This thermostatic regulation system has become highly sophisticated. Similar to how a room thermostat controls general operation periods and temperatures, thermostatic valves allow for balancing the heating system and cutting heat wastage. In condominiums, these have been installed for years alongside heat meters, forming part of the mandatory heating accountancy package for centralized heating systems introduced in 2016. They enable significant energy savings and rebalancing of the heating system, as detailed in the article How to Save on Gas Bills.

In older heating systems, the calorific sizing of radiators and boilers was often overestimated, resulting in some rooms being too hot and others too cold. With traditional valves, it's difficult to reduce the heat of a single radiator, although it can be done empirically by counting the number of turns. A thermostatic valve can be easily adjusted by rotating the thermostatic head to reveal the numbers, with settings ranging from to 5, meaning fully closed to fully open.

The thermostatic valve automatically adjusts based on the ambient temperature. For example, if set to 3 (approximately 20°C), the naphtha bulb expands upon reaching 20°C, and the radiator throttles. Throttling means it gradually closes, favoring other radiators in the house and saving significant calories in the reference room.

Thermostatic valves are perfect in conditions where there are other heat sources. For instance, they are ideal for radiators on a house's second floor, where heat tends to rise, making the upper floor slightly warmer than the lower. In this scenario, calories are balanced in favor of the lower floor. Another application is in kitchens and living rooms, where the thermostatic valve would close the radiator when using stoves (a type A thermal appliance) or if the room is occupied by people, thus saving calories.

Electronic Thermostatic Valves

These are usually paired with a Fifth Generation thermostat, or there are standalone versions with integrated WIFI. These types of valves feature an integrated temperature sensor that allows for room-by-room temperature control. They enable you to:

  • Get an overview of consumption in various rooms through the dedicated app.
  • Adjust the temperature of each room via a smartphone.
  • Set operating times for each room.

Adapters for Thermostatic Valves

Always ensure to choose electronic thermostatic valves compatible with your hydraulic valve. The hydraulic valve usually features the logo or name of the manufacturer. The major brands include:

  • Giacomini
  • Caleffi
  • RBM

Zigbee Electronic Thermostatic Valves

These use a protocol similar to WIFI but require an optional Hub or Gateway. They offer the advantage of low power consumption for communication, thus less frequent battery changes. Each brand has its proprietary Zigbee Hub.

Once the ZigBee HUB is configured with your WIFI network, use the valve manufacturer's app to start configuring each valve.

To connect the valve manufacturer's services to Alexa and Google Home, use the manufacturer's app with, for example, your Google account. Services should connect automatically, otherwise read the instructions carefully.

These can be purchased on Amazon; always check that you have hydraulic valves compatible with the thermostatic valves!

WIFI Thermostatic Valves

It's also possible to use thermostatic valves with integrated WIFI, connecting directly to the home router. These valves obtain a local IP address and communicate directly with the manufacturer's cloud for thermoregulation.

They are compatible with Google Home and Alexa, allowing for voice commands, and some clouds even provide usage statistics.

Conventional Thermostatic Heads

Conventional thermostatic heads still offer manual temperature regulation and do not require batteries. However, when choosing these valves, you must know the type of hydraulic valve you have, such as Giacomini, Caleffi, RBM, etc.

How Does a Thermostatic Valve Work?

The thermostatic valve uses a naphtha bulb that, upon heating of the surrounding environment, proportionally closes the radiator to regulate the incoming water flow. Imagine a radiator in a kitchen equipped with a thermostatic valve; if someone cooks and lights the stove, the thermostatic valve senses the rising temperature and closes the radiator.

This leads to reduced consumption as the heating reacts to the presence of other heat sources, including the inhabitants of the apartment themselves.

What is the Difference Between Traditional and Electronic Thermostatic Valves?

Regulation with thermostatic valves has evolved with the latest generation. Today, we have electric thermostatic valves with Zigbee communication systems (an energy-efficient variant of Wifi) and displays using electronic ink without backlighting. Most of these valves house two AA batteries that can last up to two years.

Using electronic thermostatic valves and a fifth-generation thermostat, you can further optimize consumption by deciding, for example, the temperatures for each room. Some applications also offer an overview of energy consumption in various rooms to maintain the desired temperature (differing, for example, based on north-side exposure).

