Review: Rio ARC design radiator – In this review you can read about our experiences with the Rio ARC. This is a sleekly designed panel radiator with support for Apple HomeKit. How do you like the design, the settings and the accompanying app? And what good is a radiator with HomeKit?
Rio ARC heater review
We have known smart thermostats, air conditioners and other accessories that work with HomeKit for years . It was even possible to make an existing radiator smart by replacing the radiator knob , such as that of Tado . Via a detour, you could also make devices like the Dyson Hot + Cool suitable for HomeKit. But what if you have a room, holiday home or other place where you need heating or installing a radiator is too much work? Then the Rio ARC could come in handy. This loose panel radiator can be plugged into the socket in no time and takes up little space.
Rio ARC panel radiator in short
These are the main features of the Rio ARC:
- Design radiator with HomeKit support, as well as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
- Slim design with a horizontally curved glass plate at the front
- Built-in display to read temperature and status
- Free companion app with useful functions
- Only available in a black version
Design of the Rio ARC: looks great in some interiors
When you first see the Rio ARC, you may not immediately think of a radiator. Partly due to the horizontally curved black glass plate, the device looks like a kind of OLED television. Thanks to the high-gloss finish, the surface reflects just about anything and is very sensitive to fingerprints. So try not to touch it unnecessarily, because you definitely have to get a cloth over it.
At the front you will find a small status screen, which is nicely mounted behind the glass plate. On this screen you can read the current temperature and the target temperature, among other things. Furthermore, the coupling code appears on the screen during the initial configuration and you can see whether the panel radiator is heating. The color screen is of excellent quality, especially for its purpose. You can also set the screen to turn off automatically after a few seconds.
If you want to place the Rio ARC on the ground (and not on / near deep-pile carpet!), Then the brushed aluminum pedestals supplied come into their own. These are beautifully finished and most resemble pedestals as you see with modern televisions. But if you have nowhere to place the ARC on the ground, you can also hang the radiator. Funnily enough, you can hang the Rio ARC with three screws, but you only get two. A third screw and plug could be added for the price. It is important that the panel radiator is suspended at least 10 centimeters above the ground. The other conditions are stated in the manual .
The above-mentioned properties and the compact size make it a beautiful design object in our opinion. Yet we don’t think it fits every interior. It would suit your decor best if everything else is modern too. If you have much older furniture, chances are that the radiator will be the most striking object in the room. Do you really want that?
A small disadvantage is that the Rio ARC only comes with a British plug for the time being. You will therefore have to provide an adapter from British to Dutch yourself. Furthermore, we would like to note that you cannot place this HomeKit design stove on a deep-pile carpet, due to fire safety and air flow.
Installation Rio ARC is fine, but app is questionable
We encountered few problems while setting up the Rio ARC. You are supposed to scan the QR code of the screen in the accompanying Rio Heating app. Initially it took a long time to load, until we decided to restart the app. The second attempt was immediately successful. After scanning, enter the Wi-Fi password of your network on your iPhone . After that, the HomeKit radiator is ready for use. We are happy that Rio does not overwhelm you with settings and choices during the initial setup. This way you can quickly turn on the heating.
A handy feature is the Frost mode. This allows you to temporarily ‘freeze’ all time switches of the radiators, for when you are on vacation. When you return they will ‘thaw’ again and follow their regular schedule. You can get a reminder for this, but you have to set it yourself and therefore does not work with GPS.
Rio says on the website that the app was designed by “an award-winning developer” and that the app is focused on ease of use. Now the app is not bad, but we do not find it very nice or particularly easy. We are used to these kinds of apps at iCulture HQ, but the Rio Heating app was not easy to use even for us. For example, setting up a ‘program’ is quite confusing. We thought this was some kind of timer, but it doesn’t work that simple. It is the intention that you determine per group of radiators which time switches they have. Once you have added a product to a group, it may not be in another group at the same time. That can be annoying if you have multiple groups.
We also miss useful functions such as geofencing and integrations with other services, but fortunately HomeKit offers a helping hand in that regard. In terms of design, the Rio Heating app is not that exciting and we miss some explanation here and there. The app sometimes gave random error messages that we had to fix with a force restart. We therefore soon left the manufacturer’s app behind us and switched to full control via HomeKit
Using Rio ARC with HomeKit is your best option
If you have been working with HomeKit for some time, adding this radiator will take little effort. Because of the extensive functions of Apple’s own Home app and good collaborations with other installed accessories, you can place your smart radiator in the right scenes and automations in no time.
Before you can use your Rio ARC in HomeKit, you need to pair it again with the QR code, but via the Home app. This configuration is quickly done, after which the Rio ARC smart heating stands between your other accessories. One of the many options is, for example, to turn on the heating as soon as you approach your house or when the temperature drops below a certain minimum. You can read more examples and tips about creating HomeKit scenes in our separate tip.
Another benefit to HomeKit is the Siri integration. This way you can control the temperature much faster and easier than by first searching and opening the corresponding app. Especially from iOS 14 onwards , changing the target temperature hardly takes up space on your screen, as shown in the image below.
Consumption Rio ARC seems to be fairly high
The manufacturer claims that the Rio ARC “saves up to 40% on heating costs,” but that is of course difficult to verify. Rio is a British brand and the heating costs cannot be compared 1-to-1 with those in the Netherlands. You should also know that one Rio ARC can only heat one room up to 24m 2 (according to manufacturer’s specifications)
We have tested the ARC in our office, which is larger than 24m 2 . What is striking is that the device heats up quickly, but it does not heat the entire room. In this case understandable, because this is not a room for which Rio made the radiator. The ambient temperature as shown on the built-in display also matches the value of our other temperature sensor (Aqara) in the office.
With a Koogeek smart plug we measured the consumption of the Rio ARC in kW / h. For the test, we set the design radiator to the maximum setting of 30ºC for an hour. At this set maximum temperature, we see that the radiator has a continuous consumption of about 2030 Watts per hour. This means that more than 2 kWh is consumed per hour. Now this is the maximum position and our office is not an ideal test room, but it is still quite substantial in terms of consumption. According to Environmental Centralan average electric heater consumes about 1000 watts per hour, so half as much. If you turn on this radiator for 500 hours a year, the consumption is about 1000 kWh and the consumption costs are therefore approximately 220 euros. The dryer, dishwasher, hob and patio heater all consume about the same. A fairly pricey solution.
BENEFITS+ of Rio ARC design radiator
- Nice design
- HomeKit support is top notch
- Wall mounting or can be placed separately via supplied bases
- Simple installation
- First in its class
CONS- of Rio ARC design radiator
- Bit pricey
- Own app is below average
- Only available with UK plug
- Not for every interior
- Consumption can rise significantly
Conclusion Rio ARC radiator review
All in all, we are quite satisfied with the Rio ARC. To start with, this is your only option if you want a heating with HomeKit without going through all kinds of technical fuss like Homebridge . That also makes it its strongest point, because we find the accompanying app below par. We had higher expectations, especially when the manufacturer explicitly states that it was made by an award-winning developer. Functions such as geofencing and easy timers are nowadays a requirement for such an app. Apple’s Home app makes up for a lot thanks to its integrations with many other accessories and services, and those who want more extensive options can turn to apps such as Eve or Controller for HomeKit.
We are pleased with the design. It may not fit into every interior, but of course it is not a very big issue. Thanks to the wall mounting and / or the supplied pedestals – which are also nicely finished – the heating can be positioned well, but the power cable could have been a bit longer (and with Euro plug!). And the high energy consumption makes this radiator really only suitable for occasional use.