It’s time to update you on how things went in January saving money and energy using Tado! Sadly due to a billing glitch I can’t bring you the usual details, but the figures reported by Tado look good!
Tado Savings Report January 2019 - YouTube
Sadly, we had a billing error crop up with our energy provider. Thus they refunded us the month of December, and then recalculated December and lumped it together with a single bill covering both that month, and January. This means I don’t have usage for the period of January specifically.
However, I can share with you the savings report as detailed by the Tado app. This shows;
Overall savings of 16.8%
Geofencing: 148 hours away mode
Weather Adaptation: 63 hours of sunshine
Open Window detection: 33 events
Smart Schedule: 9.1 hours per day energy saving temperature
Manual Control: 0.5% set manually to an energy saving temperature
Given what we’ve seen so far in previous Winter months this season, I’d say it’s highly likely we’ve saved money here, and that this would still be the case if we were having to pay the Tado subscription.
I’ll be back in February with another energy saving update! Hopefully then, we’ll also have full usage details to share too!
In the meantime, let me know how you’re getting on with your own smart heating setup, by dropping a message in the comments!
It’s been a while since I posted here about installing any new Philips Hue lighting kit. Well, I’ve got something new to share! We’ve installed the Philips Hue ‘Fair’ Ceiling Lamp into our entrance hallway. I’m pretty pleased with it, and today I’d like to share what it is, how we found the install process, and what it’s like as a lamp.
When I first started New Home Tricks, the Philips Hue product portfolio was a lot smaller than it is today. That isn’t to say it wasn’t a comprehensive set of products, but since that time, they’ve dramatically expanded the products on offer.
This has mostly come in the form of their lamp products. There are ceiling lamps, pendant lamps, wall lamps, table lamps, light bars, outdoor lamps - even an outdoor LED strip! These products come in one of two categories; light fittings that take regular bulbs but of course ship with Hue bulbs in the box (or pre-installed), and fully integrated lamps that have some form of LED array inside that is not user-replaceable.
If that last part about lamps where the actual light component is not user replaceable sounds like a bad deal, remember that LEDs have a very long lifespan. The lamp I’m focusing on here is rated for 25,000 hours of use. If used for 6 hours a day, that’s over a decade of life.
The Philips Hue ‘Fair’ ceiling lamp comes in two varieties. First there’s the ceiling lamp that hangs down from the ceiling to create a more low-level light effect. This is good for over a dining table for example. Then, there’s the flush fit version I’ve got for the entrance hallway. It comes in black or white, and has an output of 3,000 lumens. It’s one of Philips Hue’s ‘White Ambience’ Products. So, the brightness and warmth is adjustable, whilst the actual colour is not.
Philips Hue Fair Ceiling Lamp
The product also ships with a Hue Dimmer switch in the box. This means you can actually use a product like this as a starter kit if you’d like. The dimmer switch can control up to ten lights without the need for the Hue Bridge. Of course if you want to get more sophisticated with your smart lighting, or have more than ten lights, then you’re going to need the bridge. Without it, you’re not going to be able to use the app for example, or engage in automation, or hook in to other smart home products like Alexa or Google Home.
Installation had a few snags. First was more related to our house - the ceiling turned out to be a false plasterboard ceiling, so locating the correct places to drill holes was a challenge. After that, the next issue was that the lamp itself didn’t really have connectors that were appropriate for a common UK lighting setup. In the UK, ceiling light wiring can be part of a loop, so each light also needs to be a junction on the loop. The Hue Fair lamp connectors didn’t really provide for this, and there were no additional connector blocks in the box.
In addition, the wiring diagrams in the box were basic at best. From an installation standpoint, it’s clear that the intention is for someone who knows what they’re doing to handle the wiring. If you’re not confident with this sort of thing, then get a professional to do the installation for you.
Once installed however, the rest of the process of adding the light to our Philips Hue system was exactly the same as for a bulb. Discover the light, add it to a room (or setup a new room if needed), and that’s it!
