What is the Drayton Wiser?
Room-by-room heating systems, which give you control via smart radiator thermostats, are usually very expensive to get started with, as you can see from the Honeywell Evohome. Not so with the Drayton Wiser, where a starter kit that includes a smart Room Thermostat and two Radiator Thermostats controls costs less than a Nest Learning Thermostat.
Fortunately, as well as being cheap, Wiser’s easy controls and apps make it one of the simplest systems to use.
Drayton Wiser – Design and build
Wiser controls your heating via a wireless relay that has to be wired into your boiler. As this uses mains voltage, you’ll most likely need professional installation.
It’s important to choose the right relay for your system. The cheapest option is the single-channel kit, which is designed for a combi boiler. If you want hot water control, there’s a two-channel kit that can do this and your heating (£200). If you’ve got two heating zones and you want hot water, you’ll need the three-channel kit (£200), which ships with two thermostats, but no Radiator Thermostats.
As we have a combi boiler, we went with the single-channel kit. This ships with the neat relay, plus a wireless thermostat and two radiator valves. The Room Thermostat is a small square box with an LCD panel, decked out in white plastic. It’s fairly unobtrusive, so you can place it anywhere without it dominating a room.
Wiser’s simple Radiator Thermostats are similarly unobtrusive and look like smart, regular TRVs.
Related: Best smart thermostat
Drayton Wiser – Features
Once the relay is connected to your boiler, you have to use the simple app to connect it up to your Wi-Fi network. Once joined, you can start to add your devices to the system. Wiser works by creating rooms, each of which can hold multiple heating devices. For example, you may want to have two radiator valves in one room.
If you’re sticking with the starter kit, it makes sense to place the Room Thermostat where your old one lived for whole-home control. It’s battery powered, so there’s no need for external power, and you can have it either free-standing or wall-mounted.
The two radiator valves can then be placed in the most-used rooms to give you individual control, such as for the living room and bedroom. There’s nothing to stop you buying additional radiator valves if you want to control more rooms. Priced at a reasonable £35 each, they’re around £20 cheaper than similar controls from rival systems.
Fixing the Radiator Thermostat onto a TRV is easy enough, and Drayton provides plenty of adaptors in the box. I had no problems connecting the Radiator Thermostats to my radiators.
Wiser doesn’t support geolocation to automatically turn your heating on and off when you go out. There is an ‘Away’ mode that you can set manually, with all rooms dropping to a pre-set temperature when it is activated. However, having to remember to turn this mode on and off means that you’re likely to forget and could miss out on potential savings on your fuel bill.
Schedules can be set room by room, with each one having its own heating settings. That’s great, as you can make your house work the way you want it to – say, having the bathroom and bedroom warm up first thing in the morning, with the lounge not set to warm up until you get home in the evening. This level of control provides greater fuel bill savings than using a single thermostat by itself would. Hot water can be similarly scheduled if you have the two- or three-channel system.
Schedules are set on a day-by-day basis, but you can copy one day’s settings to another to speed up the job. It’s a shame that you can’t copy settings from room to room, though; this is something that Evohome lets you do.
An Eco mode can be turned on. With this, Wiser takes into account the external temperature and also learns how long your house takes to warm up. That way, it can adjust when your boiler fires and turns off so that your home doesn’t warm up past the set temperature. It takes a week or so for Wiser to learn.
Where Wiser misses out compared to Evohome is in advanced features. With Honeywell’s system, there are a few advanced profiles that you can apply, such as ‘Economy’ mode which reduces the temperature of every zone by 3°C. Honeywell also has a custom mode, which lets you apply a temporary schedule to the zones you choose. I use it as a guest mode, warming up the spare bedroom and bathroom when people come to stay; when there’s no one staying, these rooms are kept cooler to save energy.
Drayton Wiser – Performance
Simplicity is the name of the game, and nothing demonstrates that as well as the Radiator Thermostat’s control. With no screen, you can’t choose a room’s temperature. Instead, you twiddle the control the to the ‘+’ icon, and your heating is boosted by 2°C above the current temperature for an hour. Similarly, the ‘-‘ position drops the heating by 2°C for an hour.
While other heating systems give you more control, Wiser’s simple operation is quite pleasing, as you don’t have to worry about which setting to use: you just make the room warmer or cooler.
Using the Room Thermostat, you get a higher level of control, as you can pick a temperature set point and choose how long you want the temperature boost to last for (30 minutes, one hour, two hours or three hours).
A similar level of control exists within the app, letting you boost each room to a set temperature, with the same timer intervals that the thermostat uses. It’s a shame that there’s no a permanent option, or an option to keep the temperature until the next scheduled change.
I like the simple app, which provides an at-a-glance view of every room in your home. The temperature readings from the thermostat and radiator valves were accurate, but be prepared to spend a bit of time getting the schedules and temperature set points to your liking. Each room has its own thermal properties, so getting the exact temperature right room-by-room requires a bit of tweaking.
Drayton Wiser – IFTTT, Echo
This is just about the only smart heating system I’ve reviewed that doesn’t have IFTTT support. That’s not a problem if you just want to use the system’s basic features, but it would be nice to see an IFTTT channel added in the future. This way, you’d be able to do things like add your own geolocation option, or control your heating based on the outside temperature.
Amazon Alexa support is available through the Wiser skill. As Alexa recognises each room, you can control your heating on a room-by-room basis. I found that the skill worked perfectly and is on a par with the voice control that other room-by-room heating systems offer. It’s a shame that there’s no Google Assistant or Apple Siri support available, although Alexa is the most popular smart home voice assistant.
Should I buy the Drayton Wiser?
The main competition for Wiser is the Honeywell Evohome. Although more expensive, Evohome has a dedicated touchscreen controller and more powerful zone controls. As such, it’s the best multi-room heating system currently available. That said, Wiser’s simple controls and low price mean that we can forgive the lack of certain features. If you want multi-room heating on a reasonable budget, there’s nothing that comes close.
A simple and wallet-friendly way of adding multi-room heating control to your home.