- Simple, intuitive app
- Flexible control
- smart auto controls
- Some setup issues
- Could cause user conflict
- Demands constant internet connection
We go hands on with Tado’s smart home heating system, which claims to be able to shave you pounds off your bill by intelligently automating heating schedules.
Tado aims to take the pain out of home heating and save you a few bucks along the way. With the Tado thermostat installed, you can have either total control over your home’s heating, via a web browser or the handy mobile app, or leave it to Tado to keep your house warm when you need it.
Let’s take a look at the set-up process and how we’ve found the Tado smart home heating system in the three weeks we’ve been using it.
Tado: Set-up and installation
Your first step is to get registered with Tado online and tell them exactly how your current heating system is configured. This is a thankfully pain-free process, thanks to the helpful layout of the online registration tool.
Despite knowing next to nothing about our boiler and old thermostat, we were quickly able to identify what we had, with aid of Tado’s illustrations and step-by-step guide. We determined that we not only needed Tado’s thermostat, but also the Smart Extension kit, which wirelessly transmits information between your boiler and the thermostat. That added an extra £79 onto the thermostat’s cost of £199, but Tado promises that you’ll make that back pretty quickly as it can save you up to 31 per cent off your annual bills.
When our thermostat and extension kit arrived, we had a choice. We could either install it all ourselves (which would have probably resulted in the Second Great Fire of London) or Tado could organise an engineer to come and do the dirty work for us. We went with option two.
Before an engineer could come, we had to get both pieces of kit registered through the Tado website. Unfortunately we couldn’t find a way to register the extension kit ourselves, but Tado’s helpful and quick-to-respond online support managed to do that for us. A day later we received a call from a local engineer saying that he’d swing by the following week to install our new heating system.
There was another problem when the engineer rocked up, after he’d installed the new gear, in that the Tado thermostat wasn’t communicating with our router. We’d already plugged Tado’s bridge utility into a spare Ethernet port on our router – this is used to transmit info from our online account to the thermostat.
This part of the process should be simple but for some reason the two were not pairing up. The engineer placed a call to Tado’s support and once again the issue was fixed remotely.
With that done, our Tado system was up and running. As they say, things were starting to heat up…
Tado: The app
Manual or auto, that is the question. Tado’s mobile apps – available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone – can either take full control over your heating, manually adjusting the temperature via the handy app or your web browser, or you can stick the system on auto, which is where things get really clever.
On auto mode, you determine what temperature you want your home to be when you’re lounging around the house, and what temperature you wish for it to drop to when you’re asleep – you can specify times for each individual day, or simply weekdays and weekends, so Tado knows when you hit the hay.
As long as you have GPS activated on your phone, Tado will then track your movements. If you’re at home it’ll maintain temperature, but if it detects that you’ve left home (usually for us this happened when we were about 200 metres away), it’ll knock of the heating so your house cools down. Then, when you get within range of your house again, it’ll immediately start to heat back up to your desired temperature.
Best of all, if you live with others, Tado can happily cope with multiple users. You’ll need to make sure each user has the app installed and logs in to your Tado account. This gives everyone in the home control over heating schedules. It also means that once the first person to head home approaches the house, the geolocation will kick in and your dwelling will start to warm up automatically.
As this reviewer lives in a house of two, we didn’t experience any arguments over when the heating should and shouldn’t come on, but in crowded, shared houses we can forsee systems like Tado causing some arguments.
You can track your home’s exact temperature throughout the day and even see previous days on the handy graph, so you’ll have a vague idea of your weekly expenditure.
That’s all well and good. But how much can you save with Tado?
Our house was never cold in the three weeks we tested Tado and we apparently saved around 60-70 pence a day compared with our old heating system. This means we should make back the cost of the kit in roughly a year. Now, what could we spend that few hundred quid we’ve saved on?
In theory, we’d be able to save even more dollar with a zoned heating system like HeatGenius or Evohome. Tado doesn’t offer a zoned service just yet, but the company revealed back in October that this is in the pipeline. If this is a dealbreaker for you, it might be worth keeping in mind that Tado is working on this.
The app is wonderfully simple to use, with a bright, colourful, clutter-free interface. Every option is carefully explained so you never end up flicking virtual switches, wondering what the hell they actually do.
Of course, the app can only be used as long as your Tado has an internet connection, which raises another potential problem: if your home router or web connection dies, then the Tado auto mode useless. In those circumstances, the Tado is supposed to maintain the last set temperature, but we found this wasn’t the case. Instead, our radiators all turned on and the house ose to a balmy 23 degrees compared with the pre-set 20 degree temperature. This happened twice during our testing time, so it wasn’t a one-off either.
If you’re at home, you can simply switch to manual mode until the connection problem is resolved, configuring the temperature through the thermostat directly. However, if you’re away from home, you’re a little stuffed – hence we’re going to switch to manual mode when we head off on hols.
Tado: Recombu’s verdict
Being able to control heating and hot water from one app is incredibly handy, especially as winter is coming. We like that Tado gives Windows Phone users control too – too many other smart heating systems are iOS and Android-only.
We also love the presentation of everything, from the hardware, the app interface right down to the uber-helpful customer support who were able to help us get set up despite some initial setbacks. Our only real concern is the issues when our web connection dropped.
Based on our time with the service, it certainly looks like we’ll at least be able to make back the cost of installation within a year. For this reason, we can’t say how effective Tado is as a money saving investment right now. Initial signs are very good – we’ll let you know how many pennies we’ve been able to save once the snow melts and Spring 2015 rears its verdant head.