With the Hue Dimmer installed, we also had a nice way to control the light without needing to launch the app every time we want to turn the light on and off. We also added a Philips Hue motion sensor so the light will come on automatically when anyone walks through the entrance hall area. Plus, we added a Hue White GU10 spot for a small under-staircase cubby-hole where we store shoes / coats etc.
The lamp looks great, and disperses the light nicely over a good area. It sits just shy of an inch from the ceiling, and casts some light upwards to give a nice ‘glow’ just above the light. Now, upon entering the house, light comes on automatically, and certainly looks a lot better than the old light we had installed.
The lamp is a little on the pricey side, and I would say that it would be more appropriate at a slightly lower price point. That said, I’m not disappointed, and will certainly consider looking at other Hue lamps for further expansion in our home.
It’s time for an update on how Tado is getting on saving us money through Smart Heating. Here, I run through the savings we’ve made using the Tado system during November & December.
Tado Savings Report November & December 2018 - YouTube
As you’ll remember from my Tado Savings report for the month of October, it wasn’t a great start, with pretty low savings. In fact, they were so low, that if we were also having to pay the Tado subscription fee, we’d have actually been worse off that month.
I’m happy to report though that for November and December, things were a lot better.
Starting with November, Tado reported a saving of 20.9%. This seems pretty good, so let’s do the maths!
Our gas bill was £72.48
Take away my estimate of £11.11 for non-heating related gas spend (hot water, gas cooking etc), and that gives us a heating bill of £61.37
With our saving of 20.9% our heating bill would have been £77.59
That’s a saving of £16.22
For reference, if I was having to pay the Tado subscription of £2.99, that would leave a saving of £13.23
So, that’s pretty good for November, a solid saving over the course of the month. How about December? Well here the Tado saving is a little lower, at 10.1%.
Our gas bill was £109.26
Minus non-heating spend leaves a heating bill of £98.15
Our Tado saving means we would have spent £109.18
Total saving: £11.03
Again, for reference, if we were having to pay the subs, it would be a saving of £8.04
Not as good as November here, but then during the December period we spent more time at home over the Christmas / Holiday period, and the heating was running more, so less opportunity for Tado to active ‘away’ mode or other saving features.
It will be interesting to see if this builds into a ‘trend’ over the course of January & February, which traditionally here in the UK also form some of the colder Winter months.
Of course I’ll try to keep things updated as new monthly reports come through from Tado. In the meantime, how are you doing with your own Smart Heating systems? Let me know in the comments!
The upgrade to the Tado V3+ app is now available for existing customers to access. Here, I run through the upgrade process, go through a tour of the new app in the video, and also give my thoughts on the new version.
Tado V3+ App Upgrade & Tour - YouTube
If you’ve seen my previous posts and videos (“Is Tado still worth it?” and “Tado Pricing Update”) you’ll know that there’s a new version of the Tado app, paired with the new ‘V3+’ version of their Smart Thermostat. Existing customers are now able to upgrade to the V3+ version of the app via a one-off payment of €19.99/£19.99.
There aren’t two versions of the app in the app stores. Instead, the version you see depends on whether you have the new hardware, or whether you’ve paid the upgrade fee.
First off, let’s run through how the upgrade process works. If you access the ‘hamburger’ menu in the app, you’ll see an extra banner underneath all your zones offering the upgrade. If you tap on that, a summary screen will appear explaining what’s on offer. It outlines that you can either upgrade, or stick with the existing version perpetually. There’s nothing ‘forcing’ you to upgrade here. You’ll also still get updates through the app store, and the explanation also states that these updates won’t upgrade you without your explicit permission.
Proceeding on gives you a summary of some of the new features of the app, including a new look & feel, and the new ‘Air Comfort’ skill.
Prior to payment, one final screen outlines that only one person in your household needs to pay the fee, and everyone will then get the new app. It also states that this is an irreversible process, and you can’t go back. Some people have told me though that they have been able to go back, by making use of app store refund policies.
