German-based Tado makes one of the most advanced smart thermostats on the market - so what is tado, is it any good, and how easy is it to use? Mark Mayne explains all.

The Tado 2 smart thermostat is a German-made device intended to take on Hive and Nest on their own territory.

Like a conventional home heating system, there’s a suitably minimalist the thermostat unit, and a separate Tado hub which plugs into your router. The latter allows you to control your heating (and hot water, depending on your boiler type) via an app on your iPhone/iPad or Android phone.

The additional tool Tado brings to the table is full geo-fencing, which sounds technical, but basically means using your phone’s location to work out whether you need the heating on. The system recognises when your phone is gradually getting closer to the home address (on the bus home from work for example), and fires up the heating in advance, so you return to a house that’s at your chosen temperature.

Tado: compatibility and setup

Tado is compatible with most boiler types – its simplest setup simply replaces an old wired thermostat, while a small hub plugs into your home router. There’s an extension kit too, which allows your thermostat to be used wirelessly under battery power, but this last box needs to be wired into your boiler by a professional.

Once you’re wired – or wirelessed – up, control of the system is in the hands of the Tado app (Android, iOS, Windows) or the thermostat itself. The latter is a relatively simple hotter/colder arrangement, and handy if your phone isn’t to hand, or your babysitter is feeling the chill.

Tado app in action

Tado’s app control

The app has developed over the years to become one of the fullest-featured around. The opening screen tells you the current forecast (more on this later), the current house temp, the set target temp, and a little radar display of where your household are (based on the smartphones you’ve registered).

The app is colour-coded for extra-quick info – orange means the system is active, green that nobody is home, and blue at night when the heating is in sleep mode. All these settings are customisable by tapping the thermometer/calendar icon in the top right. Here you can set time and temperature bands (maybe you want a blast of heat mid evening while you hunker down in front of the telly, or perhaps first thing Monday to start the week), and these can be as granular as you like.

In the event you’re unexpectedly freezing (or far too hot), simply tap the centre temp reading on the start screen, and you can manually override the settings you’ve created, either switching everything off, or setting a new temp which the system will maintain till you manually turn it off.

Tado energy use

Monitor your energy use over time

Tado Frost protection

Tado not only monitors your house temp via the thermostat, it also keeps a digital eye on the weather forecast, tuning down the boiler firing time if it’s a sunny day for example. There’s also a frost protection setting, which will save your pipes if the mercury suddenly plummets.

In use it’s a great system when all is working well – especially brilliant is the geo-location, which means you simply don’t fiddle with the heating. Going on holiday? Just jump in the cab! The only downside to it is remembering that when you leave the house, the heating deactivates, leaving the babysitter or your in-laws in baltic conditions. Luckily this can be manually overridden from the app…

Tado extra features

Tado added support for IFTTT (IF This Then That) back in October 2015, which in reality means that the intelligence of Tado’s location tech can be extended to other devices – such as lighting or smart sockets, for example. This is a real benefit, as with very little outlay – maybe a set of Philips Hue lights for example – and some basic app tweaking you’ll have a decent smarthome setup.

That’s not all – later in 2016 (Q3) Tado is unveiling wireless smart radiator valves too, which will allow a more ‘zoned’ approach to heating if you have a larger home or would like more granular control of specific areas.

Living with Tado – what’s it like?

Tom Parker has been living with the Tado smart thermostat for about a year and a half, but has it slashed his bills and does it live up to his expectations? Live-Smart quizzed him to find out.

  • Name: Tom Parker
  • Age: 28
  • Job: IT engineer
  • Lives: Linconshire with his partner and one young child
  • House: Two bed terrace

What made you buy a smart thermostat?

“When we bought this house – our first – I knew I wanted a smart thermostat to save money on heating in the long run. In month two I was out there checking out the options we had.”

Why Tado?

“I compared all the major thermostat brands, and went for Tado because it’s one of the few that supports Windows Phone. I’m trying out Android now, but my partner is still using the Windows app.”

How was installation?

“It was all very straight forward. I installed the thermostat myself in about 15 minutes – there’s a brilliantly clear guide online where you plug in the make, model etc of your boiler and it gives you a wiring diagram – dead easy to follow! A couple of months later I got the extension kit, which allows me to control the hot water too”.

What’s it like to use on a daily basis?

“It’s great, very user friendly and we’ve not had many issues at all. On one occasion the router hub was knocked offline and the heating fired up at 11pm, but Tado support were really very good and fixed it immediately remotely.”

What impressed you most?

I really like the fact Tado checks the weather and compensates, so if it’s a sunny day the boiler won’t fire for as long, for example. The recent integration with IFTTT means that you can connect it up to a whole suite of recipes, which is great…’

How do you rate the mobile app?

“I really rate the mobile app, although comparing the older Windows app to an Android Marshmallow one shows the former is pretty dated. Controlling the heating with it is pretty simple.”

Have you noticed a drop in your gas bill since switching to Tado?

“I have – I input all my data into the app, and it reckons I’m saving quite a bit, which tallies with what I’m seeing in terms of charges. Of course I’ve only got a few months to compare, but I think the gas bills are significantly lower.”

Tado key details

  • Wireless thermostat
  • Website, Android, iOS and Windows apps for remote thermostat control
  • Location detection/Geofencing
  • Price: From £178.99
  • Find out more: tado.com