Installing a tado Smart Thermostat - easy but yet difficult - looking positive and already helping

  • 2 October 2021
  • 28 replies
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All was going swimmingly. The app installed. The tado arrived. I started the process and the app asked for the name and model number of thermostat and boiler controller. Happily it recognised my specific British gas models. Each device installation begins with scanning its QR code, and you are then given simple diagrams and instructions. The app led me step-by-step, screen by screen, through the installation, using in part generic diagrams and in part model-specific wiring guides. At each step, you have to touch the confirm button before the app lets you see the next step. You cannot look ahead.

 

 

 



First is installing the Internet bridge, which has short 25cm ethernet and usb cables. Happily my router had both an unused ethernet socket and a usb slot. So the power comes from that, and I didn't need the supplied mains charger. The app checks that it has connected up properly. I then got a welcome email from tado.

Then you switch off the power to the heating system, and check that it is off. I have an isolating switch near the boiler, so didn't need to use the main fuse board.

Second is the thermostat, again scanning the QR code. The app then takes you through removing the old thermostat, how to label up the wires with the supplied stickers, and says if you find an extra wire to email a photo; so I did. There is an earth that they don't mention. Fundamentally all of the old wires are disconnected and inserted into 2-way lever connectors.

 

 

 


Third is the tado wireless receiver (programmer). The old one was in an awkward corner and had been partially sealed in with silicon sealant, but I got it opened and all the wires labelled in accordance with the app instructions. Again there was an extra earth wire (3 actually) compared to the diagram, so I used the earth label that isn't shown in the instructions. I sent off an email with photo as instructed to advise the extra wire. I got the base off the wall as instructed. My goodness but there was a lot of loose plaster left by the British Gas installer! What a mess it was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beware of wires that are hidden

There was a black one connected in the same N slot as the blue ones. But it was bent backwards and underneath.

 

 


I moved through the instructions and came to "install the receiver programmer 30cm minimum from the boiler. What? I haven't got 30cm! Being told this only AFTER you've taken everything apart is dreadful. 

 

 

 



Then the app shows a SINGLE cable coming out of a wall that can be neatly put under the cable clip in the tado! I've got THREE cables which split to 10 wires that are interconnected into 6 groups. Even if I could install 30cm away I'd have to joint them up to another cable (or two, because 6-core is unusual) and have a new 80cm run along a wall to the other side of the boiler. But then that would be the opposite side to the thermostat. Either location has a direct line through the ceiling to the router on my home office desk.

If it REALLY needs to be 30cm away, that should be advised BEFORE PURCHASING. 

The papers included in the box give a helpline for installation support. That is obsolete. The ansaphone at the other end says they are transitioning to a chat based support because it is "quicker". I am instructed to go to www.tado.com, which I do. The chat is a xxxx bot. They are never any use, and indeed it isn't. It gives me links to web pages that say exactly the same thing as the app.

The bot can connect me to a person, in "under 20 minutes", so I ask for that at 15:40. While waiting I explain the problem of not having 30cm. After a full 50 minutes, "Hello, thank you for contacting us" popped up under a person's name. After 10 minutes I ask whether there is anyone there, and what I should do because I do not have 30cm from the boiler. Another 8 minutes passed before the person on the other end actually commented at 16:48 - "You can install it where the old device was installed". "That's only 15cm". "I will check with my colleagues". A further 10 minutes later, at 17:00, I'd not had any further message despite asking how it was going. It was matterless as during that 80 minutes total, I'd had to cross my fingers and connect the new one up anyway, because we had to go out and we needed working heating for when we returned late on. The alternative was to reconnect the original controller AND thermostat, and there wasn't time. I had to apologise and abandon chat.

Thankfully, having completed the steps in the app, and turned on the power, the power and internet lights came on. The app's net step was to find the controller which it did. All connected - the app enabled me to turn the heating on, and we went out.

