Nest, Hive, Worcester Easy, Tado, Netamo, Vaillant
Do you use a third party thermostat or a boiler brand’s own control? Which boilers do they work with?
Some mainstream boiler brands have developed their own smart thermostats that work exclusively with their range of boilers, including Worcester Wave, the new Worcester Easy, Vaillant vSmart, Baxi Usense and Ideal Touch. When you are considering a new boiler with smart controls, you can choose between popular third party brands Nest, Hive, Netatmo or Tado or opt for the manufacturer’s own smart controls. We have undertaken our own review of boiler manufacturer’s own smart thermostats and compared with popular third party brands. We have also reviewed which boilers they are compatible with and which have smart TRVs.
How does a smart heating control work?
Smart thermostats, sometimes called internet controls, wifi thermostats or remote heating controls, allow you to control the temperature and timing of your heating from your phone. This works in the same way as a normal programmable thermostat without a connection to the internet, e.g. you can programme your boiler to come on for two hours in the morning and 1 hour before you get home from work to met a pre-set temperature of say 22 degrees. However not all smart controls are 'advanced' controls.
Advanced heating controls
Most smart controls include some form of advanced heating control as is required under the Boiler Plus regulations (i.e. weather compensation, load compensation and/or automation & optimisation features) and many connect with IFTTT, Apple, Samsung Smart Things and other smart home devices.
Smart home apps can bring additional functionality to your control, e.g. turning your heating on via voice activation or geofencing sensors (the heating will come on as you near home via your phone’s GPS signal).
It is important to check that your chosen heating control can ‘speak with’ your chosen boiler when using load or weather compensation controls. Boiler branded controls are easy because they will communicate with specific boilers in their range and they are detailed in the table below.
Third party controls are a bit more difficult. Only products that use ‘Opentherm’ can communicate with each other. This is a common language developed by Honeyell and available for any boiler or control manufacturer to use. For example a Honeywell or Nest Opentherm control can communicate with a Baxi Opentherm boiler. The tables below indicate which controls are Opentherm. Otherwise you will have to opt for an advance control with optimisation.
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Find the right advanced control for your system
Remember, it is only mandatory to fit an advanced efficiency measure on a new combi boiler. However those with older boilers, or those having a new system or heat only boiler fitted, still want to benefit from the extra efficiencies delivered by advanced controls or the convenience of internet controls. It is possible to fit advanced controls with older boilers and different boiler types and we guide you on finding compatible products from our comparison tables below.
Options for new combi boilers
- Pick the boiler manufacturer’s smart control and compatible boiler – see Table 2
- Pick a boiler and control that both use Opentherm protocol – Table 1 features Opentherm controls.
- Pick a smart control with optimisation features such as Nest or Tado – Table 1 features controls with optimisation feature.
Options for new heat only or system boilers
- Pick the boiler manufacturer’s smart control and compatible boiler – Worcester, Vaillant and Glow Worm manufacturer smart controls that include hot water controls – see Table 2
- Pick a boiler and control that both use Opentherm protocol – Table 1 features Opentherm controls.
- Pick a smart control with optimisation features such as Nest or Tado. Table 1 features controls with optimisation feature.
Options for existing modulating combi boilers under 20 years old
- Check to see if the manufacturer’s smart control is compatible with your old boiler, if so use their smart control from Table 2
- Check to see if your old boiler uses the Opentherm protocol, if yes Table 1 features Opentherm controls.
- If all else fails, pick a smart control with optimisation features such as Nest, Tado or Danfoss TPOne - Table 1 features controls with optimisation feature.
Options for older on/off boilers
- Pick a smart control with optimisation features such as Danfoss TPOne, Nest or Tado -Table 1 features controls with optimisation feature. View a bigger selection on our Guide to Smart Heating Controls
- Pick a control with TPI features – see our Guide to Smart Heating Controls
Smart thermostat product comparison
We first wrote about smart controls in late 2017 when there were only five third party brands of any note, which included Nest, Hive, Tado and Netamo. Since then Honeywell, Salus and Siemens have entered the market. In 2017 only four boiler manufacturers offers their own brand of smart controls, including Worcester, Vaillant and Glow worm. 2018 was both Baxi and Ideal enter the market with their own smart control products and Worcester have recently released their latest smart control - the Worcester Easy - which replaces the Worcester Wave.
