Research report
June 2022

How a wireless thermostat can transform your heater

Controlling your plug-in electric heater remotely will make you more comfortable and save money.

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30 Apr 2022
Heatermate. Good functionality, pity about the interface

I brought one of these in 2020…..actually… the end I got two as the first was defective. To be fair, there was no problem dealing with the supplier and they were fast to replace the defective unit.

The user interface for this thing is probably the silliest I’ve ever experienced in such gadgets (and I have an IT background). It may well bamboozle some folk. Yes, the unit requires two AA batteries, but I’ve only needed to change them yearly. For a device with such a dumb interface, I was surprised that when changing the batteries, the ‘programs’ previously set were retained, though the clock needed resetting. Given the process for setting a program, this is a blessing. This is definitely a device for which you shouldn’t throw out the instructions.

So does it work?

I only use the device in winter to provide base heat for a bedroom. Previous attempts to control room temperature have used time based controls, either on the heater, or on the plug. The result is a fairly coarse level of control. Usually the room ended up being over heated. I think the Heatermate is a distinct improvement in this respect. This is because 1) the sensor can be placed near you (ie in my case at bed level); 2) the device only turns on the heater if the temperature drops below a set value (so if you happen to have a spell of warmer weather, the heater doesn’t turn on); and 3) it turns the heater off once the room reaches the target temp (I think the tolerance is about 0.5 degrees). So the perception is is that the room does not overheat.

In summary, if you can cope with the idiotic interface, the Heatermate is a good option.

Brentleigh B.
27 Jun 2020

I purchased a HeaterMate a couple of years ago and use it to control the temperature in my bedroom and for travelling with my caravan. I set the heater well away from any combustibles, turn the heater thermostat to full and set the timer to 24 hour operation. Then plug the HeaterMate into the power socket, plug the heater cord into the HeaterMate, and adjust the HeaterMate to my ideal temperature. Turn the HeaterMate on when retiring for the night and off when getting up in the morning. Brilliant.

John T.
11 Jun 2020
Heatermate HY02TP - no batteries

I bought a Heatermate model HY02TP online. It is both a thermostat and a timer. You plug it into the wall socket, and plug your column heater into it. Set the temperature you want to achieve, the time to come on and the time to turn off. It does the job well. It tends to turn off the heater a degree or two lower than what I set it to, probably because the proximity of the electric current to the thermostat distorts its reading.

Vivian Coll
08 Jun 2020
Temperature Controlled Timer

Arlec Temperature Controlled Programmable Timer - please can you add a review for this timer from Bunnings? Thank you.

Chris W.
20 Jun 2020
Arlec thermostat

I looked at the heatermate and it just seemed over complex. So I have three of these Arlec thermostats now, and they work brilliantly. I just set the temp, position the heater well away (a full cord length) from the thermostat, and forget about it.
The only niggle I have is when the thermostat is reset, the default temp is 22c, which is a bit too warm for me sleeping.

Bill H.
02 Jun 2020
Plug-in heater thermostats

In 1970, one of the earliest facts Consumer taught me was the impossibility of controlling room temperature if the thermostat is part of the heater. I tracked down a real thermostat from a trade electrical supply shop. A friend helped me rig it up with the various cables and fittings -illegal then, just like it would be today! But we were young graduates and "knew it all."

That thermostat kept me comfortable through several student flats and bachelor digs. And that same thermostat, now in a proper set up, is entering its 49th winter of faultless performance.

Marriage gave me a wife who likes hosting guests and boarders. I bought two more portable thermostats and as before I had to add my own cables, junction boxes and electrician. People staying in our house enjoy the steady, comfortable temperature and the power bill stays comfortably in control too.

All my thermostats are wired , not wireless. Very intuitive, very reliable. The wireless model you reviewed is a step in a good direction, but it's not there, yet. The controller sounds fiddly to use and the sensor isn't at the recommended 1.7 m wall height.

