A Buyer’s Complete Guide For Your Central Heating Thermostat

Oct-2020 / 7 min read

Reading Time: 7 minutes

No home in the UK would be complete without their central heating setup. Many daily tasks depend on your boiler, heating thermostat, and radiator to get the job done. Without them, you can lose your heating and hot water.  

Of all the moving parts of your central heating, let’s focus on your central heating thermostat. As the control hub of your heating, it is important to find the right one. Here are some of the topics we are going to cover to help you with your thermostat search:

  1. What Is A Thermostat?
  2. What Are The Different Types of Thermostats?
    • Line Voltage
    • Low Voltage
    • Analogue Thermostats
    • Digital Thermostats
    • Smart Thermostats
  3. How Does A Thermostat Work?
  4. How Do You Install A Central Heating Thermostat?
    • Prep Your Home
    • Find The Right Position For Your Thermostat
    • Install The Back Plate
    • Install The Thermostat
    • Test It
  5. How To Set The Digital Timer?
    • Open The Hatch
    • Set The Date And Time
    • Set The Timer
  6. How Do You Use A Central Heating Thermostat?

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What Is A Thermostat?

A thermostat is in charge of relaying your instructions to your boiler and radiator. There, you can find the central heating controls for the entire house. You can use it to select your desired temperature and then sit back and relax. 

What Are The Different Types of Thermostats?

There is a wide range of thermostats available in the market. However, before you look at the different types, first determine whether you want a line voltage or low voltage system. It might seem pretty technical, so let’s simplify things. It all comes down to the electrical wiring:

Line Voltage

A line voltage system uses a 120 volt to 240-volt circuit and wiring, which is pretty standard for most of your household appliances like your lights, ceiling fans, vacuums, etc. 

You can tell whether you have a line voltage thermostat by your installation. A line voltage thermostat comes with 2-4 thick wires, and it can be very simple to install. These are great for managing baseboard and wall heaters.  

Low Voltage

A low voltage system runs on circuits and wiring that are below 50 volts. Since it reduces energy consumption over time, it is very common in smart and eco-friendly tech.

Similar to the line voltage system, you can tell a low voltage device by the installation. Since a low voltage thermostat will need a transformer, it is trickier to install and also more expensive. The wires are a lot thinner than the ones in the line voltage system. They are commonly used for central heating systems.

Besides making the distinction between a line and low voltage system, you also have to pick between an analogue and digital thermostat. 

Analogue Thermostat

Analogue thermostats are fairly straightforward. They have a metal strip that is connected to a mercury thermometer. You set your ideal temperature, and it will adjust your heating or cooling accordingly. 

Most analogue thermostats come with a dial so you can adjust the heating. While it isn’t the most economical or high-tech type on the market, they are still popular in the homes of the elderly or in old flats. Usually, UK residents tend to keep these models if they come with the home and are functioning properly. However, when you are purchasing it new – it is best for those who prefer a simple and fool-proof device. 

Digital Thermostat

Digital thermostats may be very technical, but you have more control over your heating. These models use a thermistor to read and evaluate the temperature, and then it makes adjustments based on that information. Besides getting a more accurate reading, it can also factor in other variables like humidity and moisture levels. 

Most digital thermostats are programmable. You can set the temperature for different times of the day, as well as put your central heating mode to sleep when you are at work. You can also schedule when to heat your water, so you always have a steady supply. With all of these features, digital programmable thermostats are a popular choice in homes across the UK.

Despite general acceptance, digital thermostats can be tricky to use. If you are not tech-savvy, there is definitely a steep learning curve. You can have your heating engineer help you program it with your specifications in mind. 

Smart Thermostats

If we are going by textbook definitions, a smart thermostat is pretty close to a digital one. However, they offer a completely different experience. A smart thermostat not only has accurate temperature readings and a programmable schedule but also can be well-integrated into your lifestyle. They connect to the internet so you can control your central heating system while you are away. All you have to do is click the settings on your app, and you are good to go.

Smart thermostats don’t stop here. There are learning models out there that gather data and help you optimise your heating. You can get a comprehensive view of this on your app. Over the next few years, it will display your results and finetune the settings. Soon you don’t have to even think about adjusting your boiler and radiator like you would with a dial thermostat.

Another perk is how much money you end up saving. With reduced costs, you get to enjoy low energy bills and fuel bills. Your smart thermostat can be very intuitive and simple to install. No one should have a problem using it. If you are interested in a side by side comparison of the top brands, check out our blog post “Best Thermostat to Use: Hive vs Nest.” 

When it comes to selecting the right type, consider its role in your daily life. Ask yourself:

  • Are you after low-maintenance and no-fuss heating?
  • Are you after more control?
  • Is having low energy bills a priority? How low do you want them to be?
  • Are you trying to be more eco-friendly at home? 