I'm pleased to say that it is working, if not pretty! The tado controller is smaller than the old British Gas one, so it doesn't cover the old holes, and it certainly doesn't cover the wires. Because of a condensation drain pipe from the boiler, and which wires go into which terminal, it can only fit at right angles! I've had to polyfilla part of the hole that British Gas had cut, and will get some sort of blanking plate to make it look tidier.

 

 

 



I hope that it doesn't suffer from interference, but only time will tell. The guidance given is absolute, rather than saying "ideally 30cm minimum".

As my wife drove us away from home, I was able to turn off the heating so that it wasn’t wasting energy while we were out, see the indoor temperature and then turn it back on when we set off home so it was warm by the time we got there.

The next day I got a reply to my second email (the one about the additional earth wires in the controller) which confirmed what I'd done.

Now comes the learning process, for me as well as the thermostat. It comes programmed for central heating to come on at 20° at 7am and go off at 10pm. That is three TIME BLOCKS, midnight to midnight. Each day can be different, or weekday and weekend, or all the same.

The app lets me add time blocks rather than just one or two on/off periods in a day. Each block can be a different temperature. You can choose to use the smartness to fire up the boiler in advance so that by the start of a time block, the thermostat is up to the required temperature. That should be very useful in winter.  This morning it fired up about 20 minutes before the set time, because it was only 7 Celsius outside.

 

 

 


The same options for day and time block apply to the hot water.

I've got my wife to install the app too, so we can use the geofencing. I'm interested to understand how that will know we are returning home, other than that we're within the 400m zone.

 

This morning, I got an email prompting me to link my tado installation to my OVO account, which I have done.  That promises to give me more money-saving ideas after it has been running a month.  We’ve also recently had our cavity wall insulation filled up this summer as the original had disappeared.

 

I hope this helps.  It seems you can be brave about the 30cm, so long as it isn’t hidden from the internet signal.  Sadly the tado support was lacking and way below the standards that OVO sets for itself.

 

DO ask if you have questions.


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Great narrative @EverythingNeedsAUserName 

Frankly I think this Forum can do better at support than any chat-bot or manual. Let’s see what help we can put together between us.

 

I’m going to kick off by suggesting multi-core mains control cables (class YY) which can link the boiler to the Tado receiver:

7-core YY mains cable at £1.56/mtr +VAT and 5-core heat-resistant at 64p/mtr +VAT from TLC-Direct

7-core YY control cable

With YY control-cable you get an earth and all the other cores are black. Label them with PVC tape as you proceed. YY-cable may only be used for control signals. It is not certified to carry power to an appliance even tho’ it’s mains-rated.

Screwfix also do a 10m coil of cable type 3095Y (5-core) at £7.52 incl VAT. This has coloured cores. The equivalent from Toolstation costs £8.87. Cable type 3095Y is mains-rated and heat-resistant. It’s normally used for temperature controls close to hot-water cylinders.

 

If you’re trying to fit a Tado receiver in a position where there was a originally space for a 2-gang control box, I suggest you get a PVC blanking plate. Bolt the Tado receiver to it in the centre, leaving the two screwholes at the ends for the M3.5 bolts to secure onto the existing patrass-box.

PVC faceplates are thin and can be drilled without shattering. Toolstation have them for 59p each. But ignore their photo. It actually looks likes this:

PVC 2-gang faceplate

If you don’t feel able to bolt the Tado receiver to the blanking plate, double-sided tape would probably suffice. Either way the receiver will cover up whatever size hole you’ve made for the cable to pass through. :slight_smile:

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A really insightful walkthrough of your experience, @EverythingNeedsAUserName - great post!

 

From your experience some of the advice in that instruction manual and parts of that journey (such as your web chat /  bot experience) sound like they need optimising. I’ll share this with the OVO team that are working on Tado related insights - they may be in a position to share this with Tado directly. 

 

Love the screenshots, this topic is available and ready to help members who may be on the look out for real people’s experiences, at any and all stages of the installation process. 

