Review Price £249.00
Tado – SetupOur first step towards potential energy savings is the installation and here we hit a snag: it isn’t easy.
From our research this isn’t tado’s fault. Initially launching the Germany, tado reports that 95 per cent of owners performed self installations but they all tend to share the same, low voltage system which makes it easy.
In the UK we have multiple systems (boiler and thermostat, boiler and programmer, boiler and programmer -- on boiler and on thermostat). All run higher voltages as well, which makes fitting more hazardous. As such tado has extended its offer of a free installation from 31 December to 15 January. The standard fitting fee is [Updated] a reasonable £50.
For our review tado did send an engineer round who completed the install in about 20 minutes, but be prepared for it to take far longer by yourself. In a nutshell it involves creating a tado account, connecting the gateway, removing your old thermostat and rewiring the tado box (it supplies handy labels for keeping track of which cable is which) and pairing the tado temperature sensor.
In practice, the gateway requires both an Ethernet port and a source of power. This can be taken from a router with a USB port, but if your router lacks one or you don’t want to give it up it needs a cable and power socket. Likewise the tado box also requires a power source and while we had a thermostat that already had an integrated electrical wire, many analogue thermostats do not and this again will require running a power cable from your thermostat to a plug. Happily, the final step is a doddle as the temperature sensor pairs automatically.
Installation can be complicated by a variety of factors, including your boiler type (it must be switched off completely before installation begins) and how you heat your water (my combi boiler again made it simple as it heats water on-demand). Our advice would be: if any of this intimidates you get it installed by tado.
Tado’s big claim is that you won’t have to think about your heating again and – barring the initial infatuation with checking the home temperature on the move for a few weeks – we haven’t.
Tado has learnt schedules, automatically lowered and raised the temperature depending on whether we had left the house or were returning to it and it reacts quickly to app or browser requests to manually turn the heating up or down... something we never had to do except for the purposes of testing.
We are also big fans of the temperature sensor. It can be wall mounted via a screw and it has sticky backing, but we preferred to keep it free standing and move it around.
Since the tado system takes its temperature from the sensor we could choose whether that was based in warmer or colder rooms at any given time.
That said, placing it somewhere central would arguably work just as well.
The key is you can choose the location because our old thermostat was built into the kitchen wall, which made temperature control during cooking impossible.
There are a couple of areas where we have concern. The biggest is the lack of any at-a-glance temperature information with no display on any of the tado equipment. Should you have a friend or relative to stay they’ll need either your phone, tablet or web browser to check or adjust the temperature and the lack of a simple dial will be off-putting to any technophobes in the family.
In addition, the Android app remains a little crude. It doesn’t multitask, instead restarting every time you visit it and we had an issue entering the password using the Swiftkey keyboard. Across both apps and browser there is also a ‘heating costs’ section that claims to show you how much money you are saving in any particular day, but how it does this is crude. It asks for an annual total bill, building type and the temperature ranges you like.
We’d prefer weekly, monthly and quarterly savings views and the option to input actual energy unit prices for more accurate readings. Despite this an updated metre reading suggests we are in line to save roughly 30 per cent from our first month, which is in line with the 30 per cent claimed for a two person flat - though it has been tested during winter.
Should I buy Tado?This brings us to pricing and here we have some reservations. Buying the tado system outright costs £249, which you could potentially get back within 12-18 months, but it does seem a lot for the actual equipment provided – especially if you have to pay the setup cost on top.
The second option is a loan system of £6.99 per month. Interestingly this has no minimum contract and should you cancel you keep the system and the ability to remotely control your temperature, but lose the automatic temperature adjustment based on your location. The more mischievous can therefore get all this for one payment of £6.99, which seems a dangerous loophole to us.
Despite this we think long term tado will serve you well. It should pay for itself sooner rather than later then save you significant expense. It works seamlessly once installed and our gripes with the Android app will no doubt be fixed in time. With so many solutions coming to market, however, we suspect many will wait to see how they perform and whether it begins to drag down asking prices.
VerdictLike Nest’s smart smoke alarm, tado has produced a highly polished first generation product. It is complicated to setup (depending on your DIY skills), but once running its beauty is that it operates intelligently without user intervention letting you forget about your heating while saving you money. We’d still like to see a temperature gauge and manual dial on a second gen product, but with numerous rivals also arriving in 2014 tado has set the bar high.
Next, read review of the 'smart smoke alarm' Nest Protect