These questions can help you figure out what type of thermostat you need. Here is a brief summary to help you find the most suitable central heating thermostat for you:

Type of ThermostatCostBrandsInstallationEnergy BillsIdeal For

Low to Mid


Honeywell, ESI, Toogoo, Salus, British Gas, Worcester Bosch, etc.EasyMid to HighPeople who want a straightforward system, particularly the elderly.
DigitalMid to High £25-£252Honeywell, Hive, Tado, Inkbird, Salus, Drayton,Danfoss, etc.ChallengingLow to MidPeople who want a bit more control, but have a limited budget. 



Hive, Google Nest, Tado, Drayton, etc.EasyLow to MidPeople who are tech-savvy and who have smart appliances integrated in the home. Great for people who want to be eco-friendly. 

* Prices listed here were taken from online retailers and are subject to change. Always double-check these prices before making any purchases. 

Remember, when in doubt, always consult your local heating engineer. Plumbingforce can help you navigate the many brands and models available and install them in your home. 

How Does A Thermostat Work?

No matter what type of thermostat you get, it generally works the same way. They read the temperature of the room and control when the central heating system needs to be on or off. The main difference is their inner-workings. 

An analogue model uses a mercury thermometer, a bimetallic coil, and two wires to control the heating, while a digital model has a thermistor and a computer chip. Room thermostat, wall thermostat, or wired thermostat or wireless thermostat – there will always be a couple of changes when you shift between models. However, at the end of the day, they get the job done. 

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How Do You Install A Central Heating Thermostat?

When it comes to installation, it is best to work with a professional engineer from companies like Plumbingforce. With our help, you can get a well-fitted thermostat. Here, you don’t have to be bogged down by the manufacturer’s technical instructions and waste hours trying to figure it out. We can get your room thermostats up and running in no time. For an easy and hassle-free installation, call the professionals.

However, if you insist on installing it yourself, you can. Here are step by step instructions:

Prep Your Home

Get the tools listed in the manufacturer’s manual and always exercise caution. Turn off the electricity and the gas line to avoid any accidents.

Find The Right Position For Your Thermostat

Most homes in the UK have a wall plate reserved for the thermostat. Find that wall plate, and you should be good to go. If there is none, refer to your instruction manual. 

You should avoid installing your thermostat near areas that may affect its reading, so don’t keep it near the window because of direct sunlight or possible draft. You should also avoid installing it near the other sources of heat. A couple of examples of this is next to the refrigerator or electric fireplace. You should also ensure that there is decent airflow so that it can have the most accurate reading.

Install The Back Plate

Drill holes into the wall and make sure you have the anchors in place to hold the plate. Let the wires go through the hole in the middle of the plate. When you are finished, secure the plate by screwing it in place. 

Install The Thermostat

Cut a bit of the insulation off to expose the wire then attach them to the corresponding terminal. Your manual should outline this. Instructions vary depending on the model, so you have to work closely with your manual. When the wires are in the proper terminals, push the loose wires back into the wall and secure your new thermostat. 

Test It

You can turn the electricity back on to double-check if you properly fitted your thermostat. You can toggle the central heating controls to make sure everything is functioning properly. It shouldn’t be hard to see, after all, one wrong wire can affect everything else. 


If you have a wireless thermostat, digital or smart, you need to install a receiver so that your thermostat can communicate with your boiler. Again the instructions may vary, so always consult the manual. 

How To Set The Digital Timer?

The timer feature is only available for digital and smart thermostats. Since smart thermostats can be controlled from an app on your phone, you can simply adjust the settings there. However, if you have a digital thermostat, you might need to toggle the controls. 

Open The Hatch

Open the cover for the central heating controls. Each company is a little bit different, but you should be able to see programs and time and date.

Set The Date And Time

Before you can create a timer, you need to make sure you are on the same page. Input your time and date. Make sure the section is blinking so you know you can edit it.

Set Your Timer

Edit the default dates. For some models, you need to press the program button and the set button at the same time. Then you can set the temperature for the time period. And you are good to go!

How Do You Use A Central Heating Thermostat?

Since your central heating thermostat controls everything, you just need to have a program in place and let the thermostat do the work. Set it to a temperature you are comfortable with and have a timer, and your thermostat will do the rest.

 Remember to program these things with your future schedule in mind. For example, if you leave work at 6 pm and arrive at home at 6:30 pm, you don’t want your home to start warming up at 7 pm. It would be too late.

Poor planning means you are more likely to take on bad thermostat habits. One example of this is increasing the temperature so that the room will heat up faster. In reality, you don’t get to control how fast the boiler heats your home. When you change the temperature, all you are really doing is just pushing your central heating system into an early grave. 

If you want to avoid this from happening, you can check out our blog post, “Boiler Maintenance Tips.” 

Finding the ideal thermostat can be difficult, but ultimately worth it. If you are having trouble deciding, installing, or repairing your thermostat, Plumbingforce has experienced central heating engineers. With our help, you can have your system running smoothly. We also have other services such as emergency call-outs, boiler installation, boiler servicing, and boiler repairs, among many other things. Call us at 0333 060 3531 or book our services online!

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