Tado thermostat V3+ review
Tado has been a name in the smart home heating space for sometime now along with Nest and Hive. The smart heating system from tado has gone through a journey and various enhancement’s rolled out, with the latest being V3+.
To fully test tado for this review, I opted for the smart thermostat, 6 smart radiator thermostats and an extension kit to control the hot water. The tado system has been up and running for 4 months now in my home and tested extensively.
Just be transparent, Active JR purchased the equipment, but with a 25% discount via tado. We also got the Auto-Assist feature enabled FOC for the review. But to be clear, tado has no control over the content, nor will the influence this review outcome.
Tado thermostat V3+ review in pictures
Price, availability and overview
At present the Tado Smart Thermostat is only available in the UK and some European countries. In terms of price, it all depends on how you want to make your heating smart. so, if you continue reading I will take you through the different options.
Tado offer two ways to get started with its smart heating product. The first being the smart thermostat starter kit and the second the smart radiator thermostat starter kit. Confused?, don’t be, continue reading on.
Smart thermostat starter kit
In the smart thermostat starter kit you get a hub that is the bit that connects to the internet, but also connects all the devices together. You also get the smart thermostat that controls the central heating.
This is ideal if you live in small space or want to control the entire homes heating with one device to keep things simple. By going with this option you have control over the boiler and all the house.
Smart radiator thermostat starter kit
The smart radiator thermostat comes with the same hub to connect everything up. But instead of the smart thermostat that goes on the wall, you get a smart radiator thermostat that you replace your existing dumb radiator thermostat.
This option is great for renters that don’t have the option of changing out the entire system.
Whichever path you go down, you need a hub to make the tado system work. So it all depends on your home and choice which one you go with.
Once you have decided on which tado starter kit you opt for, the next thing to consider is the optional extras.
If you went with the smart radiator thermostat kit, then you may add a smart thermostat at a later date. This could be useful if you had the downstairs controlled by individual smart valves, but wanted to control the entire upstairs radiator with one device.
Smart radiator thermostat
Price: each from £69
If you went with the smart thermostat kit, then you may add a smart radiator thermostat at a later date. To get most out of the tado system, it’s advised to install them on every radiator in the home, but this could get expensive. You can buy them as a single (£69) or bundles of 2 (£129) and 4 (£229), which gives you some savings over the individual price.
It’s also worth noting that the smart radiator thermostats come in a vertical and horizontal fitting, make sure you buy the one that fits your radiator.
The Extension Kit enables you to control your hot water. You also need it to connect the tado Smart Thermostat to your heating system if there is no room thermostat or if you have a wireless room thermostat installed.
The new V3+ version featured in this review has an optional subscription. For an extra fee, you buy a feature called Auto-Assist that will automatically turn down the heating if you leave the home or if it detects an open window.
The V3+ Auto-Assist fee is £2.99 a month, or £24.99 for a full year. With the monthly fee, you can activate it only in the winter months when your heating is most in use. If you don’t want to pay the monthly fee, the tado app will notify you and you can manual turn on away mode or open window mode. You can read more about the subscription here.
Confused no more? then read on for the best bits of the review.
Tado thermostat V3+ review design
The central thermostat is a simple white square with a small button on the lower right which you used to wake it up and show you the current temperature.
To the left of the physical button you find a touchpad to raise and lower the temperature. You also get a back plate to mount the thermostat on the wall, but I choose to leave it on a table.
The individual smart radiator valves are premium alternative to the ‘dumb’ valves I previously had installed. A sleek cylinder with little LCD screen that turns on when you interact with them, which displays their current or target temperature.
While you will use the app to control the radiator valves in the main, you can manual turn the heating up and down. When you do, it’s got a clicky feedback when you turn the crown of the radiator valve. The LCD display will show you what temperature you’re setting the room to.
The extension kit is also simple in design and blends in with the home. You need to install this in the place of the existing programmer, so because its wider than most, make sure you have enough room.
The hub, oh the hub. Normally with smart home products you get a fairly chunky hub, but tado has designed the hub to look like a use data dongle. Its slick, the status lights are simple to understand and easy to hide near the router.
Tado thermostat V3+ install
While you can pay tado to install the kit for you, which starts at £50 depending on your options. I installed it myself as I am fairly competent, however if you are uncertain, then pay for a pro to install it for you.
Just a quick reminder, for the install and the rest of the review, this is the setup I am working with
- 1 x smart thermostat
- 1 x tado hub
- 1 x extension kit
- 6 x smart radiator thermostats
- V3+ of the app along with auto assist activated
- Apple HomeKit
My current home heating was Hive, and this didn’t feature an existing wired thermostat. So getting setup, I needed the Extension Box to get my boiler talking to the thermostat.
First thing you need to do is to disconnect the existing heating controls, but make sure you turn the power off.
