Having smart control over the heating for your home is good. Having control over each individual room is better! Here, I explore how that works inside the Tado system we're using, and take a look at the control it gives you through the Tado app.
When we initially started with Tado, we had the Smart Thermostat (which I'll refer to here as the 'wall thermostat'), and the extension kit to let it control our boiler. This was good, and gave us all the benefits of a smart heating system. This included easier control of our heating, 'awareness' of the weather conditions, location based heating activation and more.
Adding room-by-room control was a logical next step. In fact, it's quite necessary. The wall thermostat can only monitor the temperature in one location. Some parts of your home may be warmer than others, but the thermostat wouldn't know this.
Adding the smart radiator thermostats offers a way to add room-by-room control, by creating what Tado call 'zones'. However, I had questions. If one zone was too cold and needed heating, would that zone be able to issue a command to start up the boiler if the other, 'main' zone was not calling for heat.
Having previously installed some Smart Radiator Thermostats, we now have answers. We've got three zones defined now. One is the initial zone called 'House'. Then we've also got 'Living Room', and 'Master Bedroom'.
As you'll see in my video above, each Zone looks the same inside the app. You can easily flick between them with a swipe, or use the hamburger menu.
Each zone has it's own schedule, it's own temperature setting, even it's own settings for away mode preheat, and early-start. This lets you improve economy, because rooms that you don't use at certain times of the day, don't need to be heated. This goes beyond what a standard TRV can do, by adding time into the mix of metrics used to control heating for individual radiators.
Crucially though, each zone has it's own 'heat request', and each zone also includes the extension kit. In real terms this means that when a zone that otherwise consists entirely of radiator thermostats calls for heat, that request doesn't just translate to how 'open' the valves are, but also to a call for heat to the boiler. A room that's too cold will result in the boiler coming on, even if all other zones have hit temperature.
This all works very well. As far as I can tell, even with only a couple of rooms setup with smart thermostats, our boiler is spending less time running. Whether this is actually reflected by savings on our heating bill remains to be seen.
There are a couple of criticisms. First, zones equipped only with radiator thermostats only allow 'whole degree' adjustments to temperature either in the schedule, or in manual control. This is odd, as the graph view does show 'points' of a degree for the set-temperature during away modes.
Also, the system does not seem to allow for the fact that -being naturally located right next to the radiator- the smart thermostats will of course get warm very quickly. The only way around both this and the previous point would be to add an additional wall thermostat to the zones. However, this adds cost.
Finally, if you're looking for an easy way to copy schedules between zones, or even just tell Tado that one zone should use the same schedule as another - there's no way to do this ... yet. A top tip here though is that it's much easier to configure schedules on the Tado web portal. Here, you get the ability to drag schedules around - it's just much faster to do bulk changes here. For everything else I'd still use the app.
All-in-all it certainly gives you a lot more control. Once more time has passed we'll try to make a judgement on whether we're saving money on heating. It certainly seems like our boiler is spending less time running. However that's just 'quick' observation and certainly isn't scientific. Time will tell!