This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission for purchases made through links.
When looking for the best thermostat for underfloor heating, you’ll come across a wide range of options. Some of these devices are only compatible with traditional central heating systems, while others can only control UFH or both heat sources.
Nowadays, smart thermostats like Nest have become the trend for modern homes. Thanks to their ability to ensure seamless interaction with advanced heating systems on the market. Even better, these devices allow you to warm your home up from an app on your mobile phone from anywhere around the world. But, will the Nest thermostat work with underfloor heating?
Let’s find out!
Does the Nest thermostat work with underfloor heating?
Yes. Nest thermostats can work with both hydronic and electric underfloor heating systems. However, there are various factors you need to consider before you buy a Nest thermostat for your system, starting with the types of underfloor heating in your home.
More importantly, you need to ensure that your underfloor heating system is compatible with the Nest thermostat before installation. Thankfully, in this article, I’ll show you how to check whether your UFH system can be controlled via a Nest thermostat. In addition, I’ll show you the benefits and drawbacks of using a Nest thermostat for UFH!
How to determine if your Underfloor heating is compatible with Nest thermostat
Considering how costly smart thermostats can be, it would be very frustrating to spend your money on one, only to find out that it’s not compatible with your UFH system. For that, it’s important to check whether the Nest thermostat model you intend to buy will work with your underfloor heating.
The easiest way to determine if Nest will work with your UFH is to ask the underfloor heating system dealer or contractor if it can be controlled with Nest. Alternatively, go to Google’s Nest Compatibility page to see if your UFH brand works with Nest thermostat.
In most cases, modern electric and hydronic underfloor heating systems work with Nest thermostats, depending on the age and manufacturer of the UFH. Therefore, you can use Nest to control the heat output of both types of underfloor heating systems. However, older underfloor heating systems may not be compatible with smart home automation systems or smart thermostats like Nest.
How Nest thermostat works with Hydronic UFH system
As the name suggests, a hydronic/ water-based UFH system runs with water. This allows it to hold about 1000 times more heater compared to air of the same volume. In addition, the system operates much quieter than a forced air system since you’ll not hear the noise generated by air blowing around your house.
Another benefit of using a hydronic UFH system is that it comprises a network of small pipes. As a result, it takes up less space compared to other heating plans. Moreover, its heat source comes from a boiler or heat pump powered by diesel, gas, or wood, while the manifold dispenses heat to all the small pipes.
Generally, a hydronic UFH system is hooked into the hot water central heating system in the usual way. Therefore, you can conveniently use a Nest thermostat to control hydronic UFH systems. Besides, hydronic UFH systems are even listed on the Google Nest thermostat compatibility page. Alternatively, you can run your system through the Nest Compatibility online tool to determine if it’s compatible with the Nest thermostat.
One thing you need to note is that all Nest thermostats, except the latest version (4th Gen model), only work with a single-zone heating system. So, if your hydronic UFH is part of a multi-zone plan, you’ll either need a separate Nest thermostat just for UFH or a 4th Gen Nest thermostat! Interestingly, this will work out better since you might want to run your wet UFH at a different temperature from the rest of your home’s heating system.
However, if your house is equipped with multiple heating plans that include a hydronic UFH plan, it is better to use a Nest thermostat to control only one heating plan.
Will the Nest thermostat work with Electric Underfloor Heating?
Unlike hydronic UFH, an electric underfloor heating system consists of a tiny network of electric wires instead of pipes. These wires steadily warm up the surface of your floor material and are either available in the form of a mat of foil. Also, the best underfloor heating systems in the market can come as a loose wire system or membrane, which is easier to install.
One major benefit of electric underfloor heating is that they heat the space faster than its hydronic counterparts. Plus, they take up much less space since electrical wires are much thinner than pipes.
On the downside, electric underfloor heating systems are difficult to troubleshoot, especially if one of the electrical wires malfunctions. In comparison, a hydronic UFH system is easier to fix since you only need to find the source of the leak.
