LONDON — Global shipments of thermostats used for air-conditioning applications will rise by nearly 50 percent from 2012 through 2017, driven by demand from Asia, according to the latest report on the thermostats market from IMS Research, part of IHS Inc.

Air-conditioning thermostat shipments are set to grow to 19 million units in 2017, up 48 percent from 12.8 million in 2012. The Asian market will be particularly strong, forecast to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 percent from 2012 to 2017, compared to a CAGR of 8 percent for the global market. Last year, Asia accounted for more than 30 percent of the air-conditioning thermostats that were sold.

The collective Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) market and the Americas are also are forecast to see strong growth, but not to the same degree as Asia.

“An increasing population with higher disposable incomes is helping to expand the air-conditioning thermostat market in Asia,” said William Rhodes, senior market analyst for the building technologies group at IHS. “Owning an air-conditioning unit is cheaper than owning a car and is seen as a status symbol for an aspiring middle class. Meanwhile in EMEA and the Americas, the air-conditioning thermostat market is being driven by increasingly hot and humid summers.”

The majority of the air-conditioning systems currently used in North America are ducted split systems. However, across the rest of the world and particularly in Asia, ductless mini-split systems are preferred. Many mini-split systems come with their own thermostat from the HVAC equipment provider. However, most ducted systems are controlled by a thermostat from a third party.

“Mini-split systems are often thought to be more flexible for interior design and avoid the energy losses associated with ductwork for rooms that do not require air conditioning, such as attics,” Rhodes said. “The rising popularity of mini-split systems is driving the trend toward infrared (IR) thermostats that control the indoor-air-handling unit. In some office environments for example, one IR thermostat can control up to four indoor units.”

Publication date: 7/8/2013