Tado Smart Thermostat full review
Tado is a German smart-heating thermostat that cleverly uses your location to determine when to turn down your heating while you're away from home, and then turn it back up again as you return.
It does this using GPS and other location indicators from your smartphone, which you link to the Tado Smart Thermostat - Tado calls this feature Geofencing. You link all the smartphones of the residents, so if one person remains at home while the rest of the family is out, the heating knows to stay on and keep that person warm.
When everybody is out of the house, Tado dials the heating down (so it is not heating an empty house) but is always looking out for when one or all return home so that it can turn the heating back on.
Even more intelligently, you can set the level that you want Tado to start pre-heating your home. When set to Comfort Tado ensures that your desired home temperature is reached shortly before your arrival. An Eco mode, on the other hand, saves more money by not turning the temperature up until you get much closer to home. And there's a Balance mode somewhere in between. You can toggle between these modes until you get to the level between cost-saving and comfort that's right for you and your family.
You set different ideal temperatures for various times of the day (night, day, and evening), and you can separately control more than one room in the house using extra sensors in Tado's Smart Radiator Thermostats, which work hand in hand with the central Tado smart thermostat. The schedules work only when someone is at home.
You can set multiple zones for more individual temperature operation if you have a Tado sensor in each space you wish to control. And you can override the app with manual control (on Smart Thermostat and Smart Radiator Thermostats), which is useful if you have guests/babysitter visiting and you are out of the house.
Tado supports the three main voice assistants: Google, Alexa and Siri. So you can set the temperature simply by speaking.
Another new feature, Open Window Detection, uses the temperature and humidity sensors built int Tado's Smart Thermostats and Smart Radiator Thermostats. When a sudden drop in temperature or humidity is detected it recognises that this is most likely an open window and can turn your heating temporarily down to save energy.
The Air Comfort Skill helps you achieve a healthier indoor climate by providing insights into your home's air quality and suggesting ways in which you can improve it and avoid health risks such as mould.
Besides the current room climate, Tado also uses outdoor air quality data for your home’s location to help you ventilate your home at the right time. For instance, it informs you to keep the windows closed if the air outside your home is polluted due to heavy traffic. And, it informs you of the pollen levels in the air, which can be useful if anyone in your family suffers from allergies.
V3+ comes with a 12-month Energy Savings Guarantee, so if you're not happy with your Tado device you can return it for a full refund in the first year.
It works with iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.
Tado claims that its smart thermostat will help consumers save an average 27 percent in heating costs – about £180 per year. At a cost of £199 (self-install) Tado should have paid for itself within a year or so. (If you get an engineer to install Tado then the cost rises to £249, so would take 16 months to recoup using Tado's figures.)
The Tado Smart Thermostat Starter Kit costs £199.99; with an optional £50 charge for professional installation. That £50 pro-installation is probably a wise investment for most home users, especially if you don't already have a room thermostat. Tado itself "strong recommends" an engineer installation.
Households that don’t have an existing room thermostat can use the Tado Extension Kit to set up a wireless connection to their heating system. The Extension Kit is available as an accessory to buy for £79.
The new V3+ version doesn't include Geofencing as an automatic feature. Instead, it notifies the last person leaving the home to turn it on (via the mobile app). For an extra fee, you buy a feature called Auto-Assist that does all this for you automatically - so no need for notifications and app tapping; instead Tado just does it all for you.
The V3+ Auto-Assist fee is $2.99 a month, or £24.99 for a full year. With the monthly fee, you can choose to activate it only in the winter months when your heating is most in use
(Existing V2 and V3 Tado users who had this automatic functionality at no extra cost when they purchased Tado, can pay a one-off fee of £19.99 for a lifetime of Auto-Assist when upgrading to V3+. They then also get the extra V3+ features including Air Comfort and Open Window Detection. They can also stick to V3 and keep the automatic location service without the new V3 features.)
You can add individual Tado Smart Radiator Thermostats (either vertical or horizontal fittings) for £69.99 each.
Don't forget that the whole point of a smart thermostat is to save money long term. Tado should start saving you money within a few days, and should pay for itself within two years.
While the price of energy has fallen in the past few months, cutting energy costs as soon as possible makes a lot of sense. There are plenty of rivals, of course, and we've rounded them up in our Best smart heating systems test.
We have run the Tado for over three years now, and our energy costs have dropped, although it's impossible to pin this all on that Tado - but just having such a device does make the householder more keen to save heating and other energy costs around the home.
Using such a system is a revelation in monitoring and controlling your domestic heating, and we're confident that savings are there to be made. The more control you have the more money you’ll save, and with sky-high energy prices right now you'd be silly to ignore all solutions.
Why buy a smart thermostat?
