Eco Happy (Solar Expert)

Published February 28, 2024

Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI, smart homes and smart boilers are becoming part of our daily lives. However, there are so many ‘smart’ heating solutions available that it can get quite confusing. Luckily, at Eco Happy, we believe in demystifying things.

What makes a boiler smart and what are the smartest boilers? In this rundown for homeowners, landlords, and tenants, we’ll answer your questions and highlight six of the best smart boilers on the market. We’ll also discuss how to choose the right smart boiler for your needs.

Additionally, we’ll look at the features and smart thermostats that are available to run a smart heating system optimally. After all, optimal heating means comfort, convenience, energy efficiency, and lower heating bills!

The 6 Best Smart Boilers

First: what is a smart boiler? In simple terms, a smart boiler is a boiler connected to a smart thermostat. The thermostat is called smart because it’s connected to the internet which accesses a bunch of useful features and data. An app on your phone allows you to manage a smart control system that includes your thermostat and boiler.

Here are our 6 top picks for the best smart boilers in 2024.

1. Vaillant ecoTec Plus Remastered

Vaillant is a 150-year-old business that started in Germany. Today, it is one of the largest heating companies in Europe, with a strong presence in the UK.

Their ecoTec Plus range features smart combi and system boilers that boast sleek, modern appearances. The boilers benefit from advanced design aimed at reducing wear and tear and extending overall boiler life. The ecoTec range promises up to 94% efficiency and is suitable for various-sized homes.

  • Smart features:
    • myVAILLANT is the company’s patented smart technology that enables remote monitoring and control.
    • Valliant’s control system will communicate with the boiler to perform more complex decisions, such as compensating for weather and modulating for efficiency.
    • myVAILLANT is compatible with Apple Homekit, Alexa, and multiple thermostats.
  • Warranty: 10-year warranty when installed by a Vaillant-approved installer.
  • Price: Vaillant prices for this model range from£900 to £2,400 (all prices exclude installation)

2. Worcester Bosch Greenstar 8000 Life

Worcester Bosch is a UK-based company founded in 1962 that has collected an impressive 14 Which? Best Buy awards in recent years.

A combi boiler with 94% efficiency and enhanced wireless controls, the Greenstar 8000 Life builds on the manufacturer’s reputation for excellence and reliability. The Greenstar 8000 is ideal for larger homes.

  • Smart features:
    • Using the simple interface on the Bosch EasyControl smart thermostat, you can control separate zones and set and adjust schedules and temperatures easily from your phone.
    • Sensors and GPS tracking detect if you’re in the house or on your way home and turn on/off your central heating accordingly.
    • Plenty of helpful data is provided upon purchase, making this stylish device a super helpful energy monitoring and saving tool.
  • Warranty: An excellent warranty of up to 12 years is offered when the boiler is installed by a Bosch-accredited engineer.
  • Price: Worcester Bosch prices this boiler range from £1,300 to £2,200

3.Viessmann Vitodens 050-w combi boiler

Viessmann is a German manufacturer founded over 100 years ago. The company prides itself on setting the standard for the future.

Engineered with German precision, the Vitodens 050-w is an ultra-reliable, compact, and attractive combi boiler. It is one of the best smart combi boilers on the market and it’s perfect for an apartment or smaller home. It has an energy efficiency of 92% and an easy-to-use LED control display that supports Viessmann’s smart home system, ViCare.

  • Smart features:
    • TheViCare app offers convenient control from your smartphone.
    • Use the intuitive interface to view your energy consumption and costs, set the temperature for individual rooms or the entire circuit, control your hot water, schedule heating times, and receive fault notifications.
    • You can also use voice commands via Alexa and Google Assistant.
  • Warranty: An extended warranty of 10 years is available.
  • Price: £800 – £900

4. Viessmann Vitodens 200-W

Ideal for large homes, the Viessmann Vitodens 200-W is a powerful gas condensing boiler with a top-quality stainless steel cylinder burner and heat exchanger. This impressive condensing boiler delivers an efficiency of 94%.

