Smart Heating Controls: Not So Smart!

25 Apr. 2019

Written by Neil Marsh MCIPHE RP RHP EngTech

Why Do It?

Time and time again we tell our clients and potential clients to stay clear of specific smart controls. When we refer to smart controls, we are on about the variety that connects to the internet and allows you to control a central heating system remotely …

Why people feel the need for such equipment has me puzzled? There are few situations where such equipment is needed, in most cases, it is just a gimmick that people buy into, and in our opinion, waste money with. 

For most people, the thought of being able to turn on your heating system with your phone sounds pretty cool, and should you be tech-savvy, you may be inclined to make sure a purchase. What people often fail to understand is how these systems operate, and as a result, make your central heating system far more likely to fault. 

With a regular central heating timer or programmer, you turn on the heating and hot water (where applicable) as and when you need it, or through a timed function. The only faults that can occur with any of these controls are that they either bring the heating or hot water on when you do not want it to, or they fail to turn it on when you want it, both of which come from a fault with the programmer/time switch. 

More Ways To Go Wrong

Remote operated smart controls have far more avenues where they can go wrong, which in turn means that the average person who owns these will likely have more callouts from heating engineers and the costs that go with it. Not only can these ‘smart’ controls have the same faults as a regular programmer/time switch, but they can fail to operate your heating, and where appropriate, hot water due to issues with the following:

  • Internet service provider issues
  • Internet network issues
  • Router issues
  • Modem issues
  • App/software issues
  • Wireless frequency issues
  • Product provider system issues
  • Phone network issues
  • Hacking 

If just one of the above issues occurs, you may be stuck without heating and hot water or without the ability to turn them off. Some controls do have manual overides built into them, which is a must if you wish to buy one of these controls! 

Use Logic

Let’s face it, modern consumer technology is temperamental, it has tantrums even when there is no fault per say. Remote operated smart controls are no different. Many things can cause them not to work. Do you want to be having to resolve these issues yourself (where possible) or wasting more money on heating engineers than you need to be? 

With a typical engineer repair visit costing £100-250.00, around £200.00 to purchase one of these devices and an installation cost of £50-150.00, is it worth it? In most cases, the answer from us would be no. 

We have people contact us about problems with their heating in Gloucester, Cheltenham and the areas around, all the time. Do you really want to be that person who has to keep handing over your hard earned money to someone to correct issues with your overly complicated central heating system? What is wrong with just turning it on as you need it, or using a timer in conjunction with a regular room thermostat or a programmable one? 

In our opinion, there are a few instances where these controls beneficial. Some examples are:

  • You own property, such as a conference centre, where you need to bring the heating on before a leasing, and by being remote, the equipment will save you significant time and money.
  • You work away for extended periods at short notice and may need to turn your central heating system on/off at short notice. 

We often talk people out of using these controls for the reasons mentioned. We could happily charge people to fit such controls, profit from the installation and then profit further over the years as their system’s failure increases. However, we believe in honesty and no-nonse, which is a rare commodity. We have nothing to gain from giving this information, other than the peace of mind that we are being open and honest. 

If you want an open and honest Central Heating Installer in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Tewkesbury or Stroud, then we are the company you want to contact.