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  • Smart central heating
  • Premier Icon stayhigh
    Free Member

    Evening all,

    Due to my horrendously haphazard shift patterns, I’m very interested in setting up smart heating so I can better manage my heating. Am I right in thinking that all I need for this is a smart thermostat i.e. Google Nest/Hive type affair linked to my boiler and then the corresponding app on my phone?

    Premier Icon mattstreet
    Full Member

    Yep, pretty much – that’s what I did with a Hive and was simple enough to DIY fit, replacing a simple off/on thermostat+timer.

    Premier Icon stayhigh
    Free Member

    Cool, that what I was hoping would be the case.

    How do people find the Google one specifically?

    Premier Icon yourguitarhero
    Free Member

    Yeah, Google nest are good – just set one up myself.

    I like the geofence function – house stays at 17c when I’m home, heating off when I leave.

    Picked up a Grade A refurbished Nest Thermostat E from CEX website for £53 posted. Looks brand new, in box with everything

    Premier Icon oceanskipper
    Full Member

    In true STW fashion I’m going to recommend what I’ve got – Hive.

    Hive also has the Geolocation function btw.

    When I looked at them originally my problem with the Nest system was that it had to detect motion otherwise it would turn the heating off, I wanted the thermostat in my kitchen/diner and I didn’t want it to turn the heating off when we were all in the lounge and vice versa. They may have changed that now but at the time you couldn’t deactivate it. It was part of the “smart learning” feature.

    The Hive is brilliant and the app is very very well thought out. Changing schedules for a whole week takes seconds.

    I fitted mine myself but I have a combi boiler so only one thing to set up. My parents had the British Gas installation done on theirs as they have separate HW and CH, and it was very efficient with the installer even supplying them with a booster FOC as the boiler was in the garage.

    I’ve also got Hive lights and some sockets too and they all work in the same app which links to Alexa and Apple Homekit. I would imagine Nest does the same though. I use the sockets to turn my outside Crimbo lights on and off automatically… 🎄 The lights are great for when you go away.

    Premier Icon houndlegs
    Free Member

    Do you need to change the radiator valves with these?
    Or are the smart valves just if you want to control individual radiators?

    Premier Icon squirrelking
    Free Member

    We have a Drayton Wiser waiting to get fitted along with the thermostatic valves. It supports OpenTherm (so your boiler modulates better) but our boiler doesn’t (because it’s a Bosch).

    Premier Icon stumpy01
    Full Member

    We had a new boiler installed about a month ago. I was quite happy to get a controller with wireless thermostat but my Wife quite fancied getting a smart thermostat so we got a Google Nest thermostat installed.

    I’m a little underwhelmed by it so far, to be honest.
    Regarding the comment from oceanskipper above about the motion sensor turning the heating off…you can choose what devices are used for the home/away assist. We just have our phones doing that. We turned off the motion detector on the Nest for that feature as I think the cats jumping on the sofa was making it think we were still home.

    The learning aspect of the thermostat seems to just be filling the schedule up with a multitude of temp settings. It’s very busy and messy. Maybe it will improve with a bit more time.

    While the home/away assist is good for saving energy, I can’t help think that a carefully thought out schedule would do pretty much the same thing. And when it’s off it won’t come back on until you are back in the house, so if you set the away temp to 16deg for example then you have to put up with being cold until the house gets up to temp.

    I can see me turning off all the smart features and just using it like a normal thermostat or replacing it with a standard one.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Full Member

    Or are the smart valves just if you want to control individual radiators?

    Correct – no need for them if you just want the smart bit to control the boiler coming on and off

    I’ve had a Nest for a few years now – I turned off all the learning stuff ages ago though and just have a schedule programmed in. Back when I was going in to the office I’d always leave/return at pretty much the same time but would only occasionally pop back for lunch and it didn’t seem to like that, I never bothered setting up the geofencing stuff either though which might have helped. So mine mostly runs as a fairly dumb thermostat these days, it’s nice I can control it via Alexa though (who wants to stand up and walk 10 foot to turn a dial when you can just shout at it :p )

    Premier Icon oceanskipper
    Full Member

    Do you need to change the radiator valves with these?
    Or are the smart valves just if you want to control individual radiators?

