopper - - RANTS & RAVES -


A smart ther­mo­stat can save you a lot of money by in­tel­li­gently con­trol­ling your heat­ing.

Most smart heat­ing de­vices are de­signed to be used with hot wa­ter cen­tral heat­ing sys­tems, with the boiler di­rectly con­trolled by the sys­tem. Th­ese typ­i­cally re­quire a re­lay to be wired into your boiler, with a wire­less ther­mo­stat giv­ing you di­rect con­trol. Smart­phone apps then tie into the sys­tem to give you re­mote con­trol. While it’s pos­si­ble to fit con­trols your­self, you may want to pay an ex­pe­ri­enced plumber to do the job: ex­pect to pay around £150 for a typ­i­cal in­stal­la­tion.

If you have elec­tric heat­ing, there are very few choices, and the big names (Nest, Honey­well and so on) do not di­rectly sup­port th­ese sys­tems.


Want smart hot wa­ter con­trol? If you want to re­motely set sched­ules and dis­able hot wa­ter while you’re away, choose your smart sys­tem care­fully, as many don’t have this op­tion. Hot wa­ter con­trol usu­ally re­quires a sec­ond re­lay to be wired into the boiler.


What kind of heat­ing sys­tem do you want? There are two main choices: a cen­tral sys­tem and one with in­di­vid­ual ra­di­a­tor con­trols. The for­mer re­places your ex­ist­ing ther­mo­stat, and lets you set one tem­per­a­ture for your en­tire house. The lat­ter re­quires each ra­di­a­tor valve to be re­placed with a smart valve so that each room and ra­di­a­tor can have its own in­di­vid­ual con­trol. This op­tion is more ex­pen­sive to in­stall but will pro­vide you with greater sav­ings.


Do you use a smart per­sonal as­sis­tant? Make sure that your smart ther­mo­stat sup­ports the one that you use. Ama­zon Alexa, pow­ered by the Echo and Echo Dot, is the best-sup­ported sys­tem; Ap­ple’s HomeKit, pow­ered by Siri, isn’t so well sup­ported; Google As­sis­tant, built into Google Home, is just gain­ing trac­tion and sup­ports Nest only.


If you want your smart heat­ing sys­tem to do more, look for IFTTT sup­port. With this handy sys­tem, you can set au­to­matic rules, such as turn­ing the heat­ing off if the out­side tem­per­a­ture rises.

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