What’s the most expensive bit of tech kit in your house? HD TV? Super-slim laptop? Apple iMac? iPhone? Audio system? In most houses, one of the priciest chunks of tech is the humble but expensive boiler. A new, energy-efficient boiler will likely set you back £1,200-£2,500 including installation – that’s more than most smart TVs or laptops.
The real cost of a boiler is much higher, as an inefficient one will be costing you hundreds of pounds a year in wasted energy. One option, especially if your boiler is over 15 years old, is to replace with a new energy-efficient model. The average savings when replacing a “G” rated boiler is £225 per year. If your existing boiler has a more efficient rating of “D” you can still expect to save as much as £65 per year by replacing it. Even considering the cost of a new combi boiler purchase and installation you’ll be saving money in the long run – maybe as early as 5-7 years.
Based on a saving of 25 percent gas usage, the Energy Saving Trust estimates the average saving per household on energy bills after installing a new boiler to be £310. And if your current heating system doesn’t include a room thermostat the potential savings in using a smart system such as Tado are even greater.
If your boiler isn't that old and is still going strong, a cheaper way to make your boiler more efficient is to get smarter. There is a growing list of smart thermostats and systems appearing on the market, all of which promise to slash your heating bills.
The US Environmental Protection Agency claims consumers could reduce energy usage by 10-30 percent using the schedules and temperature settings of programmable (semi-smart) thermostats. These let you program temperatures for certain times of the day – so you can automatically lower the temperature when you'll be out of the house, for example.
Unfortunately, up until recently, these programmable thermostats have been tricky for the average homeowner to operate correctly. The new, smart remote-control thermostats, such as Nest and Tado, connect to home Wi-Fi networks and come with simple smartphone apps.
Tado vs Nest: features
What differentiates Tado from Nest is its smarter learning features. Nest programs itself by learning your behaviour patterns and desired temperatures for certain days and times during the week – which it calls Nest Sense. It then builds a schedule for your heating system to follow. You control Nest through the outer-ring dial to adjust temperatures, and then via the mobile app. Read our Nest review.
Tado does allow you to manually turn the temperature up via the touch display on the sensor. Mostly, though, everything is controlled via your smartphone app and the physical whereabouts of the home's residents. It creates a more real-time and less static schedule than Nest’s.
Since Tado uses your location to determine whether or not the heating should be on, you don't need a set a schedule. Nor do you need to worry when your schedule changes unexpectedly: Tado will make sure the house isn't heated unnecessarily and that it's always warming up before you get home.
Nest added a similar feature in 2016, which it calls Home/Away assist. Prior to this, it used basic sensing to work out if you've left the house while the heating is still on.
Tado also beats Nest with its ability to use Internet-connected smart radiator valves to sense and control your heating individually in multiple rooms. Nest, on the other hand, uses a single thermostat that senses the temperature in one room and uses that to adjust heating in the whole house.
What's in the box?
Smart Thermostat, Internet Bridge, USB cables, connectors, ethernet cable, mounting screws, adhesive pads, labelling for cables, screwdriver, 3 AAA batteries. The Internet Bridge connects to the internet via your router. The Smart Thermostat and the Internet Bridge communicate via radio.
You set Tado the target temperature you want your home – or rather the room in which you place the Tado thermostat – to reach. This should be placed in the room you and your family spend most of the time in. The Tado Smart Thermostat is powered by three AAA batteries. Tado claims that these batteries typically last for two years, and will inform you via email and/or push notification when it is time to replace them.
Tado also offers Smart Radiator Thermostats. These are quite easy to install yourself if your radiator already has athermostatic radiator valve (TRV) in place. If you really don't like DIY, seek professional help or assistance from someone who is more adept than you. Unless you have non-regulation radiators it's a matter of unscrewing your old TRV and replacing with the Tado unit.
These allow you to turn radiators off when the room isn't being used - much more cheaply than changing your plumbing to create different zones. They can also be scheduled, so you have much more granular zonal control over your heating than if you bought just one smart thermostat to control the whole house.
How Tado works
Tado lets you schedule the usual times you wake up in the morning and go to bed at night – which can differ for weekends. The system then knows to heat up the house ready for when you bound (or crawl) out of bed in the morning. If you think the heating comes on too soon it’s easy to adjust Tado’s settings via the apps. You get to the settings with a simple tap on the mobile app screen.
You can set a minimum Sleep temperature of 5°C. There’s also a maximum of 25°, so if you like your house really hot then Tado might not be for you – but then you probably don’t care much about energy efficiency…
All this smartness takes a bit of getting accustomed to. In the UK we’re used to setting our boilers to come on and off using timers. Creatures of habit we get up at the same times on weekdays and mostly pretty regularly on weekends, too. If we get cold we walk to the boiler and turn up the temperature.
With Tado you leave the heating on all the time (initially scary for energy-efficiency nuts), and the smart thermostat does all the thinking for you.
