Intelligent controlsdon’t need to be connected

There is widespread interest in smart thermostats, with 41% of consumers saying that their primary driver behind home automation technology is to save energy. But Honeywell believes there is a distinction between ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent’ controls; one which electrical wholesalers should be aware of when advising customers. Andy Mansfield(pictured), marketing communications manager, comments:


t is a common misconception that heating controls must have a connection to the internet to be

deemed smart. However, this is simply not the case. What makes a thermostat clever is its ability to modulate the boiler to reduce energy bills and maintain a comfortable internal temperature within the home. “Connected controls are capable of this,

however, so are non-connected, modern, programmable thermostats. These devices have clever intrinsic technology, such as OpenTherm and TPI, which helps consumers to save energy and maintain their desired room temperature. Wi-Fi connectivity is often the last piece in the puzzle. To help distinguish between the different classifications of control, it is useful to apply the term ‘intelligent’ to programmable thermostats, whilst connected controls should be labelled as ‘smart’. “TPI, or time-proportional & integral, is a high-

tech algorithm which enables close control of room temperature by ensuring the boiler is fired just long enough to achieve the desired temperature. Tests carried out by BEAMA at the University of Salford’s Energy House showed that installing a TPI thermostat with thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs), provides an additional 13% saving on energy costs compared to a traditional on/off control.2 This type of thermostat only needs to be configured once during installation and then the technology can be left to do its thing, learning the property’s characteristics as it goes to continually refine the process. This results in much lower energy bills and peace of mind for the homeowner. “OpenTherm is a method of communication

between compatible boilers and thermostats. It allows the amount of heat provided by the boiler to be altered to match the varying demand signal, by reducing the flow temperature to a minimum level as it leaves the boiler. This modulation improves boiler efficiency by running at lower flow temperatures for longer periods of time. “Neither of these technologies require Wi-Fi or

smartphone app, nor do they necessitate much interaction from the homeowner. This makes

38 | electrical wholesalerOctober 2019

intelligent thermostats the ideal choice for applications such as social housing, where it is beneficial to minimise tenant contact with the heating system. While connected controls are undoubtedly the future, there is still a minority of consumers that do not have a smartphone or have no interest in controlling their heating remotely, so a programmable thermostat works in these cases too. “That said, connected thermostats offer the utmost in comfort and convenience when specified correctly. Through a dedicated app, homeowners can adjust their heating at any time of the day or night, from wherever in the world they are, to suit their lifestyle. Some models of thermostat can go one step further, and already have advanced features such as location-based temperature control or geo-fencing. “This is a feature on mobile devices that uses the global positioning system (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical locations. Translated into thermostat-speak, this means that smart controls can now provide remote control of the boiler by turning the heating on or off depending on the location of the homeowner. Rather than showing the exact location of the homeowner, the thermostat merely detects their distance from the property, so privacy is not a concern. “As a source of information for many

electricians, it is important that wholesalers feel empowered to advise on the different varieties of heating control, to ultimately find the right solution for the end-user.

“This is where training comes in. Most manufacturers offer free training as well as paid- for courses which are designed to arm electricians and wholesalers with the right tools and training for every industry challenge. For example, Honeywell has an e-learning platform for electricians, which wholesalers can also access, to equip themselves with the necessary information to upsell products effectively. “As well as training, Honeywell has recently launched videos that show the consumer how these controls work. They also provide electricians with information on the installation process, as well as the right answers to homeowners’ questions. “So, while the buzz around smart and

intelligent controls continues, wholesalers have a key role to play in advising customers on the differences between them. Smart doesn’t have to mean complicated, and there is a thermostat out there to suit every customer, every boiler and every system.”

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