|Nest Learning Thermostat||Self Learning|
|Hive Active Thermostat||Hot Water Scheduling|
|Salus RT500RF Thermostat||30 Metre Range|
|Siemens RDJ10RF||4 Modes|
|Computherm Q7RF||50 Metre Range|
If, like me, you grew up in a house without central heating, you’ll be familiar with the routine of scraping ice off the inside of the windows on a winter morning! Back then, to keep warm you simply added more clothes, and that was that. The advent of North Sea Gas – now merrily piped to homes all over the country – meant home heating systems were no longer expensive electric solutions, and it soon became the norm for new-build homes to have a gas central heating system installed. And, that meant getting up for school in the morning in a warm room, rather than one that felt like an igloo!
Of course, cost was still an issue for most families, and controlling the temperature in those early days was a manual affair. Systems would be switched on and off to conserve energy, until thermostats were developed that could do the job automatically. Thermostats meant no more getting up for Dad in the morning to turn the thing on; when the house hit a prescribed low, the heating automatically came on. You probably take it for granted today, but it really was very different not all that long ago.
The digital age has had an influence in many areas of our lives and, would you believe, it has given us a new breed of super-competent thermostats? We took a look at the best, but before we get into that, let’s take a closer a look at what they do, and how they work.
The Top 10 Best Wireless Thermostats
Table of Contents
- 1 The Top 10 Best Wireless Thermostats
- 2 How Does a Wireless Thermostat Work
- 3 Important Features to Look For
- 4 Let’s Wrap It Up!
We begin our review with a model that is as sophisticated as it gets, the Nest Learning Thermostat. What is so special about it? Well, to begin with, this one actually does learn from you, as it logs your routine. This means once you have given it the basics, it will modify how it works to save energy for you all the time. It uses what it calls ‘Open Therm’ technology, which is the latest in energy efficient thermostat operation (this is the 3rd generation of the model) so you save money with this one.
The Nest model is also accessed by its own specific app, from any hand-held device remotely. This means you can over-ride the programming if, for example, you need to come home early, and you can also control your water from afar. The thermostat automatically turns the heating down when you leave the house – a very clever touch – and you can use the app to check your energy usage, and to programme a choice of alerts, so if your house does become too cold, it will let you know. So, what don’t we like about this very clever device? The price – it’s a massive £199! However, if you want the very latest, this is it.
This is another clever device, much in the vein of the one above, and also another expensive one. This one is around £180, so is also expensive, but it does offer you many fine features. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the active models, such as these two, is that they can be programmed from afar, so if you need to boost your home temperature, a click on your mobile phone will do it. It’s quick, simple and effective, and means you never have to return home unexpectedly to a cold house.
This one can also control your water heating, and you can put it into sleep mode if you want to leave it switched off for a while, and it will come back to life at your instruction. You can boost up to six hours if you want, and you also get a very neat and handy Frost Protection function, which prevents frozen pipes should the temperature unexpectedly fall. You can set up to six segments each day, and once again, this one uses geolocation – via your mobile – to switch off when you leave, and switch back on when you return. As with the above, it’s capable, but expensive.
Back to earth with this one, which gives us an opportunity to compare an ‘ordinary’ thermostat, such as this one, with the super-capable models such as those above. Put it this way, if you’re into gadgets, you can afford it, and you want a mega-efficient energy saving system, you will want one of the top two; if, however, you want a thermostat for your boiler, one that you can set the time and temperature at which you want it to come on and switch off, then there’s no reason why this – or something similar – won’t do the job.
So, what do you get? You get a neat little main unit with a large, easy to read backlit display, on which you can set the time, and choose the on and off times. You also use it to choose the minimum temperature, so your heating comes on when you need it. It uses a radio frequency signal to ‘talk’ to the receiver, which passes the signal to the boiler, and you have a 30-metre range. It has seven day programming capability, and comes with all fittings so you can install it easy. The downside? You don’t get the smart technology you would with a more capable model, but then it’s a fraction of the cost of those above at a little over £25.
