Group Home Tech Editor, Tech AdvisorAUG 3, 2023 11:17 am BST
Image: Emma Rowley / Foundry
At a glance
Attractive, minimalist design
Comprehensive, easy to use smart features
Not very portable
As with all plug-in heaters, it’s pricey to run
If you’re looking for a semi-permanent heater for a less-used room or garden office, this is a stylish option. Its smart features are comprehensive and easy to use, and will help you to heat the room only when you need to.
Price When Reviewed
Not currently available in the US
Some rooms in the house are more complicated to heat than others. If you use a room every day, you can be fairly sure you’re not wasting energy by heating it unnecessarily. But it can be a hassle to keep track of radiators in spare bedrooms, dining rooms and other spaces you use less often – especially if you don’t have smart radiator valves.
That’s where smart heaters like Devola’s glass panel come in. You can attach it to the wall or use it freestanding and when you need to heat up the room, you can just switch the heater on from your smartphone.
It would also be handy for a garden office, where you might want to switch the heat on remotely to warm it up before you start work – or schedule it to start heating up the room every day before you clock on.
Equally, it’ll save you time and worry if you can check that you’ve switched off your heater when you’ve left the room, with no need to run back and see.
Design and build
Integrated display with easy to read temperature
Controls on panel itself and included remote
Temperature gauge range of 5-50°C
There are three models of the Devola smart panel heater: 1000W, 1500W and 2000W. We’re testing the 1500W model.
Devola’s panel heater comes in black or white to match your decor. We’re testing the black model, which is as black and glossy as a smartphone screen. It’s considerably more discreet and attractive than most portable radiators and its simple lines mean it’ll be easy to dust
The glass panel is perfectly plain, except for four bolts that fix it to the back. We think there must be a more elegant way to do this without disrupting the otherwise smooth surface, but it’s a small quibble.
In the top right is an LED display and touch control panel that’s integrated into the surface in an elevated, minimalist design.
Emma Rowley / Foundry
The current temperature is shown in easy to read, blocky, retro figures. The temperature gauge has a range from 5-50°C.
By pressing the related symbols on the panel itself, you can turn the heater on and off, set a target temperature, choose from one of three heating modes (comfort, eco and anti-frost) and set a shut off time for up to 24 hours. You can also switch on a child lock to protect your settings.
Most of the features are fairly intuitive but the symbols are not easy to read from a distance. Plus, as some multifunction keys are involved, you should keep the manual nearby until you’re sure you know, for example, which sequence will activate the lock.
The same controls are available via an included remote. But to make this panel heater worth the purchase, you’ll need to use its smart features.
Set up and smart features
Can be used freestanding or wall-mounted
Voice control via Alexa and Google Home
Smart features include scheduling, groups and automations
The Devola glass panel heater is easy to set up. There are two stages. First is the physical set up. If you want to be able to move it around, all you need is a Philips head screwdriver to attach the included feet (screws are included as well). This was a swift process.
It also comes with brackets and fixings if you want to attach it to a wall.
The second part of the set up will let you access the heater’s smart features. To do this, you’ll need to download the Smart Life app from Tuya, which is available for both Android and iOS devices.
Once you’ve created an account, you’ll be able to pair your heater and get going. In our test, I couldn’t find the heater in the very long list of devices in the app (a search function here would be ideal), so I followed the prompts to pair it manually and the rest of the Wi-Fi set up was easy.
In the app, you’ll get the same controls that are on the heater itself and on the remote. You’ll also get a comprehensive set of smart features. Everything is clearly laid out and simple to use.
You can set up a heating schedule and even specify it to certain days of the week. This is a very handy feature if you’re using it in a home office where you might want heating from Monday to Friday, but not on weekends.
If you use the Smart Life app for anything else, you can add the heater to a group and control them together. This means that you could have your lights and heater come on together at the start of the working day.
The heater can also be part of any scenes or automations you set up in the Smart Life app. This is easy to do. I set up a simple automation so that if the ambient temperature drops below 14°C, the heater will automatically switch on.
You can also use voice control, via Alexa and Google Home. I tested the Alexa skill and was impressed at how easy it was to use. If you have the Alexa app on your smartphone, you can click straight through from the Smart Life app to link the two.
It took a couple of seconds and after that, I was able to turn the heater off and on and even specify a temperature using Alexa voice commands.
The only thing to consider – and this goes for any appliance that heats up and that can be switched on remotely – is that you’ll need to make sure that it’s never covered or touching anything that could start a fire.
Performance and energy use
Easy to work out running cost
Panel heaters like this obviously won’t warm you up as quickly in a cold room as a plug-in heater that pumps out hot air. But they’re much more pleasant to use as they’re completely silent and won’t kick up dust into the air.
The Devola panel heater heats up quickly and you’ll start feeling the warmth after a minute or two.
One of the benefits of this panel heater is that in normal use, you’ll always know exactly how much power it’s consuming. Heaters with a number of different settings can be confusing in this regard – if it’s a 1,000W appliance with six different heat settings, how much power is it using on setting 2 versus setting 3?
If you don’t mind putting some effort into finding out, you can get an energy monitoring smart plug, which will measure it for you.
But the Devola makes it easy to figure out how much it’s costing to run. That’s because two of the three heating modes relate to the appliance’s energy use. In eco mode, it operates at half of its full running capacity, so with the model I’m testing, that means it’ll use 750W per hour. In comfort mode, it’ll run at its full 1,500W capacity.
On my current tariff of 31p per kWh, that means this heater will cost me 23p per hour to run in eco mode and 47p in comfort mode. You can use an online energy calculator to find out what it’ll cost on your tariff.
Like most plug-in heaters, the Devola is not exactly cheap to run. This is why the smart features are so useful. By scheduling your heating or checking on your smartphone that it’s always switched off when you don’t need it, it’s much simpler to ensure that you’re not wasting any power.
The third heat setting is the anti-frost mode. Choose this and when the ambient temperature drops below 5°C, the heater will warm the room until it reaches 7°C and then switch off.
You can buy heaters for less, but if you’re looking for a full range of smart features, this is competitively priced. We’ve also tested the Princess smart panel heater, which has a similar build and feature set and uses the HomeWizard Climate app for its smart features. It’s available at around the same price point.
If this isn’t the right type of heater for you, browse our round-up of the best heaters we’ve tested to find the best heating option for your home.
As long as you’re not looking for a portable heater to move from room to room with you, there’s no reason not to go for the Devola smart Wi-Fi glass panel heater. It would be especially useful in a room you don’t want to heat with central heating, or that needs an extra boost in winter.
It’s stylish, quiet, easy to use and has excellent smart features.
Emma is Group Home Tech Editor at Tech Advisor. She covers everything from kitchen appliances to smart home devices, from floor care to personal care to air care technology. She’s particularly interested in environmentally conscious brands and products that save people time and money.