    No you don’t need new valves but you can add them if, like you say, you want to control individual radiators..

    As @stumpy01 says the geolocation is a bit of a gimmick and I don’t use mine. I just have a schedule that works and then I come home to a warm house. If I’m out I just turn the thermostat down remotely anyway..

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Free Member

    We’ve got a nest. Don’t use the learning but the geolocation is good. We are away a fair bit so having the heating automatically turn off is good. You can either turn it on from your phone if you are heading home or it’ll come on as you get home. I don’t mind the latter. By the time you’ve got in, taken your coat off etc the heating is coming on. I don’t like walking into a wall of heat and we don’t have the house particularly warm anyway.

    Premier Icon timmys
    Full Member

    It sounds as though for your usage you want best in class geolocation function rather than “try to learn your schedule” stuff. That would point me to recommending Tado.

    If you look at this post from last week there’s a post by me linking to a couple of comprehensive past discussions on this. I would recommend you read them fully to find the bits about the baffling geolocation limits on some of the non Tado systems;

    Smart/wireless TRV system – Worcester Bosch?

    Premier Icon oikeith
    Full Member

    When we got a new Ideal boiler we got their smart thermostat Halo thing, looks nice, offers the geolocation thing but we stopped using it, now just using it as a normal thermostat but occasionally controlling the boiler via my phone to adjust the schedule or ad hoc turn on the heating.

    One thing we did pick up last year which has been handy was a Radbot TRV, replaces the normal TRV, has a lumens sensor in the top so when the room is unlit it keeps the rooms radiator cold when the others are on, then when you enter the room it triggers and turns the radiator on. Found it really useful for the two rooms in the house we dont use a lot every day. I did buy enough of them for every room in my house but thought coming up to a cold bedroom a bit much so left the standard TRVs (stealth ad, I have a few spare unopened I should sell if anyone is interested)

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    I need smart TRVs in this house. I reckon I could get enough valves for £300 and that could easily pay back fairly quickly. Can you do away with ballast radiators if you have all smart TRVs?

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Full Member

    Can you do away with ballast radiators if you have all smart TRVs?

    in theory, as long as the smart TRVs don’t go wrong! To play it safe we kept the one in the bathroom as normal.

    Premier Icon retrorick
    Full Member

    I bought a Netatmo smart thermostat 3 or 4 years ago. It works pretty well. The smart stuff I leave switched off. The wi-fi/internet app connection works pretty well with my shift pattern as I turn the heating on as I leave work and the house is slightly warmer when I get home.
    No subscription, occasional updates, some smart stuff which doesn’t really apply to me.
    I bought 2 more, for dad, and gf, and they get on with it pretty well.
    Not sure of the current price but I paid around £100 avg for the 3 of them.

    Premier Icon retrorick
    Full Member

    I haven’t bought any smart trvs, too expensive for me and I don’t think they would pay for themselves. That said after this coming winters consumption and any gas price increases I might consider them 🤔

    Premier Icon mahalo
    Full Member

    we inherited a hive system with new house. baffles me tbh. has a mind of its own. have set the schedule, but it still just comes on and off when it feels like. need to get the hang of it before the proper cold sets in.

    tbh, in fairness to Hive – i never really understood how to use the traditional central heating system (mrs always took care of that) i just know how to burn wood!

    Premier Icon Flaperon
    Free Member

    If you have a very “traditional” controller that clips onto a backplate then the Hive will be a five minute install. Nest is a little more fiddly to fit.

    I’ve installed both and they’re both competent and usable. Nest doesn’t require a separate hub to connect to the internet.

