With so many smart thermostats being available on the market and each company's product ranges beginning to mature, I thought it was time to run through the latest releases from the most popular smart heating systems on the market in the UK. These are; Hive Active Heating 2, Nest Learning Thermostat 3 and Tado 3.

Pricing

First off, we're going to take a look at the pricing. Often we find the upfront costs of smart home devices diminishes the potential savings in the short term, it is therefore quite important to understand that the savings come from setting up the system and leaving it for the long term.

  Hive 2 Nest 3 Tado 3
RRP £179 £199 £199
Best Price £178 £158 £119
Multi Zone (per zone) £99
(Requires additional thermostat)
£158
(Requires additional thermostat)
£109-129
(Requires additional thermostat)
Monthly Plans £4.99 (Warranty only) N/A From £3.99 (Starter kit)
Professional Installation £50-70 £50-£90 £50
Predicted Savings "Up to £150" 10-12% 31%

As you can see above, the first saving you can make is by avoiding the companies own website and heading to a reseller (like Amazon, Curry's or John Lewis). You can see in our comparison above the prices for Nest and Tado are drastically lower than the RRP which they sell for on their own websites.

The second saving you can make is by performing the installation yourself. Whilst all of the thermostats can be installed professionally it is often such a simple process that you can do it yourself. Each of the systems comes with clear instructions and there are a large number of video's and walk-throughs available on Youtube etc. that explain how to install them (although, it must be said if you are not comfortable with electronics and wiring it may be best to get a professional to do it!).

The final saving you can make (which sadly is only available on the Tado) is to rent the hardware and pay for it monthly. At £3.99 for the Tado starter kit it's quite a saving over the outright cost.

The costs do begin to rise if you have multiple zones (especially with Nest as you need to purchase an additional Thermostat at full price) or if you want the individual radiator controls of the Tado (see below). What kit you need obviously depends on your home and each platform does give details about what equipment you will need to purchase on their websites.

Based on pricing alone, Tado and Hive come out on top. Tado has the added benefit of being able to rent the hardware. However, there isn't too much difference between all of the them and it will likely be the features and design that set them apart.

Feature Comparison

You will notice that most of the devices have similar features (each company has had a couple of years to catch up with each other's exclusive features by now). There are however a couple of things missing from certain platforms which can be seen below. Being a smart home device there is always the chance that the companies will add new features through a software update but there are some things that require hardware changes (e.g. Apple Homekit support). That said, each of the three competitors have been updating their devices reasonably regularly with software changes.

  Hive 2 Nest 3 Tado 3
Hot Water Control Yes Yes Requires extension kit - £79
Radiator Control No No Requires Valves - £59
Smartphone App Yes Yes Yes
Schedule Yes Yes Yes
Geofencing Reminders only, not automatic Yes Yes
Amazon Echo Yes Yes Yes
IFTTT Yes Yes Yes
Frost Protection Yes (7° minimum)  Yes (configurable temperature) Yes (5° minimum)
Holiday Mode Yes Yes No
Self Install Yes Yes Yes

Here we can see Tado looks to have the most features with components like remote valves offering a great way to control the heating in individual rooms and what I believe to be the best implementation of Geofencing. The only issue is the additional £79 it requires for the extension kit to manage your hot water (this then starts to push up the price for a comparable system). All of the platforms have integrations with third parties like IFTTT and Amazon's Echo which make them ideal for the smart home (although the Hive implementation of geofencing only alerts you that you've left rather than automatically turning down the heating).

On features alone, I believe the Tado wins (based on the radiator valves alone). It features the most flexibility and the geofencing is the best implementation of them all. It is however only slightly ahead of the competition as most of the features are also available in both the Hive and Nest product ranges and things like geofencing could be fixed with a software update.

Design

At the end of the day it's likely to come down to design and personal preference which device you have positioned on your wall (especially considering most of the features are the same!). Thing is, none of the devices look especially "ugly". The Tado comes with a very simple interface with just up and down buttons for controlling the temperature. Nest has a lovely round screen and is a little bit quirky in its design and Hive has a nice mirrored finish and is available with multiple colour cases to match your walls.

As well as using the thermostat device itself to change temperatures you will find you spend a lot of time in the app to configure your schedule and settings. The good news is that they all have apps for both iOS and Android and all have very easy to use interfaces.

Where does that leave us?

Personally, I'm a fan of the features of the Tado and Hive systems. Nest seems to have stagnated and not really progresses since its initial release whilst it's competition has been evolving quickly. The pricing also hurts the attractiveness of Nest for homes with multiple zones. Similarly, Tado becomes expensive once you take into account the extension kit for hot water and additional zones (although the monthly plan does make it a little more attractive!). Sadly, the one device that I have seen in the US that I have heard great things about (the Ecobee 3) isn't available in the UK currently. Hopefully it comes along soon.

If I were to purchase one of these devices today I think it would have to be the Hive due to the balance of features, price and design. I have multiple zones at home which makes Hive cheapest overall. If the Tado was just a little bit cheaper or at a similar price with the hot water extension kit then I would likely go with that.