Tado came from nowhere, launching its first smart thermostat back in 2014. Since then, a continued evolution of its product, updated app and, more recently, the addition of individual radiator control has dramatically improved the product. Now, the Tado Smart Thermostat is one of the most powerful and smart heating devices you can buy.
Perhaps the biggest change in the 2015 Tado is the shift in design. It still retains the same minimalist white aesthetic that we liked about the original, but it's now just two components instead of three: a thermostat and a bridge.
Out goes the dedicated solar-powered temperature sensor, with the brains now all contained in the main thermostat. The bridge wirelessly communicates with the thermostat and is wired into the back of your router.
The result is a much neater package. A button on the thermostat brings up an attractive white LED display, which can display the ambient temperature and connection status with short or long presses of the button respectively. The bridge itself is largely unchanged with simple "link", "router" and "internet" status lights.
Ultimately, the Tado Smart is a good-looking package, although its ongoing need for a dedicated bridge is a shame. Most rivals do the same, but big fish Nest has built a dedicated controller that communicates with both its thermostat and the router wirelessly, making for an even easier setup.
Depending on your boiler's wiring, you may need a third component: the Extension Kit. This is a box that wires into your boiler and is controlled wirelessly from your thermostat. It costs an additional £79, which is quite a lot: rival heating systems ship with this kind of connector box for free.
Tado's approach to smart heating has always been based on presence detection, using your mobile phone's location to detect if you're at home or away. Intelligently, the app can track multiple phones, and you can create multiple user accounts, too. Presence detection is excellent, with the app also tracking your location, so it can start turning on the heating as you move closer to home. In my experience, it's an exceptionally reliable system.
Tado has recently updated the system to change the way heating modes work. With the old system, you could set temperatures for day and night when you were at Home, and for Away mode. The new system adds in a more granular Home schedule, much like with a traditional thermostat. For example, you can have the heating come on in the morning, but drop down during the day when the sun is out.
Control is via a web browser, smartphone app (Android or iOS), or the thermostat's swanky LED display. Via the web browser or app, you can set the default action for temperature changes made via the thermostat. The options are to keep the temperature change until the next scheduled switch point, make the change permanent, or set a default time-out – such as two hours – for the change to last.
The Away mode continues to let you either set a default temperature when you're out or let Tado take control using one of three options: Eco, Balance and Comfort. Effectively, in Eco your house will be colder; Balance sits in the middle; and Comfort keeps your home more toasty, so it will be warm when you get in. It's worth playing with the settings to find the one that offers you the best balance between cost savings and comfort.
Furthermore, Tado uses its connection to the internet to monitor the weather forecast, so it knows not to start excessively heating at the beginning of what will be a hot day, or to give it extra oomph to counter a cold one.
Recently, Tado has launched its Smart Radiator Thermostats, which let you control radiators individually. It's a neat way to expand an existing system, giving you room-by-room control for even greater savings, and putting Tado on a par with the Honeywell Evohome.
Finally, an optional "Connector Kit" allows for smart control of your hot water – something rivals such as Hive and Honeywell are also offering. Unfortunately, this wasn’t something we could try since our test home has a combination boiler that heats hot water on demand.
Tado will allow users to perform a self installation if they're proficient, but it strongly recommends a professional fitter given the importance of working home heating. We opted for the professional fitter to see how smoothly this process works (Tado reports it's by far the most popular option) and it proved to be a doddle.
In signing up for the service, the company asks questions about your existing equipment and both live online chat and a manned support desk are on hand to help. Tado will then arrange a convenient fitting date with one of its approved installers (all independent contractors).
For us, fitting happened within one week – Tado says it can nearly always fit within two weeks – and the installation process took an hour. Of this only about 30 minutes of the installation was the hardware, with a slight delay in registering the installation with our Tado account online.
One quirk we did find is the Tado bridge doesn’t have the greatest range and given it's wired into the back of your router, it means the location of your router can't be too far away from your thermostat. Alternatively, you can use Powerline networking kit to get the bridge closer to your thermostat.
This is again why we favour the Nest system; the wireless controller can be further away from the router, which in turn allows the thermostat to be much further away from the router.