Best Smart Heating Controls - Compatibility Guide
Quick guide summary
Which is the best smart heating control that is compatible with my boiler?
Our research has found that most online reviews for ‘the best smart controls’ present little more than a list of ‘features and benefits’ taken from the manufacturer’s website. The features and benefits of a product as complied by its’ manufacturer will of course seek to present it in the best light. However this offers little insight into perhaps the most important ‘feature’ of any smart control; its ability to communicate with your boiler to achieve the highest efficiencies. We guide you on the best smart heating control ACCORDING TO which boiler you have or are planning to buy. We present compatible products side by side for you to review.
and Opentherm controls use the same ‘language’ to communicate with each other. Using two Opentherm products offer the greatest efficiencies when using different brands, for example a Honeywell control with a Baxi boiler. See product guides below.
You can either opt for your chosen boiler brand’s own control, for example a Vaillant ecoTEC boiler with Vaillant vSmart thermostat or use an advanced control with ‘optimisation’ features as this uses AI to optimise any boiler. See product guides below.
check if your existing boiler is compatible with the boiler brand’s current smart controls or if it uses the Opentherm language. If all else fails use the optimisation or TPI feature of as suitable smart control – see product guide below.
The unspoken truth
It is a little known fact, but an important one, that not all smart controls speak the same language as your boiler. Boiler branded smart controls, such as Worcester or Vaillant, can speak to their own boilers and ‘Openthrem’ controls can speak to Opentherm boilers, but that is it. If your control and boiler are not programmed to speak the same language then the only useful efficiency ‘feature’ of your smart control is the ‘optimisation’ of your heating via a learned schedule.
Optimisation, often referred to as ‘learning’, is not new technology. It is more efficient than a standard thermostat, but not as efficient as a smart control that can communicate with your boiler to adjust its output up and down according to demand. These are known as ‘compensation’ controls and are proven to reduce the amount of gas used by your boiler.
Compensation controls, which can be weather compensation or load compensation, can work with ‘modulating’ boilers. All modern boilers are modulating, but only with a compatible control.
A modulating boiler is capable of adjusting its output up and down according to the heat requirement of your home. For example, on an autumn day a boiler may only need to output at 3kW in order to meet the desired room temperature, whilst in mid-winter the required output might be 8kW. A compatible control will tell the gas valve to increase or decrease its output between a set range, for example between 3kW and 8kW. This reduces the amount of gas used. Older boilers are known as on/off boilers as they can only output a one rate which is usually far too high the property, for example 18kW.
Another efficiency feature of a modulating boiler is that it can begin to reduce its output as the room temperature nears the desired room temperature. A common problem with standard thermostats is that they will only tell the boiler to switch off once the desired room temperature is met. The remaining heat in the radiators will continue to heat the home beyond the set temperature. This is referred to as ‘overshooting’. A modulating boiler will reduce the heat to the radiators before the temperature is meet and so prevent overshooting. For more detail see our Guide to Advanced Heating Controls.
New Boiler Plus requirements
Boiler Plus is a new building regulation efficiency standard that requires an ‘advanced heating control’ to be fitted with all new combi boiler installations. Slightly different standards apply for existing boilers and heat only and system boilers. See our quick guide below for which applies to your boiler.
New installations of a combi boiler:
require a programmable room thermostat with an ‘advanced’ energy saving feature, i.e. weather compensation, load compensation or smart controls that combine automation and optimisation features. (Alternatively you can fit a flue gas recovery unit.)
New installations of a heat only or system boiler:
require a programmable room thermostat or a thermostat with separate programmer. You can still opt to install an advanced control and we guide you compatibility.
Existing boiler installations:
have no minimum requirement for heating controls. You can replace your room thermostat with another room thermostat and nothing more. Again you can opt for an advanced control or may wish to have the functionality of an internet control and we guide you suitable smart products below.
Guide to selecting the right advanced controls
Remember that it is only mandatory for combi boilers to be fitted with an advanced control (or a flue gas recover unit). You can elect to fit an advanced control with a system or heat only boiler, or existing boiler, particularly if you want the functionality of internet control. We present three scenarios with controls options for each:
1. Options for new boilers
- Use your preferred boiler manufacturer’s own smart thermostat, e.g. Worcester Greenstar Si + Worcester EasyControl – see Table 1 below (for boilers with a hot water cylinder, look for products that can also control hot water).
- Pick a boiler and control that both use the Opentherm protocol, e.g a Honeywell control and Baxi boiler – see Table 2 below for Opentherm boilers and Table 3 for Opentherm controls. NB all Opentherm boilers are combis.
- For all other new boilers models, pick a smart control with optimisation features – see Table 4.