After that, the payment is taken via a store-driven process with either Apple or Google pay being invoked. Once the payment is processed, the app automatically reloads, and you’ll be at the home screen for the V3+ app. Basically, it’s a pretty painless process.
The new version will then be shown to anyone launching the app on iOS, Android, or even the web app at my.tado.com. However users on Windows are out of luck, the app stays the same on the ‘old’ version.
The standard home screen view for the new app is a summary of all your zones, giving a ‘tiled’ view. There’s a tile for each zone showing it’s current temperature and heating setting. There are also tiles for Energy savings, Air Comfort, Geofencing, Repair Services, and Hot Water (if you have that).
The at a glance view is nice. I appreciate being able to see everything in one place. Tapping on a tile expands the view showing the zone in more detail. Here we start to see a few changes.
First, the prominence given to temperature is reversed compared to the old app. The current ‘set’ temperature takes prominence in the center of the screen, with the current temperature shown in smaller font in the bottom right.
Tapping on the set temperature offers the chance to set a manual override temperature. You use an iOS style slider up and down to do this, then tap the new temperature to accept. This then returns to the main screen, and -by default- sets the time for the manual override to 1 hour.
A slider lets you adjust between either 5 minutes, all the way up to 12 hours or ‘infinity’ (which essentially means the new manual setting will stay in place until you cancel it). One thing you can’t do (which you could in the old app), is state ‘until next automatic chance’.
Weirdly, you can do this via the web app, and the setting will even be properly displayed in the iOS / Android app. You just can’t set it there. If this is something you do often, you may want to pin my.tado.com to your home screen so you can continue to access that kind of setting.
Another missing element from the app is a view of the current heat request level. That’s now gone. The only way to view this is to go into the graph view, and tap-and-hold to see the heat request level (and other data) there.
Also, you can no longer swipe left / right to switch zones. You have to exit the zone you’re viewing, then tap into a different one. There’s also no way to re-order zones, another feature that was available in the old app. Minor annoyances, but annoyances none-the-less.
The graph and schedule views are identical to the old version of the app. Nothing has changed here.
The ‘Geolocation’ radar has been removed completely from the zone screen, and instead moved to it’s own tab, which simply shows who’s home / away, and whether the system is in home / away mode.
The Air Comfort feature is the major new addition, but it’s rather arbitrary. At the top, you see an overview of outdoor air quality. Then, an idea of the indoor air quality, based on how many times the windows have been opened in the last 24 hours. However, the system must surely be making far too many assumptions to be in any way accurate, so I don’t see this as being useful. Tado’s products don’t have air quality sensors built into them.
Below, you get an idea of the ‘comfort’ level for each zone. It bases the evaluation on the temperature of each zone, and the humidity. It seems to base it’s decision on 22C, and 46% humidity being ‘just right’ anything too far off that is considered too hot or cold, or too humid / dry.
This kind of thing is highly subjective. Different people are going to feel comfortable at different temperature levels. Seeing as there are no customisation options for the views, it may be somewhat limited in it’s usefulness.
Most other stuff in the app works the same as before. There’s nothing new in ‘settings’ - beyond a new list of skills many of which have no configurable options anyway. The ‘auto assist’ skill for me shows as being part of my service. If you’ve bought into Tado using the new V3+ hardware, you may instead see subscription information here.
One thing I’ve not been able to evaluate is how Tado operates for users who don’t subscribe to Auto-Assist. I gather it operates without automatically changing the temperature for you when you are ‘away’, instead pestering you with a notification to manually turn the heating down when you leave the house, and back up again when you’re on your way home.
My general thoughts on this new version are that cosmetically, it’s nice. I like the at-a-glance view. In every other respect, nothing really feels like it’s changed. The Air Comfort feature doesn’t really seem like that big a deal, and there are several features missing that were present in the old version.
Is it worth £20 for the upgrade? As of right now, I’d say you’re not missing much by sticking to the old version. Don’t get me wrong, I still like Tado, and feel the system overall works well. However this particular upgrade doesn’t feel big enough to warrant forking over the cash for. If Tado can genuinely innovate some big new features going forward, that might change. Right now it’s tough to recommend.
