Built from scratch to deliver true multi-room heating, Genius Hub is packed full of smart touches and clever features that make controlling your home’s temperature easier and more powerful. A neat and clever app helps make adjustments easier, although this is a system that you should be prepared to get used to, tweaking to work the way you want it. The lack of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant skills are a touch disappointing (although coming in the near future), but can’t remove the shine from what’s currently the best true multi-room heating system.
- Extremely flexible and can handle multiple heating types
- Very quiet radiator valves
- Motion sensors help control costs
- Better for larger homes
- Currently no Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant support
- Slightly fiddly app control for overriding temperatures
- Review Price: £249.99
- Multi-room heating
- On/Off boiler control
- Hot water control
Built in the UK, Genius Hub is a multi-room system that doesn’t just give you control over individual radiators but can use smart motion sensors to more accurately control when rooms are heated. As such, it’s the most powerful heating system that I’ve reviewed.
There are a few areas that need a bit more work, and a few where a couple of interface tweaks would help, but the Genius Hub is still an incredible heating system, ideal for larger properties.
Genius Hub Design – Control up to 30 zones, including radiators, electric heating and wet underfloor heating
- Supports a huge number of devices and rooms, making it ideal for large homes
- Supports practically every type of heating system, so even those with more complicated installations are covered
- Radiator valves and motion sensors add flexibility
Genius Hub heating systems can start life as a design on the website, where you spec out the components that you need. The base system must have at least one Genius Hub, which can control up to 30 heating zones, and you can have multiple Hubs if needed. That’s a big step up from Evohome, which supports only 12 zones; for those with larger homes or commercial properties, Genius Hub is the clear winner.
Then, there’s the Dual Channel Receiver, which controls the boiler or another type of heating source. There’s currently no OpenTherm controller to modulate your boiler’s temperature, although this isn’t such a problem with multi-room heating systems, as the energy savings are greater than with single thermostats. You can buy a starter kit with room thermostat, boiler switch and hub for £249.99, which compares favourably with a starter Evohome system.
If you need hot water control, there’s a kit for that, complete with temperature sensors to measure the actual water temperature of stored water. Cleverly, the system can be used to control hot water pumped from the tank and an electric immersion heater for complete control.
Then, you need the heating components, which for most rooms will consist of Genius Radiator Valves (£59.99 each). Each valve is actually a Z-Wave Danfoss LC-13 Thermostatic Radiator Valve, which has new firmware on it, designed by Genius Hub. It’s a good looking valve, although the lack of an articulated screen, as with Evohome, means that the screen may be hard to see with some radiator orientations: I had one towel radiator where the valve was pointing down towards the floor. Radiator valves are available in white, although for £30 extra you can have them spray-painted to match any fancy radiators that you might have in your home.
Genius Hub also supports wet underfloor heating and electric radiators, making it one of the best-supported heating systems available.
As well as heating devices, Genius Hub also supports motion sensors (£44.99), which can be used to detect occupancy in a room and then do some really clever things. Typically, motion sensors work best in rooms that will be regularly inhabited, such as living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens and bedrooms.
You can also opt for an external thermostat in each room to give you more accurate temperature sensor readings. For example, if you use the radiator valves behind furniture they may give out incorrect readings and shut your heating down too early.
Finally, Genius Hub sells smart plugs (£39.99), too, which also act as range extenders for its Z-Wave sensors and radiator valves. If you just need the range extending features, you can just leave the smart plug on and use it as a normal plug socket.
Once a system is designed, and the components ordered, they all come pre-paired and labelled, so there’s less of a job for a professional installer to deal with. Genius Hub can take care of the professional installation for you, although you can get your own plumber if you prefer.
No matter the complexity of the system, Genius Hub can cope. My system is an S Plan, with an external boiler in the apartment block handling heat generation for the heating and hot water tank, the latter of which also has an immersion heater. Genius Hub had all of the necessary components to make everything work together.
Genius Hub Features – Very powerful scheduling but you need to devote some time to the system
- Exceptionally powerful scheduling, although you need to spend some time getting everything right
- You can control a zone by a motion sensor, only turning on heating when someone is in the room, although this requires a subscription
Once your system’s installed, you can start to manage how the system works, which means devoting some time to get everything right. In fact, it’s fair to say that it’ll probably take a couple of weeks to get everything the way you want it, which is pretty standard for any system that’s more complicated than a single-zone thermostat.
At its most simplistic, Genius Hub can work on a simple schedule, with one schedule per zone. Each zone can be thought of as a room and can contain multiple heating devices, say two or more radiators. Your schedule simply lets you set the setpoint temperature, and how long it should last for, say turning the heating up in your bedroom for you to wake, turning it down during the day, then back up again for the evening.
If you’ve got motion sensors, then there are a few neat tricks. The first is Footprint mode, which uses the sensors to detect occupancy, setting a schedule automatically by using two weeks of data. It’s a moving two weeks of data, so as your pattern changes, so does the schedule, much in the same that the Nest Learning Thermostat adjusts to usage.
It’s clever, but the new Sense mode is arguably even better. It works by setting a schedule as standard, but for each time period, you can set whether the system should react to occupancy (motion). During these periods, if motion is detected, the heating is turned on; if there’s no motion, then the temperature drops down to the default that you set. You can also set time periods where the temperature is fixed regardless of occupancy.
It makes a lot of sense. For example, in a bedroom, you can force a temperature for overnight, when a motion sensor may not pick up your movement as you sleep. During the day, you can set your bedroom to pick up movement, so that you only get heat in that room when you’re in there. This deals with unpredictable patterns well, as rooms are set to come on only when needed.
Cleverly, Sense lets you choose how long motion has to be present before the heating is turned on, such as five minutes. That lets you move into a room and pick something up without turning the heating on instantly.
