Wising Up to the Smart Revolution

Joe Crawford, Marketing Manager at Schneider Electric, discusses the growing market for smart heating systems, and how customers are driving demand for enhanced systems that offer personalised room temperature control.

Homeowners are wising up to the benefits that the smart home can offer, and controlling different aspects of the home via a smartphone or tablet is becoming more commonplace as mobile technology becomes ingrained in our everyday lives.

A recent study found that 73 per cent of adults accessed the internet “on the go” using a mobile phone or smartphone in 2017, more than double the 2011 rate of 36 per cent.
We’ve seen the adoption of smart technologies by all ages too – it’s not just the millennials leading the way, but affluent silver surfers who are fully embracing the smart home revolution.

With the wide scope of smart home products available, where does smart energy and heating fit into this landscape?

Connected home drivers
Research has shown that smart energy is the number one key driver for the connected home, taking priority over smart security, entertainment or smart appliances such as washing machines or fridges – and smart heating controls are leading the way.

For electrical engineers and electricians, this offers a lucrative business opportunity to capitalise on the growing demand for smart heating systems.

Smart heating lets customers control their heating when they are away from home, using an app on their smartphone or tablet. So when plans change, heating programmes can be altered from anywhere.

Innovative additions such as smart radiator thermostats make it even easier to create designated ‘heating zones’ in the home, allowing users to take their heating to the next level and control the temperature on a room-by-room basis.

This means your customer is no longer stuck between heating the whole house to the same temperature or having to switch off the heating completely. After all, you wouldn’t use one switch to control all the lights in your house, so why do the same with heating?

Customer benefits
There are many instances where this can be especially handy. For example, if a person is cold in bed, they can remotely switch the heating on just in the room they are occupying, all without having to leave the duvet.

Alternatively, if the homeowner is out of the house and receives a call that unexpected visitors are stopping by, they can adjust the temperature in the living room or kitchen so it’s comfortable for their return – either increasing the heat on a cold and wet day, or switching heating off if it’s warm and sunny.

Another aspect of heating zones is the safety that they can offer according the specific needs of occupants. Research has shown that keeping a baby’s room at a consistent 18oC can reduce health risks, so creating a zone in that room gives parents the ability to set and monitor the temperature from anywhere in the house.

In addition, zoning rooms used by elderly relatives or those who struggle to regulate body temperature offers the ability to set a specific temperature to minimise health issues. Users can also remotely control the temperature in an elderly relative’s home from a significant distance.

Easy Installation
It’s clear to see that there are a vast number of benefits for the homeowner, but how can electrical contractors make smart heating work for them?

With a wide range of devices available on the market, selecting the right solution for the customers can seem like a daunting task, but there are a few things that should be kept in mind when choosing specific products.

Selecting a wireless smart controls system means that controls can be retrofitted quickly and easily, enabling electricians to offer smart yet simple upgrades to customers.
Many systems come with industry standard wallplates allowing installers to simply switch a traditional thermostat for a smart one, and the old thermostatic radiator Valve can be easily removed and the new one screwed on with adaptors allowing for most installations.

Although there are highly advanced and complex systems available, the installation of these products often involves a lot of tricky wiring and commissioning, which means the job will take a lot longer than if you opt for a smart yet simple wireless system.

It’s also wise to go with a manufacturer that you know and trust – and one that really understands heating systems, controls, and the needs of the customer. Manufacturers such as Schneider Electric have developed systems so they are more reliable than ever, minimising the risk of call backs.

Wising up
With this in mind, Schneider Electric have developed WISER, their new collection of smart controls featuring smart radiator thermostats. The WISER system includes four key components; the Heat Hub, the room thermostat, the radiator thermostat and the app.

WISER boasts a simple user interface, allowing multiple users to easily control heating across a number of rooms in a home, wherever they are, with the use of an app. Downloadable to both Android and iOS devices, WISER is compatible with voice control systems including Amazon Alexa.

This offers electrical engineers a flexible approach to smart heating with the option of individual control in up to 16 rooms. Other new features include a simple ‘boost turn’ function on the radiator thermostat to enable a two-degree increase or decrease in temperature for one hour.

So now is the time for electrical engineers to take advantage of the growing demand for enhanced systems that offer personalised room temperature control. With easy to use, easy to install systems readily available, it’s a no brainer.