Category - Smart Home
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Paul Holdsworth, Engineer

31 Jan : Updated 22 Apr ● 8 min read

Smart thermostat V Traditional thermostat

Technology is advancing, fast. That’s why we at BOXT make it our mission to keep you up to date with all of the latest toys the home installation world has to offer. In this handy guide, we’ll be focusing on smart thermostats and traditional thermostats.

How does a smart thermostat improve your life? Might it just be a case of ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’? We’ll be taking you through the pros and cons of a smart thermostat - versus a traditional thermostat - and finding out whether or not making the switch is really worth it. The heat is on...

What puts the SMART into a smart thermostat? 

Smart thermostats, also known as digital thermostats, allow you to have full control over your heating system - wherever you are. Feeling a bit chilly in your home? No need to get up. With a smart thermostat, you’re able to adjust your heating with just a single push of a button from your mobile device - even when you’re not at home. This cutting edge piece of technology means you don’t have to move a muscle when altering the temperature. In comparison to a traditional thermostat, which requires you to manually move towards wherever your thermostat pad is located and adjust accordingly.

Control your heating - wherever you are.

We’ve all been there. Rushing to leave for work and getting halfway there realising you’ve left the heating on - It can be a waste of money and frustrating to say the least. You won’t experience this with a smart thermostat. Simply turn off the heating directly from your mobile phone and let the thermostat do the rest - easy. 

Designed primarily for your convenience, it also monitors your usage so you can keep an eye on how much you’re spending. When compared with a traditional thermostat which is left out of sight and consequently - out of mind. The smart thermostat also gives you the license to adjust the temperature in a specific room. Again, saving you energy and money. 

Set your heating schedule.

You’re able to set different temperatures throughout the day by creating a heating schedule. That way, you can have the perfect heating at any time without having to constantly increase or decrease the temperature. This can all be completed from an app on your mobile.

Although they are a costly investment initially -  it could be a smart move. Due it’s efficiency, precision, and convenience - you’ll be aware of your heating spending and habits. Also, you’ll always be kept to up to date - meaning you’re likely to save money in the long run.

How does a smart thermostat work?

A smart thermostat connects your Wi-Fi and your heating system. The highly sensitive sensors take a precise reading of a chosen room’s temperature and then adjusts accordingly. Depending on what type of thermostat you have, you’ll have to download their bespoke app.

In some cases, all that is required is the thermostat itself. This is because it connects directly to your Wi-Fi meaning no additional cables. Some smart thermostats need an Ethernet cable and a ‘hub’ box. Still both easy to set up. 

Types of smart thermostats. 

The two most popular types of smart thermostats are Hive and Google Nest Learning Thermostat:


The Hive thermostat is a modern piece of equipment that is highly customisable. You’ll be able to set a temperature that is built around your schedule, so you don’t have to keep turning it on and off every five minutes. This can be problematic as once a schedule has been set, people don’t tend to adjust the temperature to their new routines. Unlike Google Nest which moulds around any changes to your routine automatically. Although, Hive provides you with the option of arranging up to six time slots everyday with an array of settings and options. Giving you more room to personalise you smart thermostat. 

One advantage of using the Hive is that it functions as a battery powered device. So you can place it anywhere in your home and set up pretty simply. Hive requires a ‘hub’ that connects to a broadband router via an Ethernet cable. This is then plugged in to a three plug socket to power it. In comparison to the Google Nest Learning Thermostat which is powered by the wires in the existing thermostat - you will need a professional to install it properly.

Google Nest Learning Thermostat.

What makes the Google Nest Learning Thermostat so unique is that it's a ‘learning thermostat’. This means that it automatically updates your schedule to make it bespoke to you and your home. Depending on the weather outside, Google Nest learns how long it will take to heat up your home and may switch on earlier or later. Always moulding around you and your heating habits. 

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Innovative Google Nest features.

Unlike the Hive thermostat, the Google Nest Learning Thermostat is fitted with a Farsight sensor feature. This is a motion sensor that wakes up the screen when any motion is sensed - for example, when walking past it. Consequently, this authorises the Google Nest Learning Thermostat to determine whether or not someone is in the home. It will turn itself OFF when no motion is recognised and ON when it is.

If you permit the Google Nest Smart Thermostat to connect to your GPS - you’ll be able to use the Geolocation feature. This works out how far away from home you are and will customise the temperature. The Google Nest Learning Thermostat completely adapts to your schedule correspondingly. So you’ll always be entering into a warm home. 

Another interesting feature on the Google Nest is the OpenTherm compatibility. This is a protocol that controls how fast the boiler is running when the heating is on. For example, as the heating gets to the set temperature, it backs off to remove any possibility of overshooting the temp. Saving you energy as a result. 

Safety First.

For optimum safety, the ‘Nest Protect’ is a carbon monoxide and smoke detector which directly alerts you via your phone if it goes off. Its ability to self test enhances the convenience and simplicity of it. Hive have no equivalent. An additional benefit of the Google Nest is that it connects through your Wi-Fi. In comparison to Hive which requires an Ethernet cable and hub.  

So whatever smart thermostat you go for you can be rest assured that they’re both remotely controllable meaning your far more likely to interact with it, saving you money and energy in the long run.

What is a Traditional Thermostat?

A no nonsense tool.  A traditional thermostat regulates the temperature in your home. If you feel the need to modify the warmth, simply locate the thermostat pad and change to your suited temperature. 

Whether you want to higher or lower the temperature, you’ll be able to set it using the buttons on the control pad and set a degree that’s best for you. Although it won’t have the flexibility and precision of a digital thermostat, a traditional thermostat is far more affordable. As long as you place the control pad somewhere in your home you frequently walk past or a room you spend most of your time in - that way it won’t be forgotten about and money won’t be wasted.

How does a Traditional Thermostat work?

Similarly to a smart thermostat, you’ll be able to set a timer on your control pad. If you’re planning on going out, the heating will turn off automatically - therefore saving you money. 

The metallic pieces of metal within the thermostat sensor need time to heat up. Which is why you may not feel the full effects of the temperature change immediately. As these metals become shorter and longer the circuit connected to your heating is switched on and off. 

 Where do smart thermostats go?

All smart thermostats are fitted directly onto a chosen wall. Ideally, it would be somewhere you regularly walk past. This way you can always check what temperature it is and easily change to a desired heat. 

Which thermostat is right for me?

Although a traditional thermostat doesn’t come with all of the bells and whistles of a smart thermostat - It does cost considerably less. At an affordable price, you’ll still be able to regulate your heat but without the added precision and convenience of a smart thermostat. 

This is an exciting time for home heating. The smart thermostat is quickly becoming a popular gadget and will save you money and energy in the long run. Becoming more conscious of your heating habits and having more control - essentially helps to build that perfect home environment - so you can live your life stress-free. 

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