Posts Tagged ‘Thermostat’

 

A couple of years ago, I reviewed one of the first generation of smart thermostats on the market in the UK. Long before Nest was available, the German made Tado was making significant inroads into our fledgling IoT marketplace.

Two years have now passed and Tado have released v2 incorporating an upgraded Smart Thermostat and an Extension kit for dual zone control. In my opinion this is sorely needed so I have big hopes that it works as well as intended.

Before continuing to review this upgrade, we need to look at a some statistics from the 2 years the 1st generation system has been in my property.

Straight energy saving comparisons between Tado v1 and the traditional method of heating that was pre-installed in my property (the legacy thermostat) are actually difficult to quantify for a number of reasons. We cannot compare money spent as we have fluctuations in energy prices which would cause us some calculation issues. Secondly, the weather. Of course this is being tested in Britain, weather changes all the time, so one year could have been considerably hotter or colder than the next so please keep this in consideration.

KW/h expressed in units are what are reported but for the purposes of this review I will refer to them only as units. I took an average of the three years prior to my time with Tado (with the same energy provider) and compared the result to the units used each of the two years with the device.

Here are my results;

Year 1: 21% less units used

Year 2: 26% less units used

As you can see, under my conditions, using Tado has saved a significant amount annually which would have easily paid for the price of the 1st Gen model in the first year.

The bottom line is that Tado deliver on their promise.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the new upgraded version.

smart_thermostat_hardwareTado with cool white LED display

I opted for a professional to install it for me, firstly as I did not want to mess around with my heating system but more importantly I wanted to see how Tado handle the entire upgrade.

As the equipment arrived with instructions on how to install, my first thought was that Tado had got a little mixed up as the instructions advised me to register the device before booking my installation which sounded a little odd as I already had a Tado system in the house.

But I should have had more faith in Tado because my new devices were registered and a professional installation were booked in an instant by following the instructions.

I will say that I think that Tado could improve on their communication with their upgrade  customers, specifically that the proper procedure is to register new devices first which will eventually allow you to book an engineer install further along in the process.

Each step felt like it was leading up to a manual setup which I did not want.

Secondly they could just advise the user that your old setup will run alongside the new one until the professional fits the devices which does become apparent at the end of the process.

But with all that said, Tado continue to impress me with not only the devices but the way they make setup so easy to follow. You may have a nagging feeling that the setup process will eventually lead you down the wrong path but if you stick with it, you will have no problems. Tado know what they’re doing and I could name a few tech companies who could take a lesson or two from these guys.

The only thing that seemed to cause the engineer some trouble was pairing each device.

I think this was more due to the engineer’s lack of knowledge rather than Tado’s design as one call to Tado themselves and it was fixed remotely in a matter of minutes.

If you can take anything from this review – call the Tado support team if you have any problems – the service really is second to none.

st_lifestyle_03

Anyway, back to the devices. The first generation Tado thermostat has been replaced with a similarly looking white plain thin box. When discussing the aesthetics with my wife, she hit the nail on the head when she said “the box just disappears into the wall, you wouldn’t even notice it day to day” and that is exactly what a thermostat should be. Clever but invisible.

But don’t be fooled by the boring exterior, one press of the front button and the device wakes to show the temperature set in a very cool white LED. Each press flips to a new display showing the current mode:

Heating Status (On or Off)

Temperature

Hot water setting (if you have configured the system for this)

The next two pages show the conditions. Two touch sensitive led little arrows allow you to change the settings on each page.

Tado has been set up in my property to control two zones and my hot water tank. I can control each zone independently from the device or my iPhone.

IMG_4281

Above is the photo of the first page showing the main temperature in that room and of course below the set point temperature which is where the heating will come on if the room temp drops to that level. You can see at the bottom the fact that Tado tracks where it’s users are, which in my opinion is the best thing about this system. It is simply brilliant that the system knows when I am just round the corner and may need the heating ready for when I get back as the room temp is below the set point temp, but equally if we are 20 miles away at work, the system knows not to do this as it will take at least an hour to get home.

Equally zone 2 also operates in the same manner and can be set independently from zone 1 which is downstairs for us. The system allows you to set times when the system will operate, so for example in zone 2 we only need it to work in the evening as we normally go up there to relax and watch TV. But because of the timing feature, if we were home during the day this zone would not be heated as it was outside of the time range we had set. This is all very versatile and will fit around any family household but again is all very easily over-ridden by going manual on the app or simply clicking the button on the thermostat which with a few finger presses lets you override.

ios_app

Tado are a very interesting company and have already signed up to Apple’s HomeKit. The eagle-eyed amongst you would have noticed the Tado logo in the HomeKit presentation in Apple’s WWDC earlier this week which means that not only are the company working with the whole HomeKit which will become available in Autumn 2016, but it should also allow the device to be able to work alongside the other brands that were also on screen in the pic below.