The next step is to install the extension kit, if you have an existing programmer attached to your boiler to control hot water, the Extension Kit can replace it. The Extension Box fits the UK standard backplate, so it’s easy to replace the programmer with no rewiring.
In addition, there’s a Tado Gateway that connects to your router or home network, via Ethernet cable. You also need a spare power source to provide power to the hub.
The next step is to place the Smart Thermostat in the room it will control, I placed it in my games room as it does not have compatible radiators. It is also battery powered so doesn’t need a power connection, which is useful.
Once you have got all that connected, you then need to follow the install process within the app. While the process itself only took about 5 minutes, it was a little disjointed, let me explain
When setting up the smart thermostat in the app, you are almost immediately asked to open a webpage on your computer. Not only that, its not even a hyperlink, you have to manual type this into a browser? Really? However, once you have overcome this hurdle, the rest of the setup is simple.
I also connected tado to HomeKit for Siri voice control. I did this via scanning the barcode on the hub and then following the setup process within the Home App on your iOS device. If you plan to use HomeKit with tado, then I advise you set this up before you continue. This way the tado app will get access to all your existing rooms you have set up in HomeKit, meaning you don’t have to mess around creating them in the app.
Moving onto the smart radiator thermostats and again these are simple to install and setup. You simply remove the existing TRV from your radiators and then pop these on. Setting them up in the app is a breeze as unlike the smart thermostat, all the setup is within the app and done via a barcode. Once you have scanned this barcode, you add them to the room.
Once you’re all set up, you’ll then see individual rooms in the app with various readings. That’s it, in terms of install and setup, other than the odd quirk its straightforward.
Tado thermostat V3+ app and features
The app has received a major overhaul in the V3+ upgrade, but some users have complained the once free features now cost. But despite these complaints, in the V3+ app you get a cleaner home screen.
The App displays each room by its own tile, along with various features like hot water, Air comfort, geo fencing and energy savings reports. So lets dig into each one and find out how they work.
The room tile comes complete with the current room temperature and the set temperature. That makes it far easier to get a view of what’s going on at a glance.
If you click on the tile, it gives you some advanced options to manual change the heating, edit smart schedules, reports and the humidity reading.
Starting with smart schedules, I set up a schedule that turns the heating up, for a few hours in the morning and evenings during the week in the upstairs bedrooms. For the downstairs rooms, particularly the open-plan kitchen/living room I set a different schedule that reflected me working from home in these rooms.
Annoyingly, you can’t copy schedules between days or between rooms, so getting everything working can be fiddly. But once its all set up, its like having your heating on auto-pilot.
If you want to manually change the temperature of a room, you tap the room tile and can change the temperature by using the sliding scale. Once you’ve set a temperature, tapping outside of the control bar, takes you back to the original screen. This is where you can set how long the temperature change should last for from five minutes up to permanent.
If you have more than one radiator thermostat in a room as I do in the kitchen/living room the temperatures apply to all devices in that room, no matter which of the devices you have changed.
You also can look at reports within the room tile, which gives you historic room temperatures along with humidity. While you can view past days, it would be great to see months or even year charts.
Hot water Controls
As with the temperature controls, you can also set up a schedule that turns the hot water on and off. If you want to manually change the hot water to on or off, you tap the hot water tile and change the settings
Just like setting a temperature, tapping outside of the control bar, takes you back to the original screen. This is where you can set how long you want the hot water to heat, ranging from five minutes up to permanent.
While there is nothing ground breaking in this feature, it was great I could fire up the water heater from the bath to give me more hot water during a long soak.
You can also set the hot water to off when no-one is at home. While this would be useful for holidays, it does not work so well if everyone is out and want to come home to hot water. So in my case I turned this feature off as I didn’t find it very useful.
By default, the Tado app now warns you when you leave your home, asking you to turn your heating down or off. However, as I was using Auto-Assist, this feature is automated. So your heating will turn down when everyone goes out. But be warned you need everyone that lives in the house to download the tado app and connected to the account. It would be good if tado could release some motion detection to get around this.
You can also change the geo-fence of your home location, I found this particularly useful for my partner as she works locally and reducing the home radius.
As I was using the Auto-Assist feature all this works in the background, so it first I was not sure if it was working. But after a few times of checking it was all good, so i just forgot about it.
Open window detection
The radiator thermostats detects that a window is open by detecting a drop in temperature. Then based on the preferences, it then turns off the heating in that room. Window detection is configurable on a per-room basis, both as a toggle switch to turn the feature on or off, and a setting to choose how long it lasts for.
While I had huge success with the geo fencing, the open window detection feature was disappointing. As you can see with the screenshot below, the app is saying that I didn’t have a window open for 24 hours. This is despite having the bedroom window open since I woke and the kitchen bi-fold doors wide open.