 

I’d like to try and get more info on this wiring. I’m comfortable to admit that I wouldn’t be confident myself when dealing with unexpected wires that don’t follow what the installations describe. @EverythingNeedsAUserName or @Transparent can you help novices like me understand why there would be so many ‘mains control cables’. 3 cables splitting into 10 wires. 

 

Where to start with this? When is it best to get an electrician? @PeterR1947 would appreciate your advice here), what risks of things like an electrical shock are there? 

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Three cables feeding into a central-heating control point is quite common @Tim_OVO.

There is one to supply the electricity needed by the thermostat/time-clock itself.

The second cable connects back to the boiler with a ‘switched live’, telling it when to operate.

Cable number three goes to the 3-port valve which directs boiler output either to radiators or a DHW cylinder. That’s usually a 3-wire plus earth cable, but can be 4- or-5-wire if the controller receives feedback from the motorised valve.

Moreover, if the house had been through a couple of previous boiler or time-clock replacements in its time, then those cables could be a rich assortment of wiring colours! :scream:

A ‘black’ wire could be a neutral or a live control-signal to the 3-port valve.

 

And at this point you begin to realise that a cut-price offer on a wonderful new ‘wireless’ smart thermostat might result in some considerable time being spent by a qualified electrician or heating-engineer to install the receiver end. All this costs money.

 

Here’s an example of a YY Control-cable connecting to a box on my own Thermal-store. It’s got 5 internal wires, including two blacks. I’ve labelled it so you can see what each does:

 

This is definitely the ‘right’ way to connect this box to the manifold control unit on the next floor-level. But many installers wouldn’t carry such an exotic cable.

Instead they’ll use the common mains cables for lighting circuits (1.5mm²) and label the conductors at each end (hopefully!).

If a cable doesn’t have enough cores, they’ll simply run another cable alongside it.

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I have a thermostat from Inspire Home Automation and as I chose not to have hot water control, the thermostat simply replaced my existing thermostat so only three existing wires to connect.

It provides similar features to the Tado, Geofencing, Temperature Profiling, temperature warnings etc.  We chose not to have hot water control as we are happy with the timed hot water; if we go away, we turn off the hot water and the PV diverter keeps the hot water going, even on dull days.

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Well I didn’t expect that response from @PeterR1947 

Where’s all the warnings about using a qualified electrician and not trying to replace mains thermostats yourself? :astonished:

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Ooops, caught out by @Transparent, yes, if you don’t know what you are doing get an electrician to do it.  Probably best if I don’t mention installing my Solar hot water diverter and my mains thermostat myself.:sunglasses:

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Thanks @Transparent 

I’m not going to add any additional wires to move it further away, as it works as-is, and that’s just more connectors to try and squeeze into a small space.  I was waiting till I could get to the electrical wholesaler to get a blanking plate - and wall box.  I only had single ones in my electrical stores.  It is amazing how much you can collect over 45 years and still not have what you are looking for.

As you said, it wasn’t surprising to find that many cables linked up together.  I WAS surprised to see the tado drawing suggesting it would be a single cable.  That has never been my experience, and I don’t know how it ever could be.

Part of the reason I stuck with the tado help was because I planned to create this post.  I thought I needed to experience the full process.  I just didn’t expect it to be so long winded and useless.

With that in mind, I chased up the unanswered email about the incorrect wiring diagram for the thermostat. I was told that they’d answered a similar question from me about the receiver so didn’t think it needed answering!  Astounding, as that first answer said to connect the earth wire to the earth terminal on the receiver (as I’d told them I was doing). But the tado thermostat is wireless, so doesn’t have any terminals - so their first reply can’t have been applicable.  I hope they fix their diagrams.

So far the tado is working. The absolute requirement for siting 30cm away seems to have been unnecessary.