Third party smart controls
We review our five favourite third party controls here: Nest, Honeywell Lyric, Tado, Netatmo and Drayton Wiser, alongside the popular Hive (although Hive’s functionality is a few steps behind its competitors). Look out for Opentherm compatible, TPI and products with optimisation features. Other products are reviewed on our Guide to Home Automation page.
|Product||Nest thermostat E||Honeywell Lyric T6R - HW wireless smart programmable thermostat||Tado smart thermostat Starter Kit V3+||Netatmo - Smart Thermostat||Drayton Wiser thermostat Kit 1||Hive - Active Heating|
|Base unit/thermostat - suitable combi boilers||£199.00||£242.00||£200.00||£132.00||£135.00||£180.00|
|Additional equipment/ costs for separate hot water control||Included||Included||Included||NA||NA||Included|
|Combined costs for heating and hot water||£199.00||£242.00||May require an extension kit - £89.99||NA||£149.99 Kit 2 - heating and hot water control||£180.00|
|Warranty/guarantee||2 years||1 year||2 years||2 years||1 year||1 year|
|Hot water time/boost||Yes||Yes||Yes (possible extension kit)||Yes||Kit 2 model||Yes|
|Weather compensation, load compensation or smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Weather and load compensation||Smart automation and optimisation||Weather compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Load compensation and smart automation and optimisation||Smart automation and optimisation|
|Works with Smart TRVs||Yes - Energenie||No||Yes - Tado Smart TRVs||Yes Netatmo NAV-UK||Yes - Drayton Wiser Smart TRV||No|
|TPI software||Yes||'Fuzzy logic'||Yes||No||No||No|
|Boiler Plus compliant for combis?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Boiler Plus compliant for heat only and system?||yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Heating zone capabilities||2 zones with pipework adjustment or more with Energenie smart TRVs||1 heating zone||1 heating zone||with Netatmo Smart TRVs||1 (Kit 2 gives 2 channels - 1 heating and 1 hot water)||3 zones with pipework adjustment|
|Geo location features||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes - via IFTTT||Yes - via IFTTT||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|
|Compatible boiler ranges||All (check manufacturer's website for small number of exceptions)||All (check manufacturer's website for small number of exceptions)||All (check manufacturer's website for small number of exceptions)||All (check manufacturer's website for small number of exceptions)||All (check manufacturer's website for small number of exceptions)||All (check manufacturer's website for small number of exceptions)|
|Not compatible with:||NA||NA||NA||on/off boilers||on/off boilers||on/off boilers|
Our verdict on third party smart controls
The five controls above (excluding Hive) have been chosen to feature on this page because they all offer great functionality and it is easy to access information about their products via their websites. Nest, Tado, and Honeywell are all Opentherm and Nest, Tado and Drayton all have optimisation features. Nest, Tado, Drayton and Netamo all offer a Smart TRV product compatible with their controls which will bring further efficiencies and even greater control. Read our Guide to Smart TRVsfor more information. The downside to third party controls is the warranty period; some only offer one year! Tado, Nest and Netatmo stretch to two years.
Boiler brands’ smart controls
Six boiler manufacturers now offer smart controls: Worcester Easy, Vaillant vSmart, Glow worm Migo, Baxi uSense, Vaillant Touch and Viessmann Vitodens 200. The comfort of using a boiler branded smart control is that you know it will be compatible with your new boiler from the same manufacturer – we state which boiler models are compatible in the table below.
|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||Up to 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||ecoFIT range||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|
Our verdict on boiler branded smart controls
For combi boiler installations, which account for the vast majority of installations in the UK, the Worcester, Easy, Vaillant vSmart, Ideal Touch, Baxi Usense and Gow Worm Migo all do much the same thing. Worcester and Vaillant offer compatible smart TRVs. Where the boiler branded controls really stand out is the extended warranties on offer when fitted at the same times as a new boiler. Worcester, Ideal and Glow Worm offer between 7 and 10 years of warranty (or guarantee) cover. The Easy, vSmart, Migo and Vitoconnect can all control a hot water cylinder however the Vitoconnect only works with a very limited range of boilers from Viessmann. Viessmann instead promote Tado as their smart control of choice for their other boilers.
