Best smart thermostat: heating your home using tech

Smart thermostats allow you to control the temperature of your home digitally, and intelligently. They can learn your domestic routines, give you control from anywhere in the world, enable you to adjust rooms independently, and even let you control your heating using your voice.

But not all smart thermostats are created equal, and different models each have their own particular selling points. In this round-up we're going to be talking you through the best smart thermostats you can buy from the biggest names in the business: Nest, Hive, Honeywell and Tado

We'll be discussing what their key selling points are, and which particular heating requirements each one is best suited to.

Because of the nature of the market a direct comparison isn't actually very helpful, so the units here aren't ranked by number according to our preference. Instead, you can rest assured that we recommend all the systems featured, and it's simply a matter of you deciding which one will suit you best. 

Nest is one of the biggest names in the smart home market, and for good reason. This Google-owned company delivers well-designed, easy-to-use products that are packed with serious smarts. 

The Nest Learning Thermostat (third generation) is renowned for its ability to learn your routines and adjust itself accordingly. This means that over time your heating system can actually adapt to suit your needs, without you having to do anything. 

It also benefits from location-based features that track where your phone is, and will turn the heating on or off depending on your location. But don't worry that it's going to turn off the heating and leave your guests to freeze when you're out, as its built-in sensors enable it to detect whether there's anyone at home. 

The main criticisms of the Nest Learning Thermostat are that it doesn't offer zonal control, and that if you're a tech novice it can be a little complicated to set up and use. The absence of zonal control means that while you'll be able to digitally control your property as a whole, you'll still have to manually adjust individual radiators. 

That said, if you're looking for a top-of-the range system Nest is a good way to go. Plus, with Google behind it, Nest is a good system to invest in if you're planning to build a wider smart home setup.

Hive is owned by Centrica, one of the UK's leading energy providers, so you can rest assured that you're in experienced hands when it comes to your heating needs. While the company may be British, Hive products have been available in the US since 2017.

The thermostat itself is a collaboration between Hive and Swiss designer Yves Béhar, who's responsible for everything from the August smart lock to PayPal's brand identity. That top-quality styling makes the Hive Active Heating thermostat something you'll be proud to have on your wall.

What's more, Hive has an excellent ecosystem, so you're able to control a vast range of Hive products using a single app. And its thermostat is no slouch, garnering our 'recommended' tag thanks to its simple interface and easy voice assistant integration. 

It's worth noting that, like the Nest thermostat above, Hive Active Heating doesn't support Apple's HomeKit, so it's best avoided if you're already invested in Apple's smart home ecosystem. 

With a small dial in the middle of its compact design controlling temperature, the Hive Active thermostat gives you the option of keeping things extremely simple, while being packed with features for those who want greater control of their system. 

The Honeywell Evohome gives you total control over your home, with individual thermostats for each radiator enabling you to set an independent heating schedule for every room in your house.

It's difficult to grasp what a difference this feature makes until you've tried it for yourself. If you live in a house where different inhabitants prefer a different temperature, or if one room always seems to be hotter or colder than the others, this system is going to be a godsend.

What's more, it works with under-floor heating too, so even if you have a large and complicated heating system the Evohome gives you total control over all of it via an app that's a pleasure to use. 

The control panel and radiator thermostats aren't going to win any awards for design, coming as they do in plain white plastic, but that's not really the point of the Evohome. It's a simple system, without the bells and whistles of the Nest or Hive, but if you've got a complicated heating system that you want to control digitally, it's hard to beat.

The Tado Smart Thermostat should be brilliant. It offers the zonal control of the Honeywell Evohome, a slick design that rivals the Hive, and the geofencing smarts to match the Nest, but somehow it doesn't quite manage to pull all these features together into a cohesive system.

It's seriously good-looking – by far the most attractive zonal control on the market – but the app is unintuitive to navigate, and compared to the incredibly user-friendly app on the Evohome, it's positively difficult.

That's not to say it's a bad system – it's still comfortably a 4-star product, and we don't imagine anyone who buys the Tado regretting their purchase. And it's so close to being the perfect system – the one that mixes together the best features of other offerings. The problem is, it just doesn't manage to outshine any of its rivals.

One thing that does make the Tado stand out in this list is Apple HomeKit integration – if you're the proud owner of a HomePod, or you're firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, this is probably the best smart thermostat for you. 

It's also worth noting that the things keeping Tado from standing out are all software rather than hardware issues, so these could well be addressed over time. The Tado Smart Thermostat isn't currently available in the US, but as Tado's Cooling system is sold there we'd be surprised if it didn't become available at some point. 

If you like the look of the Nest Learning Thermostat but don't fancy shelling out the money for it, there's a cheaper alternative. It definitely looks cheaper – it's made of white plastic, with a white coating on the plastic screen that can make it hard to see the information being displayed – but it does echo the design language of the original Nest Thermostat, so you'll be more than happy to have it on your wall.

As the Nest's smaller sibling it benefits from industry-leading smarts, lacking only the most advanced features of the premium model which most users are unlikely to take advantage of anyway. 

The Nest E is a great example of how to streamline a flagship product to make a cheap alternative without damaging the qualities that made the original great. Make no mistake, this isn't flagship quality for bargain price, but it's great value for what it is.

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