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@EverythingNeedsAUserName good decision “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

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INITIAL THOUGHTS ON OPERATION after 4 days

  • The ease of setting differing times and temperatures compared to the previous system is wonderful.  Rather than being too hot getting up, we’re set for 18° briefly, then (for now) 14° during the day on the basis that unless it gets really cold, it won’t kick in; then 20° for the evening. 
  • We’ve only used the AWAY setting on the very first night.
  • It is now easy to see how the house cools down overnight and daytime, but perhaps not as much as I’d thought.  I now wish I’d had this before we got the cavity wall insulation filled back up, so I could see whether it made a difference.
  • The “Early Start” setting is clearly operating.  It fires up the heating up to an hour beforehand.  
  • We’ve already experienced the “Open Window Detection” - except that it was the front door.
  • The app gives MORE information than the web site!  But it isn’t as easy to read. I’ve not found a way of getting any data out - just graphs.  The data appears to refresh every minute - you can press and hold your smartphone screen and move across to see the precise information at any one time.
Web site App

 

 

No  Climate Report icon

 

 

 Climate Report icon top right

The following screenshots are only in the app (to get some of these, I’m using “YourPhone” in Windows 10 because on the phone itself, it kept overlaying the navigation bar).
 

This shows when the heating was on; the grey shading shows how hard tado was asking for heat.  I’m not aware of that facility in the boiler itself, which I think is just ON or OFF.  Note how it overshoots the target, apparently designed so that it doesn’t need to turn the boiler on and off too frequently.

The scheduled evening temperature is set for 17:00; to achieve that, tado started to call for heat at 15:59, a full hour in advance.  It hit desired temperature at 17:08.  Before we got the tado, I actually had the old controller set to switch on at 16:00, so it is doing much the same.

The peak was 20.8° and the evening low was 19.8°. You can see how it started to call for heat again - that was at exactly 20°.

 

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Apparently I can get access to the data using their undocumented api using openhab. That's another huge learning curve ahead. 

https://community.tado.com/en-gb/discussion/8/tado-api

 

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@Tim_OVO in my first post I realise that I missed the images that showed how to label my specific controller. I'd intended to do so to show how the instructions in the app are designed for your own specific devices. 

I don't seem able to edit, nor can I send you a PM that includes images. Please could you add an extra row in the table as shown, and add these?

The warning to "Make sure you label the stickers exactly as shown..." , combined with the image on the first line not to proceed if they differ could panic a lot of self-installers. 

 

 

 

 

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This is a really, really well written post overall. Tim and Jess can definitely use ModPowers to do a ModEdit for you as it’s user requested. You can’t normally edit your own content more than an hour after you post it for integrity reasons unless you have the Super User role which is attached to Plan Zero Hero or you have mod powers.

If you keep this up… Good things may happen...

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Such a great guide to installing a Tado yourself and the great to hear you’re already seeing the benefit, @EverythingNeedsAUserName.

 

I’ve made the requested edit to your original post (hope I got that right). As @Blastoise186 hints, more posts like this and you could be well on the way to earning yourself some extra special super-user powers!

 

Keep us updated on how you get on with the new smart thermostat! :slight_smile:

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I agree this great post is getting better and better with your latest insight into the app (and also the interesting differences between the app and the online browser version) - and how it’s helping make it easier to manage your heating. 

 

I actually want to drill down a bit further into what’s possible now, vs before. What would you say are the 3 main benefits to this smart thermostat that wasn’t possible before @EverythingNeedsAUserName?

 

Also can you review OVO’s embedded ‘Heating Insights’ tile? I’m hoping this is where decisions and behaviours start to be influenced based on data around heating and costs….

 

@Karlb1 you might find this thread worth a look, you got your Tado about 6 months ago isn’t that right? How are you finding it vs what you had before and do you use the Tado app? 

 

ps nice new badge @EverythingNeedsAUserName :beetle:

 

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I appreciate that air source heat pumps work very differently and have to be operated very differently for optimum performance, operate at different temperatures etc. 

Having said that, i would have thought the Tado output data for a gas boiler setup would be a useful background input when the time comes to potentially change to an air source heat pump setup  or something else. Having some actual data on temperature loss to compare with air source heat pump calculations would be interesting if nothing else i would have thought? Be curious to know what posters more experienced about these things than me think.