  • Smart features: For smart management of this premium boiler, use the ViCare app (as with the Vitodens 050-w).
  • Warranty: An extended warranty of up to 12 years is available.
  • Price: £1,500 – £1,900

5. Ideal Logic Max combi boiler

Ideal Heating is a UK company with a manufacturing base in Hull that has been in the heating business for over 100 years.

Ideal’s Logic Max combi is a stylish modern boiler compact enough to fit in a cupboard. Engineers appreciate how easy it is to install and service; homeowners love how quiet and reliable it is. Offering 90%+ efficiency, the Logic Max will suit small and medium-sized homes.

  • Smart features: The Logic Max combi is compatible with the Ideal Halo smart thermostat which enables you to control your boiler from anywhere, set schedules and timers, operate a 2-zone system, and use a wealth of information including weather data to maximise comfort and savings.
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Price: Ideal prices this boiler from£850 to £900.

6. Baxi 800 System 2

Baxi was founded in the UK in 1866 and has gained a fine reputation, serving both the domestic and commercial heating markets.

The Baxi 800 System 2 is a premium system boiler ideal for homes with multiple bathrooms. This versatile and reliable smart boiler is compatible with the Baxi uSense 2 smart thermostat which lets you control your heating from your smartphone.

  • Smart features:
    • Baxi uSense 2 is more limited than the other smart boiler systems as it lacks some of the more advanced features, such as zone control and smart sensors.
    • It supports remote control via the app as well as voice activation.
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • Price: £900 to £1,000

How We Chose The Best Smart Boilers

In our search for the best smart boilers on the market, we listened to our clients, as well as our network of heating engineers. We also searched industry reviews and considered consumer feedback and product awards.

The four main areas we focused on strongly were: reliability, energy efficiency, warranty, and how smart the boiler is.

Smart features

We looked at the range of intelligent features the boilers offer, including functions to maximise comfort, efficiency and savings, and how user-friendly and compatible the boiler’s smart technology is.

Reliability

It’s all very well having a boiler with the latest bells and whistles, but what use are mod cons if the unit can’t perform its basic function because it’s always breaking down? Performance and reliability were, therefore, a crucial part of our assessment.

Warranty

The manufacturer’s warranty speaks volumes. With a 12-year warranty, you are assured that the company is prepared to back its product. On the other hand, a 1 or 2-year warranty on an appliance that should last 20 years doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Energy efficiency

Modern boilers are required to be A-rated, which means they must be at least 90% efficient according to the Energy-related Product (ErP) energy classification system. In truth, most modern smart boilers already tick the energy-efficiency box.

Choosing The Best Smart Boiler For Your Needs

Choosing the best smart boiler for your home depends on several factors, such as your house size, your budget, and the boiler’s compatibility with your existing smart arrangements. Let’s take a look at the key considerations:

  • House size: The best boiler for a larger home with multiple rooms will need higher central heating outputs to ensure consistent warmth throughout. For larger properties, a system or regular boiler with higher outputs (35+ kW) is often the way to go. For smaller homes or apartments with limited space, a compact combi boiler is a great option.
  • Number of bathrooms: Homes with multiple bathrooms need a boiler with a decent hot water flow to ensure two or three showers can run comfortably at the same time. System boilers can work well in medium or large homes with multiple bathrooms.
  • Installation requirements: Your property’s existing heating system and space constraints must be factored into your decision. Combi boilers are perfect for properties with limited space while system and regular boilers require additional space for hot water cylinders and storage. If you’re not connected to the gas mains, you could consider a smart electric boiler (rather than LPG or oil).
  • Budget: Most of us have to consider our budget when investing in a boiler. It may be worth paying an extra £500 to £1,000 for a smart system that allows you to manage your usage more precisely to cut your energy bills.
  • Smart features and connectivity: Check out the smart features and connectivity options that different boiler models offer. Connectivity with smart home systems such as Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat or Hive smart thermostat may be ideal for your setup.
  • Environmental considerations: If you are committed to an eco-friendly home, you could get a smart electric boiler and power it from renewables. While gas boilers – smart or not – will be with us for many years, they are not part of the government’s 2050 net zero future.Ground source and air source heat pumps are currently the leading green heating options available. The government is actively promoting heat pumps for home heating.