    Nest is now deprecated by Google from a hardware point of view, while Hive / Netamo / Tado etc is doing better with ongoing support and new features.

    If you’re tempted by smart TRVs then Honeywell Evohome is the gold standard.

    Premier Icon grum
    Full Member

    house stays at 17c

    There’s no women living in your house is there.

    Premier Icon stumpy01
    Full Member

    mahalo

    we inherited a hive system with new house. baffles me tbh. has a mind of its own. have set the schedule, but it still just comes on and off when it feels like. need to get the hang of it before the proper cold sets in.

    The bloke I sit next to at work has recently moved to a new house that had a Hive system already installed.
    He was moaning to me about it, as apparently the main ‘hub’ of the system was linked to the previous owners account & could not be ‘reset’ for them to use. They had to pay for a new one to be fitted.
    Sounds like bollocks to me, but if it’s true then perhaps that explains the issues you are experiencing?

    He was also moaning that it kept turning the ‘boost’ feature on while no one was in the house. He was looking at it on his phone while in the office. There was no one in the house & it kept turning the heating on. He even turned the whole thing off via the app & sure enough a couple of mins later it had turned the boost back on.
    No idea if it was a problem with the system, had been poorly set-up, his ignorance of how the system works, poltergeists or something else, but it didn’t seem to be doing what he wanted.

    Premier Icon Flaperon
    Free Member

    He was moaning to me about it, as apparently the main ‘hub’ of the system was linked to the previous owners account & could not be ‘reset’ for them to use. They had to pay for a new one to be fitted.

    Sadly true. Hive are completely inflexible about it too, even if a genuine mistake is made. But what do you expect from the utter bastards that are British Gas?

    Premier Icon bigG
    Free Member

    I invested in a Tado set up with central smart thermostat and some Trvs in the rooms which I wanted to control, the other rooms have standard trvs.

    I’m not going to lie, it was a ball ache to set up, even the trained Tado engineer had a ‘mare with it. Once set up though it’s worked really well. Easy to heat individual rooms, or whole house, schedules are simple (and I can control it all regardless of where I am).

    I bought a load of refurb trvs from Tado recently which was a pretty cost effective way of expanding the system to other rooms.

    I’d recommend giving it a go

    Premier Icon Flaperon
    Free Member

    How noisy are the Tado TRVs when they open / close?

    Premier Icon timmys
    Full Member

    How noisy are the Tado TRVs when they open / close?

    I have one about 3 ft from my head when I’m sleeping and in the winter it kicks into life 6am-ish without bothering me. I have seen people complain about the noise but I would describe it as an unobtrusive whir for a couple of seconds.

    Premier Icon thepodge
    Free Member

    We have a google one, I hoped would learn our patterns as I often don’t want it on when I’m in and the wife wants it at 100 deg then goes out… its rubbish. Had it on learning mode for 6 months and it was constantly turning its self on. If we set it to 19 then it never comes on, set it to 20 then it tries to be on 24/7. If I want to knock it down a degree or so as maybe I’ve just got in from a ride and feeling hot, 2 minuets after its gone off its trying to heat back up to temp again.

    Premier Icon northernmatt
    Full Member

    Quite a lot of people shelling out money for smart thermostats then turning all the smart stuff off, you could have just bought yourself a £50 RF programmable stat and spent the other £100-150 on whatever (C&H is an option).

    Anyway, we have a Nest which replaced a knackered Drayton MiStat. On plug in you tell it what time you usually have the heating in, link it to your phone(s) and then it does the rest. It’s actually reduced our usual heating temp by half a degree and we didn’t notice until I looked at it one day.

    As for the geofence thing not working. If you want to walk into a pre-heated house you can just turn the heating on on your way home through either the Nest app or Google Home.