IMG_0579Apple HomeKit Brands

Imagine what this means for a moment, if Tado get this right you will be able to have the device interact with brands that are nothing to do with Tado themselves. For example temperature spikes as it is in Manual Mode in error – flash my Philips Hue lights red to notify me. Or even better, use Tado’s geo-fencing properties to know when I am coming home to ensure heating is on (Tado), lights downstairs are on and ready (Philips Hue) and the garage door is now open (Fibaro Z-Wave Sensors). This will be subject to the Extension Kit being upgraded by Tado as I have been informed this will not be a simple software upgrade as the Extension Kit came out before Apple’s certification process.

On top of this Tado support have told me that the devices themselves also have some unused sensors inside which they may use at some point in the future. This intrigues me as it shows they are future proofing themselves. They have also now signed up to IFTTT, the popular website which again connects devices.

We are looking forward to testing the individual radiator controls as this is the logical next step to total heating management in the modern home allowing you to control individual radiator temperatures per room, but these are due Q3 2016.

To conclude, Tado is a no-brainer for me, if you haven’t got one, then start looking into it as it should quite rapidly save you money in an area which seems to be getting more and more expensive.

The system is solid, with even more solid support to go with it. It will fade into your wall as you forget it is even there and I think this is exactly what it is designed to do.

 

TheTechSpy Rating: 10/10

 

Home automation is becoming a bigger and bigger topic every week as “The Internet of Things” grow. With more and more devices coming to market, thanks to the likes of not only the tech giants out there but crowd funding like Kickstarter, we can now enjoy the control of things like light switches, thermostats, power sockets and even our media centres.

Now don’t get me wrong, it has been a childhood dream of mine to be able to control things in the house through Home Automation and even going that step further when the house ends up doing it for you as it knows you are home….but with all these new devices one thing stands out that could prematurely end this whole revolution before it has started.

Every one of these new devices, comes with an app. If I am in my house and I want to turn a light on, I can unlock my iPhone, click on the app and simply choose the light I want on. Cool? Yes…but surely it was easier to just get up and switch that light on? I then decide it is getting a bit cold, so I click on another app and this allows me to turn the heating on in my house providing me with a comfortable environment. It is all good, but technology here has made my life harder, which is not the point of it at all.

Smartthings, crowd funded via Kickstarter, were one of the first to try and put this right. The idea was to put all of the devices under one app, so they could all talk to each other and of course you only had to go into one app to control them all. This idea was the step forward “The Internet of Things” needed, allowing each device, even if it was from a different manufacturer to work with each other, so if a sensor was triggered as you arrived home, you could have it switch on the heating and turn the entrance lights on.

My only issue with this is that you still need to open an app. The guys over at Athom have designed the Homey, which is a spherical shape device that sits in your house and you can talk to. Now of course it has the app, as this makes it easy to set up and of course collaborate the tech, but when you walk into your kitchen you can ask the device to turn lights on Siri-style, or turn the tv on to a certain channel….this is home automation!

App

Homey talks to pretty much all devices and here are a few things it can do;

“Homey combines your devices and the internet, allowing for smart scenarios:

When you get home, your lights fade on, your thermostat is already set to a comfortable level and your favorite music is streamed to your receiver.

When you need to wake up, the curtains or blinds are opening, your morning tune is playing on your stereo while the weather for today and your e-mails are being read to you. The smell of fresh and automatically made coffee gets you out of bed.

When you’re in the supermarket, you decide it’s going to be pizza tonight. You tell the Homey app to pre-heat your oven by switching it on. If you have a smart fridge, your grocery shopping list is sent to you.

When you want to watch a movie, the blinds close, your lights dim, your music fades out, the TV is set to the correct channel and your media center plays the movie.”

Homey

The list of products the device communicates with at the moment is enough for us to take notice as normally with these types of ideas they are very thin on the ground. But I am sure you will agree, Homey is everyone’s Homey;

LightwaveRF
Airplay
Sonos
Nest
Hue
Spotify
Logitech
Bose
Philips
Samsung
Gmail

We love this device and even at $229 with an arrival time of June 2015, we still think this is well worth the investment. We just hope that no one else beats them to the market first, especially as Apple tonight announced its home automation project HomeKit.

It is not often something like this comes along, but recently firms have been battling it out for control of your heating.

I am sure we have all heard of Nest, the thermostat which can intelligently control your heating, but just took what seems like a lifetime to arrive in the UK as the good ol’ Yanks were trying to work out our heating system due to the strange weather we have here.

Well, in the meantime tado° have been working hard, to not only perfect a device, but also get it out to the market which is basically what we all want. They are a German company and have had this working in Europe since 2012 so already have some miles on the clock when it comes to experience.

I have to say, from the minute we started conversing with the guys at tado°, an element of professionalism is immediately apparent. They are happy to help and even asked for a photo of our boiler system so that could check whether they would be compatible.

A couple of days after ordering, a very sleek, well packed tado° box arrived on our doorstep and quickly we realised that the firm is pushing for well made simplicity. Even the box has been thought about.

Tado Box

As soon as you open the box the simplicity is still apparent as the clean white devices are well packed in its environmentally friendly packaging. The company has catered for every eventuality with even the conductive screwdriver and screws included in the package. We opted for the charged installation which was well worth it, as for most people the installation may be a little challenging.

