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Controls and frost protection

sensoCOMFORT control on dark wall

One of the most effective ways to get the most out of your central heating system and to help improve your home's energy efficiency during the cooler months is to fit a control.

Not only do heating controls provide easy command over various functions and aspects of your heating system, you can benefit from a more comfortable living environment that suits your lifestyle.

In 2018, the government introduced the Boiler Plus scheme to help increase the efficiency of homes in the UK through their heating systems. From now on, all new heating systems and boiler installations must legally be equipped with time and temperature controls and must have a minimum ErP efficiency of 92% during operation.

VRC 700 heating control sitting on table in a kitchen

Different control types

There are many different kinds of heating and hot water controls available on the market. From simple plug-in timers that tell your boiler when to switch on and off, to internet connected controls that fully modulate your heating system and can be controlled on the go from a smart device.

Depending on the location of your boiler, and the age and efficiency of your system, different controls may be better options.

Plug-in timer

Plug-in analogue timers are simple devices that enable you to set the specific times you would like your central heating to switch on and off over a 24-hour period. The times that you input will be repeated each day accordingly. This is an ideal solution for those who are only in the house during the evenings and require more consistent heating, such as older Victorian homes. As the timer is often mounted to the boiler fascia itself, they are best used when set and left alone. The Vaillant plug-in timer is the timeSWITCH 150 is an easy plug-in control that is compatible with all our combi boilers.

Plug-in programmer

Plug-in programmers are simple digital timers, not dissimilar to their analogue counterparts, which allow you to set specific times for your central heating to be active. If you have a plug-in programmer, you can set up different times to heat up your hot water cylinder too - ideal for mornings where showers are in demand, yet the heating may not need to be on.

Plug-in timers are typically designed to perfectly suit your lifestyle, offering multiple time periods per day and the ability to customise each day individually, making them more effective than analogue timers for families with complex requirements. The Vaillant plug-in programmer is the timeSWITCH 160.

Room thermostat

Room thermostats are mechanical or digital devices that monitor indoor air temperature and allow you to set a temperature level you are comfortable with. Typically, these simple room thermostats are only fitted to boilers and when the room temperature drops below your set level the thermostat will activate your boiler. Once the required room temperature is reached, it will deactivate your boiler. Our sensoROOM pure digital thermostat has a contemporary look and familiar dial to provide an easy interface to manage the heating system.

It’s important to note that the room temperature is relative to the thermostat itself, so different rooms may heat differently to one another. Room thermostats are generally highly compatible with many domestic boilers, making them a popular choice in homes.

senso control on a while with a couple sitting on a sofa

Programmable room thermostat

Programmable room thermostats combine the functionality of a plug-in timer and room thermostat. You will be able to set a specific time you would prefer your heating to come on including setting the your desired temperature. You can also set a separate time you want to heat up your hot water cylinder.The added control over both time and temperature ensures you get superb heating efficiency for your home. Vaillant manufactures two different programmable room thermostats; VRT 350 and sensoHOME.

Load Compensation & Weather Compensation

Load Compensation - Enhanced load compensation is a feature that automatically adjusts the temperature of the water leaving the boiler and entering the heating system (radiators or underfloor heating).

It works with a room thermostat to determine the amount of energy needed to reach the desired temperature. This means that when the user-set room temperature is not far above the current temperature, only a small increase is required to meet the set level. As a result, the boiler will work at a reduced output to use the minimum amount of energy needed.

This helps to give you the perfect temperature as well as improving the longevity of your boiler as your system is not having to work as hard. Load compensation is a relatively common feature on modern thermostats, but certainly worth checking the manual to see if your control offers this.

Weather Compensation - The weather compensation feature on Vaillant’s smart controls uses weather forecast data to understand the outside temperature. It then adjusts the heat going to the radiators or underfloor heating system for optimum efficiency.

When the outside weather temperature is forecast to drop, a Vaillant smart control will increase the temperature going to your heating system to ensure it reaches the temperature set for optimum comfort. Likewise, when the temperature is forecast to rise, the weather compensation feature reduces the output of the boiler to ensure it is operating with maximum efficiency.

The VRC 700 can work more accurately, as it can be fitted with an outside sensor. This sensor ensures the weather compensation feature is using live data for ultimate heating comfort and efficiency.

If your thermostat has this function, some smart controls learn the thermal behaviour of the building and use weather compensation to ensure that when you want between 18°C and 21°C, you get it automatically.

woman turning down her thermostat

Frost protection

Frost protection is a feature of many boilers that prevent the water in the boiler from freezing when subject to low and freezing temperatures. This is a critical method of avoiding any serious damage to your boiler and maintaining functionality.

Typically, across our range of boilers, the frost protection system operates the boiler pump as soon as the heating circuit water temperature falls below 12 degrees centigrade. The pump stops as soon as the temperature of this water reaches 15 degrees centigrade. If the heating system falls below 3 degrees centigrade, the burner ignites. This ensures you do not fall victim to any potential frost, yet still maintains efficiency under normal operation.

This two-stage frost protection feature is only active when the boiler is switched on. The boiler alone cannot ensure the installation is protected against frost. A separate thermostat may be necessary to control the temperature of the system. The frost protection feature can vary amongst our appliances.