LAS VEGAS — Home automation is no longer a thing of the past. Customers are seeking ways to intelligently control their homes in more ways than ever before, as evidenced by the number of new smart home products on display in this sector at the AHR Expo.


Connectivity is among the biggest trend within home automation and zoning.

Trane introduced the XL-1050 color touchscreen Wi-Fi thermostat and zone controller that joins the XL-824 and XL-850 controls as thermostats with built-in smart home gateways.

“The Nexia smart home bridge is built right into every XL-1050, so consumers can build out a complete smart home solution at their own pace with no required additional gateways,” said Matt Barga, portfolio leader, product management, Trane. “The smart home market is moving beyond connected thermostats, which deliver real benefits to consumers in both comfort and convenience to integrated systems where HVAC equipment acts in concert with other devices and systems.”


Many manufacturers were excited to unveil their smart zoning equipment at the AHR Expo.

Belimo Aircontrols (USA) Inc. debuted its Constant Air Volume (CAV) damper assembly for the residential market. The CAV actuator with embedded logic and air volume sensor automatically adjusts the damper position to maintain the configured set point. The cfm set point can be configured with the Belimo CAV application and any near-field communication (NFC) Android device.

Wireless zoning is an emerging trend within the zoning market, and Arzel Zoning Technology Inc. capitalized on this trend with its Haven wireless zoning system that creates and stores energy to power itself using the air moving through the duct.

“This translates to no wiring for contractors and can cut installation time in half over old-fashioned, conventional, 24-V systems,” said Rick Wilson, director of sales and marketing, Arzel. “Contractors also use an app to configure the system, which further reduces the installation time.” 

Haven eliminates the need for a thermostat, as it has temperature sensors in each zone, so the user can monitor and adjust as needed using the app or a push button on the display.

EWC Controls Inc. created a solution to tie the thermostat and zoning technology together. Combining the two technologies, the UT-3000 control board eases the installation process for contractors as they yearn to install a complete comfort package that also interacts with each component.

“The UT-3000 is built on a protocol that will allow the communication of the equipment, the thermostats, and the zoning system to all talk to each other and create a plug-and-play setup for installing contractors. Once the items are installed and wired together, the setup process is automatic. Contractors do not need to set switches or change any dials as the equipment will function on its own,” said Mike Reilly, president, EWC Controls Inc.

With Wi-Fi thermostats, homeowners may now control their HVAC systems from miles away. While this is convenient, many homeowners are asking about options, such as zoning, that allow them to customize the temperatures in the individual rooms of their homes.

“Not only can they control the temperature and monitor how much it’s being used, but by seeing and touching it more often, they are thinking about how to make it better. They are thinking about the rooms being too hot or too cold and questioning why they are conditioning un-used rooms. That leads them to think about how to solve these problems, which leads to zoning,” said Dick Foster, president, ZoneFirst.

ZoneFirst’s new By-Pass Eliminator (BPE) automates old, standard, manually adjustable bypass dampers in a separate duct and eliminates them. The BPE control fully automates zone dampers, directs them to adjust based on air pressure, and bleeds excess air into closed zones to avoid back pressure in the supply ducts as the zone closes. The BPE’s digital static pressure control provides accurate air pressure monitoring versus barometric or spring-loaded dampers commonly used for bypass.

Furthermore, Duro Dyne Corp. is working to provide fresh air into the home, which eliminates moisture, bacteria, carbon monoxide, and household odors. The Dyna-Fresh Air Quality Control System brings outdoor air inside to make a comfortable and healthy environment. The key factor is the control panel that draws air in at pre-determined intervals with a 24-V timer or manual override for continuous, fresh airflow.

“Tight construction of new homes requires that fresh air be brought in. Duro Dyne’s AQC fresh-air intake systems meet these new requirements. The feature most unique to the AQC is that our system activates an existing exhaust fan. Activating an exhaust fan allows fresh air to be introduced while stale air is exhausted. This ensures a positive flow of fresh air into the space,” said Pat Rosetto, president, Duro Dyne Corp. 

“For a new customer or a current customer interested in bettering their HVAC system, they can do so with zoning,” said Foster.  

Publication date: 2/27/2017

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