There are many wireless thermostats on the market for controlling your heating system. However, I had heard mixed reviews from friends and family about reliability and accessibility. I decided to search for an accessible easy to use solution. I came across a company called inspire Home Automation. The company manufactures wireless smart devices. At the time of writing, they primarily manufacture central heating controllers. I decided to order one of their thermostats and see how accessible it was.
What’s in the box?
In the box you will find the following:
- The thermostat.
- A mounting bracket.
- Mounting screws.
- 2 AA Batteries for the thermostat.
- The central heating controller.
Installing the thermostat.
There are two primary components that you need to install for the thermostat to function. The first is the wireless central heating controller. This needs to be connected into your boiler by a qualified electrician. You can either call a local qualified electrician, or call inspire Home Automation to see if they can supply an electrician.
I called a local electrician to install my thermostat. It took him less than 20 minutes. I had someone show me where he had mounted the boiler control unit so I would be able to access it afterwards, as there are buttons on the front of the controller that need to be pressed to connect it to the internet. I then inserted the 2 AA batteries in to the thermostat itself, and fixed the main thermostat unit to the wall using the brackets and screws supplied. The bracket attaches to the wall using two mounting screws. The thermostat unit has three screw holes around the edge. Once the unit is clipped on to the bracket, insert and tighten the three small screws to make sure the unit is held in place.
Connecting the thermostat to the Internet.
The first thing you need to do after fitting the thermostat is connected to your wireless network so it can be controlled from a smartphone or via the internet. I used the following procedure to connect my unit.
The instruction Manual says to press the Middle button once on the boiler controller so that all the lights flash green. Press and hold the middle button for 5 seconds until all lights turn yellow. Use a computer or smartphone with wireless access to connect to a new wireless network called inspire home auto.
Open a web browser, and go to the address bar. Type in inspirehomeauto.co.uk and press enter.
A list of Wireless Networks will be displayed. Choose your Wireless Network from the list, enter your password, and click ad. Your boiler will now be connected to the internet.
I then went to www.inspirehomeautomation.co.uk and created a new account. I had to click on add new device so that my thermostat would be linked to my account. Because I was on the same network as my thermostat, the system automatically found my unit and registered it.
Using the app to control my unit.
Although the physical thermostat on the wall is very useful when you don’t have a smart phone handy, I decided to primarily control my unit using my computer and smart phone for best accessibility. You can log into your thermostat via the website, or use an android or iOS app. I installed the inspire home automation app on my iPhone, and I believe from previous experience when using android that the experience is very similar as outlined below. I first searched for inspire home on the app/play store. Look out for the Inspire home automation app by inspire home automation limited.
When I first went into the app, I was asked to log in using my email address and password, or register for a new account. There is also a demo option both on the website on the app that you can click on to get a feel for how your thermostat will perform, and fully try out the system. You do not need to own a thermostat to try the demo, which I think is a really nice touch. When using the demo, leave the options set to the default and click go.
After I had logged in, the app presented me with various controls for my thermostat. These were as follows.
- Main menu: this button is used to access settings and profile functions for your thermostat.
- Switch unit: used if you have multiple thermostats, you can switch between them.
- Current function: this tells you what your thermostat is set to at the moment. When set to man i.e. manual, it means you can turn your temperature up and down as desired. This is what I have mine set to.
- Current temperature: this tells you the current temperature in the room where your unit is mounted.
- Device name: a reference name for the thermostat. You can change this if you have multiple units.
- Set point adjustable: If using iOS or android, this would allow you to increase and decrease the temperature. On iOS, I was able to swipe up and down with 1 finger to increase and decrease the temperature, and then double tap to apply. In recent versions of the app, you have to swipe right to the second button. Voiceover announces this is set point button button. Double tap on this button and the accessible thermostat temperature control opens near the bottom of the app. It is an accessible picker item which means you are able to flick up and down through your temperature controls, then double tap to apply them.
- Switch to man: allows you to switch to manual control mode.
- Switch to P1: allows you to switch to profile 1.
- Switch to boost: allows you to turn on the heating for a set time. For example, you can configure the thermostat to turn on for half an hour at 24 degrees to warm your home up, in case you ever need a temporary boost in terms of heating but don’t want the heating to stay on. When the boost function turns off, the heating will revert back to the last setting, for example manual with the temperature set at 22 degrees. This function is very useful in winter when getting out of bed in the morning.
- Heating summary: this is a box that provides a summary of exactly what the unit is doing at any time.
The thermostat can be set to turn your central heating system on and off using profiles throughout the day. For example if you’re not going to be there in the day, you can set the heating to come on in the evening and turn off during the day. The inspire home automation app allows you to create profiles by going in to the menu to the profiles section. In our household, we tend not to use profiles, so I will not be covering this functionality in depth. I believe the company also plan to add extra functionality in future, such as seasonal profiles. It’s also worth noting that the online manual goes in to a lot of detail on how to configure profiles.
The thermostat can also be configured to turn the heating off based on your location, for example when you’re at work, and turn it back on when you’re a certain distance away from home for example. If you allow access to your location via your phone, this could be a very useful feature.
In terms of settings, many of the settings can be left at the default values. I chose to change my boost length and the boost temperature in advanced settings, but that was about all I changed. If you are unsure on what the settings do, again the manual is quite detailed and customer support are always on hand and very helpful.