    Premier Icon MikeG
    Full Member

    We’ve had a nest for several years (it’s a 1st gen one so some of my issues with it might have been resolved in newer versions) my experience has been generally good with a couple of things that, had I known before purchase mean I probably wouldn’t have bothered with it.
    The good:
    Remote access
    The way it learns how long your house takes to warm up and cool down and uses weather data to pre heat/turn off early to maintain the set temp.
    It has a light sensor so if its in direct sunlight and warms up it doesn’t turn the heating off
    The not so good:
    Presence sensing, ours is on the upstairs landing and will turn off if no one walks past for an hour- should probably disable this
    Erratic geofencing, it never really coped with multiple users and either didn’t turn off or on when we got close to home – I’ve turned this off now.
    The bad:
    Not being able to set a time period where the heating would be forced off, because you use set temps in time zones and it pulls weather data to ensure the house is at the set temp at the start of the zone combined with the placement of the device our heating would often come on at 3-4am on a really cold night which woke us up. The only way I’ve managed to stop it is to set an initial temp of 12C from 5-6am, but then I get up to a cold house and have to manually turn it up which kind of defeats the point of a smart system!

    Premier Icon timmys
    Full Member

    As for the geofence thing not working. If you want to walk into a pre-heated house you can just turn the heating on on your way home through either the Nest app or Google Home.

    If I’m stumping up for a smart system I want it to be able to be smart enough to handle the basics. Manually having to do that every time I leave or return home feels like a backward step compared to even a traditional dumb timer system.

    Premier Icon stumpy01
    Full Member

    northernmatt

    Quite a lot of people shelling out money for smart thermostats then turning all the smart stuff off, you could have just bought yourself a £50 RF programmable stat and spent the other £100-150 on whatever

    I spent quite a bit of time looking at reviews & was kind of down the middle on my opinion whether to go for a smart controller, or a standard controller with wireless thermostat.
    My Wife was quite keen on getting one, so we got one. But now we do have it, it doesn’t seem to actually be as smart as we thought it would be.
    The schedule for example – halfway through the day last weekend my Wife turned the heating up a couple of degrees. The thermostat then added that same temp setting to every day at that time – so Monday to Sunday, mid afternoon the heating is set to 20deg C. I removed it from the schedule, but it just didn’t seem that smart to me.

    MikeG

    Presence sensing, ours is on the upstairs landing and will turn off if no one walks past for an hour- should probably disable this

    Our cats were triggering the sensor on the thermostat when they jumped on the sofa. I turned that sensor off within the Nest app for Home/Away Assist (What decides if you’re home) and it has worked perfectly since. You obviously need to have your phone connected to the Nest app & allow it to know your location.

    Premier Icon northernmatt
    Full Member

    If I’m stumping up for a smart system I want it to be able to be smart enough to handle the basics. Manually having to do that every time I leave or return home feels like a backward step compared to even a traditional dumb timer system.

    I’m not saying it doesn’t work, it does, it just doesn’t switch the heating on prior to you getting home it does it when you walk through the door. Same goes for switching it off.

    Premier Icon stumpy01
    Full Member

    northernmatt

    I’m not saying it doesn’t work, it does, it just doesn’t switch the heating on prior to you getting home it does it when you walk through the door. Same goes for switching it off.

    This is what I don’t get about the Nest system.
    It’s linked to Google & around the time I leave work, it knows I am about to start driving home and gives me a traffic update for my route.

    If it can do that, why can it not use that information to fire up the heating while I’m on the way home so it is at temperature when I get home.
    It’s not so bad now, as we are having a mild spell. But during the winter, I don’t really want to get home to a cold house but equally I don’t want to have to leave the heating on tick-over all day so it’s warm when I get home.
    I could bypass the smart aspect & set a scheduled time/temp for say 4pm/18deg, but because I have the Home/Away assist turned on, it won’t use the schedule until I am back in the house so that won’t work. Or I could turn off the Home/Away assist which completely defeats the point of having it.

    Today I have over-ridden the home/away assist & set the temp so when my Wife gets in the house it is warm but that seems a bit, erm….shit. And not very smart if I (or she has) have to do it manually ever day.

