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How radiator valves work with Nest thermostats

Google Nest thermostats, namely Nest Learning Thermostat (all generations) and Nest Thermostat E, work alongside your existing radiator valves to help you stay comfortable and save energy. Nest thermostats are compatible with various radiator valve types, including Smart thermostatic radiator valves (Smart TRVs). 

Your Nest thermostat controls whether the hot water flows to your radiator, and your radiator valve controls the pressure. Once you adjust your radiator valves to your preference, you can use your Nest thermostat to control the temperature so you don’t have to adjust your valves often. Note that when your radiator valve is closed, hot water doesn’t flow through your radiator. 

Radiator valve basics

Radiator valves reduce or increase the amount of hot water that enters the radiator. Radiator valves don’t turn the boiler on or off.

When you turn your thermostat up, your boiler provides hot water to the radiators in your home. Since each room in your home heats up differently, radiator valves are used to fine-tune the temperature of each radiator. Nest thermostats and radiator valves work together. The thermostat heats your home to the temperature you like, and the valves balance each room individually.

When you set up your heating system, adjust your radiator valves properly to help tune your home for even heating and save energy in rooms that are rarely used. When your Nest thermostat is first installed, make sure that your radiator valves are tuned the way you like them.

There are 4 main types of radiator valves:

  • Manual radiator valves
  • Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
  • Electronic programmable radiator valves
  • Smart thermostatic radiator valves (Smart TRVs)

Tune the valves during installation

When you install your Nest thermostat, it’s recommended that you or a professional sets the valves in each room for even heating. Most manufacturers have recommended settings which you can use as a guide. You can also try different settings to find out what’s right for you.
  1. Set your Nest thermostat to a comfortable temperature on a cold day. Check which rooms are too cold or warm. Turn the radiator valves up or down, as needed. You may need to wait a few hours for the temperature to stabilize.
  2. If some rooms are still too cold and the valves are open all the way, turn the thermostat up. Turn the valves down in warmer rooms to even out heating between different rooms.
  3. Make sure the valve on the radiator closest to the Nest thermostat is open. If it’s closed, your thermostat can’t sense the temperature change and your boiler might run inefficiently.
  4. To save energy, turn radiator valves down in rooms that are rarely used, like guest rooms or storage rooms.

Manual radiator valve Manual radiator valves

Manual valves work the same way as a water spigot. To allow hot water to enter your radiator, turn the valve.

If you have manual valves, make sure the valves are open for each radiator so that the radiators get warm when your Nest thermostat heats. You can also close valves that are in rooms you don’t use very often, like spare bedrooms, so that your Nest thermostat doesn’t heat empty rooms.

Thermostatic radiator valve Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) control the amount of water that enters a radiator. Unlike a manual valve, a TRV can regulate the temperature with a range instead of just on or off. The range is usually set between 1 to 7.

If you have TRVs, make sure to set them so that your home heats evenly. You can also turn the TRVs down to a lower value in rooms that aren’t used often so that you don’t waste energy heating an empty room.

electronic programmable radiator valve Electronic programmable radiator valves

Electronic programmable radiator valves can be programmed from a central hub to heat to a specific temperature at different times of day.

It’s usually easiest to set programmable radiator valves to one value that provides even heat throughout your home. To adjust the heating, use a Nest thermostat’s schedule instead of the radiator valves’ schedule.

When you use the radiator valves’ schedule to turn down the temperature while you’re away, you save less energy than when you turn down the temperature on your Nest thermostat.

Smart thermostatic radiator valves (Smart TRVs)

Smart thermostatic radiator valves (Smart TRVs) are also compatible with Nest thermostats. When your Nest thermostat turns the hot water on or off, the water flows in compliance with the Smart TRVs’ settings.

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