What is the best smart thermostat?

Following the example of other smart devices, the thermostat also moves with the times. You can control a modern thermostat from anywhere thanks to an internet connection and an app. The advantage? You never have to come home to a cold house again. We have tested seven 'smart' thermostats for you.

A thermostat that you can control from anywhere outdoors with an app is an interesting upgrade to your home. You never have to come home to a cold house again and you can always check whether you have not forgotten to turn off the heating. In practice, we often call a thermostat with an app a smart thermostat. That raises expectations, because why are they smart? The smart thing is mainly in the connection to the internet. This allows you to operate the thermostat from anywhere via an app or sometimes also a web interface. Also read: 8 ways to automate your daily life.

In addition, each thermostat in this article also functions as a clock thermostat. So you can program it to automatically heat the house at desired times. The smart thing about a smart thermostat compared to a normal clock thermostat is that programming via the app or web interface is much easier. But what can a smart thermostat not do? Despite the fact that you can operate the thermostat from anywhere in the house and therefore also from any room in the house, it is not a solution to the problem of a bedroom that no longer heats up because it is warm in the main room. This requires zone control, and the tested thermostats - just like a traditional thermostat - keep an eye on one place in the house (usually the living room). The HoneyWell EvoHome tested in this article can be used in a simple way (without major adjustments to the central heating system) for zone control by means of special radio radiator controls.

Save energy?

You can control all tested thermostats with your smartphone. This way you can switch on the heating half an hour before you come home. As far as we are concerned, this immediately makes the most important purchase argument of a smart thermostat clear: comfort.

Manufacturers usually use energy saving as the main argument. This especially applies to people who work with a wrongly programmed clock thermostat, which they do not set correctly due to the complicated operation. If you lower the temperature properly when you are not at home and when you go to sleep, you will not save energy with a smart thermostat. The Nest does try to save energy by finding out if you are at home and if you are not, turning off the heating itself. Other thermostats cannot do this. You can set up geofencing with a number of them via IFTTT.

On/off or modulating

There are two ways to control a boiler: on/off control or modulating control. With an on/off control, the burner is simply switched on or off in full. With modulating control, the burner can be controlled at different intensities, which makes it possible to work with different water temperatures. As a result, the temperature is potentially more constant and lower gas consumption is possible, because a lower water temperature can be chosen. The OpenTherm protocol is usually used for modulating control. The OpenTherm protocol also makes it possible to set via the thermostat whether the boiler should keep hot tap water in stock, this obviously costs energy and can also be set on the boiler itself.

In theory, modulating control consumes less gas than an on/off control, but that is not always the case. In addition, most modern boilers can also modulate themselves based on water temperature in combination with an on/off thermostat. However, modulating control is preferable if your boiler supports this. Every modulating boiler can also handle an on/off thermostat.

Smart heating

Some thermostats have self-learning heating. This means that the thermostat learns and calculates how long it takes to heat up your house. This means that when you use the clock program, your house will be warm at the time you have set in the clock program. For example, if you want a warm house at six o'clock in the morning, you set the clock program to six o'clock. With thermostats without self-learning heating, the thermostat only starts heating at the set time and you will have to start the clock program yourself, for example twenty minutes earlier, in order to have it warm at the desired time. Self-learning heating is not a new option for smart thermostats, the better (clock) thermostats also support this.

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