Using Alexa to control your heating.
The company have an Alexa skill to control your heating system which is continuously being improved. You can enable the skill via the Alexa app. To control your heating system, you can use the following phrases.
Alexa, turn on the thermostat.
Alexa, turn off the thermostat.
Alexa, set the thermostat to 20 degrees.
Alexa, increase the thermostat by 2 degrees.
Alexa, decrease the thermostat by 5 degrees.
Where thermostat is the name of your device set within the setup page on the Inspire Home Automation website or app. When you instruct Alexa to turn on the thermostat, I believe this can also be set to boost if needed.
Description of the wall unit and buttons.
The wireless controller attached to your boiler has three buttons. From left to right, these are labelled: CH, for central heating. Wi-Fi, for connecting to your Wireless Network. HW, for hot water control.
The thermostat is shaped like a round smoke detector for want of a better term. When mounted to the wall, there is a section taking up a quarter of the round smoke detector shape that is taken up by the screen. This should be on the left with the remaining buttons to the right.
The two small triangular buttons on the left are up and down buttons for increasing and decreasing temperature respectively.
Going clockwise the buttons are as follows:
- Advance CH where CH stands for central heating.
- CH Mode.
- Boost CH.
- Boost HW where HW is hot water.
- HW mode.
- Advance HW.
Many people will not need to use the wall unit at all. When controlling the thermostat via the internet and smartphones, the system is very accessible. It is worth noting however that if you do not have an internet connection for any reason, it’s always worth noting the location of the various buttons on your wall unit. The most useful buttons are the temperature buttons and boost button. It is also worth noting that when you first press a button, this does not activate the function. In other words if I press boost, this wakes the screen up from power saving mode. Press boost once again to activate the function. The same applies to the temperature. 1 press of any of the buttons is required to initially wake the unit up. The screen will go to sleep after around 30 seconds to conserve battery power. The thermostat will email you when its batteries are running low.
Room for improvement.
I have had the unit for a few months and have noticed the following issues. Whilst these are not major and would not stop me buying the unit, I feel they need a mention.
The shape of the unit is a bit odd in my opinion, resembling a smoke detector in shape and this also means that the thermostat does stick out from the wall more than other units I’ve seen.
None of the buttons are labelled with writing on the actual button, though when the screen is activated the buttons are labelled by writing below each button on the display itself. The company were not able to tell me why such a decision had been made; perhaps it was to make the device look more modern. I personally would have liked the buttons to be clearly labelled before you press them.
The screen on this unit is backlit. This means that it cannot be made to stay on all the time. I can see the logic in providing such a system, but when people are used to glancing at clocks and other items of wall furniture that provide an instant readout, this could put some people off buying the item. Previously, the company have sold units where the screen was an LCD screen that could be made to stay on all the time, or manually set to power saving mode. Family members preferred the previous unit because you could glance at the unit to find out what the temperature was set to. Also, the buttons were labelled, though having said that, it was not obvious where the boost button was as this was not a dedicated button.
When the screen is activated, a sighted person needs time to see what all the buttons do and digest the information on screen. At the time of writing, the screen stays on for a matter of seconds, not nearly long enough for a sighted person to work out where everything is, and what the unit is telling them. Also, when looking at the screen initially it is not obvious what the thermostat is set to. You have to press the temperature buttons to find out what the heating temperature is set to, and then the unit reverts back to what seems to be room temperature. On the main screen, ideally there should be 2 read outs, 1 for actual temperature, and 1 for the set point.
When contacted, the company assure me that the screen issues will be resolved in an up-coming software update due for release sometime this winter. The temperature issue has only recently come to light and at the time of writing, I am about to report and clarify it. Hopefully the company will act.
Given the fact that this is a device which has just been released, I accept there are apt to be teething problems. I hope these are resolved in future and if the company release future models, that they fix to the wall more securely. Mine has not been knocked down yet.
The thermostat seems to be a very well designed unit, with a decent amount of feedback when pressing physical buttons. The system is very accessible, and I believe the head of the company is also partially sighted. When contacted, inspire home seem to be very responsive and receptive to feedback, both in terms of accessibility and advice on general use of the device. I hope that the company continue to take the needs of visually impaired customers in to account and do not render the product inaccessible with future software updates. This device is excellent for any visually impaired person looking to have full control over their heating system. You have full access to all functions via the internet and smartphone apps, and the unit seems to have been reliable over the 2 months that I have been using it.
Update September 2019:
The company did indeed fix the issues reported with the screen and screws, see the section on fitting the thermostat above. In terms of labelling buttons, I am unsure if the company sells a unit with clearly labelled buttons yet as I have not purchased a unit since. On the whole, the unit has been working fine for the last two years and I have had no further comments/complaints to make. It is a very good easy to use device with a responsive company.
The system priced at £169.99 is cheaper than many of the thermostats available on the market, but the company do not seem to have compromised on quality.
The model I ordered was the wireless ignite thermostat. They also have a wired version for houses where there is a wire running between your boiler and the thermostat unit on the wall. In most cases, the wireless version should be more than adequate for most users. If in any doubt, please contact inspire home automation, or I am also happy to have a chat via email.
For more information, please telephone: 01202 79839, or visit:
I can be contacted by sending an email to: