The belligerent can ignore this, but having seen the install (which takes about an hour) we can’t argue with Honeywell’s logic. The good news for those building their own systems is fitting a TRV simply involves unscrewing an existing radiator thermostat, screwing in the TRV and syncing is just a button press. This means expanding the system can be done easily and will allow users to spread the cost over time.
So how does it all come together? As you might expect, at first the going is slow but the experience then improves rapidly.
The reason for this is down to the user. Quite simply it is hard work trying to break down your heating schedule. What do you need on a Saturday at 11am versus 3pm? Can you turn the heating down from 7pm until 9pm on Tuesdays while you’re on a course or is that only every second Tuesday? The combinations are endless.
Consequently we found you will adjust your basic schedule regularly before settling on one that works for you and your household. Since you tend to then leave the system alone it is also easy to forget to set quick actions like ‘Heating Off’ when you go away or to turn it back on when you come back. These things the Tado and Nest systems do better.
That said the Evohome is a far more powerful system than any of its rivals because of its sheer level of control. There is great satisfaction sitting in the living room in the evening at the ideal temperature while seeing that rest of house is off but knowing each room will be the right temperature when you need it. Then when you go to bed the bedroom is perfect and the rest of the house will cool – and so on.
With time this makes other systems and their heating on/off approach feel crude by comparison. Zoning is quite simply more efficient and, while we would need to test during winter for the best comparison, it was clear the boiler was switching on less often and for less time when it did. The mobile apps are also smart, stable and well designed, though note the screenshots come from our early access to a major update which adds scheduling and zone customisation and will be released to all shortly.
Grumbles? We do have some. Aside from the ugly and bulky Remote Access Gateway, the controller’s colour touchscreen is a resistive rather than capacitive panel like modern smartphones so it is occasionally slow to react. It also doesn’t have great battery life lasting about an hour unplugged before low battery beeps begin and the battery indicator doesn’t always reflect this.
By contrast the TRVs last 2.5 years on their batteries (which are then easily swapped) but they do need to adjust their valves once per day to keep them loose and this fairly quiet and short noise (a few seconds) can catch you off guard occasionally.
The bigger question is more likely to be: are you prepared to pay the amount required for the Honeywell home? Logic would suggest the larger the home and the more TRVs required, the more likely that person is to be able to afford them but obviously that isn’t always the case. And for those with older central heating systems without temperature controlling valves already installed, the cost and hassle of upgrading is significant.
Personally we’d like to see either a reduction in their price or a couple of TRVs bundled to get users up and running as supplying the controller and gateway without any makes the pricing deceptive.
Then again if you are prepared to invest in the Evohome it is without doubt the most comprehensive and accurate system we have seen and the system can be expanded slowly for those who can’t afford everything up front.
As for the savings, it will require a full calendar year to weigh up all the benefits, but there is no doubt that being able to control your temperature automatically room-by-room, day-by-day and hour-by-hour makes more sense than an everything on/off system. The bigger the home the more the upfront outlay, but also the faster you should see a return on your investment. Honeywell claims the Evohome will have paid for itself within 2.5 years and - your individual tariff aside - we see no reason to doubt that.
The Honeywell Evohome is the Rolls Royce of smart thermostats, but that metaphor applies to cost as well as performance. Small flats can expect to pay around £500 and bigger homes around £1000, but if you can stomach that you are buying a far more advanced system than the on/off alternatives from the likes of Nest, Tado and Hive and it should recover its costs more quickly. The mass appeal of Nest in particular is unlikely to be dented by Honeywell, but Evohome owners will feel rightfully smug.
Next, read our Nest Protect Review