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Central Heating Controls Explained

Central heating controls, also known as boiler controls, refer to any system that helps manage heating across a property or room by room. This includes programmers, timers, and thermostats. They can help households to save energy which, in turn, saves money. In this guide, we’ll discuss the different heating controls you could use to set and adjust the temperature in your home.

Setting up central heating controls

To manage your home’s temperature, you’ll need to set up central heating controls. Start by identifying what type of heating controls you already have in your home, or which ones you’d like to install. Most boilers should come with a room thermostat, while radiators should feature TRVs (Thermostatic Radiator Valves). The correct way to use your central heating controls depends on the type and model. You should be able to find guidance either by following the instructions manual or searching for the model online.

Boiler thermostats

A boiler thermostat controls the temperature of water that flows through your central heating system. You can adjust the thermostat, and therefore the temperature, to your own preferences. Set this to the MIN or LOW setting at approximately 50°C for better energy efficiency. This can be ideal for warmer months, when heating isn’t always needed. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find the MAX or HIGH setting, which heats water to 80°C or above. This is useful for when you want to heat up your radiators as quickly as possible, especially during winter. You can also use a boiler timer to set the ideal hour for radiators or water to heat up.

Room thermostats

Another type of central heating control is the room thermostat. Room thermostats detect the air’s temperature and feedback to the central heating system. Once the room reaches the set temperature, the thermostat triggers the central heating system to turn off. If the temperature in your home drops, the thermostat switches the heating back on.

There are many different types of room thermostats. You’ll find some room thermostats on the wall – ideally in a central area away from radiators or direct sunlight, so they can accurately gauge a room’s temperature. Some room thermostats physically connect to the boiler, while others are wireless and battery-powered. Mechanical thermostats are more traditional and not always accurate; they use a bimetallic strip or gas bellows to function. You may prefer to install digital thermostats, as these offer a clear electronic display and a higher level of accuracy.

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)

Another way to control your property’s interior temperature is with thermostatic radiator valves, or TRVs. These valves connect to every radiator in the home, allowing you to control the temperature of each. They also serve as a great energy-saving measure by preventing the flow of excess water, which in turn prevents excess heat. TRVs don’t control the boiler; they only control the flow of hot water through a radiator.

Boiler programmers

Keep your heating off during the day, but make sure it’s on by the time you get home with a boiler programmer. A programmer or central heating timer switch lets you set up a schedule for your heating. You can choose when your heating and hot water turns off and on.

While the principle of programmers is always the same, these boiler controls can vary from simple to sophisticated, depending on the model. Some boiler programmers allow you to adjust the settings for each day of the week, while others turn on and off at the same time every day. You can also find digital programmers with an electronic display and built-in clock face, or traditional options, such as the room thermostat.

Traditional programmers are either wireless or connected to the boiler. The obvious benefit of a wireless boiler programmer is you can fit it anywhere in the house for swift access. However, did you know it also makes updates easier? There’s no need to run new cables between the programmer and boiler when updating a wireless programmer.

Cylinder or pipe thermostats

If you’ve got a traditional boiler with a hot water cylinder, it will come with a cylinder thermostat attached. The job of the cylinder thermostat is to measure the water temperature inside the boiler. It ensures the boiler only heats water during timed intervals or when the temperature drops below the desired level. You’ll usually find a motorised valve that connects to the boiler outlet. This component ensures hot water only flows to the hot water cylinder or the central heating system, rather than both at the same time.

Smart thermostats

Are you looking for a smart solution to your home heating needs? The latest generation of boiler controls are fully digital and smarter than ever. You can control a smart thermostat like Hive with a smartphone app. Some, like Nest®, learn behaviour over time to heat your property without any other input required. Smart thermostats use internet connectivity and motion sensors for a more energy-efficient central heating system – saving you money.

Compensation controls

There are a few compensation controls built into some central heating systems. These settings boost energy efficiency and may be controlled via smartphone or thermostat. For example, load compensation controls adjust the heat flow to each radiator. When a room heats up, load compensation controls lower the temperature accordingly. This prevents the radiators and the room from becoming too hot. Some compensation controls account for external weather conditions, using outdoor sensors to adjust the boiler supply. For example, if the temperature drops outside, the thermostat will raise the temperature inside accordingly.

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