Heating control in the UK is generally thought of as an expensive luxury that needs to be planned early on in a new build or renovation. So when we were asked for a retro-fit heating control solution to work on existing radiators in a property in West Sussex, that would integrate with a Control4 home control system – well, we were doubtful to be honest. But then, as can often be the case, we became aware of a German product about to be brought into the UK that seemed to tick all the boxes.
eQ-3 Max! is a simple system to install. It consists of a central control unit – the Cube LAN Gateway, a wall mounted Wireless Room Thermostat and Wireless Radiator Thermostats.
eQ-3 Max Cube LAN Gateway
The Cube LAN Gateway is the central brains of the system. It connects to your internet at home and is easily configurable with a weekly program, individual day programs and different programs for individual rooms. It took me about 15 minutes to setup independent program configurations for two rooms from a “no knowledge” start point. It’s that easy! Connect it to your router, plug it into the mains and download some software.
Wireless Radiator Thermostats
The radiators are controlled via the wireless radiator thermostats. Again, really easy to fit, took less than 5 mins with no tools required and not a drop of water to be seen (a first for any plumbing project I have undertaken!). The radiator thermostats replace your existing manual valve controls and link to the Cube LAN Gateway and adopt the programming you have set up. Here in the UK our radiators are different to those in Germany and consequently this brings to light the first disappointment. Once fitted to a UK radiator the display is upside down. This doesn’t affect the performance in any way and is purely a cosmetic thing, but for some it might just be one of those annoying things that they can’t get over. To be honest, for me, once mine had been set up I’ve very rarely looked at the display so it hasn’t been a problem at all, but is something you need to be aware of if you are a little bit OCD about such things!
You can name each wireless radiator thermostat, so if you have a room with more than one radiator then each can be independently controlled with it’s own settings.
Wireless Wall Thermostat
The final piece of the jigsaw is the wall mounted wireless thermostat. The wireless radiator thermostats have their own thermostat built in to them, but of course being that close to the heat source means they are not particularly accurate. The wall mounted wireless wall thermostat will give you the room temperature and will control each wireless radiator thermostat according to the settings you have programmed into the Cube. You can leave it in Auto mode or over-ride it with buttons to increase or decrease the temperature, or if you want a short burst of heat then there is a Boost button that will give you an increased heat for a set period of time – all configurable from the Cube LAN Gateway software.
What do we think?
After a week or two of using this system I was really impressed with how easy it was to set up. With day-to-day use though there are some shortcomings that we would have hoped might have been considered before promoting this product in the UK. Allowing for the fact that the manufacturers are unlikely to change the design of the product so that the display was the right way round on a UK radiator – in my system, like I’ve said, I very rarely need to look at the display so I really don’t see this as a problem – it is something that anyone buying this system.
More annoying though is the App that you can download to control your heating system. A ubiquitous tool for any networked control system nowadays the App downloads in German with no English version. I did a year of German at school about 20 odd years ago and the only phrase that stuck was “das ist einer flascher” (I apologise for any errors!), so understanding a heating control app entirely in German was a non-starter for me.
A big flaw for me was the time setting. The Cube LAN Gateway gets it’s time from Central Europe – an hour ahead of UK time. Fair enough I thought, it’s a German product, it’s only right that the time is set to German time. BUT why can’t you change the time? There are no settings to allow for the time to be changed according to your geographical location. More an annoyance than anything else and again, probably not something that would stop you buying – just something to be aware of and perhaps hope that things may change with a firmware update in the future.
The only other thing that might stop you wanting to buy this system is how noisy the radiator thermostats are. Noisy might be too strong a word, I would guess they are on a level slightly lower than a motorised blind but loud enough that when watching TV in the evening you can hear the motors wiring and I now wake up in the morning half an hour before I want to because the bedroom radiator is turning on.
All-in-all it’s a great system and cheap enough for most to consider. Installation and setup is a doddle and it does work well and can be integrated into a Control4 control system.
If you want more advice on automated heating controls and options for your home or project, then just give us a call today.