Bill Horton, Hamilton

Paul S.
03 Jun 2020
Ahead of the game

Hi Bill,

Looks like you were there way ahead of the rest of us - nice one! I was amazed that remote thermostats were so hard to track down. This Australian product was the only one we could find. Perhaps a market opportunity for a smart tech company?


Mike & Erena B.
31 May 2020
Would this work in a remote location?

How does the wall mounted thermostat talk to the heater, obviously a wireless connection but is it using a wifi network or bluetooth? I have been to the Heatermate web site for more details on the specifications but the information supplied was not helpful in this regard. I could use such a device in my tunnel house for frosty mornings but the tunnel house is out of range for the house wifi so would require bluetooth. Can you please explain a bit more about how it works please.

Previous member
31 May 2020
No wifi needed

It looks like the plug and thermostat communicate on radio frequencies, not wifi or bluetooth. I checked the product specifications and a radio frequency was given for each component.

Matt F.
01 Jun 2020
20 metre range

The specifications say it has a 20 metre range.

Paul S.
03 Jun 2020
How it communicates

Hi folks,

The two parts communicate using a radio frequency connection (433.92 MHz according to the box). They come pre-paired, there's no bluetooth or wifi to set up.

I haven't tested the range - as I only used it in a smaller room, but Matt F is right, the specs say "20 meters in open area". I'll set them up in the office tomorrow to test that, and post the result here.

The practical limit will be down to the heater itself. If you plug the wall unit in to a 2400W heater, it's unlikely to be able to heat a space that stretched 20m away.


Reid B.
30 May 2020
Science or magic?

You say that the Nobo in your daughter’s room used 1.8 kW without this add-on thermostat but only 0.4 kW with it, tested on consecutive days. Totally unscientific - firstly the energy consumption should be in energy units, such as kWhr (and how did you measure this), secondly, it is totally implausible that this added control device can somehow generates the same usable heat with only 22% of the electricity input, and thirdly, the idea that you could get a sound result comparing a few hours of two different days, without consideration of other factors like room starting temperature, humidity, drafts, doors open or not, outside weather conditions. The huge disparity in initial result should have been a starting point for some basic questions as to why, and not broadcast as magic. Consumer really expect readers to trust such nonsense?

Carolyn B.
31 May 2020
I appreciated the information . . .

I assumed this was carried out during lockdown. As a reader of Consumer for decades, I have to admit I was more than happy that the team had continued their efforts to enlighten us as to their experiences.
Normal testing is rigorous, so, for the thermostat to have a trial in two homes I felt was beyond what I expected (during lockdown). The variables did not need to be stated - (at least to me) they were obvious in a home setting.
Reid’s criticism I felt was unwarranted, I’d like to thank the team for sharing their experiences with us. I was not aware of such a device, and will look further into their practicality.
Many thanks team.

Paul S.
03 Jun 2020

Hi Reid,

Thanks for your feedback - it's good to get into this detail and have our assumptions and methods questioned. It keeps us honest, and we're always willing to listen and adjust what we're doing to give the best advice we can.

I didn't suggest this was a scientific lab-based study. I'll test this thermostat in our heater lab to see just what difference it makes later this winter, when we've caught up with the heater testing we're doing that was delayed by our Covid-19 lockdown.

For now, you'll just have to accept this is a less-than-scientifically-controlled trial that I hope provides some advice that's of use. It certainly made me think about how much power my plug-in heaters use.

The two consecutive days of my trial were similar in weather (though I didn't analyse it) and the trial was done in the same room over the same time period. I didn't control for drafts and door opening, unfortunately. That's because the biggest variable in the trial was my teenage daughter (who is most definitely not scientific). Despite my nagging, I'm sure she forgot she was part of a controlled experiment and got distracted.

