There are plenty of smart thermostats on the market right now. You may already have one in your house: Nest, Tado, Honeywell or Hive. They all do pretty much the same thing and all require some element of tinkering with your boiler – whether by a professional or DIY – and a connection to the internet.
The Elgato Eve Thermo is different; it’s not a smart thermostat in the traditional sense at all. It aims to keep an even temperature throughout your house by managing individual radiators and can be installed with ease, whether you’ve never picked up a spanner or are a master plumber.
You can also control it by talking to Siri. Managing your heating has never been geekier.
The Eve Thermo is also well worth considering if you already have a smart thermostat. Those tend to manage an entire house, and few homes have been designed for uniform heat distribution throughout. In many houses it can feel like a heating installer walked in, stuck a finger in the air and arbitrarily decided one room needs a whopping great radiator while another needs a weedy one.
That’s a problem because a smart thermostat will keep the right temperature in the area where it’s installed and that's it. This can potentially mean having a boiling bedroom and a comfortable hallway – not ideal. At least that’s the case in my two-up two-down home. Honeywell has already thought of this and has created its own smart thermostatic radiator valve that works with its smart thermostat.
Related: Smart thermostats explained
Most modern radiators already have thermostatic valves to help regulate the temperature of individual rooms. According to the Energy Saving Trust, clever use of these can save up to £165 a year on your fuel bill. That’s not to be sniffed at, and let's not forget that this also helps the environment by reducing CO2 emissions.
However, normal regulator valves cost less than half the amount of the Elgato Eve Thermo so the question is, does being able to manage your radiator quickly, easily and with more finesse through an iPhone or iPad warrant the extra cost?
If you’re into svelte design or have chrome radiators then you might find the Eve Thermo a little too bulky and white. It looks elegant and is well-made out of solid plastic, though, and for most it’ll be hidden away at the bottom of a radiator.
Physical installation took me less than a minute, but before that I had to set up the Eve Thermo with my phone. Android users look away now, the Thermo is exclusive to Homekit – that’s Apple’s smarthome software platform.
Put the two included AA batteries into the Thermo, install the Eve app on your phone, turn on Bluetooth and follow the instructions. It really is that simple.
Then it’s a case of installing the Thermo on the radiator. I unscrewed my dumb thermostatic regulator and screwed on the Elgato. Some quiet, mechanical, whirring later and it’s calibrated and ready to go.
The app lets you set a target temperature for the room, or rather for the vicinity of the radiator, in increments of half a degree, but you can also create schedules for different days of the week or hours of the day. There’s plenty of pretty graphs to look at, too, that tell you temperature range in the room over a period of time.
In other ways the app is a little too simple. You can’t, for example, set it to turn a radiator on or off based on your location, or set “if this, then that” (IFTTT) triggers to chain events with other smart devices. This is as much a limitation of Homekit as it is of the Thermo, and I expect additional capabilities to appear as new versions of iOS are released and Homekit becomes better.
Related: What is IFTTT?
It may not be the smartest, but I find it a little exciting to hear the tiny mechanical sound when it adjusts my radiators while I lie in bed. Then again I’m weird like that. More importantly I found I was able to regulate the temperature of my master bedroom far better, leading to a more comfortable sleep. This is even more important if you want a stable temperature in a baby room.
The Elgato Eve Thermo uses Bluetooth to connect to your iPhone, which means range is limited. I found I had to be in the room to make adjustments; any further than 4-5m and I was out of range. It works remotely, but you’ll need an Apple TV (3rd Gen or later) connected to the same iCloud account and within range to do that.
If you buy into the larger Elgato Eve ecosystem then you can use the same app to control other products in the lineup, such as the smart-plugs or security sensors.
Bluetooth may be low-powered but it still needs some juice to work and that means you’ll need to replace the batteries at some point. I’ve been using two Thermo’s for a few weeks and they’re still going strong, in fact Elgato claims that they last for 6-8 months on a pair of AAs. Unfortunately the app doesn’t tell you when it’s about to go flat so you just need to keep tabs on it, again a limitation I hope will be fixed with future software updates.
This is also where traditional regulators have the upper hand. They use wax that expands or contracts depending on the ambient temperature so there’s no need to replace batteries – in fact there’s no need for batteries at all. There’s no way of scheduling these or controlling them from a distance like you can the Thermo, of course.
Whether you’ve bought into the smart thermostat craze or not the Elgato Eve Thermo solves the problem of getting a uniform temperature throughout your house. Yes there are cheaper, dumber, ways of doing the same thing, but they’re nowhere near as refined or, dare I say this about indoor heating, fun. If you’re happy to fork out the extra cash then you won’t be disappointed. Can you really put a price can you put on a comfortable night’s sleep?
If you live in rented accommodation and you don't want to invest in a smart thermostat that you'll leave in the house when you move then, once again, the Elgato makes a lot of sense. If you're in a very small flat, though, it may not be worth the cost as temperature fluctuations won't be too great.
One thing I would like it to have is a few more bells and whistles. It’s more expensive sister device, the Eve Room, comes with air quality and humidity sensors as well as a temperature gauge. If these sensors were combined on the Thermo then it would be an even more enticing proposition.
Related: Best Smart Thermostat
The Elgato Eve Thermo is simply the coolest way of managing your radiators, solves a real problem and is a doddle to install. If it came with a few more sensors and IFTTT-style triggers then it would be superb.
Will you be buying the ELgato Eve Thermo? Let us know in the comments below.