We've now completed the installation of our Tado Smart Thermostat, and Tado Extension kit. The process was relatively trouble-free, and whilst it required some DIY skills, we got it done! Here, I outline how we got on, and the setup process both with the kit itself, and in the software.
So, first off, I'll once again re-iterate my standard advice with this stuff. If you're planning on installing this sort of equipment yourself, take note that you're going to be doing some re-wiring, and messing about with the connections to your boiler. As such, if you're not confident in what you're doing, always enlist a professional.
That said, we decided on the DIY approach. The below is certainly not intended to be a guide on how you might install Tado, since everyone's heating system setup is different. As such, Tado are more than happy to produce customised instructions just for you. In some cases this can be produced automatically, in others (as you'll see below) you might have to wait.
All the cards in the various Tado boxes said the same thing, go to tado.com/start first. So, I did - and here was asked to create an account. Doing so can be achieved even if you haven't actually bought any Tado kit yet, so if you'd like to explore the website and user interface you can do so gratis. There's obviously not much to see if you don't have any Tado devices.
Proceeding on to setting up a Tado system, of course begins by asking what Tado device you have. Since our system required the Tado extension kit, we selected this device. You're then presented with a summary of the installation steps.
First, you have to choose your current system. There are lots of different configurations a heating system might have. You might have wired or wireless thermostats, you might have a programmer or controller - maybe not, and there are lots of variations. You have to pick the one you know matches your setup.
In our case, we had a controller (timer or 'programmer'), and no room thermostat. The next step asked us for the current make and model of our timer. This is where we hit our first snag - Tado didn't find a match for our controller in the database. So, we chose the 'unlisted' option, filled out the details of our current system into a form, and proceeded to the next step.
We then were asked to provide details of our current boiler. Here, Tado was able to find a match, and as an additional step, Tado asked if our current boiler had it's own built-in timer (it doesn't in our case).
You're then asked to confirm the details and press continue. However at this point, we could go no further. Due to the unlisted nature of our heating controller, the Tado website was unable to automatically produce installation instructions. It would have to be a manual job for someone at Tado to do - which their website promises should not take longer than 48-hours.
I think it's nice that Tado are happy to work up a custom set of installation steps for you, even if they have to do it manually. However - we didn't want to wait!
In our impatience, we decided to return to the start of the setup screens, and select a different option. We selected the option that our Tado kit was already installed. This meant we of course had to setup the Tado kit ourselves, without any custom instructions.
How did we do this? Simple! We turned to the magic envelope marked 'Professional Installers Only' that you would have seen from the unboxing video!
Yeah yeah, I know - we might be being slightly hypocritical here having stated that you need to get a professional installer if you're not confident in what you're doing, however we were fairly happy doing this, since we've had previous experience in changing the controller on our boiler.
For those who have a little know-how here (if you don't you can skip this paragraph), we have a simple 230v relay control system. The extension kit supports control of relay systems, as well as low voltage digital systems such as Opentherm, and other control systems such as those developed by certain Boiler manufacturers. You tell the extension kit whether to use digital or 230v relay using a jumper. Connector terminals are integrated into the device for both styles of control.
We set to work installing the Tado extension kit. Here, we made a bit of a cheeky choice. We decided to leave our old controller in place as an 'override' in case Tado ever failed. We have no reason to suspect it would, but at the time were unaware that you can use the pairing button on top of the Tado extension kit as a manual override. Had we known this, we likely would not have installed the system as we did. We may go back and change this in future.
The wiring was fairly easy to sort out. Later when we finally got the whole thing online and working, everything worked first time. So - fairly straightforward to achieve.
Next up in the process you have to plug in the Internet Bridge. This is simple plug and play stuff. Connect the Ethernet cable to your router, and plug in the power. The LEDs start flashing and it's ready to pair.
Pairing was simple, just press the pair button on the internet bridge, then also press and hold for a few seconds the pairing button on the extension kit. The light on the extension kit then starts flashing to tell you pairing has completed.
Next, power up and pair your actual Tado Smart Thermostat. The device came with batteries already installed, so it's just a case of pulling out an isolation tab to 'activate' the power. The LED array then lights up, and again it's a case of pressing the button for a few seconds to get it paired up with the internet bridge too.
With pairing complete, it's time to go into an 'installer' menu on the thermostat. This lets you configure a few options specific to your system including whether hot water control is going to be active (curiously, none of these settings are exposed in the Tado app or web app).
With these steps complete, you can then return to the website installation process. Here, returning to the start of the installation wizard and selecting again the extension kit, we chose the option that our equipment was already installed, and proceeded forward.
You're then asked to enter the details of the serial number and authentication code for your internet bridge. The website then takes a moment, and confirms that your bridge has been discovered. After completing these steps - we were done, and Tado then finishes by displaying the main web app screen.
At this stage you can then create your smart heating schedules. Doing so allows you to define schedules that apply every day, or different schedules for weekdays and weekend days, or even different schedules for every day of the week. Of course, these schedules will only apply when someone is at home. When you're away, Tado will turn down the temperature depending on how far away from home people get.
Within the scheduling screen, you can add blocks of time to any day, and define the temperature for those periods. If you specify heating to be off for any time block, Tado will still enable 'frost protection' to prevent frozen (and potentially burst) pipes. You're also able to use advanced settings to disable location based control for any time block.
In the 'away' tab you can specify how aggressive Tado should be at turning down the temperature when no-one is home. You can choose 'Eco' for lower temperature when you're away, but with the possibility your home might not hit your desired temperature in time for your arrival. Or, you can choose 'Comfort' for less aggressive heat reduction during away periods. There's also a middle-ground 'balanced' option, and an 'Off' option. When 'Off' is used, Tado won't pre-heat your home at all when it detects someone is returning, and will instead wait for them to arrive before activating the heating.
Finally, you can also enable what Tado call 'early start' if you do so, it means that Tado will use the time blocks you've specified for heating as the times when you want your home to be at a particular temperature. Tado will then work out each day the best time to start heating your home to reach your desired temperature in time. If you turn this feature off, Tado will act more like a regular timer, and take your time blocks as the periods within which the boiler should operate.
Following completion of this, it's time to download the Tado app onto your phone, and also invite other members of your household to do the same by sending them an invitation to activate their own login.
We tested the system, made sure our boiler fired up -it did- and considered it a job well done!
All in all, the installation process was fairly easy for us to do, but we now need to live with it for a little while to see how well it all works. I'll do another video and share my initial first impressions soon, and also use that to fully explore the Tado app and how it works.
We'll also try to figure out a way to see if we're actually saving money with Tado. It's a tricky thing to do, but we do have a smart meter for our gas usage, so that might help. I'll report back soon!