“In our hot and humid climate zone, our market can be difficult to satisfy,” said Robert Hadley, division president/home health for Air Innovations LLC in Cypress, Texas.
“The ability for the M30 to set up with Lennox equipment for a fantastic dehumidification profile, an easy-to-use Wi-Fi feature, and flexibility of matching most equipment selections lets us cover all bases with one thermostat.”
That kind of presence and value for contractors led the iComfort M30 Smart Thermostat to the top of the Residential Controls category this year. An extensive research and feedback process in response to dealers who asked for “a smart thermostat option at a reasonable price point” started in 2014, and it culminated in this year’s Gold winner.
The iComfort M30 is designed like a traditional thermostat, not requiring a Smarthub or equipment interface module while still using a simple seven-wire installation. The M30 gives the dealer the ability to choose up to 14 different wiring configurations for HVAC equipment. These can accommodate various staging of heating and cooling, dehumidification of humidification equipment, and integration of conventional air handler units (AHU) with water coils.
Lennox designed the unit to be easily installed, whether as a replacement or for new construction. The integrated 4.3-inch color capacitive touch display provides a simple and easy to use step-by-step setup and activation process.
Hadley, whose company has worked primarily with builders for new construction but has expanded to direct work with consumers, said, “While we understand that one of the most important aspects of a well-performing HVAC system is a proper start up commission, the M30 helps us confirm it.”
Lennox promotes the iComfort M30 as more than just a smart thermostat, thanks in part to a universal 24V option that also has a level of intelligence that interacts with the Lennox iComfort dashboard. The iComfort Dealer Dashboard provides dealers a window into the homeowner’s HVAC system, offering basic alerts, warnings, and reminders as well as system usage reports.
As Hadley noted, the overall capabilities allow the contractor to “view certain aspects that are happening in the home without sending out a truck.”
Information flows the other direction, too. As a benefit for customers and dealers alike, the thermostat can receive over-the-air updates that push new feature capabilities and enhancements without the need to replace the product on the wall.
Performance settings include a “Feels Like” mode. This takes into consideration the indoor and outdoor temperature, as well as indoor humidity levels, and adjusts accordingly to deliver a precise desired temperature based on how the homeowner wants the air to feel.
Homeowners can also set a seven-day schedule in three simple steps, and users can also control it via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Building36.
The residential controls runner-up is officially the Smart Self-Balancing Bypass Damper, but readers can follow EWC Controls’ lead and use “SBD2” for short.
Available in round and rectangular dimensions, the SBD2 serves to bypass “only enough” airflow, in the company’s description, to restore proper static pressure of .35 or .5 inches water column (wc) to the system during zoned operations.
Near Field Control (NFC) wireless data protocol lets contractors access the unit using the Assistant app and Android or iOS smartphone. An NFC-to-Bluetooth adaptor is also available, which the contractor temporarily mounts to an SBD2 instead of holding the phone against the SBD2 actuator.
EWC Controls built the SBD2 to work with any zone system to provide continuity for contractors in setting up bypass equipment in the field. The company also recognized that while some contractors may not have a manometer close at hand, they all have phones and can deploy the free app.
The SBD2 uses the app to deliver data such as system static pressure value, system static pressure setpoint, current bypass damper position, total hours of bypass activity, total hours of indoor fan activity, and trend graph reporting.
Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US (METUS) joined the award winners in the residential controls category on the strength of its kumo touch™.
The wall-mounted wireless remote controller with touchscreen operation is designed to provide complete control of personal comfort. Compatible with all Mitsubishi Electric M-Series and P-Series residential products as well as CITY MULTI® commercial products, kumo touch can be used with the kumo cloud® mobile app and web service or as a standalone wall controller. It is the result of three years of research to build a second-generation offering expanding on the earlier MHK1 controller.
User-friendly commands include basics like on/off and setpoint but also let users adjust fan speed and vane direction as they wish.
The wireless kumo touch gives contractors flexibility during installation, especially for hard-to-reach mounting locations. The kumo touch also features an easy pairing method that makes installation seamless for contractors.
A smaller receiver means the thermostat can “disappear” once installed. The kumo touch gives contractors and homeowners interested in a low-profile aesthetic increased flexibility for installing HVAC controls.