Here, Andy Mansﬁeld, Marketing Communications Manager at Honeywell, considers the beneﬁts of becoming a ‘smart installer’.
As the smart heating controls market gains traction, the industry is still adapting to the changes the new technology has brought. No one knows for certain where the market will take the heating industry in the future, but as consumer demand for smart heating controls – and now fully connected homes – continues to rise, electrician and installer roles are starting to cross over. Electrical wholesalers are seeing a sharp rise in request for smart controls, with more and more electricians fitting these for their customers.
Over the last quarter of a century, heating controls have undergone a huge transformation – going from wired to wireless devices, and then becoming internet enabled, meaning homeowners can now control their heating from the other side of the world – or the comfort of their sofa.
As a manufacturer, we have seen smart controls develop from expensive gadgetry to entry-level, accessible devices that can work simply as a thermostat or form the basis of an integrated smart system. This, in turn, means that the smart home is no longer limited to the more affluent homeowner – rather, there is a connected thermostat to suit every application and budget.
It’s clear that the technology within the heating industry has come on leaps and bounds, and is continuing to move ahead at such a fast pace that installers and electricians are having to catch-up as demand grows.
What is certain is that smart controls are going to be the future of heating controls and that this is only the beginning. There is much further discussion to be had around making way for even smarter software and platforms that will collaborate to control everything from security and lighting to household objects.
However, when it comes to installing a smart system, a blurred line is being created in the industry, between what a heating engineer can ﬁt and what an electrician can ﬁt and how the two work together.
At a recent Honeywell round table on the future of smart controls, the heating industry’s leading experts agreed that the lines will continue to blur and cross over for electricians and installers, and that every smart installation proves a challenge when it comes to both wiring within a boiler or wiring in the control handsets or thermostats on the wall.
Manufacturers have a responsibility to educate tradesmen of either specialism on new products and smart control installations, but at the same time need to provide guidance on how electricians and installers can help themselves, their businesses and their customers to access and get the most out of the technology.
Given the direction of the market, it is now vital that electricians invest time in learning about these new systems and market themselves and their business as being a specialist in smart technology. In some cases this can lead to upskilling within the business, hiring a qualiﬁed heating engineer or collaborating with another business to get the job done.
Upskilling is key to giving customers the best products and devices for their homes and maximising business potential as a result. Signing up for manufacturer training (whether online or face-to-face), and joining manufacturer programmes and schemes such as the Honeywell Installer Network are instrumental in moving with the times and developing as an electrician.
“Upskilling is key to giving customers the best products and devices for their homes and maximising business potential as a result.”
If after training there is still a requirement to partner with an installer business, there are a number of points to consider. It’s worth researching a number of installers that cover the same patch, and shortlisting three options based on their accreditations and whether they advertise as being ‘smart ready’.
Once a top three has been agreed, it’s essential to set up a face-to-face meeting with a senior person within the business in order to check that it is a good match in terms of work ethic and the way they operate.
As a manufacturer, we have a duty to ensure we respond to consumer demand for good, quality products. But we also have a duty to ensure we are working with our installer base – both heating engineers and electricians – and equipping them with all of the training and skills they need to grow their businesses. The beneﬁts of installer networks and good quality training are out there for the taking – we recommend that electricians grasp the opportunities with both hands.
So with the future potentially being controlled at the touch of a button, now is the time to start thinking about partnerships or upskilling your business to become ‘smart’.