Tado open

The box comes with the controller which replaces your existing unit. It strangely has no screen, but although I thought at first they had missed a trick, again they are trying to keep it simple and all can be controlled from the supplied app or online.

A smaller box connects directly to your router and a third solar charged device is picking up the temperature of your room.

When installing, you need to log on to the website and it actually has a step by step guide on how to install the device in all different scenarios of house set ups. It even knows when your router device is online and when the thermostat has been plugged in letting you go to the next step to set it all up.

All in all, installation was very simple, but I would suggest that if you know nothing about your heating system, get a professional to do as its reasonably priced and they guys that tado° are using were very good. The whole thing took about 30 mins to set up and was ready to go almost instantly.

SetUP

 

The app itself is the heart of the whole thing and works very well as again it has been kept simple. We are running this on an iPhone 5S and it is all very slick. You are first presented with your house temperature and then a small animation of your house with you in it. This indicates that you are in the house and tado° is looking after you.

 

 

Tado home

As you can see, the app is pulling data from the internet knowing that today it is raining where i live. Cleverly using algorithms along with data, the app gets to know things like that if it is particularly sunny outside and it needs to notch the temp up a degree or so, it may not have to turn the heating on to get to the desired temperature which helps to save you money. It also learns how quickly it takes to heat your house to the temperature you need, so it may stop the boiler a degree or so away as it knows that the remaining heat in the radiators will heat the rooms further. At the moment the system is not compatible with Blackberry or Windows phone, but we have been told that the latter is in the works.

 

The flaw is the lack of BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone apps because, while tado can still be controlled via a mobile browser, the app is required to detect a user’s location and automatically adjust the temperature.We’re told a Windows Phone app is in the works.
Read more at http://www.trustedreviews.com/tado-smart-thermostat_Peripheral_review#1awEwPOGva2lIvWI.99
The flaw is the lack of BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone apps because, while tado can still be controlled via a mobile browser, the app is required to detect a user’s location and automatically adjust the temperature.We’re told a Windows Phone app is in the works.
Read more at http://www.trustedreviews.com/tado-smart-thermostat_Peripheral_review#1awEwPOGva2lIvWI.99Within the app, if you swipe from left to right you get the main menu, which allows you to set the system up. Here you can create schedules and let it know when you go to sleep on every day of the week. You can set it to work for either savings or comfort, but we have had this in the middle and it is working just fine.

Tado Menu

tado° does work if you have a separate hot water tank, but at the moment it works in the same schedule as your heating. For most modern houses this isn’t ideal as we would want it on a separate schedule as new tanks do not lose heat as much as they used to, so the ability to keep it at a desired temperature all day is not really needed. On talking to the developers, this will be addressed in an update next week where you will be able to set its own schedule.

But what sets this apart from the likes of Nest, Hive and Honeywell I hear you ask….well, it’s a nifty feature called “Presence Detection”. We especially like this as if for example your house is in the middle of a schedule where it should be heating up to a desired temperature and you leave the house forgetting to turn it down, tado° knows you have left. But the brilliance doesn’t stop there, if you are a mile away at the shops, tado° knows you are not that far away, so reduces the desired temperature down only a small amount in anticipation of your quick return, that way as you return back home it hasn’t got a huge amount of work to do.

On the other hand if you were to go to work and be more than a few miles away, the system knows you are a larger distance away and reduces the desire temperature right down so that you are not un-necessarily heating the house. You can add other users, so the device detects that someone may have stayed home one day, whereas old units would have just stuck to the schedule making you play with the thermostat, this device knows you are home so keeps a desired comfort temperature for you.

So far we are loving this device, but apart from the gadget excitement we get when we see stuff like this hit TheTechSpy’s doorstep, it still has to save you money as that is the aim of this kind of tech. The only way we can do this is by reporting back to you in a few months time for another update.

tado° 

£249 to buy or you can rent the device from them at £6.99 per month with no cancellation costs or minimum contract period. The cool thing is, if you decide to actually buy it, they will refund 6 months rental back to you during purchase.

Phone

 

Nest Thermostat

This is the cool Nest home thermostat designed by the ex Apple designer Tony Fadell who worked heavily on the iPod at its inception.

The clever thermostat remembers each time you turn the temperature up or down and builds a detailed schedule around your temperature preferences. You can set timers like most other thermostats but where this unit excels is that it can be controlled via a mobile app on your phone, allowing you to turn the heating off while away or turning it up ready for when you get home. The unit also boasts an Auto-Away feature which turns to an energy efficient temperature while you are out and promises to save you around 15-20% a year on your energy bills.

Not only does Nest look ultra cool in the home, but it fits like most old thermostats (apparently in under 30mins) and can produce a energy report to show how you use energy in your house.

Nest have finally revealed that it will be available in the UK in 2013, but don’t expect it to be cheap as it retails for $249 in the US, although the company believe that it will pay for itself with the reduction in your energy bills.

Turning the temperature up or down never looked so good.