For my first update of 2019, I want to delve into some additions to our Sonos speaker setup. We’ve added a Sonos Beam, and a Sonos One to our setup. Both of these speakers are from a new generation of devices from Sonos that have some interesting and attractive new feature set. In fact, I’d go so far as to say outright: Don’t buy an Amazon Echo or Google Home device - go Sonos instead.
Sonos Beam & Sonos One Overview - YouTube
First up - an apology. I haven’t posted anything since November 2018. First there was a holiday, then a bout of illness, then along came Christmas & New Year (suitably busy period). However I want to get back into posting regularly. Starting with a topic I haven’t touched on for a while seemed like a good idea, and with some new additions to our Sonos setup that I hadn’t yet posted up here, this seemed like a good place to start.
You may remember that so far we had two Sonos speakers. First a Sonos Play:1 in our Kitchen, and then a Playbar in the Living room hooked up to the TV. This has now been joined by a Sonos Beam, and a Sonos One. So what are these, and what makes them different from previous Sonos speakers?
First, the Sonos Beam. We got this because we’d replaced the TV. The old TV has moved upstairs to our Office (or Den as we sometimes call it). However as is often the case with TVs, the internal speakers aren’t very good. In fact, they’re terrible! It was quickly apparent that a better solution would be required. The Sonos Beam seemed like a good choice.
The Beam is a smaller, more compact soundbar compared to the Sonos Playbar. It also comes in at a lower price point. However it also has a few features that the Playbar doesn’t. First & foremost, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is built-in. This actually works better than controlling Sonos speakers through an Echo, since you don’t have to be quite so specific about the commands you give.
Usually asking Alexa to ‘start’, ‘stop’, ‘pause’ etc would require you to also specify the room, otherwise Alexa will assume you want to control audio on the Echo device itself, not your Sonos speakers. However when your Sonos speaker is your Alexa device, this problem goes away.
Plus Sonos are also planning to add Google Assistant too. That was originally slated for 2018 release but got delayed.
The Beam also adds Apple Airplay 2 support. This is a capability not coming to the older Sonos speakers, since it requires new hardware.
Also different from other Sonos speakers is the addition of touch controls rather than physical buttons (including a new ‘mute’ button for the microphone if you want to stop the voice assistant listening.
Finally, the Beam connects to your TV via HDMI-ARC (Audio Return Channel). However if you want to connect via optical cable (as is the default with the Playbar), then you’ll need to use an adapter. Thankfully, Sonos include one in the box.
The Sonos One has displaced our Play:1, with the latter device moving over to our bedroom. The two devices are nearly indistinguishable from one another. They’re the same physical form factor, with only a slight difference in colour-scheme and the top controls giving away the difference.
The Sonos One also includes Amazon Alexa, and has the same touch controls as used on the Beam. It also picks up the Airplay 2 support for Apple users.
The One doesn’t replace the Play:1 completely in the range. Both speakers are still available. However the Play:1 is now available for less, reflecting that it has less features vs the One.
Sound quality is -as you’d expect- excellent from both speakers.
Certainly these are strong offerings from Sonos and I’m very pleased with them. With devices like this on the market one must surely ask the question as to why you’d buy Echo or Google Home instead of these. If the Google Assistant does finally make it to Sonos, then the case gets stronger. A single entertainment speaker with not one, but two assistants available rather than having separate devices? Seems to make sense to me.
Of course there are price differences. The Echo Dot and Google Home Mini are of going to be cheaper. However if you’re looking for an actual entertainment speaker and want something that can do music (and do it justice), then you can’t really ignore Sonos.
I’m going to have a crack at committing myself to a monthly update on our Tado energy savings during the Winter. Since the Tado app gives you a report at the start of each month on how much you saved in the previous month, I’m going to use that to report back how effective the system is.
