A smart and powerful system, the Tado Smart Thermostat is easy to use and to expand with the Smart Radiator Thermostats, but you'll need to pay the monthly fee to get the best out of it.
- Excellent app
- High-quality thermostat and radiator valves
- Easy to programme
- Clever energy saving
- Extension kit for hot water is expensive
- Plug-in bridge seems superfluous
- Have to pay or geolocation and open-window detection
- Android and iOS app support
- Requires Extension Kit for hot water or wireless thermostat installation
- Optional Smart Radiator Thermostats
- OpenTherm compatible
What is the Tado Smart Thermostat?
One of the first companies to launch a smart thermostat, Tado has proved itself as one of the most flexible and easy-to-control systems on the market. With the latest version of the Tado Smart Thermostat (V3+), there has been some consternation about the fact you now have to pay for some of the energy-saving features on a monthly subscription that you used to get for free.
One the one hand, this seems a little cheeky. However, the situation is more complex than it initially appears. First, the subscription charge only applies to people who buy the current V3+ kit; older users can stick with the old app or upgrade for a one-off fee of £19.99.
In all cases, the fee paid goes towards the continued development of the software. Given the quality of the system and the way it can be expanded with smart radiator valves, the charges seem like a fair exchange to me. Ultimately, if you don’t want to pay anything, existing customers can stick with the old app; new customers have plenty of choices elsewhere.
This review covers the V3+ version of the hardware and app, although many of the features are similar to the older version – although the older app’s layout is clunkier and harder to use.
Tado Smart Thermostat – Design and installation
Tado comes as a series of components, which you piece together depending on what you need. At the minimum, you’ll most likely start with the Smart Thermostat itself. This can control an entire home, or it can be used as an external sensor if you add smart radiator valves to your system for individual room control.
The V3+ Smart Thermostat retains the good looks of the original. Decked out in white, a LED screen shines through the plastic exterior to display options when you tap the controls. It’s completely battery powered, but it would have been nice to see an option for external power on the new model. The three AAA batteries should last up to two years, and you get a replacement warning in the app.
To connect the thermostat to the internet you need the internet bridge, which also makes the system compatible with Apple HomeKit. The internet bridge is USB powered and plugs into your router via Ethernet. It would be easier if the Smart Thermostat had Wi-Fi built in, so that this extra component wasn’t needed.
The main downside is that the wireless signal isn’t particularly strong for the bridge. To get my thermostat to see it, I had to move the bridge closer to the thermostat. Admittedly, this was in a house with thick stone walls, but the internet bridge is still an additional component.
To add boiler control, there are two options depending on what you need to do. First, you can connect the Smart Thermostat directly to your boiler. If you have an existing wired thermostat then this is the easiest option. If your boiler has a digital interface such as OpenTherm for modulating control, you’ll see some improved cost savings by using it.
If you had no thermostat previously, or a wireless model, you’ll need to buy the Extension Kit (£89.99). This module connects directly to your boiler and communicates wirelessly with the Smart Thermostat. It’s also the only way to get hot water control. The Extension Kit is also compatible with OpenTherm.
Related: What is OpenTherm?
Installation of the core components can be taken on by a professional, although it’s possible to do a self-installation. During installation, you provide Tado with a list of your existing kit and your boiler model and you’ll be emailed a PDF that tells you where to put all of the wires. It’s quite brilliant.
Tado Smart Thermostat – Tado Smart Radiator Thermostats
If you want to control rooms individually, you add Smart Radiator Thermostats into the mix. In a similar vein to the Honeywell Evohome system, Tado’s Smart Radiator Thermostats replace your old dumb TRVs, giving you dedicated control over each room’s temperature.
You can have multiple radiator valves in one room, which is handy for larger installations. If you find that the radiator valves are giving the wrong reading, such as for one stuck behind furniture, you can put a Smart Thermostat into the room and use that for control and temperature measurement.
Technically, the Smart Radiator valves can be installed by themselves, leaving your regular heating untouched. A neat choice for renters, I think it’s best to go for the whole system, since that way the radiator valves can call for heat. That is, when you turn up the heat in one room, your boiler kicks into life and heats the radiators.
Smart Radiator Thermostats are easy to install, provided you currently already have TRVs. If so, you just unscrew the old ones, and fit the smart ones in their place. There are three adjustment rings in the box that should suit most types of TRVs. If you don’t have TRVs, you’ll need to call in a plumber.
It has to be said that the Tado Smart Radiator Thermostats are some of the best-looking in the business. Decked in a soft-finish white plastic, only when you touch them does the LCD screen below spring to life and shine through.
The Smart Radiator Thermostats run on 2 x AA batteries, which should last up to two years depending on use.
Tado Smart Thermostat – Features
The original Tado app was good, but it was really designed for a single zone and thermostat. As soon as you added extra devices, it became a bit of a mess and more difficult to see what was going on.
With the V3+ app you get a cleaner homescreen. Each room is displayed in its own tile, complete with the current room temperature and the set temperature. That makes it far easier to get a view of what’s going on at a glance.
