On the surface it is the most arrogantly named new entrant into the crowded smart energy sector. But what is most interesting is Heat Genius may live up to its billing. The small UK company claims to take the simple, automated usability of popular systems like the Nest and Tado learning thermostats and combine them with the greater room-by-room/zonal control of the brilliant Honeywell Evohome.
Needless to say the risk is the Heat Genius system becomes a jack of all trades, yet the reality is rather different.
SEE ALSO: Nest thermostat review
For a system which likes to boast, first impressions of the Heat Genius hardware doesn’t suggest greatness.
Like most smart heating systems Heat Genius has a trio of core parts: a rather square and uninspiring wireless thermostat which communicates with an equally bland boiler controller and a large, blocky ‘Genius Hub’ which provides the system with its online access via a wired connection into the back of your home router.
In all honesty the Genius Hub will likely be hidden, but the other two could look less 70s retro and means that Heat Genius joins all its rivals in playing catch-up with the aesthetics of Nest.
The same can also be said about the Heat Genius software which looks dated, while the Android and iOS apps are just web apps. Heat Genius tells me this will change, but for now they risk scaring off some users on first glance. But this would be a great shame, because what Heat Genius lacks superficially it makes up for with more substance than any other smart heating system we’ve seen to date.
You see the trick with Heat Genius is the whole system is modular. Once the ‘ugly trio’ are in place users can control and monitor their home heating remotely (like the British Gas Hive). Later they can add in smart TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) for zone-by-zone control around the home (like Honeywell) and beyond that come discreet wireless motion sensors. These automatically adjust zone temperatures based on occupancy – a leap ahead of whole home on/off systems such as Nest and Tado and a level of automation beyond the Evohome.
It doesn’t stop there either. Like other systems Heat Genius uses its Internet connection to track the weather outside so it knows how aggressively to heat to any temperature and it recognises frost warnings and won’t let your pipes freeze. A final party trick is it detects when you open a window and automatically turns your heating off so you don’t waste energy.
Once it is closed the heating for that zone will come back on. I haven’t seen any other system which can do that and it solves the old parental lecture: “Are you trying to heat the whole street?!”
Furthermore throughout all this Heat Genius is learning your habits, schedules and needs, producing graphs and charts of your heating patterns and suggesting areas for potential further savings. So yes, now the name feels appropriate.
Of course this level of smarts would imply a complicated setup, but it’s actually not too bad.
We say this with a major caveat: Heat Genius sent an installer with our review sample so it wasn’t done ourselves. Then again, the only tricky part is removing your existing thermostat. Like all smart thermostats, the Heat Genius thermostat part requires power and if you have an old analogue thermostat that might mean you need to run an ugly cable to the mains, so bear that in mind. Thankfully we didn’t have this problem so it was just a case of matching up wires.
Next the Genius Hub plugs into a socket or the USB port of a router and it uses an Ethernet cable for Internet access so no password is required. The Hub pairs with the wireless thermostat automatically, as do the motion sensors and TRVs.
The motion sensors and TRVs have replaceable batteries which last a few years on a single charge and the former simply sticks to the wall – temporary tape is wisely included so you can test where looks best near ‘high traffic’ areas.
As for fitting the TRVs, Heat Genius does an online compatibility check with you prior to ordering and you simply screw off the old TRVs and screw on the smart ones. It is worth noting the TRVs ‘exercise’ their springs for five seconds once a week, but they are barely audible and less intrusive than the daily exercising made by Honeywell’s TRVs (which are also more bulky).
After this you simply go to the Heat Genius website or grab the iOS or Android app, register and set your initial preferences and its online nature means tech support can also be done by Heat Genius remotely.
Yes if you have any doubts I would suggest taking the professional install option (£129) – this is your home heating after all – but it remains remarkably painless.