Every homeowner’s house is his or her castle, and each homeowner elects just how to control his or her indoor environment. Through home automation, homeowners can now control a variety of systems in their home from HVAC to lighting to entertainment from many miles away.
Featured here is a sampling of the many HVAC-related home automation products that can help contractors grant customers more dominion over their HVAC home comfort and energy usage.
The Aprilaire Model 8800 is a true Universal Communicating Thermostat that is supported by virtually all of today’s home automation brands, the company said. Rather than limiting temperature control through a proprietary app, the Model 8800 can be integrated into the home automation system, allowing the user to include temperature control and comfort in a single, easy-to-use solution. The new Model 8826 system controller integrated with Aprilaire’s Communicating Thermostats creates a turnkey home or building HVAC automation system that is simple and affordable for customers to use. It can conveniently control and manage up to 24 Aprilaire thermostats through a Web browser. All thermostats can be scheduled easily to save energy. The controller offers a simple-to-use point-and-click interface.
CoolMaster is a communication gateway that integrates home automation and building management systems (BMS) controllers, HVAC systems in general, and variable-refrigerant flow systems (VRFs), in particular. By using a pair of wires, the gateway can be quickly connected to terminals on a VRF air conditioning communication line to control and monitor the air conditioning system’s most essential parameters. CoolMaster provides common RS232/RS485 interfaces requiring trivial software commands only, for a seamless integration process, enabling the homeowner to control and monitor all of the HVAC indoor units from the home automation’s controller.
According to Cool Automation, CoolMaster supports most of the existing brands of VRFs with one hardware platform. CoolRemote is a Web-based control solution that, with CoolMaster connected to the Internet, enables the remote control and monitoring of HVAC units from any platform, mobile or fixed.
The Danfoss TWA (thermal wax actuator) is a 24-V ac/dc thermo-hydraulic actuator used with on-off controls to activate several types of valves and floor heating manifolds. With a compact size, silent operation, and the ability to operate efficiently with low power consumption, the TWA helps maximize both homeowner comfort and energy savings, said the company. The actuator also features a visual position indicator to show the open or closed position of the valve, quick mounting capability, and slow opening/closing, resulting in a modulating effect on the valve. When mounted to a Danfoss RA2000 thermostatic radiator valve, the TWA is suitable for radiant floor applications or radiator control via an electronic thermostat.
The ecobee Smart Plugs give users another way to understand, manage, and reduce their energy use. By adding Smart Plugs to the ecobee Smart Thermostat, users will be able to monitor and manage them through their existing ecobee Web Portal. Using the Zigbee® HA profile (a wireless protocol that provides highly efficient connectivity), the Smart Plug measures the exact amount of energy consumed by the appliance or device that’s plugged into it on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and it will even show how much it’s costing the homeowner to run that appliance or device. To install, add the Zigbee module to a Smart Thermostat, plug it into a wall outlet, follow the simple configuration instructions, and then plug in a device or appliance. Only one Zigbee Module is required per thermostat and can be connected to an unlimited number of Smart Plugs within range.
Emerson Climate Technologies
The Emerson Climate Technologies Smart Energy Thermostat is a programmable thermostat/in-home display hybrid that delivers temperature control for almost any HVAC system, said the company. The EE542-1Z has temperature control accuracy of ± 1°F. With the push of a button, graphics and easy-to-read text will display daily energy use tracked against the customer’s monthly target, scheduled direct-load control events, scheduled rates, current cost per hour for submetering estimates, month-to-date usage by rate, and patent-pending HVAC cost estimates. According to the manufacturer, the user interface was designed to be consistent with today’s most popular smartphones to ensure a positive user experience. Both the radio and product firmware can be wirelessly upgraded to adapt as technology and market requirements continue to evolve. It has four stages of heat/two stages of cool; seven-day programming capability; one-touch away preset, which encourages conservation; and white backlight for high contrast and easy readability.
Honeywell Environment Combustion and Controls
The Prestige IAQ connected programmable thermostat is designed to make homes more comfortable and stylish, while helping homeowners lower their energy bills. The smart thermostat controls temperature, humidity, ventilation, and fan settings from any Web-enabled device anywhere in the world. The thermostat connects to the Internet through Honeywell’s free Total Connect Comfort cloud-based application, available in the iTunes store or from Google Play. According to Honeywell, the Prestige IAQ Thermostat virtually programs itself, either on the thermostat or with the Total Connect Comfort app, in less than a minute, and once programmed, it’s extremely easy to use and make changes to schedules or settings. Homeowners in regions with tiered energy pricing from utilities can set the thermostat to follow the utility’s time-of-use rate schedule. The thermostat monitors and tests the heating and cooling system every time it turns on to ensure it’s running at peak efficiency; if it’s not, the thermostat alerts the homeowner.
Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating Division
Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating Division has expanded its offering of Honeywell Intl. RedLINK™ wireless controllers, which are now available with Mitsubishi Electric’s M-Series line of residential ductless and ducted cooling and heating systems. Previously available only with the light commercial P-Series product line of split-ductless and ducted systems, the RedLINK wireless controllers now provide increased zoning and temperature control capabilities to the residential M-Series line. RedLINK controllers are compatible with the Honeywell RedLINK Internet Gateway, which allows users to control HVAC systems remotely through a Web browser, iPhone®, iPad®, Android®, or any Internet-enabled smart device. The RedLINK controllers for M-Series are also compatible with the Portable Central Controller (PCC) accessory. The PCC wirelessly connects and operates up to 16 RedLINK controllers throughout the home. Homeowners can control the temperature of any RedLINK-operated system through one portable controller.
Nexia™ Home Intelligence, a business of Ingersoll Rand
The Nexia™ Home Intelligence system allows a homeowner to control locks, lights, thermostats, cameras, and more in their home using wireless technology. The Nexia Home Intelligence Bridge is a home automation hub that easily connects to a router. It uses a Z-Wave wireless signal to communicate with the other Z-Wave-enabled devices throughout the home. It allows the homeowner to control the home from anywhere with Web-connected computers, tablets, or
smartphones. According to the company, it is working with partners, like Trane and American Standard Air, to optimize HVAC performance by adjusting thermostat settings to reduce energy consumption without impacting comfort, and to provide remote diagnostics to HVAC contractors.
The Trane ComfortLink™ II Control programmable control gives a homeowner remote access, live weather forecasts and alerts, and provides Internet-enabled room-by-room control. It has a 7-inch interactive high-definition color touchscreen, which serves as the central point for homeowners to control their home’s smart system and security. Connect your ComfortLink II control to a matched Trane system for complete, seamless comfort, the company said. The Climate Access feature is available for users who pair the Trane ComfortLink II control with the Nexia Home Intelligence system. The functionality allows users to remotely control their home’s temperature, set heating and cooling schedules, and receive alerts when it’s time to change or clean the filter.
Publication date: 8/26/2013