Tap each room and you can change the temperature by using the sliding scale. Temperatures are adjusted in 1/10th of a degree (18.1C, 18.2C, and so on), which seems very flexible but makes it fiddly to hit the limit you want. Realistically, 1/2-degree increments would have made more sense.
Once you’ve set a temperature, it isn’t immediately obvious what you’re supposed to do – tap anywhere outside of the control bar. This takes you back to the original screen where you can set how long the temperature change should last for, from five minutes up to permanent.
As well as using the app, you can use the controls on the thermostat or twist the top of the Radiator Thermostats to make temperature changes. What happens depends on how the app is set: you can choose to wait until the next scheduled change, a set period of time or permanently (until ended by user).
The choice is handy, as you can stop someone from dialling up the heating for too long and wasting energy. Impressively, the settings are per room, so you can have different choices for different places in your home.
Set temperatures apply to all devices in a room, no matter from where the change is made. So, dialling up the heat from one radiator will make a change to all radiators located in that room.
You can have a schedule for each room, where you set the desired temperature you want, the time from when the change applies, and for how long it should last. You can have the same schedule for every day, or choose to have a different schedule per day.
That’s a huge amount of flexibility, particularly for Smart Radiator Thermostats. For example, you can have your bedroom warm up first, with the living room warming up later on. Annoyingly, you can’t copy schedules between days or between rooms, so getting everything working can be fiddly.
By default, the Tado app now warns you when you leave your home, or it detects that a window is open, asking you to turn your heating down or off. Upgrade to Auto-Assist and both features are automated, so your heating will turn down when everyone goes out, and your heating will turn down when it’s detected a window or door is open.
Window detection is configurable on a per-room basis, both as a toggle switch to turn the feature on or off, and a setting to choose how long it lasts for.
Auto-Assist costs £2.99 a month. You can use it for just the months you want, though. Using it for three or four months per year helps keep the cost down and means that you don’t have to pay for the service during summer. Of course, existing users can upgrade for £19.99 and that’s it.
The V3+ app also introduces Air Comfort. This provides an indication of the quality of air in your home, taking readings from your Tado devices. Using the handy indicator in the circle, your aim is to get the right combination of humidity and warmth. Should your indicator move out of ideal temperature, you’ll receive warnings, such as “Increased Risk of Mold”.
Tado can also monitor the outdoor air quality via a feed, and tell you the likely quality of your indoor air and whether or not you’ve had a window open recently.
Related: How to save money with smart heating
Tado Smart Thermostat – Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Home and IFTTT
Tado is one of the better-connected smart thermostats. Apple Home support is nice to see. Control from the Apple Home app is a little basic, and changes to temperature follow the rule you have set for manual changes in the app (it’s effectively the same as changing the temperature from the main thermostat). However, you can use your Tado system in Automations – say, turning your heating up and lights down to watch movies.
Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support are both very similar: you can use your voice to set a temperature. Control works by room, so you can control individual rooms if you have the Smart Radiator Thermostats.
Tado’s full IFTTT channel is exceptionally useful. With Triggers for when the temperature or humidity rise above or fall below a threshold, or when the Away or Home modes are activated, it’s easy to build rules to control other devices. For example, you could set a smart plug to turn on a humidifier when a room is quite dry. Actions include turning the heating on or off and forcing it back to automatic control.
Tado Smart Thermostat – Performance
Tado is simple to use, and adjusting the temperature via the app or main thermostat kicks the boiler into life straight away. If you have the Smart Radiator Thermostats, you can turn the top to dial up the heat; again, the boiler pretty much kicks into life.
The Smart Radiator Thermostats aren’t that loud, although it takes some getting used to when installed in a bedroom, as the mechanical noise of the valve moving can wake you until you get used to the sound.
Tado has some smart features that can help with energy saving and comfort. First, Weather Adaption takes into account the outside temperature, taking advantage of outside heat to save energy and make sure that your house doesn’t zoom past the set temperature.
Early Start is useful, as it means that your boiler starts earlier to get your home to the right temperature for the start of a scheduled change. That means that if you set your temperature to be 19ºC at 8am, it will be this temperature when you get up, as opposed to the boiler starting at 8am.
Why buy the Tado Smart Thermostat?
There’s no doubting that the Tado Smart Thermostat and Smart Radiator Thermostats combine for one of the best heating systems around. The clean app, neatly designed kit and smart use of tech make the system easy to use while saving money. And, if you want to start with a standard thermostat and upgrade later to a full radiator system, you have the option to do just that.
While V3+ dramatically improves the app, there is a charge for some of the money-saving features. As discussed at the start, if you use these features for the winter months only, you can see it as a small charge to maintain development of the Tado system. If you don’t want any more monthly outgoings, then you can always try a different model from our Best smart thermostats guide, or just use Tado manually.
I don’t think the charge is too bad, especially when you consider that the overall quality of the system is excellent. Arguably, the Honeywell Evohome offers slightly more multiroom features, although it’s more expensive to buy and its radiator valves don’t look as nice.
A smart and powerful system, the Tado Smart Thermostat is easy to use and to expand with the Smart Radiator Thermostats, but you’ll need to pay the monthly fee to get the best out of it.
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