In addition, some electric underfloor heating systems may not work with smart thermostats like Nest. This is because Nest and other smart thermostats are usually designed to switch low-current electrical systems of up to 3A. Yet electric UFH systems can be up to 16A as they’re high current systems. So, if you’re planning to use a Nest thermostat with electric underfloor heating, you’ll need relays and additional wiring.
For instance, you may need to wire a device like Nest Heat Link to your electric underfloor heating system. Although this device isn’t required in United States because of different wiring requirements, it helps to communicate with your Nest thermostat. Secondly, the Nest thermostat requires 20 to 30V. So, if your electric underfloor heating has a higher voltage, such as 110V, you will need a step-down transformer or it won’t be compatible.
Another issue of using Nest thermostat with electric underfloor heating is the system’s recommended maximum temperature is 270 deg C. Unfortunately, such high temperatures can damage the floor finish, especially if you’ve carpeted or wood floors. Besides, the Nest thermostat typically measures the temperatures of the surrounding air and not the floor temperatures. This makes it difficult to effectively set a safe temperature for your floor surface.
Nest thermostat & Electric UFH
All in all, there is a chance that your electric underfloor heating system will work with Nest thermostats. Some low-current electric UFH systems with volt-free or high-volt electric grids usually work with Nest thermostat 2nd Gen, 3rd Gen, and E models. Nonetheless, it’s important to check whether your electric UFH is compatible with a Nest thermostat through Google’s compatibility checker.
Pros and Cons of using Nest thermostat with Underfloor Heating
One notable benefit of using a Nest thermostat with your underfloor heating is that it allows you to control the system from anywhere in the world via a smartphone. This eliminates the need for direct interaction with your thermostat or time clocks. Plus, it allows you to control the temperature settings for any room using a phone app via a few quick screen taps.
Other benefits of using a Nest thermostat with UFH include;
Nest thermostats have user-friendly interfaces that are simple to use and control.
Studies have shown that smart thermostats like Nest help homeowners save between $130 and $150 per year. So, despite the high initial cost of acquiring a Nest thermostat, the device will end up paying for itself in the long run. For instance, these devices have incredible energy-saving features such as switching themselves off when no one is in the house.
Nest thermostats come with a wide range of advanced features. These include; offside alerts, remote operation, and adjusting the temperature automatically depending on the weather.
Nest thermostat’s True Radiant Feature
Another incredible feature displayed by the Nest thermostat is the True Radiant feature. This feature is specifically designed for underfloor heating systems that depend on slow, radiant heat to warm a room. As a result, the thermostat will turn on your UFH system earlier than it usually would to ensure that the space is nice and warm by the time you get home. Also, the device turns off the heating system earlier than it usually would, to reduce the amount of energy usage when the space is unoccupied.
Cons of using Nest thermostat with Underfloor heating
Smart thermostats like the Nest Learning model are quite expensive. Although the devices will eventually pay for themselves in the long term. They have high initial costs, especially if you want to buy multiple thermostats for your multi-zone UFH system.
Before you buy any Nest thermostat for your underfloor heating system, make sure you check for its operating voltage. As mentioned earlier, most smart thermostats, including Nest, have an operating voltage of 20 to 30V. Therefore, such devices will be incompatible with heating systems that have a 110 – 220V source voltage.
Installing a smart thermostat for underfloor heating can be a bit difficult for a regular system. This is because the device may need a thermostat C-wire, which most old homes don’t have. In that case, you’ll need a technician to install the thermostat for you so that they can add a C-wire for the entire house or install a C-wire adapter.
Conclusion: Will the Nest thermostat work with underfloor heating?
Nest thermostats can work with most newer underfloor heating systems, both hydronic and electric models. However, some underfloor heating systems are not compatible with Nest thermostats. For that reason, it’s important to check the Google Nest compatibility page or contact your underfloor heating system dealer to determine whether it’s compatible with your in-floor heating.