Tado Savings Report October 2018 - YouTube
One of the key ideas of Smart Heating, is that it should save you energy and money. However working out just how much you’re saving can be difficult. Thankfully, many smart heating systems give you some form of report, and Tado is no different.
Every month, Tado gives you a report in the ‘Energy Savings Report’ section of the app. This shows you how you did last month, and records historical data too so you can review previous months.
Tado gives you an overall percentage saving estimate. It works out the saving based on geofencing (how many hours the system was in ‘away’ mode), Weather Adaptation, Open Window Detection, Smart Scheduling, and manual control (occasions when you manually turned the temperature down and therefore saved energy).
Of course, such an evaluation is always only ever an ‘estimate’. The system is trying to determine how much it saved you, but it can never say with 100% accuracy what your energy usage would have been with a more traditional heating controller.
That said, it’s still an interesting exercise to look at these figures, and then try to determine how much I’ve saved.
First, a quick look back at the historical data. I installed my first piece of Tado kit (the original starter kit with Smart Thermostat) back in November 2017. Since that was not a full month, we’ll ignore that and start with December.
In December 2017 the saving was 11.2%, January 2018: 17.3%, February 16.9%, March 19.2%, and April 26.5%. Then we head into Summer.
Some good figures there. Heading into this Winter, October has been the first full month where heating has been turned on, so what saving have we made?
Well, according to Tado, the saving was 8.9%, with 176 Hours of ‘away mode’, 89 hours of sunshine for weather adaptation, 7 open window detections, 9.6 hours per day smart schedule, and 2.2% manual control saving.
Click to open full-size view…
However what does this look like in monetary terms? For that, we need to do some maths. In October, I spend £30.29 according to my energy bill. However, we also have to try to account for the money spent on gas usage for hot water, and cooking. For that, I looked to the summer months, and saw I was spending an average of £11.11 a month. If we take that away, we’re left with a heating bill of £19.18
Increasing that by 8.9% gives us a figure of £20.89
So, the saving for October was £1.71.
OK .. so this is hardly big news, but remember October is early Winter. As the months grow colder we’ll hopefully see a bigger impact. Remember those savings from last winter grew much higher too, so I’ll be hoping to replicate this.
It is worth noting what we would be saving if we were also paying for the Tado subscription of £2.99 a month. In that circumstance we’d have made a loss of £1.28. Not good.
We’ll have to see how things pan out over the next few months. We’ll be looking at things again for November, December, January, March and April and evaluate the savings. I have high hopes that we can beat the figure for this month!
Things have changed following my last post. Tado have now changed their pricing policy to better reflect the ‘deal’ existing customers felt they were getting with their investment in Tado Smart Heating. Read more on the changes below.
Tado Pricing Update - YouTube
In my previous post ‘Is Tado still worth it?’ I explored how Tado have introduced a subscription fee for their more advanced services. Dubbed ‘Auto Assist’, the more advanced automated features like location-based heating control would now be covered by a subscription of £2.99 a month.
This subscription fee would not be applicable to existing customers, unless you chose to upgrade to the new version of the app, introduced at the same time.
This left many existing Tado users upset. The idea that they had to choose between staying behind on an old version of the app, or upgrading into a paid for service didn’t really feel like it was the deal they were getting when they bought Tado. The idea was that the Tado services were just bundled in with the product. To change this left a sour taste with customers. Being able to stick with the old version was … OK … but, not what you expect from a Smart Home solution.
Tado have now changed their policy. Existing customers will now be able to upgrade to the new version of the app for a one-time fee of £/€19.99, and will receive the ‘Auto Assist’ capabilities free of charge.
Tado have posted an article on their own website, and you can read it here, but the most important extract to note is….
there will be no costs to use the Auto-Assist Skill for existing customers who upgrade from a V1, V2 or V3 product for as long as you are using tado°
So, that’s pretty clear. It also means the only people who’ll be seeing a subscription fee, are new customers.
