How Does a Smart Thermostat Work?

Installing a smart thermostat in your home can provide you with added convenience and even save you money in the long run. To help you further understand how they work, we have put together a detailed guide that features our very own Hive thermostat.

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The use of smart thermostats in the UK has become increasingly more popular as they’ve dropped in price over the years. However, many people that aren’t familiar with them may be wondering how does a smart thermostat work?

In order to explain how they work, we have used the Hive Acting Heating system as an example because it’s the one that we installed in our very own home. It’s one of the best smart thermostats on the market and it ticks all the boxes in terms of the stylish design as well as usability when using the smartphone application.

How Does It Work?

Understanding the exact process of a smart thermostat will help you make the correct buying decision for your home. Below is a simplified diagram of the connections involved with installing the device to your boiler.

how does a smart thermostat work diagram

The Hub

In order to form the remote connection, the thermostat needs to be connected to the internet. This is achieved via the hub, which connects to the router via an Ethernet cable.

However, if you already use an existing hub for other devices such as a smart plug, you won’t need to purchase another one. Most hubs can handle multiple devices simultaneously.

Receiver To Boiler Connection

After setting up the internet connection, the next step is to connect the receiver which communicates between the remote connection and the boiler. Depending upon your existing setup will determine the difficulty of the installation.

If you have previously used programmable thermostats with your boiler, you won’t need to setup the external connections again (labelled in red below). These connections are the only part of the installation that may require a professional to install.

External Connections

If they are already installed, you can simply plug the receiver into the socket (labelled in blue above). Within this particular installation, there are two receivers because one controls the radiators and the other is used for the underfloor heating.

Receiver To Thermostat

The receivers are normally the most time consuming part of installing a smart thermostat. Once setup, you can then begin to connect the thermostat to the receiver, which can be achieved by following the instructions on the smartphone application.

It’s important to note that some receivers may perform firmware updates and refuse to connect until it’s complete. To confirm this, check to see whether the receiver is flashing or outputting a light because this can be used for diagnostics.

After the connection is successful, you will want to test that your actions are carried out by the boiler. We advise that you perform basic functions such as manual overrides and scheduling the boiler to turn on at certain times of the day.

Other Smart Devices

The majority of thermostats also connect with smart devices to further enhance its functionality. Some of these devices include the Amazon Alexa, Google Home Assistant, Apple HomeKit, IFTT and many more. The additional functionality can include voice commands such as “Alexa, turn the radiators to 21 degrees for 3 hours” and so much more.

Are They Worth It?

There is no denying the fact that a smart thermometer does come with a premium price tag. However, they provide extra convenience and in the long run, they will help you become more energy efficient and save you money.

We highly advise that you buy from a reputable brand in the UK and if possible, think long term. For example, if you plan to add other Hive smart devices in your home, choosing the Hive kit would be the best option.

The Author Who Worked On This Article

author dan darimo

Dan Morgan

As a keen DIY’er, gardener and somebody that loves the latest tech, Dan is someone that brings years of experience in multiple trades. Since buying his first house, he has been obsessed with renovating properties and filling it with the latest products. This has led him down the road of testing hundreds of products and creating in-depth “how-to” and informative guides that offer his first-hand experience. Other interests include working on cars, keeping fit through sports or his home gym, caravanning and drinking great coffee.

If you would like to read more about Darimo and the authors, you can visit our about page. This goes into great detail regarding how we test products, create our guides and everything else.

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