I ask as it is one of the reasons i have thought about getting one. 

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@EverythingNeedsAUserName is there a monthly subscription service for the Tado or is it just a one off cost? 

 

 

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@Jess_OVO beautiful edit, thanks. Couldn't have done it better ;)

 

@Tim_OVO Three initial thoughts on benefits. (I got trapped in putting down features, but I think I've fixed it) :-

  1. A more comfortable house in line with our lifestyle. Through feature: Set multiple different temperature blocks in any one day and different from day to day.
  2. Save money. Feature :use the app to turn the heating down or up or off or on while away from home.
  3. Save time and remembering. Feature : set lower morning temperature. Previously I'd try to remember to lower the thermostat as I went to bed, otherwise it could feel too hot in the morning. Then I had to turn it up again in advance of the evening.
  4. DRAWBACK :Costing money and time! I've less time for my family history research. My subscriptions are not being used. 

The OVO insights will be available in a month. The algorithm needs data. The tile in the app is merely a link to the "tado/my-thermostat/<month>" web page in my ovo account. 

Thanks for the badge. I'm glowing with pride.

@Jeffus it was a one-off cost, no subscription for what I have. They do have an extra monthly subscription for "Care & and Protect" which offers a monitoring service. It seems to watch your boiler and warn you about unusual patterns.   I've initially dismissed it as unnecessary. I guess they'll also hope for more sales of different or improved devices. 

 

tado help desk. I got an email reply about the thermostat wires. It is very clear that English is not their first language. They're a German company. I was told to do what I'd asked them to confirm I'd already done - as if I'd never said anything. 

 

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Great feedback on the benefits of getting a smart thermostat here (and glad my edits helped :wink: ), @EverythingNeedsAUserName  - Just a shame to hear about your experience with the Tado Customer Support - we’ve passed this on to the Smart thermostat team here at OVO, as it’s really valuable to get a full picture of our member’s journey after taking up one of our offers.

 

I appreciate that air source heat pumps work very differently and have to be operated very differently for optimum performance, operate at different temperatures etc. 

Having said that, i would have thought the Tado output data for a gas boiler setup would be a useful background input when the time comes to potentially change to an air source heat pump setup  or something else. Having some actual data on temperature loss to compare with air source heat pump calculations would be interesting if nothing else i would have thought? Be curious to know what posters more experienced about these things than me think.

I ask as it is one of the reasons i have thought about getting one. 

 

A really excellent line of thinking here too, @Jeffus. I know one of our Heat Pump trialists, @nealmurphy, has a Nest setup which was installed prior to the heat pump - Was the Nest data part of your motivation in joining the trial and making the change to an ASHP, Neal?

 

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A really excellent line of thinking here too, @Jeffus. I know one of our Heat Pump trialists, @nealmurphy, has a Nest setup which was installed prior to the heat pump - Was the Nest data part of your motivation in joining the trial and making the change to an ASHP, Neal?

Hi @Jess_OVO No, the main reason for joining the trial was because the gas boiler was on its last legs being over 20 years old (and I also needed to move it to make space for a kitchen renovation!)

The Nest is happily doing its own thing and turns the ASHP on at around 5am at the moment, depending on the weather, to heat the house for 7am. Mine is a high temperature heat pump so can respond quicker than other low temperature ASHPs (although I’m trying to run it at a fairly low temperature for efficiency).

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Great to hear that the Nest setup is working well with your Air-Source Heat Pump, @nealmurphy.

 

Interesting to hear that there is a distinction between high and low temperature heat pumps too - I’m guessing having a lower temperature heat pump would necessitate even larger radiators and more constant heat?

 

Would that not be quite so compatible with a smart thermostat?

 

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Unexpected information from the tado! 

 

On Friday morning I thought I'd have a quick look to see how close we'd got to the heating coming on. 