If you are in the market for a smart heating system, and are pondering your options, I still think Tado is worth serious consideration. Subscription fee aside, you’re going to save more than the cost of the subscription in energy costs, probably far more. Plus, the flexibility of Tado to support a rather sophisticated setup is excellent. The radiator controllers are an incredibly useful way to deliver room-by-room control (albeit you may wish to invest only in the rooms where you really need this).
I can also state at this stage that I feel Tado support is excellent. During our installation of a new boiler earlier in the year, we contacted Tado to help integrate the system with the new unit. Tado not only supported us, but produced a customized set of instructions on how to get everything working….. good service.
This new settlement with customers is how things should have been from the start. I’m comfortable paying a one-off fee, and I will be upgrading to the new app as soon as it becomes available to me. I’ll report back on how it works.
A bold question to ask I know, but with Tado introducing a subscription, it's important to ask: is Tado still worth it?
Is Tado Still Worth It? - YouTube
(Update 2 (25-Oct-2018): Tado have now updated their pricing information, thus the below information is outdated. See my update article ‘Tado Pricing Update’. )
(Update 1 (5-Oct-2018): one reader pointed out that you could use Homekit or IFTTT to automate Tado rather than paying the subscription. Whilst this is true, the control would be much more crude compared to Tado. Tado adjusts your heating in a granular fashion based on your distance from home, which is much better than a simple home/away on/off approach. )
Before we begin, it's important for you to know that I have no connection with Tado. I receive no payment or sponsorship from them. I've received no free gifts or demo units. All the Tado equipment in my home I bought myself, with my own money. All the opinions I have to share are my own.
So, why am I asking this question? Well, Tado recently unveiled a new version of their smart thermostat. This 'version 3' hardware looks very much the same as the previous version, but comes with a few new features including air quality monitoring to help you maintain the most comfortable climate.
The new model - virtually identical to the old one in appearance.
However this isn't the focus of this post. You see, alongside the new hardware, Tado announced a new subscription package dubbed 'Auto Assist'.
Costing £2.99 a month or £24.99 annually, this subscription includes the following features:
Automatic adjustment of heating based on user geo-location
Open window detection
If these features sound familiar, it's because these are the core features of Tado (especially that first one) that existing users already enjoy for no fee. This brings us to an obvious question...
Do existing users now need to pay?
Short answer: No.
I reached out to Tado via Twitter to clarify this point, and was told very clearly that existing customers can carry on using Tado, and all their current features without needing to pay a subscription.
First bit of good news.
There is a caveat here.
Along with the new thermostat hardware, Tado also built a new version of the app.
The new app experience - show here on iOS.
Rather than publishing this new app separately in the stores (which would lead to them having two apps, one classic and one modern), they simply built the new app experience into the existing app, and the one you see will vary based on the following factors:
If you are a new customer buying the new version 3 thermostat, you get the new app experience
If you're an existing user, you'll soon be able to 'upgrade' into the new app experience.
The subscription is tied to this new app experience. So, if you're an existing Tado customer, you'll be able to upgrade, but you'll then lose access to those features mentioned above until you subscribe.
Note that if you do upgrade, there's no way back! New customers buying Tado for the first time with that new hardware don't get a choice. They will see the new app experience.
You don't have to upgrade of course, you can stick with the classic app experience and not pay anything, but that then begs an additional question...
Do I get 'left behind' if I stick with the classic app?
Short answer: No, at least not yet.
The beauty of smart home products is that they get better over time through software updates from the manufacturer. So, will Tado continue to deliver updates and new features for you if you stick with the classic app experience? Again I reached out to Tado on this, and was told that yes, they absolutely plan to do this.
Of course, I can well imagine that the time will come when Tado stop focusing on the classic app experience for the development of new features. However for the foreseeable future, classic users can still look forward to new features.
If you do choose to upgrade ('opt-in’) to that new app experience (or if you get it because you’re a new customer buying a version 3 thermostat), you’ll then have to choose whether to pay the subscription. That then brings us to the next question…
What do you get without the subscription?
