UK HomeKit: Tado Delivers a Comprehensive Smart Thermostat Ecosystem Compatible with iPhone

Cupertino, July 8, 2024

The Tado Smart Thermostat system is one of the few options available to UK homeowners looking to upgrade their heating to smart home control. I’ve been using it for almost a year now and am generally very happy with it. The Tado system consists of a central controller, an internet bridge to connect to HomeKit and optional radiator valves to control the heating on a room-by-room basis.


The exact steps for installing will vary depending on the type of boiler and existing thermostat you have in your home. It’s a bit of a complication, but the Tado app will guide you through what you need to do. Generally speaking, this will involve screwing the Tado controller to a wall near your boiler and swapping a few wires around. The device isn’t necessarily unsightly, but ideally it can be hidden out of sight, in a utility room or loft space or similar. Check out the Tado website for some instructional videos before you buy.

It’s a simple enough process to do yourself, but if you’re nervous about electrical wiring, you may be better off getting a contractor to do it. Next, for each room where you want precise control, you replace the TRV valve on the radiator with the Tado valve. A sensor in the valve measures the ambient temperature and communicates this back to the Home Base. When necessary, the Home Base will physically instruct the valve to turn on. This controls how much hot water flows through the radiator, thereby regulating the room temperature.

Finally, a small rectangular dongle plugs into your Wi-Fi router to give the Tado system internet access and connect to HomeKit.

The Good

So, with all that setup done, what do you have? You have the ability to remotely control whether the Tado unit draws heat from the boiler, from your phone. This will turn on your overall heating. Additionally, for each room where you’ve fitted a smart valve to the radiator, you can see the currently detected room temperature and set a target temperature for that room. This is neatly displayed in the Home app with a tile for each radiator, plus another for the base unit (which has its own integrated temperature sensor). You can view all of your thermostats using the Climate filter in the Home app, which provides a snapshot of the temperature across your entire home. Tap on a tile to see the details of a particular thermostat, which shows the currently detected temperature and humidity in that room. Switch it from Off to Heating to turn on the heating. If you only turn on the heating in one room, the valves for the other rooms won’t come on, efficiently directing all the heat from your boiler to the room you specifically care about.

The thermostat UI was a little spotty in previous versions of the Home app, but has gotten a nice overhaul in iOS 17. It now looks slicker, and you can drag the slider to adjust the temperature. The Tado is reliably quick to respond to commands; there’s virtually no lag. I’ve also never seen accessories display as ‘Not Responding’ in the Home app in almost a year of using this system.

As part of HomeKit, you can also control everything with Siri, using natural voice commands. I created a scene called ‘Warm’ that sets all the thermostats in every room to heating. If I’m cold, I just ask my HomePod to “warm the house” and it dutifully does so. Of course, this also works when you’re away, using remote access. It’s handy.

The Tado app gives you even more features, like dedicated home and away schedules, a shortcut for whole home boost, historical graphs, and access to premium features like open window detection. It’s a shame more of this sort of thing isn’t available natively through the Home app (see below).

As well as software control, it’s worth noting that the Tado system can be controlled using physical gestures on the units themselves. The main base unit can display an LED readout of your current home status, and you can tap it to change the temperature. The radiator valves themselves also light up an LED display, and you can turn them with your hand to change the target temperature or schedule cycle. Usually you’ll just do all of this via the phone app, but it’s handy in an emergency.

The Bad

The biggest downside to the Tado system is its price. The basic system is fine, but any add-on like a radiator valve or wireless temperature sensor quickly starts to hurt your wallet. I wish it were cheaper. It feels prohibitively expensive to get started, especially when Tado locks a bunch of advanced features behind an extra (optional) subscription. That said, competing ecosystems like Hive also fall into the same price bracket. Smart home heating is convenient, but it comes at a price.

The other downside is that you can’t rely on HomeKit to provide a complete whole-home heating experience. Tado displays heating accessories for the main unit, and one per room for each radiator valve you have installed. You can set temperatures for each room and turn them on or off independently using the Home app or with your voice with Siri. However, Tado does expect you to set your daily temperature schedule via its Smart Schedule feature. That means you can’t do everything via HomeKit alone. Hot water controls aren’t officially exposed to HomeKit either (but you can use a Homebridge solution to close that gap).

Similarly, when you enable a manual heating schedule via the Home app, you can’t simultaneously configure how long it will remain in place via the Home app. This behavior is determined by the setting in the Tado app, which gives you three options: until the next automatic schedule change, a duration timeout, or until you manually return to the schedule. Ideally, these controls would be exposed via HomeKit so you could set them individually each time you want to override the heating schedule. I have them all set to a two-hour duration timeout, which works fine, but sometimes you want more flexibility. (The “until you manually switch back to the schedule” option is completely unfeasible for a HomeKit-focused user, as you can’t manage the smart schedule through HomeKit at all. You have to use the Tado app.) The culprit here is a combination of gaps in potential HomeKit functionality, and gaps in Tado’s implementation. Hopefully this will improve over time, but I’m not very confident it will, especially since Tado seems to be increasingly focused on pushing their own subscription service.

As is, I have an automatic schedule set up in Tado that I adjust twice a year (winter and spring) via their app, and otherwise use the Home app/Siri to issue manual two-hour overrides when desired.


I generally leave the automatic schedule set to keep everything off for as long as possible during the cold winter months. This is because it’s so easy to just turn on the heating from your phone, or by shouting a command to a nearby HomePod. When it gets really cold, I use the Tado app to set a schedule to automatically heat the house for a few hours in the morning and evening each day. This “schedule” then turns off when the warmer spring season returns.

In conclusion, I wish more of this was exposed directly through HomeKit, but I understand the reasons why it isn’t (and a lot of it is Apple’s fault). That said, I still like having a smart heating system in my home. It’s cool to be able to control it from your phone, or ask Siri on your watch to proactively warm the house when you get back from an evening walk. The Tado system is a solid way to make that happen.

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