At the start of this year, I reviewed the Heat Genius smart central heating system, and I loved it. At the time, it offered the best control for heating your entire house than any other product on the market due to the integration of smart radiator valves.
It did have its quirks, though. The app was ugly and complex in comparison to big names companies likes Nest and Hive.
Since then the competition has upped the ante. In particular, Tado has introduced smart radiator valves to their range making them much more competitive regarding features. There are also several new brands coming to the market, some of which also include smart radiator valves.
Thankfully Heat Genius haven’t rested on their laurels, during the year they have redeveloped all their software and introduced new hardware. All of which I have been reviewing the last couple of weeks.
The first major change is the rebranding of Heat Genius to Genius Home. The comes with some nice new branding and a new website. Not really any use to the end consumer, but it does look a bit more professional.
More importantly is the app to control the heating has been completely revamped both in terms of looks and a lot of the functionality. What was a very ugly app is now clean and simple. Granted, it still isn’t as nice as Tado, or a lot of other apps on my phone. There are no fancy graphics or anything. It is just a lot of smooth, clean lines that is relatively straightforward to navigate.
As well as the shiny new look and app. Genius Home have revamped most of their hardware. This includes:
- The Genius Hub – the brains of the system
- The radiator valves
- Room Thermostat
- The addition of an electric switch to control hot water immersion heaters, electric space heaters, or circulation pumps.
As well as being able to control electric space heaters, you can still control under floor heating with a single channel receiver that is available, but my old house doesn’t have underfloor heating, so I have not reviewed it.
As with all smart home heating systems, it is advisable to have an engineer install the main control unit to the boiler, though you can do it yourself if you want, and if you are good at these things, it is not too complex.
Thankfully my controller was already installed from my previous review, and I just had to set up all the new additional hardware. Previously Alasdair from Genius home did everything for me, and when it came down to tweaking the hardware settings myself later in the year, I found that the Genius system was quite difficult to work with.
Alasdair came back from the installation again this time round, but with a brief demo, I set up most of the system myself. I am glad to tell you that it is really quite simple.
Adding smart TRVs to old radiators was surprisingly simple, and Genius have made it easier with the App, which now has a Doctor section which will walk you through the installation of new devices. The app does a great job of this. I am rubbish at DIY, but it turns out you more or less just have to twist the old TRV off, screw the Genius TRV on and press a button, and it mounts itself properly. I was sure I would get water everywhere when I did this with the similar Devolo system, but TRVs don’t have direct contact with the water, so there is little to no chance of having a massive plumbing disaster.
Once physically added the valve and paired it with the Genius system, you just need to assign it to your room.
Overall it probably took about 5 minutes per device, and once you have added one, all the rest are extremely simple to add.
Two of the main hardware upgrades have been the TRVs themselves, and the new room thermostats. The TRV looks the same. apart from some new branding, but they now report back to the system the room temperature, which apparently, they didn’t before, and they now allow you to manually override the room temperature.
This means any room with a new TRV does not need a thermostat, and if you are cold and want to heat the room you are in you can manually select the temperature on the valve, and it will tell the system to warm that radiator. Overall, this is a great improvement.
The room thermostat is completely new too. The old one was very ugly confusing to use and I just never used it. The new one has a large LCD display showing the room temperature and allows you to easily override the room settings by pressing up / down to the desired heat.
By default, all the override settings are for 1 hour, but you can change this in the App.
The hub itself has also had a complete overall; the old hub was ugly and clunky; the new one is much more streamlined. It also has a proper wall bracket, as well as battery backup and I have been told it is WiFi compatible, but for the time being this is disabled. The entire system is backwards compatible, so any old hardware you have will work fine, and new software features that are released should work on your old hardware.
When it comes down to the new improved software. Everything works the same more or less. It is just less confusing You will have to set up each room, and all the schedules, so this can take a bit of time, but that’s just the nature of this system. However, setting up the schedules is much more simple and a lot more intuitive. You just select your room, select the day, then add a new schedule or set the default temperature. You can then remove or add more as you wish.
To make things a little simpler, you can copy schedules to other days and then copy entire room schedules to the different rooms. This is what I did to start then modified each room based on preference.
After a couple of weeks’ worth of use then only real issue I had was when I messed around with my network, and it took out the connection with the Genius Hub. The problem was that when it reconnected, it needed to pair up with all the devices. Until the devices are paired, you basically have no heating to any radiator with a smart TRV. It took about an hour for it to fix itself, so it wasn’t a huge issue, and unfortunately, this is going to be the nature of all smart systems regardless of what company you choose. The Hub does have some redundancy built in for cases like this as it uses a battery backup, so temporary cut outs of electricity mean you won’t lose connection to the rest of the system.
The other major upgrade Genius Home has had is the integration of IFTTT which is a web service that stands for “If This Then That”. IFTTT allows other web services or internet connected technology to interact with each other.
At the moment, the system is still in beta so I have not had chance to test it properly yet, but once live you should be able to (in theory) integrate Genius with another smart home tech such as Alexa and Google Home, etc.
You should also be able to dynamically alter your heating based on the weather outside. So, for example, you could make the heating come on earlier if the overnight temperature drops below 0.
Alasdair from Genius Home also has the system message him when his hallway motion sensor goes off, so he knows when someone comes and goes.
IFTTT is quite an important feature for Genius Home as several other manufacturers offer Alexa integration, and IFTTT should be able to do the same if not more.
Heat Genius was great back in January, now rebranded to Genius Home, they have gone from strength to strength. It appears Genius Home took on all the criticisms of the previous system and made a genuine effort to iron them out. The app is much nicer to use, adding and managing hardware is quite simple, and everything works as it should.
This is still my favourite heating system due to the flexibility of total house control and is therefore what I use personally. However, just as the previous review, the main downside to this is the cost of implementation. Yes, you could just have boiler control and a couple of radiators, it will still work great, but I feel like you need most/all of your radiators on the system, and at £60 per TRV this can add up to a lot of money in a big house.
This isn’t a flaw of Genius Home, it is just a matter of fact, competing companies all charge the same if not more for their TRVs, so Genius Home are not making any more or less of a mark-up here. Also, because you don’t technically need a room thermostat anymore, there are some additional savings to be had this year.
If you can cope with the initial investment, the system should provide you with considerable cost savings over the course of a few years which will more than cover the start-up costs. You can, of course, start off small and add to the system as and when your budget can afford it.