Arguably the key feature for Tado is location based heating control. Without Auto Assist you can still do virtually everything you can do now, including setting very granular schedules, make use of the 'early start' feature, and control your heating from anywhere.
What you won't get, is automatic adjustment of heating as people leave, turning the heating down or even off, and then warning things back up again when you're coming home. You'll have to do these things manually without the subscription. If that doesn't sound like a big deal, then you can perhaps avoid paying for the subscription.
If you do choose to pay, or are in the market for smart heating....
Is Tado still worth it?
Back to the central question. To answer it, we need to ask whether you're going to save more than you spend. Are you going to save more than £3 a month by using Tado?
The answer is that most likely, yes you will. Even with the most conservative estimate your looking at saving more than that, probably pretty easily.
It's difficult of course to get exact figures on such things, and everyone's circumstances will be different. However if a system like this can't save at least £3 monthly, then it wouldn't have been worth the money even before these changes.
Won't this slow down my payback? What about the competition?
It's true that there are competing products out there like Nest that don't demand a subscription (currently).
This is where we have to expand things to compare more comprehensively though. Nest may not have a subscription, but they also don't have products like radiator controllers for sophisticated room-by-room control.
I'd argue that such capabilities give Tado extra energy saving opportunities vs Nest.
However, be careful what you spend. If you buy lots of Tado radiator controllers on top of the main starter kit, the cost of your smart heating system will rise. That's going to put your 'break-even' point a bit further into the future than you might like.
Speaking of break-even, subscription costs are going to slow that down a little, but probably not by a big degree. Your savings should still be pretty good here.
My advice? Don't count Tado out because of the subscription. You still save more than you spend, and their system works extremely well, with the radiator controllers adding extra energy saving potential. Just be careful to target your deployment of such extra components to areas where the biggest difference can be made.
Why are Tado doing this?
I didn't cover this area directly with Tado, but it's most likely down to the cost of their cloud services that power the system behind the scenes.
Such services cost money, and it's likely that as Tado have accumulated more customers, so their cloud costs have risen. I’m not trying to make excuses for them here, but it would be naive of me to view Tado as a philanthropic endeavor. They’re a business, and businesses exist to make money.
What do I really think? Will I pay?
I'm philosophical about this one. The 'buy once, get services free forever' model was never going to last. As mentioned above, it would be naive to think otherwise. Tado is a business, and whilst some may find a subscription disappointing, it’s not a high price. £3 a month is hardly profiteering.
It's easy to compare against the myriad of cloud services that are free, like Nest, Alexa and others. However in those cases there's always a much larger company behind the scenes, with far deeper pockets to foot the bill.
Maybe some other sugar daddy will eventually swoop in and buy out Tado, maybe that would lead to the removal of the subscription service. For now however, I'm likely to take the upgrade when it's offered, and start paying the subscription.
Tado works, so yes, it's worth it.
It would seem you have the choice to pay monthly or annually. The latter represents a saving but ... No offence to Tado, I only need heating 6 months of the year!
As such, why not subscribe only during those months when you use your heating, then cancel when warmer weather returns?
Nest is a well known name in Smart Home technology, but so far we've not had any of their products in the New Home Tricks house. All that's about to change, as we've now installed the Nest Cam Outdoor! Here I take you through the unboxing and setup process.
Nest Cam Outdoor Unboxing & Setup - YouTube
Security is one of the more popular elements of Smart Home Technology. Protecting your home is something many of us want to do. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is through the use of a 'CCTV' camera. The term 'CCTV' is something of a misnomer, since we're not really talking about a 'circuit' here. Today's typical Smart Home cameras aren't wired, instead using WiFi networking, apps, and other technology to provide you video coverage in and around your home.
The Nest Cam Outdoor provides one such example of a Smart Home camera. Designed for use outside the home, the Nest Cam Outdoor offers HD 1080P video coverage wherever you need it. The app gives you motion detection alerts. Also, if you subscribe to the cloud video recording feature, you can go back and review what's happened in the past.