However, despite the air quality report showing me I had opened no windows for 24 hours. The energy report for the month of may showed it had turned my heating off 32 times because of an open window detection.
The V3+ app also introduces Air Comfort, and this provides an indication of the quality of air in your home. The app takes readings from your Tado devices and gives you feedback on your room quality.
Using the indicator in the circle, your aim is to get the right combination of humidity and warmth. Should your indicator move out of ideal temperature, you’ll receive warnings, and advice such as “Take care as hotter rooms can cause rough and itchy skin”
While this information is “useful” it would be great if the app would send a notification based on a room’s air quality, so you can act on it. I found that visiting the app it would give me information, however its information I already knew based on the room conditions.
Oh, the controversial Auto-Assist feature which was introduced with the V3+ of the app. It costs £2.99 a month which can be cancelled anytime.
Simply explained, Auto-Assist automates the Geo fencing and Open-Window-Detection and automatically turns down the heating. If you don’t have it, then you get a push notification prompting you to change the heating settings.
While I got this service for free, I found it useful for the away mode. But because the open window detection didn’t work for, then I don’t think I would pay for it in the summer and only pay for it in the winter months.
The energy savings tile gives you insight on a monthly basis of how much the features have helped you save energy. It also gives you an overall percentage saved using the smart features.
This tile is useful to see how your usage changes over time and on different months, but again it would be good to a comparison between months without switching between screens.
Tado thermostat V3+ value
A smart heating system can have a ton of features that keep you interested. But the real test is how much energy it saves you and how a smart device improves your life.
By using the Tado system, I found that we saved on an average of 30% from March 2019 to July 2019. So how does that turn in pounds value? Well, it’s hard to tell because I have changed suppliers compared to the same period last year. But taking into account the price difference, I think am better off with tado.
However, this information comes with some significant caveats, and your experience will vary a great deal depending on the layout of your home and the amount of smart thermostats you have in the setup. As to get the best out tado, you really need it in every room, but this will make things expensive.
Tado do offer a 12 month money-back guarantee, which means if you don’t think you have saved money, well you get a refund after returning the kit.
The biggest question is can you save enough money with tado and get a return on investment. The simple answer is no, not in the short term anyway and it is going to be year 4, before I will see the investment being paid back in my home.
Smart Home and voice assistants
Tado is one of the better connected smart thermostats with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit support. As HomeKit is my default smart home platform, I only reviewed tado with the Apple setup.
Control from the Apple Home app allows you to change temperatures to follow the rule you have set for manual changes in the app. However, the most useful is the using HomeKit automations with the Tado system in Automations. For instance, you can turn your heating on and lights down to watch movies.
You can also use Siri and ask “what is the temperature in the bedroom” or if I was driving back from the airport, I could ask Siri to “turn the heating to 25”.
Overall, I used the Home app about 30% of the time and the remaining 70% I used the tado app to control my system. While the Home app is useful if you are heavy HomeKit useful, it does not offer anywhere near the same level of control as the tado app.
I was also disappointed to find that the humidity sensor in the thermostats are not exposed to HomeKit. I was hoping to use these to trigger a dehumidifier connected to a HomeKit smart plug via automations, but I could not. I am not sure if this is a fault with Apple or tado.
Tado thermostat V3+ review conclusion
Being a Hive user for nearly 4 years it took a few days to get used to how tado worked. The biggest change and once I got used to, it was being able to control each room individually. This meant I was not wasting energy in rooms that didn’t need warming, but allowed me to turn it on if I did.
Using tado’s smart schedules and controls has given me some savings, but without compromising on comfort keeping things warm. I also liked how Geo fencing worked with the Auto-Assist feature and would turn things off when the house was empty.
While tado does not have the same design appeal as Nest, it’s still a nice design. But, the smart radiator thermostats are the nicest looking on the market in my opinion.
Integration with third-party services such as HomeKit, Alexa and Google Assistant is great as it gives users choice.
Not so great
The open window detection being the biggest letdown for me. While the reports said it had worked during months, the air comfort reports didn’t show windows open for long periods.
While the app and software is good, I would like to see tado get more out of the air comfort and reporting. It would be great to see the app give more insight and trends. it would also be great for the app to push the data to the user, rather than having to hunt for it.
While HomeKit integration is good, and I got it integrated with my senses and automations. I would have liked to have been able to use the humidity sensor.
Tado ticks a lot of boxes for me and it all the various components link nicely together. Yes, it has its shortcomings, but most of these are software which can be fixed via firmware updates.
The Auto-Assist feature might be a hard sell for some, but you can choose when you use it to get the most value.
So that’s a wrap on the tado smart thermostat V3+ review. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive the latest on smart home and tech. If you have a question or comment, then leave it below.
The Auto-Assist feature might be a hard sell for some, but you can choose when you use it to get the most value.