Here's the really clever bit. It knows whether you are at home or elsewhere, so if you do break out of your usual routine – either staying at home for the day when you’d usually be out, or being away when you’d normally be in – Tado is watching you and turning the heating up or down depending on your location – using the GPS or other location functions in your smartphone, and other smartphones assigned to the home. It calls this "geofencing".
The Tado app uses the most battery-efficient way to determine how far you are from home (for example, with iOS geofencing/region monitoring) and works in the background. GPS is only called upon in exceptional cases. This takes place fully automatically.
If you have deactivated the GPS function, Tado uses the other geolocation functions of your smartphone. In general, Tado always uses the last distance from home that has been transmitted by your phone. This information is used to determine the level of heating. In case your phone does not send any location data anymore (e.g. when deactivating all geolocation functions), Tado will use the distance of the phone that was last transmitted.
While Nest creates an “Auto-away mode” based on what it's learned, it doesn’t actually know who is actually in your house. It guesses, based on a combination of sensors and algorithms, when you're away to prevent heating or cooling an empty home. When it thinks you’re back the Nest Thermostat returns to your regular schedule.
Via the GPS/geofencing in your smartphone Tado uses Presence Detection to actually know when you’re at home or away. Indeed it controls the heating depending on how far away you are – so it knows to start heating up the house as you get nearer.
If you pop to the shops for an hour it will gently lower the temperature to save money but raise it again as you approach home. If you’re out all day on a trip, Tado will lower the heating further and for longer, but knows when to raise it again when you’re on your way home.
Depending on how far the residents are away from home Tado lowers the temperature. As soon as one resident approaches home Tado heats your home up.
If you have a guest or a babysitter who remains in the house while you’re away you can switch Tado to Manual mode. If you want to you can set a temperature manually at any time. This way you can remotely control your heating. longer-term guests can be added to your account, so their phones are recognised and they don't freeze while you're away from home.
Another smart thermostat is Hive – available for £199 for customers of British Gas only. Like Nest this doesn’t offer actual presence detection, and is actually a little less smart than Nest as you have to adjust room temperature as you leave the house.
The Energy Savings Report (shown above) shows how much energy Tado has saved you on a month-by-month basis. This includes Open Window Detection - sudden changes in temperature or humidity when a window is opened are detected, and the heating is turned off automatically to not waste energy. Tado also adapts to the weather - when sunshine is predicted, it turns the heating down to take advantage of the solar gain and avoid overshooting the set temperature, for higher efficiency and comfort at home. A new climate report now visualises these effects.
Tado is a clever little thing. It learns about the performance of your heating and how it works together with your house or apartment. The company claims that within three weeks Tado should be operating at maximum efficiency. Tado examines your daily temperature data to work out how fast (or slow) you house warms up, for instance.
In the first few days, Tado might behave a little erratically as it tests and gets to know your heating system and your home.
Tado also uses a range of local weather data to know when to raise or lower the heating to your desired level of comfort – as the solar radiation of the Sun affects room temperature. The timing of sunlight shows up on the informative screen you get when you turn the app into landscape mode.
The Tado app is clear and simple but full of information. The background colour changes depending on the mode Tado is in. Orange denotes Tado is in Home mode – when one of the residents is home. Green is away mode – when the last person has left the house. And Blue shows Tado is in Sleep mode – when your sleep time begins.
There is also a Tado Web App that you can access with a web browser on a PC, Mac or laptop. On the Web app there’s an overview of all of Tado's activities: a detailed report with a temperature curve, heating activity and events that influence the temperature regulation. Additionally, you can adjust all settings, set a schedule for residents without a smartphone, and manage your account.
There are three different heating operations, set either on the phone app or on the Tado thermostat itself.
Off: When set to Off, Tado only heats when the room temperature drops below 5°C to avoid frost damage.
Auto: When set to Auto, Tado controls your heating based on your location and schedule. You can adjust your preferred home and sleep temperatures. The optimal away temperature is set by Tado automatically.
Manual: When set to Manual, Tado keeps the room temperature at the selected set point. This allows you to override the app's settings, and can ve set to end when the next schedule starts or when Manual is turned off in the app.
What happens if you leave your smartphone at work and nobody else is home? In Tado V3 and V3+ the unattended guest can interact using the LED matrix display’s user interface on the thermostat. Of course, as a generous host you can also warm the house up for him or her with your mobile app or over your computer.
If you turn off your heating in the Settings then it stays completely turned off except for warm water. Because Tado tracks the room temperature it will nevertheless turn on the heating once the room temperature falls below 5°C – a great safety, fall-back feature to prevent any frost damage.
Pet owners who leave their animal unattended for most of the day will want to consider the best temperature for their pet. A dog doesn't need a room temperature of 23°. And Tado doesn't let your home cool down completely when nobody is at home.