We want to mention a few thermostats that offer this advanced temperature regulation:

How to Replace a Thermostatic Valve?

The thermostatic valve consists of two parts: The hydraulic part and the actuator. To replace a traditional valve with a thermostatic valve, it's necessary to work on the hydraulic part.

For this, a good understanding of the system and the valve to be installed is required, for example, whether it is angled or straight and its diameter. It's better to seek help from a professional. At this point, the installed valve will be called 'thermostatizable,' capable of housing a plastic knob or a thermostatic head.

Through the thermostatizable valve, we can decide to equip it with:

  • A manual plastic valve
  • A traditional thermostatic head with a naphtha bulb
  • An electronic thermostatic head

Can I Install a Thermostatic Valve Myself or Do I Need a Technician?

If you are installing the thermostatic valve as a replacement for a previous one, you might try the replacement yourself, taking care to choose the same brand as before.

However, if you need to change the valve body as well, it's suggested to contact an experienced plumber.

What are the Signs of a Malfunctioning Thermostatic Valve?

Signs of malfunction in a thermostatic valve can reside in the actuator (thermostatic head) or the hydraulic valve.

Common problems in the traditional thermostatic head can be:

  • The support plastic breaks. This breakage is common and usually related to the age of the thermostatic head; the plastic breaks, and the internal mechanism is lost. This requires the replacement of the thermostatic head alone.
  • The electronic valve no longer displays any indication: Check the battery charge.

Alternatively, in the hydraulic valve, issues can occur:

  • Transmission Shaft Blockage: The shaft may get stuck in either the closed or open position.
  • Shutter Blockage: The shutter typically gets stuck in the closed position.

In cases of hydraulic valve blockage, the intervention of an expert plumber is required for repair or replacement.

We take this opportunity to suggest disassembling the thermostatic head from the valve during the summer period. This is because, during the summer, the valve tends to remain in the closed position, causing the hydraulic valve to block.

How Often Should Batteries be Replaced in Electronic Thermostatic Valves?

If there is no battery charge indicator on the valve's display, it is advisable to replace the batteries every 2 years with high-quality disposable batteries.

How to Save Energy with Thermostatic Valves?

Thermostatic valves allow for regulating heat in the reference room and saving energy by prioritizing some rooms over others.

To maximize energy savings, you can adopt various strategies, such as:

  • Assess which rooms do not need heating, such as infrequently used rooms, storage areas, bathrooms, etc. In these cases, lower the valves by one number.
  • Lower the temperature in bedrooms: During the winter, you can use blankets or duvets so that the rooms do not need to be heated much.
  • Keep the doors of rooms with lower settings closed: This effectively separates the heat produced in other rooms.

Are Thermostatic Valves Mandatory in Condominiums?

Yes, they are mandatory.

How to Adjust a Thermostatic Valve

To increase or decrease the heat in a room, turn the thermostatic valve knob to the desired number. After that, the radiator or heater will maintain a constant temperature in the room. The numbers on the knob correspond to the following temperatures:

  • Number 0: Off
  • Number 1: 12°C
  • Number 2: 16°C
  • Number 3: 20°C
  • Number 4: 24°C
  • Number 5: 25°C

If the Radiator is Lukewarm

Do not worry, lukewarm or cold means that the set temperature has been reached; if the radiator has a warm and a cold part, it means that the valves are working correctly by allowing only the necessary water to maintain the set temperature.

Important Tips

  • Never touch or remove the meter for any reason to avoid incorrect consumption readings; (for communal heating)
  • The thermostatic knob and meter must never be covered by curtains, laundry, radiator covers, or other objects;
  • Lower the blinds and close the fixtures at night; (to save calories) Do not open windows without first closing the heat supply;
  • Take care to cover any gaps and cracks in your fixtures.
  • Regularly ventilate rooms for five minutes by opening windows and closing the heat supply;
  • In the summer period, do not close the knobs completely to avoid blocking the thermostatic valves; in case of absence for more than four days, leave the knob on the asterisk (anti-freeze) to prevent freezing in the pipes, which can lead to breakage and waste of heat.