LONDON — Driven by demand from Asia, global shipments of thermostats used for a/c applications will rise by nearly 50 percent from 2012 through 2017, according to the latest report on the thermostats market from IMS Research, now part of IHS Inc. A/C 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 energetic, forecast to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13 percent from 2012 to 2017, compared to a CAGR of only 8 percent for the global market,” said the report. “Last year, Asia accounted for more than 30 percent of the a/c thermostats that were sold.”

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

“An increasing population with higher disposable incomes is helping to expand the a/c thermostat market in Asia,” said William Rhodes, senior market analyst for the building technologies group at IHS. “Owning an a/c 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 a/c thermostat market is being driven by increasingly hot and humid summers.”

The majority of the a/c systems currently used in North America are ducted split systems, said the report. It pointed out; however, that across the rest of the world and particularly in Asia, Japanese-style ductless mini-split systems seem to be preferred.

“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 noted. “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.”