    Premier Icon northernmatt
    Full Member

    You can setup a routine in the Google Home app. As an example if it was your commute home you say “OK Google, let’s go home” then it can bring up your satnav to home, put some tunes on etc, but most importantly in the setup you can also set it to turn your heating on.

    Premier Icon timmys
    Full Member

    I’m not saying it doesn’t work, it does, it just doesn’t switch the heating on prior to you getting home it does it when you walk through the door. Same goes for switching it off.

    OK, gotcha – I’d call that not fit for purpose though if I’m honest. I’m going to sound like a stuck record but this is another example of Tado doing it properly. Tado looks at how far away you are away from home, how fast you are travelling towards home and aims to be at your target temp when you arrive home (without you having to do a thing).

    Premier Icon northernmatt
    Full Member

    <pedantmode> But what if you’re going somewhere else but happen to be driving past the house? </pedantmode>

    Premier Icon stumpy01
    Full Member

    northernmatt

    You can setup a routine in the Google Home app………but most importantly in the setup you can also set it to turn your heating on.

    I looked at this earlier. I need to try it. The only option available is to set the thermostat to a certain temperature. I am not sure if that overrides the Home/Away assist or not.
    It would be good if it does.

    Again though, why is the only start option under the ‘commuting home’ routine to say “let’s go home”…? Why no option for when I plug my phone into Android Auto, or when my location is no longer at work to do that routine?
    If I have to remember to say a phrase every day to turn the Home/Away assist off, then it’s just as quick to press the button in the app.

    I probably sound like I’m whining about it, but I would have thought these are the kind of smart features that most people would expect it to do.

    Premier Icon julians
    Full Member

    We got a Google nest about this time last year, it’s been pretty good.

    I wired it up to ancient 1991 vintage boiler, and it’s doing a decent job of keeping the house warm but reducing the bills at the same time compared to the combination of mechanical thermostat and wired boiler programmer I used to have.

    I like how it learns how long your house takes to warm up and cool down and knows that radiators radiate heat even after the boiler is off,and knows what the temperature is outside and uses all this info to determine when to turn the heat on and off, so rather than waste heat overshooting the desired temperature it shuts the boiler off just in time to maintain a fairly steady desired temperature, and switches the boiler on at the right time to hit your desired temperature at the desired time. Ie if at night your house drops down to 15c, and you want it at 19c at 7am, then it will turn the boiler on earlier on a really cold night versus later on a warmer night.

    The geolocation thing works well enough for my needs. I didn’t bother with the learning schedule thing, I just set a schedule of desired temperatures and times manually.

    On the whole I think it’s decent.

    Premier Icon intheborders
    Free Member

    Easy.

    We use to set the thermostat to 15c and then flick it up to 20c when we came in (or down in the morning), and then drop to 15c when we left the house or went to bed.

    House never got cold, and if for some reason it was too warm – open a window.

    Premier Icon wobbliscott
    Full Member

    When I looked at them originally my problem with the Nest system was that it had to detect motion otherwise it would turn the heating off

    Not strictly true…it does detect motion but wont turn off your heating if it detects zero motion…its just one of the very many parameters it monitors and the algorithms use as part of the learning function.

    Our Nest is in our hallway and the heating doesn’t turn off if we don’t walk past it regularly. And even if it did, you just turn the dial up to override and that action in itself will be used as part of the learning algorithm.

    I’ve not set up the full learning features on mine and from those I know who have say it takes a bit of time to settle down as its learning but if you persevere then it actually does a good job and is effective.

    I would use the geolocation thing but would need to set it up on everybody’s phone and just not got around to doing that. No good it turning off when I leave the building when everyone else is in.

    Premier Icon Flaperon
    Free Member

    If you have Nest Protect smoke alarms then it’ll use them for presence sensing, so with one on each landing it’ll have a pretty good idea of whether there’s someone in the house.

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