This is another radio frequency thermostat, and one that sits in between the cheaper one above and the more expensive smart models. It is a neat design from one of the biggest names in technology, and is capable and useful. As with all of these, you choose the time and temperature that you want the heating and water to come on, and it communicates with the receiver unit that talks to the boiler. It has an easy to read display, and is simple to program, and offers you a variety of options.
It offers a series of operating options – including automatic and energy saving – and you get the very handy Frost Protection function, which is a must if you want to prevent expensive burst pipes. The transmitter is battery powered, the receiver mains, and you can fit the transmitter wherever you want within range. In short, it does what it sets out to do. However, it doesn’t do much more – or less – than the above, yet it’s £60, so you’re paying for the name.
Radio frequency models seem to be very popular, and this is another of the breed. It is a standard transmitter and receiver design, with one battery powered and the other mains, and comes with the usual large, easy to read LCD screen showing the time, and your chosen on and off spots. You can also choose different programmes for each day – very useful for the weekend when you may be in the house for longer – and it is relatively easy to set up. It mounts to a single plate so is easy to install, too.
The temperature range increases in 1-degree increments, so you can set it very accurately, and is a switchable voltage design, so can run on both 24V and 230V systems. You can select as many as six different time zones during each day for added versatility, and a 50-metre range means it can be mounted anywhere in the home with full operation capability. At £41 it is reasonably priced, and the brand has a full range of other models for you to look at.
This is the second model on our list from Salus, a brand with a wide selection of thermostats and other items in this vein. Again, it is a neat and tidy design with a clear, LCD backlit screen. You get time and the on-off setting displayed and it offers a 60-metre range so is suitable for positioning anywhere in the home. This is another one in which you can set a 7-day program, with various increments throughout each day, and is easy to mount on the wall or on a desk stand.
The receiver talks to the boiler to give it your on-off times and temperature requirements, and it comes with the batteries required to get it up and running, and full installation instructions. As with most Salus models, this is a basic thermostat and room temperature controller, and as such does not offer you the versatility of one of the more expensive smart-type meters, but at £35 it will do the job perfectly well, and is certainly worth considering.
Salus appears to be a market leader in the more basic type of thermostat and room heater controllers, so here’s another one for you to look at. What’s it all about? Well, it’s the usual transmitter and receiver design, and you get a 30-metre range for the radio frequency transmission. We must say 30-metrees is not the longest range we’ve seen, but in truth it should be more than adequate for most homes. It features the usual Salus design style, with a large backlit display, and the unit is removeable from its mount for ease of programming.
You get a variety of possible program options, with several time segments per day, and it comes with a quick-start installation feature so you can get up and running very quickly indeed. What more can we say about it? Well, it’s white, it’s quite a neat design and would fit unobtrusively into a modern or contemporary setting. It doesn’t have the smart capability of some others, but at a little more than £30 is not going to break the bank either.
We promise that this is the last one from Salus, but we include it because it is different to most others from this brand. The ones we have included so far have been radio frequency models, whereas this one is a more sophisticated beast altogether. It is an internet controlled system, working through your existing broadband connection, and it offers a variety of features and advantages that we like. The unit itself is a nicely designed model and looks rather stylish, with a large, easy to use touch-screen control unit that shows you everything you need to know at a glance.
The wireless connection mean it can be sited anywhere in the home, but the best bit is you have full control from your smartphone, tablet or laptop, so you can change the setting while at work, on a night out or anywhere you may be. This is a very useful option and means you can make sure your home or water is adequately heated before you return, or you can turn the heating down for energy conservation if you know you are not going to be back for a while. Of course, with this type of model there is a premium to pay, but at £100 we think this one is good value compared to other similarly capable models.
Back to radio frequency operation with this model, from known brand Drayton, and it’s a curious one in some ways. You get the full on and off settings, plus your minimum and maximum temperature control, so it acts effectively as a room temperature controller. It also has a receiver that will talk to your boiler, so you have full control. Being an RF model there is no internet compatibility, and you don’t get any of the smart functions that some of the others might provide.