It was quite a difference in power used, aye? I was surprised too. (Note: to get kWh just divide the kW power used by 3, as I ran the heater over 3 hours). My hypothesis is that the room was overheated using the heater thermostat, because there was a lag between the heater warming the air around it, and the temperature rising across the room (convection heating from the panel was uneven), which meant the human variable in the room didn't adjust the thermostat as often as she should.

And that's really the point. The remote thermostat made such a difference because it removes the human variable. The Heatermate didn't "generate the same usable heat" - it generated much less. Without it, the room was overheated. The Heatermate isn't magic, it is just more efficient because it removes the biggest inefficiency in the system - the human who controls the thermostat. When that inefficiency is a teenager, I think an 80% saving in power is actually plausible.


M T.
31 May 2021
What Reid said really matters for your wallet! Here is why:

Paul, unfortunately Reid's criticism is extremely well founded.

Unfortunately I have to say that you really do not appear to know what you are talking about. I am not insulting you, I am stating an observable fact, and I'll explain why that is so as well:

If you say you run a device for three hours and used "X kW" during that time, and then even state that "by dividing that number by three you get kWh", unfortunately that shows that you have no understanding of how to measure let alone do maths with power and energy units, and you also don't know the difference between power and energy.

That is not encouraging coming from someone whose job it is to give people professional advice, often including on electric devices and saving energy. I believe people here pay for sound advice, and you clearly do not understand the basics of the topic that you are giving paid for advice on.

But I don't want to just point out to other readers that your advice here is to be taken with a major dose of caution and then walk away, so I'll try to help you and evreyone else who is reading this to understand this better - because it's not crazy difficult really:

Let's look at power first:

kW is the unit for power here - the power the device needs to run when it is on, as in, when the thermostat has switched it on, when it is drawing power from the plug. Power has nothing to do with time at all. Whether you run it for one minute or for a thousand years, the power rating of the device doesn't change, if the heating element in the heater has a power rating of say 2.4 kW (like for example a large oil column heater), then it is 2.4 kW every time the thermostat switches it on. Again, power has absolutely nothing to do with time.

Now let's look at energy.

Energy is not at all the same as power, despite lots of people using the word power for both; you don't ever pay a cent for electric power, and no electricity provider sells power to you - they sell electric energy, and you pay for electric energy that you take from the grid.

If a device uses 2.4 kW of power and you run it for one hour, then it has used up 2.4 kW of power for one hour - it has used 2.4 kWh of energy.

If you run it for three hours, it has then used up 3 times 2.4 kWh of energy, which is 7.2 kWh of energy.

Since you keep talking about kW and not kWh, it is indeed impossible for the reader to know what you are talking about. Have you measured the power intake in kW of the device (which you didn't need to measure, since the power rating is stated on the device's spec plate)? Or have you measured the energy consumption in kWh, and simply forgot to type the "h"?

The fact that even after Reid pointing this out to you you commented and still kept talking about kW, and demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of the difference between power and energy as well as an inability to do basic maths conversions between the two, suggests that you really don't know what you are talking about, despite your clearly best efforts.

Please learn more about this and become proficient in this subject matter before you give people advice, I think everyone here would appreciate that.

I am not nit picking. This is absolutely fundamental stuff that unfortunately makes the quality of your advice rather questionable, and that's putting it charitably.

As to your experiment - Reid is correct that a remote thermostat can not reduce the electric energy that is needed to maintain a temperature in a given room for one hour during a given outside temperature by even one single kWh.

What a remote thermostat might well do though is that it allows you to measure and control the temperature in the room in a more meaningful location than the thermostat inside the heater could ever dream of - allowing you to avoid overheating the room. And if without the remote thermostat you were previously overheating the room frequently, then of course the remote thermostat will prevent that and thus save power that the useless "solution" of the thermostat inside the heater was previously wasting.

And that is my personal experience with remote thermostats as well. They do exactly that, and for that reason they are worth the money and pay for themselves over time.

I hope this was helpful to some people. Thank you for your efforts consumer, they are very much appreciated!