Central heating is not something we interact with on a regular basis. Most people will spend hours attempting to programme their heating when they first move into their home and then pray they never have to touch it again.
Traditional central heating thermostats and programmers are complicated and unintuitive, making getting your house the temperature you want extremely difficult. Another weakness of a traditional thermostat is that they exist in just one place; on a sunny winters day a thermostat may measure the temperature as warmer in a south facing room and turn off the heating to the whole house making all the other rooms not in the sun too cold.
Furthermore traditional thermostats are extremely basic; when the room gets too cold the heating is turned on until the room gets too hot and then it's turned off. This repeats over and over, constantly overshooting and undershooting the target temperature. Essentially all this means that the house is never quite the right temperature.
Tado changes everything, Tado is a so called "smart" thermostat, a member of the every increasing "internet of things" that connects every type of appliance and gadget we own to the internet.
Tado's smart thermostat connects to almost any boiler via the existing wiring and allows you to control the boiler via the companion smart phone application through your home network. At the most basic level the ability to control your heating from an app makes it quite smart; traditional programmers are very complicated with only one or two buttons that make the complex task of scheduling daily routines very difficult. A smart phone or tablet makes the chore of configuring schedules a doddle, you can easily set multiple schedules on multiple days with different temperatures to meet your precise requirements.
The ability to control via an app though isn't new, in fact many boiler controls shipped by energy companies such as British Gas provide such a functionality. However, Tado combines the app with smarts beyond just a simple remote control interface.
The Tado app when installed on everyones phone who lives in the house allows the thermostat to determine whether anyone is home, if no one is home then the heating goes into an away mode thus saving you money. As people set off from work or wherever they may be the heating detects that they are coming home and heats the house up ready for their arrival.
Just adding simple presence detection like this allows Tado to make some serious savings on your heating bill. Ordinarily heating would be on at the weekend all day because you no doubt scheduled it to be anticipating generally being at home. But if everyone pops out you don't want the heating on just because it's a Saturday, you want it to turn off and recognise your actual needs on a given day. This is what Tado does for you, easily and simply without any configuration, it does it out of the box.
To take it a step further Tado adds support for a little known communications protocol called OpenTherm which is present on most modern boilers. OpenTherm allows thermostats to communicate with the boiler bi-direcitonally. Essentially this means that the thermostat can do a lot more than just turn it on or off, it can instead vary the temperature of the water in your radiators, and even the flow rate of the water through the central heating. Precise control of the boiler means for more precise control of the temperature of your home.
Traditional thermostats turn on the heating until the temperature exceeds the set point, they then turn it off until the temperature drops too low. This repeats over and over constantly over and undershooting the temperature. With OpenTherm as the temperature in the home approaches the desired temperature Tado can turn the boiler down to send water at a lower temperature at a slower rate through the radiators to maintain the temperature of the home at that precise temperature. In the same vein when you are coming back from work it can heat the home slowly using less gas instead of just running the boiler flat out at full power to heat your home to temperature, this too can save you money.
Saving money is all well and good, but ultimately the primary role of your heating should always be to keep your home warm. At the most basic level Tado does this with ease and gives unprecedented ease to get things just as you want. However to really kick things up a notch Tado also sell thermostatic radiator valves that allow Tado to measure the temperature and control the heating in a specific room.
Most heating systems have a thermostatic radiator valve, they have long been sold as an easy way to save money. Most work by having a screw head that moves a movable head closer and further away from the radiator valve pin. When the room gets hotter an expandable medium in the head expands pushing the plunger down and thus pushing the pin in and closing the valve. Normally these valves have an arbitrary 1 to 5 temperature selection but don't allow precise to the degree temperature selection. These traditional valves work well enough, but one key thing to remember is that they can only work with what they are given. If the room is cold it can open the valve, but if the main thermostat hasn't turned on the heating then there is no hot water flowing anyway so the room won't get warmer. That valve cannot ask for the heating to turn on, so if it isn't on already then the valve does nothing to make it warmer.
Enter Tado and the smart radiator valve.
The smart radiator valve at it's core does the same thing, when the room is cold it moves a plunger (via a little battery powered motor) and lets hot water flow. But the difference with Tado is that it can ask for the boiler to be turned on, so even if the room where the thermostat is located is warm enough, a cold room can ask the heating to be turned on for just that room.
What does this mean for real life? It means that you can make your bedroom and bathroom and those rooms alone warm up in the morning for you without having to heat the entire house. By putting the valves on every radiator you allow each room to individually control the heating which gives you true multi-zone heating in just the time it takes to screw on a new radiator head. The valves even work with almost every type of existing valve so it really is a 5 minute installation that anyone can do.
For example, the master bedroom and bathroom can turn on first in the day. Then everything can be off whilst you at work, when you start heading home from work the heating can turn on heating in the living room, dining room, and kitchen read for you to relax in the evening. Then once it gets a bit later it can warm up the bedroom again ready for you to go to bed. And if it's a hot day, or maybe you've had a romantic evening and some candles have warmed up the living room, well the heating doesn't have to turn on at all.
Smart home integrations
If you have other smart home devices Tado can play nicely, it already integrates with Amazon's Alexa and IFTTT, it will also soon integrate with Apple HomeKit.
Although note on the HomeKit integration that Apple HomeKit support has been promised for many many months and has yet to be shipped to customers so remains to be seen when or if this integration will make it into users hands.
Tado can seriously improve your quality of life by giving you unprecedented control of your heating in every room of your house. At the same time Tado can save you some serious money by controlling your heating in a more intelligent way. And for those not convinced that Tado can save you money, they have a money saving guarantee. Or you can simple decide it's not for you and send it back within the first 12 months.
Tip: Order early, the availability of Tado products is severely limited and it is not unknown for shipping times in the region of 4 or 5 months after ordering. So if you're convinced order as soon as possible, don't wait until winter comes around again. At the time of writing shipping is around 5-7 days so make the most of it!
This is not a sponsored post, I am a genuine user of Tado and love it. If you are convinced and ready to order then please considering ordering through this link which pays an affiliate payment to me for referring you.
Image credits to Tado (Tado product and lifestyle imagery), Drayton (Traditional heating programmer), and The Telegraph (Thermostatic radiator valve)