Smart Thermostats for Intelligent Heating Control
Smart Thermostats for Intelligent Heating Control
Smarten up your heating: more comfort, lower utility bills. Smart heating controls increase home comfiness and reduce energy consumption. Fitting thermostats and setting up automated procedures is easy. This is how it’s done.
All day long during the icy winter months. A couple of hours per day during autumn and spring. After all, it’s comfy room temperature levels that make a home cosy. However, nowadays, there is no longer an excuse for using up more energy than you actually need to stay warm in your home. Because this is where intelligent heating control comes in, using smart digital thermostatic radiator valves and automated programme routines, turning down the temperature at times when heating isn’t needed. We show you how to save energy, increase the comfort of your home, and help you choose a set-up that’s right for you.
How Smart Thermostats Work
Smart thermostats do the same job as their dumb counterparts. They tell the radiator valves what to do. Although they do it digitally rather than mechanically which means they can be operated over the internet from basically anywhere on the planet. Also means if you forgot to turn down the heating before going abroad just log on and, voila, problem solved. Moreover, they allow setting temperatures down to the centigrade, unlike standard valves that mostly come with only 5 temperature levels.
Smart thermostatic radiator valves (TVRs) have a built-in electric motor that operates the valve. Smart thermostats for underfloor heating don’t come with motors as they directly connect to and control the heating actuator. Nevertheless, they need power. Systems that require hooking up thermostats to electricity mains are rare. These days, most thermostats are supplied by long-life batteries. A smartphone app alerts you when the batteries need to be replaced.
Retrofitting smart thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to upgrade existing heating systems does not require major refurbishment work. Just grab a pipe wrench, remove the old rad valve and replace it with a smart TRV. Done! Don’t panic if the TRVs don’t fit right away. Most products come with adapters for less common valve standards such as Danfoss RA which makes smart TRVs compatible with pretty much any radiator out there. Besides, replacing rad valves is, in fact, way easier than most people think.
Room thermostats is also pretty straightforward. Battery-powered products can be attached anywhere on a wall. If you replace a wired thermostat just re-use the existing cable.
What’s left now is setting up the hub. The hub connects to the router either through Wi-Fi or via a patch cable, making sure that TRVs and your smartphone or your smart speaker are able to communicate with each other. Any data transfer is encrypted preventing unauthorised access by third-parties. In most systems, hub and rad valves don’t interact via Wi-Fi but use either the manufacturers’ own wireless protocols, or networking standards such as Z-Wave. Despite of this, smart TRVs are commonly referred to as Wi-Fi valves.
Easy and Flexible Operation
There are plenty of options when it comes to operating Wi-Fi radiator valves and smart thermostats, including programmable per-day schedules, smartphone apps, smartwatches , all sorts of mobile devices and voice commands. And what’s more, you don’t even have be at home to change settings thanks to the central heating control being hooked up to the internet.
Smart TRV operation is centred around heating programmes that allow you to choose user-defined temperature levels and time windows that determine the heating pattern for each room. For instance, this may include warming up kitchen and bathroom in the morning before you get up, lowering the temperatures when you are at the office, and ensuring temperatures are comfy again at the time you return from work in the evening.
Goes without saying that TRVs also allow setting the temperature manually. This is done either with a smartphone app or a smart Wi-Fi speaker that forward the commands to the router which, in turn, feeds the signals to the TRVs, or by pressing the temperature selector button/turning the regulator knob on the rad valve. Yes indeed, despite being stuffed with digital technology nowadays' rad valves still feature manual knobs, dials or buttons.
Putting ‘Smart’ into Smart Heating
If you are one of those people who tend to forget to turn off your heating or to switch it into eco mode, smart solutions are the way to go. No more fiddling with settings or thinking ahead. Relax and let your smart heating system take care of everything. Whilst per-day schedules with multiple temperature levels form the backbone of intelligent heating it’s the extras that really boost the comfiness of your home. For instance, some systems check the weather forecast and turn the heating down when it’s sunny outside, or take RH readings to tell you when to air the place out.
One outstanding feature of smart heating software is geofencing, using GPS and Wi-Fi signals to trigger a response when the occupant (or rather, the occupant’s smartphone) enters or leaves the house or flat. Accordingly, the software turns the heating up or down or switches the system into eco mode if no one is at home. As soon as the first occupant returns, the temperature automatically rises to preset levels. Means you optimise your energy consumption.