It is a neat design – we like the easy to use, tactile dial that is used to select the temperature and other functions – and has a clever one-button feature for setting it back a notch to the previous on-off time. This is handy if you want to get the heating on quickly, with no reprogramming. So, it does the job, why did we say it was curious? Well, it’s the price: it’s a little less than £80, and for not much more you could have the one above with internet connectivity. And for a lot less money, there are plenty that do what this one does, just as well.
Our final selection comes from Honeywell, a brand with a very strong reputation and a range of items in this field. It’s one of the more basic models, but also one of the cheapest. You get a neat little controller – this one of neither RF or internet operated, but direct to the boiler – that is compatible with a wide variety of heating systems. It has fully programmable settings for both time and temperature, and when it is switched off, you can activate the frost setting, so you are protecting against frozen pipes. This function is great for when you are away for more than a few hours, perhaps when on holiday.
It also has a clever ECO function; with this setting, the device will select or deselect the heating according to demand, and it is a very neat trick that is worth checking out. The display is nice and large and easy to read, it’s simple to set up and use, and it can be mounted wherever you want. You also get a 4-year battery life, and at around £35, we think this one to be very good value.
There you have it, ten thermostats with many impressive features, each with its own attributes, and some far more clever than others. These are items that you need around the house, but which one do you choose? Before we sum up, let’s have a recap of the features to look for.
How Does a Wireless Thermostat Work
Your central heating system most likely consists of a boiler, a set of radiators – one in each room – and a thermostat. The boiler heats the water in the system, which in turn raises the temperature of the radiators, which means you have a nice, warm home. It really is that simple, yet modern boilers – those which combine heating your home with your water – are quite sophisticated devices, as are the thermometers that define when the heating is to be on or off. You will also have a timer on your boiler: this sets the time when you want your heating on or off, whereas the thermostat determines the temperature.
The clever thing about this is that it conserves energy: if you reach the time when you have the heating set to come on, and the house is above the temperature you have decided as the lower threshold, the heating will not come on, so you will not waste money burning gas that you don’t need to use! Modern thermostats are very, very clever, and will help you save even more energy, and therefore even more money, so let’s have a look at the top 10 best wireless thermostats available right now.
Important Features to Look For
While the basic requirement of a thermostat such as these is to control your heating system, there are some features that are important and need to be carefully considered. Here are the main features you need to look for when choosing one of these:
- Smart or Not – we have to admit, the smart meters included here are very impressive devices, and offer you greater versatility than the standard radio frequency or direct control versions. Not only do you get remote control from your smartphone, but you also get features such as automatic shut down when you leave or boosting the heating when you return. They are, however, expensive but if you want the best, you have to pay.
- Battery or Mains – some of these are battery powered, some mains, and some a combination of both. Which you want is up to you!
- Easy to Use – ease of use is, of course, important; you need to be able to change settings quickly and without fuss, so check reviews for more information.
- Frost Protection – if you spend plenty of time away from home, you need to be energy efficient in not heating your home unnecessarily, but also be sure you are protected against frozen pipes. Some of these have a handy frost protection function.
- Price – the price range here is from around £30 to £200, but that reflects the nature of the devices so consider wisely.
So, those are the main features to look for, and we hope that we have helped you understand more about these handy devices. All that remains now is to wrap it up!
Let’s Wrap It Up!
Reviewing household items such as these means talking about the same things over and over again; after all, each of these does the same thing, right? Not exactly: the smart versions – the two very expensive ones at the beginning and number 8 from Salus – offer internet compatibility, so if you want to be able to control your heating and water systems from afar, you need one of those.
If remote control is not a necessity, however, we recommend you take a look at the other models from Salus, which has a wide choice of thermostats and other items to choose from. They are functional, practical and affordable, and will keep your home warm when needed, while saving energy when you are out. There you go, get yourself one of these, and enjoy a warm house every day!