Best smart thermostat 2018: Take control of your heating from just £132


Product Reviews / Post 165 Views

Home heating is something you can’t live without – at least not in Britain – but it can be a pain to manage. Systems heat up and cool down at unpredictable speeds, and your home can easily end up swinging from too cold to too hot, and back again. And it’s all too easy to waste money by heating rooms you don’t go into, or keeping the living room toasty while you’ve gone out for the day.

Invest in a smart thermostat and say goodbye to those problems. Today’s connected heating systems use smart scheduling to make sure your home is at its ideal temperature when you want it – and many of them can even control different rooms individually, so you can ensure the heat is directed where it’s needed.

They can cut your bills too, by recognising when you’re out and automatically shutting off the heating – so in a few years, a smart thermostat could easily pay for itself. The only question is, with so many systems to choose from, which should you go for? Here are our top five – along with a buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice.

How to choose the best smart thermostat for you

Whole-home or multi-room?

Before you even look at the various smart heating systems on offer, work out whether you need a simple whole-home thermostat, or a more sophisticated multi-room system. The former turns all your radiators on or off at the same time, so it’s very simple to manage. If some parts of your home get hotter than others, you can manually tweak the TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) to adjust how much hot water flows into each radiator.

A multi-room system gives you much finer control: you can set a specific temperature target for each room, and even create different heating schedules for different parts of your house. There’s more to configure, though, and each radiator you want to control will need to be fitted with a smart TRV – which can easily double the price of the whole system.

Does the smart thermostat require professional installation?

If your home doesn’t currently have a thermostat then you’ll probably need to engage a professional to fit your new smart device. But if you’re looking to replace an existing thermostat then you may be able to do it yourself. Choose a model like the Tado that’s designed for self-installation, and you could save a decent chunk of money. Be realistic, though: you’ll need to be competent working with electric cabling, and if you plan to fit smart TRVs then you’ll need some plumbing knowhow too.

How does it connect to the network?

Some smart thermostats contain a Wi-Fi module that connects directly to your home network. Others come with a separate bridge that connects to your router via an Ethernet cable. This could be a problem if your router doesn’t have a spare socket: check before you buy, or you might end up needing to install a cumbersome network switch just to run your thermostat.

Can the thermostat automatically detect when you're out?

It’s wasteful to keep your home heated while you’re out, so most smart thermostats try to work out automatically when the house is empty. Many take a geofencing approach, relying on a companion app running on your smartphone to report back your location. If you share your home with other people, however, you’ll need a multi-user system that can track everyone, or they’ll be left in the cold when you go out for the day. Some systems (such as the Nest) also feature a motion sensor, which can identify when someone’s moving around indoors and keep the heating on even when the primary user isn’t around.

Does the smart thermostat support voice controls and IFTTT?

Most smart thermostat systems integrate with some sort of voice-control system. This means you can (for example) temporarily dial up the warmth in a specific room without having to rummage around for your phone, or physically go and fiddle with the thermostat itself. Check that your chosen voice system is supported, though: most work with Amazon Alexa, but not all models work with Google Home or Siri.

A final thing to look out for is integration with the IFTTT automation service. While not exactly a must-have feature, this allows you to easily control your heating from afar, or set certain events to trigger different heating modes.

READ NEXT: Best home security cameras

The best smart thermostats you can buy in 2018

1. Tado Smart Thermostat: The most flexible smart thermostat

Price: £199

The Tado Smart Thermostat is a very flexible system. Assuming you already have a wired thermostat, you can switch to smart whole-home heating by simply installing the main Tado unit and the bridge that connects to your router. Later, you can add individual radiator controls, to control your heat on a per-room basis.

Your heating schedule can be controlled from the smartphone app, and there’s also support for Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri, plus an IFTTT channel. There’s geolocation too, which automatically turns off the heating when no one’s home, and turns it back on when you’re on your way back.

Tado’s isn’t the cheapest smart thermostat, but you don’t need to pay a professional to install it: it comes with detailed fitting instructions, so you can do it yourself. In all, it’s the perfect system for anyone who’s just getting started with smart heating.

Key specs – Remote thermostat: Yes; Hot water support: Yes; Individual radiator control: Yes; Voice assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri; IFTTT: Yes; Warranty: 2yr RTB

2. Honeywell Evohome: The most comprehensive room-by-room heating system you’ll find

Price: £225

You can use the Evohome as a basic smart heater, but it really comes into its own when you partner it with a set of connected TRVs (£59 each), to give you room-by-room control of your heating. The touchscreen controller gives you a clear overview of every heating zone in your home, and adjustments can also be made from the smartphone app – or from the appropriate TRV, since each has its own screen and controls.

There’s no geofencing, sadly, so your heating doesn’t turn off heating automatically when you go out (although you can use IFTTT to control it remotely). And while the Alexa skill works well, Google Home isn’t currently supported in the UK.

There’s also no denying that Evohome is expensive, once you factor in the cost of TVRs. However, since you don’t have to heat the entire house, Evohome could save you money in the long run. It’s a great system that really shows off the power of smart heating.

Evohome smart wireless zoning thermostat - works with Alexa

Key specs – Remote thermostat: Yes; Hot water support: Yes; Individual radiator control: Yes; Voice assistant support: Alexa; IFTTT: Yes; Warranty: 2yr RTB

Drayton’s Wiser kits come in one-, two- or three-channel versions, so you can control multiple heat sources at once. For most homes the single-channel kit will be fine – and the price includes two radiator thermostats, with additional TRVs costing just £38 each, so it’s excellent value.

Schedules are easily configured and controlled from the smartphone app, although you can also make adjustments from the main thermostat unit. The TRVs don’t have their own screens, but you can tweak them to temporarily raise or lower the temperature by 2ºC.

A clever Eco mode setting takes into account the thermal properties of your home, so the heating isn’t on for any longer than it needs to be. There’s also an Away mode, which reduces the temperature when you’re out – although this has to be activated manually as the Wiser Heat system doesn’t support geolocation.

It’s worth noting that there’s no IFTTT channel, nor support for Google Home or Siri. There is however an Alexa Skill that lets you control the heating in individual rooms using your voice. In all, it’s a clever system, and you won’t find a multi-room heating solution for less.