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Smart Modulating Termostats

What is a Smart Heating Thermostat?

Smart thermostats can connect to the internet, offering various useful features. One such feature is geolocation, which allows the thermostat to determine your presence at home and adjust the temperature accordingly.

While this feature is useful, it pales in comparison to the capabilities discussed in this article.

If you already have a smart thermostat, sometimes a simple rewiring inside the boiler can unlock these benefits.

But first, can your thermostat or smart stat modulate your boiler?

What Does 'Modulating the Boiler' Mean?

Modulating the boiler means adjusting the appliance's output based on demand. For example, if it's 10 degrees outside, you might need only a little heating. A modulating thermostat can tell the boiler to produce a lower temperature, maintaining a comfortable indoor environment without the intense 'on-off' cycling typical of non-modulating thermostats.

The Best Types of Smart Thermostats

The best thermostats are modulating smart stats, which come in two types: load compensation and weather compensation.

  • Load Compensation: This senses the indoor temperature and calculates the necessary warmth for the radiators.
  • Weather Compensation: This measures the outdoor temperature, crucial for efficient boiler operation. A sensor on a north-facing wall gauges the outdoor temperature, informing the boiler how to adjust.

Types of Weather Compensation

  1. Advanced Weather Compensation: Measures outdoor temperature to determine indoor needs, sometimes without internal thermostats. This system is the most efficient and reliable, using the lowest possible temperatures.
  2. Basic Weather Compensation: Similar to advanced but lacks temperature and time controls, requiring an internal thermostat for indoor temperature assessment.
  3. Internet Weather Compensation: Uses internet data for outdoor temperatures, which can be less accurate and may not effectively adjust boiler flow temperatures.

Benefits of Modulating Smart Stats and Controls

  • Prolongs Boiler and Radiator Lifespan: Reduces corrosion (halving it for every 10-degree reduction in temperature) and dirt buildup, the main causes of system failure. It also reduces stress on the expansion vessel and pump cavitation, while slowing wear on internal components.
  • Increased Comfort and Air Quality: Provides more even heating, reduces system noise, and improves air quality.
  • Enhanced Efficiency: Reduces heat loss, particularly in poorly insulated areas, enhances boiler heat transfer and combustion efficiency, reduces flue heat loss, ensures longer run times with fewer on-off cycles, and maximizes condensing mode operation.

Understanding Boiler Condensing

More condensing means more energy and heat are extracted from the boiler, turning fumes into liquid water. This is particularly relevant for gas boilers, as oil boilers are less likely to modulate or accept modulating control.

Energy Savings with Modulating Smart Control

Modulating controls can save up to 45% efficiency on your current boiler setup. Efficiency is measured both in fuel savings and boiler reliability and lifespan.

Choosing the Right Smart Stat

Each boiler has its unique 'language', often compatible with its own brand's controls, but many new boilers also support OpenTherm. This universal language allows third-party controls (e.g., Honeywell Evohome, Google Nest) to communicate with the boiler. Choosing the correct boiler control can also facilitate remote fault diagnostics and adjustments.

Are All Modulating Smart Stats the Same?

No, they vary in sensitivity and efficiency. For instance, the Nest gently modulates temperature, while Honeywell EvoHome offers multi-zoning but is more aggressive in temperature modulation, potentially leading to less efficiency.

Common Concerns and Solutions

  • Radiators Not Heating Up Enough: Educate customers about how the controllers work and focus on the room temperature, not just the radiator heat.
  • Installer Knowledge: Installers should thoroughly explain the system, not just set it up.
  • Hot Water Priority Systems: Note that the boiler may prioritize hot water heating, but this is rarely noticeable.

Final Thoughts and Next Steps...

If you're considering a smart modulating control, start by checking if your boiler can modulate and what language it speaks. Don't overlook the boiler manufacturer's controls, as they are often reliable, even if they lack some features.

For more information or if you're looking for smart controls in Leeds, Wakefield, or surrounding areas, contact us at 0113 8500510.


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Liam Hirst
Starting his career at Help-Link Uk, Liam then went on to work for one of the largest construction companies in the UK (Eaga/Carillon) where he built his reputation and gained vast knowledge of technical boiler issues and neat install work. Liam setup Your Boiler Experts in 2003 and has since worked with some of the biggest and best company's in the UK (British Gas, Home-Serve, ect) and has built up and maintained a large private customer base that use him time and time again. View Liam's LinkedIn profile here >>
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