Table 1: Boiler branded advanced controls + compatible boilers
Worcester, Vaillant, Ideal, Baxi, Glow worm and Viessmann all manufacturer a smart, compensation control compatible with some of their boilers. The boilers are listed in the table below. Look out for controls that do not work with some types of boilers, for example the Worcester Easy control does not work with their heat only boilers, whilst the Ideal and Baxi controls only work with their combi boilers.
|Product||Worcester EasyControl (replaces the Worcester Wave).||Vaillant Vsmart||Ideal Touch||Baxi Usense Smart room thermostat||Glow Worm MiGo||Vitoconnect Typ OPT10 + Vitoconnect 200|
|Base unit/thermotat - suitable combi boilers||£210.00||£160.00||£160.00||£160.00||£190.00||£343.00|
|Additional equipment/ costs for separate hot water control||£132 integral gas valve||Different vSMART controller||NA||NA||£67 hot water control||Included|
|Combined costs for heating and hot water||£332.00||£225 for vSMART control with hot water function||NA||NA||£257.00||£343.00|
|Warranty/guarantee||8-10 years when fitted with a new Worcester boiler||2 years||5-10 years when fitted with Ideal boiler (matches boiler warranty length)||3 years||Upto 7 years when fitted with a new Glow Worm boiler||2 years|
|Hot water time/boost||Yes||Yes - with hot water control model||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Compatible boiler ranges||Combi Greenstar i range: Junior, Si, CDI compact and Cdi Classic. Systen Greenstar: 12i-24i, 27i-30i and Cdi Classic System||All ecoTEC boilers||Logic Combis, Vogue Combis, Logic Max Combi and Vogue Max Combi||Baxi 600, 400, 200 and 100 (Duotec and Platinum require flue weather compensation in addition to uSense control)||All Glow Worm boilers||Vitodens 200-W B2HB and B2KB|
|Compatible boiler types||Combi and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi||Combi||Combi, heat only and system||Combi and system boilers|
|Not compatible with:||Heat only boilers||-||System and heat only boilers||System and heat only boilers||NA||Heat only boilers|
|Weather compensation, load compensation or smart automation and optimisation||Weather and load compensation||Weather compensation and load compensation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation||Weather compensation||Weather compensation|
|Works with Smart TRVs||Yes - Bosch Smart TRVs||Yes - AmbiSENSE||No||No||No||No|
|Boiler Plus compliant for combis?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes when paired with a compatible boiler||Yes||Yes|
|Boiler Plus compliant for heat only and system?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Heating zone capabilities||Yes with Bosch Smart TRVs||1 + plus hot water||1 heating zone||1 heating zone||2 + plus hot water||1 + hot water|
|Geo location features||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
Table 2: Opentherm boilers
Five mainstream boiler manufacturers use the Opentherm protocol: Baxi, Ferroli, Ideal, Main and Viessmann. Both Baxi and Ideal produce a smart Opentherm control (see Table 3).
|Models||600 Combi||iBoiler Combi i29||Logic Combi + C24, C30, C35||Eco Compact Combi 25kW, 30kW||Vitodens 100W WB1A, WB1B, WB1C, B1HA, B1KA|
|400 Combi||Logic Combi C24, C30, C35|
|200 Combi||Vogue Combi C26, C32, C40|
Table 3: Opentherm controls
Four mainstream manufacturers produce Opentherm smart controls: Honeywell, Drayton, Nest and Tado. The table below shows five controls plus the two smart controls from Baxi and Ideal.
|Third Party manufacturers that will work with all Opentherm boilers||Drayton||Nest||Tado||Honeywell||Honeywell||Baxi||Ideal|
|Model||Wiser (Kit 1, 2 and 3)||Thermostat E||Tado Smart thermostat (with extension kit)||Lyric T6R and T6R-HW||evohome||uSENSE||Touch Connect|
|Base unit/thermostat - suitable combi boilers||£135.00||£199.00||£200.00||£242.00||£249.99||£160.00||£160.00|
|Additional costs for separate hot water control||NA||Included||Included||Included||Included||NA||NA|
|Combined costs for heating and hot water||£149.99 Kit 2 - heating and hot water control||£199.00||May require an extension kit - £89.99||£242.00||249.99||NA||NA|
|Warranty/guarantee||1 year||2 years||2 years||1 year||1 year||3 years||5-10 years when fitted with Ideal boiler (matches boiler warranty length)|
|Hot water time/boost||Kit 2 model||Yes||Yes (possible extension kit)||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Weather compensation, load compensation or smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation w/Opentherm boilers and Smart automation and optimisation||Weather and load compensation||Load compensation||Load compensation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation|
|Works with Smart TRVs||Yes - Drayton Wiser Smart TRV||Yes - Energenie||Yes - Tado Smart TRVs||No||Yes||No||No|
|TPI software||No||Yes||Yes||'Fuzzy logic'||'Fuzzy logic'||No||No|
|Boiler Plus compliant for combis?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes when paired with a compatible boiler||Yes|
|Boiler Plus compliant for heat only and system?||Yes||yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Heating zone capabilities||1 (Kit 2 gives 2 channels - 1 heating and 1 hot water)||3 zones with pipework adjustment or more with Energenie smart TRVs||1||1 or 2||with additional pipework or via Smart TRVs||1 heating zone||1 heating zone|
|Geo location features||Yes - via IFTTT||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes - via IFTTT||No||Yes|
|compatible boiler types||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Baxi 600, 400, 200 and 100 (Duotec and Platinum require flue weather compensation in addition to uSense control)||Logic Combis, Vogue Combis, Logic Max Combi and Vogue Max Combi|