Wasting energy by heating when the windows are open is also a thing of the past. Smart heating systems detect whether doors or windows are closed. Open windows result in the heating shutting down for as long as the windows are open. If your chosen smart heating doesn’t feature open window detection, Conrad Connect allows you to interconnect your system with motion sensors or window contacts by other manufacturers.
Also coming in quite handy: using the data inevitably generated by above digital devices and display them in the form of charts and graphs. This allows you to easily assess your consumer behaviour and make changes if necessary. Most brands come with apps that enable data visualisation. If you use products from multiple manufacturers, forward the data generated by each product to your Conrad Connect dashboard, to view them all in one place.
Tried and Tested Projects for Smart Heating and Improved Air Quality
Using Conrad Connect does not require purchasing a certain brand of Wi-Fi rad valves. Quite on the contrary. It’s perfectly okay to choose products from different manufacturers, hook them up and, thus, built your own system. Moreover, expand the system at any time, for example, by adding motion detectors or door and window contacts. And what about CO2 sensors that tell you to open the windows as soon as the readings exceed the recommended standards.
Our rule editor makes setting up automated processes easy. And what’s more, you don’t need to start from scratch if you don’t want to. Check out the wide range of pretty nifty ready-to-use projects shared by our community members, pick what you need and link it to your user profile.
- Heating during working hours
- Smart swimming pool heating
- Smart classroom temperature control
- Comfy temperature at the push of a button
- Email/text alerts at unusual room temperature levels
- Winter garden temperature monitoring
- Window open? Text alert and heating off
- Smart heating and airing
- C02-dependent air quality control
- C02 level control using a three-colour indicator light
- Text alert, warning light and auto air filtering
Saving Money – Boosting Comfort
Saving energy also saves you money. Which is one of the reasons why people opt for Wi-Fi thermostats. However, whilst all products lower the energy consumption, the extent of how much you are able to save differs between individual products. Because heating costs also depend on how often you leave and re-enter your home, on the amount of airing you do, and on the level of insulation and solar gain in your building. Moreover, you also need to take the money you initially spent to get the system up and running into account. Smart valves are stuffed with tech means they tend to be more expensive than their dumb counterparts.
However, one palpable result is the feeling of increased comfort. After all, fully automated heating control beats wasting time fiddling around with temperature settings any day! On top of which you know that decreased energy consumption helps protect the environment, doing your bit to reduce humankind’s global carbon footprint. Because, in the end, fighting climate change starts at home.
Find the Best Thermostatic Radiator Valves for Your Smart Home
Want to smarten up your heating by using digital radiator valves? Good news, you gonna be spoilt for choice. Bad news, how do you pick the one that’s right for you? Don’t worry. Below some guidelines that help you make an informed decision.
- Extra features: Using programmable schedules to regulate room temperature down to the last centigrade is pretty much standard nowadays. However, depending on the chosen product you get additional features that allow you to create your very own oasis of comfiness. Regulating up the temperature to a preset level, for instance, as the TRV sensor takes readings right at the radiator where the temperature is about two degrees higher than anywhere else in the room. Some products also sample RH and tell you when you need to air. And some products are able to detect open windows, shutting down the heating as a result. If your product doesn’t do this, you’ll need to fit additional sensors.
- Display: Most products come with a built-in display that shows temperature readings and other parameters, featuring a touchscreen menu to change the settings. This means you don’t need to dig out your mobile phone or jack into the interwebs. The extent and type of information displayed differs between brands and products. So do screen size and display technology. Means doing your homework and shopping around pays off.
- Design: If you like to keep things in style when it comes to home aesthetics, choose a product that blends in well with your existing home interiors. Nowadays, thermostats come in myriad of shapes and forms. And don’t neglect the design of the Wi-Fi hub that interconnects the radiator valves and your smartphone. However, if space is in short supply in your home the way the hub looks might not be your prime concern – it all boils down to size, orientation and placement options.
- Voice control: Nowadays, many smart TRVs can be told what to do. In order to do so you need a smart speaker such as Google Home or Amazon Echo. Since our platform supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, setting up one these voice control options as part of your smart home system is a no brainer. Moreover, you can also record the appropriate voice commands using the respective GA or Alexa app.