Why Nest and not Ring? As you'll be aware if you've read my previous articles, we have the Ring Video Doorbell Pro installed at our front gate. Ring make their own range of Smart Home cameras. Well, I guess the main reason is for comparison purposes. Whilst the products are a little different (camera vs smart doorbell), there's enough in common to compare. Video quality, usability of the app etc.
We've installed the Nest Cam Outdoor to cover the side passageway leading to the main entrance of our home. Our main door isn't at the front of our home, rather at the side in a passageway formed between our home, and the house nextdoor. To access this passageway, you must pass through a front-gate, which is where the Ring Video Doorbell Pro is installed.
The Nest Cam Outdoor is positioned above and back from the main door, so we get a good view of both the door itself, the passageway, and the gate.
So, what's in the box? Well you get the camera itself of course, as well as the various mounting components, power supply and installation guides. The camera is solidly built and weighty, and has a hardwired connection coming from the rear. This terminates into a USB-A connection with a retaining clip around the outside of it - more on that later.
The second part of the power supply plugs into the mains socket, and it accepts the cameras USB-A connection via a hockey-puck style link at the end of the mains cable.
The camera itself has no obvious point for screwing in any coupling for mounting it to the wall - but then you realise it actually attaches to the mounting plate magnetically, making it infinitely position-able.
Setup is recommended to be done before you physically mount the camera. Download the app from the app store for your phone (Android or iOS), run it, and create your account. Then, add a device, scanning the QR code on the back of the camera to get started. You then choose where the camera is to be installed. After this, you're given some warnings about the camera not being suitable for being in direct sunlight, or at temperatures above 40C, or below -20C.
That 'no direct sunlight' note came as something of a surprise. This is an outdoor product, surely it should cope with sunlight?
Next steps are to choose your WiFi network and supply the WiFi key / password. After that, you see a preview of the live video from the camera, and you're done. Then it's onto physical installation.
It's here that we hit our first complaint. The USB-A connector, plus the retaining ring around it, make for a very chunky connector. You've got to get that through your wall somehow! You'd have to drill a rather large hole to make that happen. There's no way to remove the retaining ring, and there's no way to remove the cable from the back of the camera.
I found some videos online of some rather brave modders who did remove the USB connector, but I wouldn't recommend this. Aside from anything else - your warranty is going to be void immediately!
Interestingly, in the newer Nest Cam IQ Outdoor (the 4K version), this problem is solved. Nest made the cable removable from the rear of the camera, and they made it USB-C, which is a much smaller connector. It's a shame the original Next Cam Outdoor didn't get a 'v2' refresh with a similar connector. I didn't want the IQ variant as it's a big jump in price just to get 4K (which we didn't need), and a smaller connector.
So, instead - we got creative. Rather than modding the device or cable, we instead sought to find some alternative power source that could provide USB power. This proved more tricky than it needed to be since - basically, the power requirements of the camera are a little high.
Our first power source didn't work quite right. It provided enough power for the camera to run, but on activating the camera microphone for remote-talk, the camera would crash.
The second power supply we found worked well. We purchased a small external housing unit to shelter the power supply from the elements, and mounted this on the wall a few feet away from the camera.
In summary, we had the camera mounted (on an angle bracket to give it the best view of the passageway), the cable then runs into a housing-box and plugs into our power supply. From this, the power supply cable then runs into the house via a hole in the wall (a much smaller one than would have been required for the Nest connector), and into the mains.
Does this approach protect the warranty? I don't know. I guess we are still using an non-Nest power supply (Nest say that you really should use theirs), but at least we're not having to mod the cable, or drill very large holes in our house!
With all this work done - everything seems to be working very well. We get a good video feed of the side passage to our main entrance. Alerts seem to be coming through when motion is detected, and we get a free-trial of the 'Next Protect' cloud subscription that is available if you want to retain your videos.
Now that we have this video coverage, we can move on to a special Smart Home project that I hope to tell you about soon! Also in the near future, I'll post up an overview of the Nest app, and how it works with the camera.