Advantages and disadvantages of boiler brands over third party controls
We weigh up extended warranty periods and functionality in our buyer's guide to choosing a smart control.
Advantages of boiler brand's smart control
- The controls are designed to go with the boiler and their technical helpline staff will understand the set up more specifically, particularly in relation to the hot water control options.
- Worcester Bosch, Glow Worm and Ideal will extend the guarantee to mirror that of the boiler if installed at the same time (7-10 years).
- You are guaranteed that the control will communicate correctly with the boiler
- Worcester and Vaillant now offer compatible Smart TRVs.
Disadvantages of boiler brand's smart control
- Very few of the manufacturer controls offer any add-on functions. All third party controls provide geo-fencing features to bring the boiler on when you are close to home and Nest has home security features.
- The controls are more expensive for combi boiler systems. (The costs level out a bit when introducing hot water temperature controls)
- If you have an older boiler it is unlikely to be compatible with the boiler branded control. It is best to opt for a third party control with optimisation features, such as Nest or Tado, with TPI and optimisation features for older boilers.
The new Boiler Plus requirements for new boiler installations
New minimum efficiency standards were introduced in April 2018 aimed at reducing the amount of fuel we use to heat our homes. It is now mandatory for every new boiler installation to be fitted with a programmable room thermostat and, for combi boilers, an additional energy saving measure:
There are three minimum requirements that must be met:
- Every boiler installation must have an ErP efficiency of at least 92% (not to be confused with boiler efficiencies which are 89-94% - see our Guide to Boiler Efficiencies).
- All new boilers must be fitted with time and temperature controls e.g. a programmable room thermostat, if not already present
- An additional energy saving measure must also be installed for combination boilers from the following list (a-c are all advanced heating controls):
a. Weather compensation control
b. Load compensation control
c. Smart control with automation and optimisation functions scheme
d. Flue gas recovery unit - this sits above the boiler and recovers heat from the flue. It is reported to reduce gas consumption by upto 4%.
Quick guide to Advanced Heating Controls for combi boilers
Measures A and B are forms of advanced heating control designed to work with modern ‘modulating’ boilers, i.e. they can be adjust their output to suit demand (for more see our Guide to Advanced Heating Controls). Measure C uses AI to optimise the boiler’s periods of operation.
Their common aim is to ensure the boiler is on for the shortest possible time to meet the room temperature. Standard controls tend to overshoot the room temperature by 1 or 2 degrees which is very inefficient. Advanced controls reduce the heat output of the boiler as it approaches the desired temperature to prevent overshooting. The net result is a reduction is gas use and lower fuel bills.
Which control do I need to comply with Boiler Plus?
Slightly different minimum requirements apply depending on boiler type (combi, heat only or system) and whether the heating control is being fitted to an existing installation or fitted as part of a new boiler. The boxes below set the requirements according to your circumstances. The product comparison tables above.
New installations of a heat only or system boiler:
require time and temperature controls, i.e. a programmable room thermostat or a thermostat with separate programmer. See our Guide to Wireless Programmable Thermostats for more.
New installations of a combi boiler:
require the same time and temperature control but with an additional ‘advanced’ energy saving feature, i.e weather compensation, load compensation or smart controls that combine automation and optimisation features. (Or a flue gas recovery unit). See our Guide to advanced heating controls for more
Existing boiler installations:
have no minimum requirement for heating controls. It is advised that a programmable room thermostat is fitted as a minimum, however it is not mandatory. I.e. you can replace your room thermostat with another room thermostat and nothing more. For seeking a compatible advanced control or internet control use our Guide to Smart Heating Controls.