- Price: Since going smart normally requires equipping multiple radiators with smart valves, TRV unit prices tend to be the deal breaker. These days, a single TRV is going to set you back between € 40 and €80. If you are starting out, you also need a hub (aka gateway, bridge, or base station) that may come at anything between €50 and €150. However, starter kits including hub and a set of TRVs constitute an affordable solution for price-conscious consumers as the unit prices tend to be lower than when buying the required products separately.
Using Smart Thermostats on Conrad Connect
We offer a wide range of smart thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) and other essentials for heating and climate control in your home. As of December 2018, our platform supports products from DiO, HomeMatic IP, HomeMatic via CloudMatic, Honeywell, innogy, Netatmo, Sensibo, Smartwares und tado.
- DiO: DiO’s ED-TH-03 wireless thermostat enables the control of electric heating systems based on pilot wire technology. The ED-TH-03 uses the manufacturer’s own 868.3 MHz DiO 2.0 protocol and covers up to 150m. Temperature can be set using programmed schedules, smartphone apps and Conrad Connect.
- HomeMatic IP: If you are just getting into home automation, eQ-3’s smart home system is the perfect entry-level choice. Besides a range of TRVs and underfloor heating actuators, eQ-3 also supply air quality, door and window sensors. You can choose between products with and without a display. Available hubs include the CCU2 and CCU3, as well as the Multi IO Box that enables a smart control of boilers and circulator pumps. HomeMatic IP products support Google Assistant, Alexa and Conrad Connect. Goes without saying that there’s also an app that lets you set things up using your smartphone.
- HomeMatic via CloudMatic: If you sign up for CloudMatic, HomeMatic (N.B. not to be confused with HomeMatic IP) slots nicely into your existing smart central heating control, featuring many of the functions that are also part of the Homematic IP package. Besides Alexa and Conrad Connect, the system lets you set up access for maintenance work by building service providers.
- Honeywell: Honeywell products come with excellent readability thanks to their large displays. There are two product lines to choose from: evohome TVRs, and Lyric smart thermostats that interact with your central heating boiler. Both product lines allow setting up per-day schedules with multiple heating levels. Moreover, Lyric products support geofencing. Besides their compatibility with a wide range of common rad valves and full Conrad Connect interconnectivity, Lyric thermostats also enable voice-control via Alexa and Google Assistant.
- innoy: Opting for innogy products does not require choosing innogy’s parent, RWE, as your utility provider. Innogy products can be operated manually pressing buttons on the device, via a smartphone or tablet app, and by your voice using Alexa or Google Assistant. A built-in humidity sensor alerts you to increasing risks of mould growth. The system shuts down the heating automatically during periods of airing. Innogy’s smart home hub serves as Wi-Fi gateway that allows you remote access using a mobile device.
- Netatmo: Phillipe Starck’s stylish industrial design makes the Netatmo thermostat stand out from the crowd. Its cylindrical shape and transparent plastic housing are a real eye-catcher. XComing up with an “invisible” selector ring to operate the device is a stroke of genius. Unlike other brands, the system revolves around a wireless gateway, means it doesn’t need to be placed next to a Wi-Fi router. Moreover, Netatmo detects open windows, uses the local weather forecast to control heating levels and supports Alexa and Google Assistant.
- Smartwares: If you are a bit of a nostalgic who welcomes a healthy handful of remote control, Smartwares’ SHS-53000 wireless thermostat might be right up your alley. It comes with a classic brick-shaped remote that operates at 433 MHz, “beams” right through walls and doors and lets you choose between day and night settings to save money off your utility bills.
- Sensibo: If climate control in your home is centred around an air conditioner and a heat pump, have a look at Sensibo Sky. The wireless hub is compatible with almost all air conditioners as long as they come with an IR remote control option. Sky serves as an in-line switchboard that enables manual temperature settings using a smartphone app, pre-programmed per-day schedules, or geofencing. Moreover, Sensibo Sky supports Alexa and Google Assistant.
- tado: The company specialises in smart home climate control. Tado supplies thermostats for both central heating systems and air conditioners, and a wireless central heating controller. Tado’s wired gateway is only about the size of a cigarette lighter but right up there with all the heavy weights when it comes to functions: open window detection, per-day schedules, geofencing, also taking the local weather forecast on board when choosing optimal temperature settings. However, some of its automated functions require a paid subscription. Operating tado products is pretty straightforward: app, Alexa, Google Assistant, selector knob – the choice is entirely yours.