Smart Functions That Save Money

As mentioned, smart boilers are only considered “smart” when paired with a smart thermostat. Let’s take a look at some of the functions that this pairing provides. Not all smart heating controls deliver all these neat features but the more of these you have, the smarter your heating system will be!

Learning ability

Advanced smart thermostats quickly learn your behaviours. If you follow a fairly set routine with preferred temperatures, it will learn your patterns within a week and create a personalised environment for you. It will, for example, start heating your TV lounge to the desired temperature shortly before you flop in front of Netflix every evening and ensure hot water for your 7 am shower the next morning.

If the learning function doesn’t meet your needs, you can disable it and use a programmed heating schedule or manual controls instead.

Adapting to weather

During a mild spell in March, you may want to turn your central heating temperature down. If an unseasonably cold snap hits in September, you’ll be tempted to nudge the heating up. A smart boiler capable of adapting to the weather will detect the outside temperature and make these adjustments automatically.

By operating at a lower temperature during mild spells, you conserve energy; automatic adjustment upwards when the temperature falls ensures cosy comfort without you having to lift a finger.

Ability to modulate your boiler

A heating system and smart thermostat can speak to each other using languages like OpenTherm. Thanks to this communication, the thermostat can adjust the boiler output based on current needs – it ‘modulates’ the boiler.

Modulation delivers smoother, more efficient operation and reduces the energy wastage that results from rapid firing up and down.

Motion sensors and geofencing

Motion sensors and geofencing track when you enter and leave your house and how far you are from home. These functions use your location to adjust the temperature automatically. It will know when you are on your way home and start warming the house for your arrival.

A basic geofencing function will alert you if you’ve left an empty house while the heating is still on. A more advanced function will go a step further and turn it off for you.

Zone heating

Zone heating allows you to divide your home into separate heating zones. This helps to target heat only to areas where it’s needed. For example, spare rooms can be left unheated and areas that aren’t used a lot can be kept at lower temperatures.

Multizone heating typically needs more than one thermostat or smart radiator valve. With smart thermostatic radiator valves, you can target the radiators in each room individually. 

Hot water and heating controls

Many smart thermostats are equipped to control hot water separate from your central heating. Managing hot water and heating separately allows for even better control and efficiency, resulting in lower energy bills.

If you’re away over Christmas, you can turn the hot water off and then pop it back on using your app shortly before you arrive home.

Of course, a combi boiler provides near-instant hot water when you open the tap, so this control capability is less relevant.

Smart Thermostats And Your Heating System

It’s possible that your current boiler – even if it’s not smart – can still be part of a smart home. It will just need to be connected to a smart thermostat. So, it’s worth checking with the manufacturer if your boiler is compatible and how your central heating system can be smartly integrated.

If you have a smart thermostat (to monitor air quality or control air conditioning, for example) and you’re buying a new boiler that doesn’t have its own smart system, you want to ensure that your new boiler and smart thermostat are compatible.

There are many popular smart thermostats on the market. British Gas-backed Hive active heating thermostats are in 2 million UK homes. You could also consider the Google Nest Learning thermostat, Tado, or Honeywell T9 smart thermostat.

FAQs

How much money will a smart boiler save me?

How much a smart boiler saves you on your energy bills depends on how you ran your heating system before and how effectively you use the new smart controls to manage usage going forward. Annual savings from £100 to several hundred pounds can be achieved.

What are load compensation controls?

A load compensation control is another smart control. This control reduces the flow temperature of your boiler so that it generates the desired heat (as per the thermostat) most efficiently. Without load compensation, the heat load may be excessive resulting in heat wastage.

Can I install a smart thermostat myself?

If you are a competent DIYer with knowledge of wiring setups, you may be able to install certain smart thermostats yourself. Otherwise, it is always best to get a professional electrician to install the device securely for you.

Final Thoughts

As smart boilers become more common and with many choices available on the market, it may become increasingly difficult to choose the right smart boiler for your home.

When considering a new smart boiler, you want to understand all the functions it offers so that you get the most out of your heating system. To help you navigate the smart boiler future, contact Eco Happy. We’ll be delighted to assist in any way we can.

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