Table 4: Controls with optimisation features
If your preferred boiler does not come with a compatible smart control from the boiler manufacturer or is not Opentherm, then opt for a control with optimisation features – the table below provides eight controls with these features
|wiresless thermostats with programmers (smart controls)||Nest thermostat E||Netatmo - Smart Thermostat||Drayton Wiser thermostat Kit 1||Salus internet thermostat it500||Tado smart thermostat Starter Kit V3+||Hive - Active Heating||Nest - Learning thermostat||Inspire Home Automation - Ignite thermostat|
|Base unit/thermotat - suitable combi boilers||£199.00||£132.00||£135.00||£95.00||£200.00||£180.00||£179.00||£160.00|
|Additional costs for separate hot water control||Included||NA||NA||£39.00||Included||Included||Included||NA|
|Combined costs for heating and hot water||£199.00||NA||£149.99 Kit 2 - heating and hot water control||£134.00||May require an extension kit - £89.99||£180.00||£179.00||£285 Ignite Wireless (3ch)|
|Warranty/guarantee||2 years||2 years||1 year||5 years||2 years||1 year||2 years||3 years|
|Hot water time/boost||Yes||Yes||Kit 2 model||with multi zone kit||Yes (possible extension kit)||Yes||Yes||3ch model|
|Weather compensation, load compensation or smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Weather compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation w/Opentherm boilers and Smart automation and optimisation||Smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Smart automoation and optimisation|
|Works with Smart TRVs||Yes - Energenie||Yes Netamo NAV-UK||Yes - Drayton Wiser Smart TRV||No||Yes - Tado Smart TRVs||No||Yes - Energenie||No|
|Boiler Plus compliant for combis?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Boiler Plus compliant for heat only and system?||yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Heating zone capabilities||3 zones with pipework adjustment or more with Energenie smart TRVs||Yes with Netatmo Smart TRVs||1 (Kit 2 gives 2 channels - 1 heating and 1 hot water)||Multi zone kit gives one extra zone - can be used for heating zone or hot water||1 heating zone||3 zones with pipework adjustment||2 zones with pipework adjustment or more with Energenie smart TRVs||ch2 model gives 2 heating zones and ch3 model gives 2 heating zones + 1 hot water.|
|Geo location features||Yes||Yes - via IFTTT||Yes - via IFTTT||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|compatible boiler types||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system||Combi, heat only and system|
2. Options for existing modulating boilers
- Check to see if the manufacturer’s smart control is compatible with your old boiler (ring their technical helpline). If yes, use the same manufacturer’s control from Table 1.
- Check to see if your old boiler uses the Opentherm protocol. If yes, then use a third party control from Table 3.
- If all else fails, pick a smart control with optimisation features from Table 4.
3. Options for older ‘on/off’ boilers.
- Pick a smart control with optimisation features such from Table 4
- Pick a smart control with a TPI feature – Table 5 below.
Time Proportional and Integral (TPI) controls
For boilers that cannot modulate you can opt for a TPI control to improve efficiency. A TPI function does not adjust the output of the boiler, rather it will work out the period of time the boiler needs to be on in order to meet a lower heat demand. For example, if only 5kW of heat is required from a 15kW output boiler, i.e. a third of its capacity, then a TPI will bring the boiler on for 20 minutes and then stay off for 40 minutes, i.e. one third of the time.
Table 5: TPI thermostats
The comparison table below has four standard and four internet TPI thermostats. If you want the functionality of an internet control for an old on/off boiler pick a smart control with TPI technology that can be enabled over other advanced heating control functions.
|wireless thermostats with programmers (non smart control)||Honeywell T4R 7 day programmable thermostat||Honeywell RF2 Sundial Pack 2 wireless programmable room thermostat||Danfoss TPOne-RF programmable room thermostat||Neomitis 1 day programmable room thermostat RT1 RF||Nest thermostat E||Honeywell Lyric T6 Wireless Smart Thermostat||Siemens RDS110||Tado smart thermostat Starter Kit V3+|
|Display||Digital||Digital||Digital||Digital and Dial||Touch screen||Touch screen||Touch screen||Touch screen|
|No of days||7 day||7 day||7 day||1 day||7 day||7 day||7 day||7 day|
|Smart phone app||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Combi only or all boiler types||All boiler types||Heat only and system||All boiler types||All boiler types||All boiler types||All boiler types||All boiler types||All boiler types|
|Intergal hot water control||No||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Heat zone capability||1 heating zone||1 + hot water||1 heating zone||1 heating zone||2 + hot water||1 heating zone||1 heating zone||1 heating zone (more with smart TRVs)|
|Weather compensation, load compensation or smart automation and optimisation||Load||Load||Smart automation and optimisation||Neither||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Weather and load compensation||Load compensation||Smart automation and optimisation|
|Boiler Plus compliant for combis?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Boiler Plus compliant for heat only and system?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Warranty||1 year||1 year||1 year||3 years||2 years||1 year||1 year||2 years|