 

My big surprise was to find that when the water heating had been triggered at 4am, the tado recorded a half degree temperature rise! (4am.is to use cheaper electricity, and be ready for morning shower but not leave a full tank at its highest temperature for too long so it loses all the heat).

The hot water pipes from the boiler run through the ceiling /floor space between the two floors of the house, which is above the tado thermostat. 

We've had the diverter valve replaced twice already because even in summer it was sending water round the radiators instead of to the hot water tank. It might be failing again.

This morning (and in the week since installing the tado) the hot water had no impact on the house temperature. 

This is now something to watch out for, and get the plumber back if it happens again. 

 

 

BTW, this morning the tado instructed the central heating boiler to provide 1/3 heat. Overnight external temperature was 12`°. The radiators became off-cold, but not warm. 

Also the house warmed up without heating yesterday day-time. Not bad considering that our windows are east/west, and we have another house south which blocks the midday sun from the side wall. 

 

 

 

 

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On Friday morning I thought I'd have a quick look to see how close we'd got to the heating coming on. 

My big surprise was to find that when the water heating had been triggered at 4am, the tado recorded a half degree temperature rise! (4am.is to use cheaper electricity, and be ready for morning shower but not leave a full tank at its highest temperature for too long so it loses all the heat).

The hot water pipes from the boiler run through the ceiling /floor space between the two floors of the house, which is above the tado thermostat. 

We've had the diverter valve replaced twice already because even in summer it was sending water round the radiators instead of to the hot water tank. It might be failing again.

This morning (and in the week since installing the tado) the hot water had no impact on the house temperature. 

 

 

 

 

Hi @EverythingNeedsAUserName, I’m finding this thread a real learning curve for myself in how a smart thermostat works, and I’ll be getting a Tado as a result. 


But first, some questions…

 

That screenshot that I’ve left in, so this shows your water storage temperature, for things like showers (unless electric powered, how water taps) correct? So Tado gives you control according to preset settings, your heating and your hot water, separately. This is good to know. 

 

Why is this coming on so early, dropping from about 04:30 onwards till the time I’d imagine you may need it, nearer to 07:00? Or are you just early risers?

 

Can you explain why the heating of this water storage was affecting the ambient temperature inside but it isn’t anymore, and what should happen usually? I’m fortunately a novice and therefore well placed to ask these basic questions which others may find helpful to know the answers to as well...

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@Tim_OVO if we leave the water until nearer 7 am to come on, it wakes us up!

The tado still gets the information about the hot water in the old-fashioned way, by a wired signal from the old thermostat clamped to the side of the hot water cylinder. That only gives a signal when the water reaches the desired temperature. No smarts involved. 

The heating of the hot water should have no impact whatsoever on the heating of the house.(*)

The fact that it did on that one day suggests that there is an incipient problem with the diverter valve, something that we have had in the past.(**) 

The tado smart thermostat has taken over the former functions of both thermostat and boiler controller. It controls the boiler, and whether its output goes to radiators, hot water cylinder or both. Rather than have to stretch into a dark corner to program it, we can do so on a smartphone or on a web browser.

 

(*) There is a minuscule underfloor heating effect in the bedroom due to the uninsulated pipe run from the boiler to the valve. 

(**) 15 months ago we were woken up by the radiators being full on despite the heating being set to off. We ran out of hot water, and called the plumber who replaced the valve. 5 months later it failed again. 

 how a Diverter valve operates. Heating /both /water. On ours the switch is electronic not manual. You can hear a small motor doing the turning. 

 

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There are alternatives to Tado such as genius hub where you can have a temperature sensor for a hot water tank that transmits the actual temperature to the genius software. 

https://www.geniushub.co.uk/

Depends on what features you are after. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There are alternatives to Tado such as genius hub where you can have a temperature sensor for a hot water tank that transmits the actual temperature to the genius software. 

https://www.geniushub.co.uk/

Depends on what features you are after. 

I hadn't looked specifically for features. I wanted to dip my toe in the smart home arena, and OVO had the offer on tado. That also links through with my OVO account. 

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