Smart Air in Your Technology Systems

Filed in Technology by on July 16, 2018 1 Comment

old fashioned electric fanOne of the first “smart” devices a great many home owners were exposed to — even before the rapid growth of the smart speaker — were thermostats capable of machine learning.

Jon Fischer, HVAC automation sales manager for Aprilaire in Madison, Wisc., is pretty succinct about why his company, originally focused on humidity and air quality control, added smart thermostats to its line.

“Our sales were basically being eaten by Nest,” Fischer said. “Years ago, I wanted to have a wired IP thermostat and a couple of my engineers told me I was crazy because you’ll never see a thermostat that sits on the network. Well, here we are several years later and nearly everything’s on the network – including my frickin’ coffeemaker.”

That doesn’t mean Fischer has backtracked on a core belief he shares with his company: Climate control isn’t just about temperature. This notion is especially challenging for builders and technology integrators, especially when it comes to high-end homes, where everything from humidity to salinity must be taken into account.

Indoor air quality (IAQ) has become a larger topic when it comes to the building trades. “Back in the ’80s and ’90s, consumers demanded more energy-efficient homes, so builders started focusing a lot more on insulating,” and at first, most did not recognize what tighter homes can do to IAQ, he said.

In addition to humidity, “You’re trapping a lot of the construction stuff inside of the home. I bought a brand-new house two years ago, and the first year and a half to two years, you have all of these products that are brand new between the drywall and the concrete in the basement all drying out,” he said.

“You’ve got a large humidity demand to get rid of with the use of a dehumidifier, but then you’ve got all the new products. The varnishes on the cabinets. The paint smell. The carpets off-gassing these little things called volatile organic compounds, VOCs,” Fischer said.

There are wellness issues here, of course, but the list of additional problems grows along with a home’s budget.

The issues become magnified when a client desires a dedicated home theater. Quality residential cinemas demand tight, windowless rooms that, when isolated for sound, become heat-and-humidity traps. But proper air exchange and conditioning for temperature, humidity and air quality come with a different set of problems: Noise from those systems can’t interfere with a listening experience.

There are other items in the home that can react badly to temperature and humidity swings outside that cinema space, too: Fine wines and fine art are two prime examples, but electronics themselves don’t like climate extremes, either. Proper fittings, couplings and installation techniques can mitigate some damage from moisture (even the salty varieties found near the coast), but proper air quality is of primary importance.

Even for those folks just looking to automate both temps and IAQ, Fischer sums up the best solution: “If you can find a company where the HVAC contractor can supply the thermostat, the tech pro can put the thermostat on the network, it integrates with the control system, then everybody is happy — including the end user, because they get what they want.”

This NAHBNow guest post is from Ed Wenck, content marketing manager for CEDIA, the industry association where you can find local professionals who design and integrate technology for the connected home.

Facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Tags: ,

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Bobby Parks says:

    I am a fan of “smart controls”, especially thermostatic controls which monitor and record data such as runtimes along with the temperature and humidity conditions. However, in recent years i have experienced multiple isodents where the stat is outthinking the occupants. Meaning, it believes it’s adjusting air flows and compressor speeds to “assume” the occupants desires. And we know what the spelling of ass-u-me can get you! I fear the more complex we make our controls, the more we will see failures in the programming. An increase in service calls and quite possibly a decrease in customer confidence. Sometimes keeping it simple can be a much better plan and the single biggest component in basing that decision on should be the client! Not all homeowners are ready for the future and the same applies to the VAST majority of HVAC “professionals”… a term used very loosely here!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement