Home automation is no longer a figment of the future and savvy HVACR contractors have taken notice.

By now, most contractors are  offering Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats and systems that include central interfaces. Those ahead of the curve are utilizing these central interface systems to upsell customers on security cameras, camera-infused doorbells, perimeter lighting, and more.

Manufacturers within and outside of the HVACR industry are working hard to develop the latest in home automation technology that satisfies the needs of today’s consumers.


In a world flooded with smartphones and smart devices, smart homes are set to follow in their footsteps as the next best thing.

Several companies with HVACR ties are striving to create equipment that plays a pivotal part in these futuristic technology-rich homes.

The Sensi thermostat from Emerson is one such item. The company markets the unit as easy to install, affordable, and compatible with several smart home platforms.

“The Sensi thermostat is one of the most affordable choices in the connected-thermostat category,” said Ed Blittschau, vice president of marketing, White-Rodgers, Emerson commercial and residential solutions. “It includes detailed in-app instructions, contractor branding, precision temperature control, and integrates with smart home platforms, like Wink and Amazon Echo.”

Johnson Controls Inc. is also looking to ease the installation process for contractors with its York touchscreen thermostat.

“This thermostat provides early indicators of system faults or potential issues that assist in educating and identifying where efficiency loss in the system may be occurring,” said Jedidiah Bentz, director, advanced systems, controls and technology, unitary products group, Johnson Controls Inc.

Connecting with smart home platforms is a huge trend right now, and customers are hungry for it. Rob Munin, CEO and president, Lux Products Corp., said Lux offers four smart products that allow connectivity.

“Our GEO, GEOx, GEOz, and the KONO Smart units connect within the home and support home automation solutions, such as the Amazon Echo and Apple Home Kit.”

With connectivity comes the opportunity to sell other products that go hand in hand with central interface devices. Want greater security? Now, a homeowner can lock or unlock all the home’s doors with a simple touch of the screen. Want to see that the kids made it inside from their walk home from school? Indoor and outdoor cameras can sync with a number of devices.

With Trane’s ComfortLink II XL1050 Control, consumers can amplify their use of the ComfortLink™ II XL1050 by pairing it with any of Trane’s ComfortLink II Communicating Systems and TruComfort variable-speed systems. This pairing allows dealers to tap into Nexia Diagnostics, a service tool that provides remote access, and real-time HVAC system data, and  fast and accurate system alerts, operating status, and configuration. These features enhance dealer productivity and allow them to be better prepared for every job.

Additionally, the Nexia System can be synced with any indoor or outdoor security camera.

“My Nexia System is synced by time,” said Mike Merritt, sales leader, Trane. “When my daughters come home, they each have a four-digit code to enter the front door. When they open the door, I get a text based on the code that says ‘Mallory front door.’ Once inside, there’s an indoor camera set up in the dining room where they do their homework, so I know they’re home safe. For contractors, this affords them the ability to offer homeowners protection and connectivity, which is huge.”


Honeywell Intl. Inc. has also developed security camera technology with its Lyric C1 and Lyric C2 cameras. These cameras are part of the Lyric Platform and may be accessed within the Lyric app.

“The Lyric Cameras are meant to help keep an eye on what’s happening at home, day or night,” said Nate Kraft, senior director, global products, Honeywell Intl. Inc. “They are full-featured and, with the Lyric app, allow users to access live and recorded videos and snap screenshots. They’ll also send users alerts when something is seen or even heard using the built-in microphone. They’ll detect sounds like a crying baby or a smoke detector going off.”

Robertshaw Climate’s newest thermostat, the RS456Connect, includes both iOS and Android apps with full control for multiple thermostats across multiple locations. It also offers a powerful application program interface (API), which allows third-party home automation integration directly with the thermostat.

“With our newest offerings in connected products, we can offer the professional installer several opportunities to create value with their customers,” said John Brower, general manager, Robertshaw Climate.

Christine Rasche, product manager for connected homes, Carrier Corp., said Carrier’s Côr Home Automation System is connected with an app along with its central interface. The app allows users to arm and disarm the security system; check if doors and windows are open; monitor special areas, such as a medicine cabinet; know when children arrive or leave the home; add and remove users; monitor user history; view live video; control lighting and door locks; watch live video; and send email notifications of various system alerts. So, when a user is away from the central interface, he or she can still utilize all of the features via the Côr Automation app.

It’s the accessibility of these apps paired with these home automation devices that make it an easy selling opportunity for contractors.

“Contractors need to realize they’re in charge of protecting their clients’ homes,” said Rasche. “They trust you. So, once you’re in their homes, and you tell them this device has no monthly fee, can protect and avoid flooding with a water shut off, can turn off the hair straighteners they left on, and can protect their family members with cameras, too, it shows them that you, as their contractor, are highly interested in protecting their homes.”   

Publication date: 5/1/2017

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