Likewise, you can set how long after there’s no motion it takes until the heating is turned off. This means you can leave a room temporarily, or even sit still watching TV without getting cold.
Sense mode is currently free in beta, but it will move into a paid-for subscription service, which will also include personal fault diagnostics on your heating system, telephone support after the initial free 3 months, and access to some of the new features that the company develops in the future. As with Tado, the subscription charge is there to support the product and to keep the price down for new customers. The subscription service will launch in Spring 2020.
For those that don’t want to subscribe, Genius Hub will provide for free the app and its updates, remote control of your heating and the existing modes, including Footprint.
Rooms can also be controlled manually, overriding the temperature. You can do this from the radiator valve itself, with the increase lasting for the period set in the app, such as one hour. You can also boost from the app. The home screen has an Override button that lets you pick multiple zones to boost, and here you can override the default length to pick your own.
Select any zone from the smart-looking app, and you can do the same thing, although it’s a bit more involved, as the default view is the schedule. Here, you have to select the Override button (an icon with three chevrons), then choose the temperature, then the duration. It would be neater if the schedule were hidden, and the current target temperature was displayed, making it easier to pick a new temperature. The latter is how most systems handle it, making it quicker to dial up the temperature when you need it.
Each zone has some clever tricks, too. There’s an algorithmic Window Open tool that detects when there’s a rapid temperature drop due to an open window and shuts down the radiator valve, so as to not waste power. There’s currently no way to disable this, although turning off this mode to increase energy usage wouldn’t make a lot of sense.
You can also turn on the Pre-heating setting in each Zone’s configuration page, which lets the heating start early, so the temperature you set is reached at the time you’ve set (by default, a room starts to heat at the time you set and can take a while to reach temperature). Genius Hub uses an external weather feed to work out how long before time the heating needs to be turned on. As always, these features work to a degree, but on a cold day that’s very sunny in a south-facing room, a room may heat up quicker than expected.
If you’ve got multiple devices in a room, then you can set the order or priority for which one should be the master for temperature readings. By default, a room thermostat is the main temperature sensor (if you have one) but you can change the order of your devices.
In most regards, then, Genius Hub is more powerful than the rival Honeywell Evohome system is all but one regard: I still like Evohome’s Quick Actions, which let you quickly change settings, such as turning your heating to eco mode (turning all zones down by three degrees) or custom mode (where you can run a custom schedule, such as when guests come to stay).
Genius Hub doesn’t currently have a geolocation feature, although you can manually turn off your heating from the app, or you can implement a similar feature using IFTTT, which there is support for. I have to say, though, if you have motion sensors and Sense mode, geolocation makes lense sense anyway, as you’re likely to only be heating the rooms that you’re using anyway.
Motion sensors can also be used to control any smart plugs you’ve got, turning them on and off automatically, such as to turn on a lamp as you walk into a room. You can set the periods when you want this to happen, although it would be nice if you could use softer boundaries, such as sunset and sunrise, rather than set times. As such, the smart plugs are a neat feature, but you might be better off, provided you don’t need range extension, with an alternative such as the Philips Hue Smart Plug.
Finally, if you have hot water, you can set the schedule you want. Genius Hub operates as more than just a simple timer control, using its integrated temperature sensors to let you set and measure your hot water tank. You can override the setting on the boiler and turn on an immersion heater for a set period, too.
Genius Hub Performance – Very quiet and powerful heating but it’s a shame there’s no Google Assistant skills
- Amazon Alexa Skill gives you full voice control
- Google Assistant isn’t supported directly, only via IFTTT
- Combination of schedules and motion sensors helps save money and maintain comfort
After living with Genius Hub for a few weeks I could see how powerful it was. I ran in Sense mode and found that it largely worked well, turning on the heating automatically when the system picked up motion, and maintaining temperatures at other times. The only issue that I had was that there were a few times where my living room motion sensor didn’t pick up us moving on the sofa, turning the heat off.
To be fair, during installation I was told that the position of the motion sensor may not be right and that I may want to move it. If you get problems, you may need to do the same, or add another motion sensor into the mix.
I found the Danfoss radiator valves to be extremely quiet – quieter than the equivalent Honeywell Evohome ones. The system takes a while to settle down, as the valves learn the maximum and minimum pin positions of each valve, but once done, they’re super quiet. If a very quiet room, you can hear the whir of the motor but it’s something that you can easily get used to.
For the most part, the app is really easy to use, although as I mentioned, it would be nice if it were a little quicker to set an override temperature.
A bigger shame at the moment is that there’s currently no Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant Skills. You can set up IFTTT rules to allow voice control of your system, but it’s not as powerful as having a proper Skill. I’ve been told that these are being worked on, with Alexa in Beta and a final skill due for release in the new year – I’ll bring you an update when it’s available.
Should you buy the Genius Hub?
The closest competition is the Honeywell Evohome, which controls a similar range of devices. Evohome’s main advantages are that it has proper voice control and, via third-party integrations, you can add it into Samsung Smart Things and Apple HomeKit (via a Homebridge server). However, its app hasn’t been changed in a long time and is starting to look quite dated, and it lacks some of the more advanced features that Genius Hub has, including motion sensors and Footprint and Sense modes.
Genius Hub is a far more powerful system and is virtually unlimited as to the number of zones that you can have, and it’s been updated far more recently than Evohome and looks set to continue getting better. It is quite expensive, particularly if you add in room sensors, but if you’ve got a larger home and want full control over your heating, there’s nothing better.
People with smaller homes will be better off with a single-zone thermostat, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, or with some multi-room control via a Tado Smart Thermostat. For people with larger homes, or even commercial properties, there’s nothing quite as powerful as Genius Hub and it comes highly recommended, but there are other smart thermostat choices for those with less money or smaller houses.