How do smart controls affect the consumer? Rointe’s Santiago Villaescusa offers his verdict.
Bringing innovative technology and new advancements to the final consumer is a challenge that all brands face in a transforming world. In the era of automation, gone are the days of basing a product purchase solely on price or visual appeal. As consumer lifestyles change to keep up with the latest trends and technology, brands must also revolutionise their product offering to stay ahead of the competition.
In the heating industry this means curved designs, quality materials, a vast array of finishes and, more importantly, smart controls. Consumers are now used to controlling aspects of their lives in the palm of a hand, from checking emails to tracking live train departures for the commute home or viewing their home via CCTV whilst on holiday. Smart controls mean the user can adapt the world around them to suit their needs at any time or in any place.
Should these smart controls extend to a heating system?
The answer is ‘yes’, they should. Heating isn’t just a perfunctory item in a home, it provides comfort and well-being as well as warmth. It can also be a costly product to a consumer if it isn’t managed effectively.
With smart controls, the customer could turn the radiators on or off at home whilst commuting or turn their water heater off when abroad. Being able to control each heating product in a home puts the consumer in charge and means they could potentially save money in the end by managing their energy consumption more effectively.
Smart controls should also be more than just an app that can turn your system on or off. Pioneers in the industry have now built systems that include a combination of sensors and algorithms to learn the behaviour of the user and then can set the heating accordingly, not just as a whole system but in individual rooms.
What should I look for?
To a consumer, smart controls can be a maze of information, making it difficult to know what to look out for and how they can benefit from them. When considering a new heating product for their home, any customer should consider these five key smart controls:
1. Mobile, tablet or PC app – an app will let the user control the entire system (temperature selection, on/off etc.) from anywhere in the world at any time from their smartphone, tablet or PC. This puts the user in control and avoids wasted energy if a product is accidentally left on for a long period.
2. Individual control – nowadays, with built in Wi-Fi modules, the user should be able to control individual products within the property. By operating individual products rather than just the entire system, the consumer can have greater versatility and configure each individual product to a different need rather than an ‘all or nothing’ approach with an entire system.
3. Statistics and reports – the app should include summaries and reports on energy usage which will help the consumer understand their expenditure and adjust accordingly to save money. These reports should allow the user to view by day, month or year including current as well as previous time periods.
4. Learning technology – a good quality product will include within the system a learning capability that gathers information on a user’s behaviour and will use this to set the heating accordingly in the future.
5. Easy to install – when choosing a new product or system ease of installation is often a key factor. Look for products with built in Wi-Fi modules that offer a high speed of data transmission or products that don’t need much configuration from the user. If configuration is required, ensure there is plenty of support and advice available from the brand’s Technical Department or even videos on their YouTube channel.
Are there any brands that already use smart controls?
Rointe is one brand that meets all the challenges in the application of technology at home with its new D SERIES range, which incorporates an internal Wi-Fi module. This new range allows the user access to control all the features from the D SERIES range together or individually from a smartphone, tablet or PC with the new Rointe Connect mobile app.
The app is the control application for radiators, towel rails and smart water heaters that make up the D SERIES connected range. Customers that choose the Rointe connected heating system will have complete control of an entire installation in the palm of their hand. From this moment on, the user’s smartphone will work as a switchboard for easy control and monitoring consumption. The app also allows the possibility to distribute the products by zones (i.e. floors in a house) and subzones (i.e. rooms) without a limit on the number of rooms or linked products.
The Rointe Connect app also includes real time consumption reports that can be viewed by day, month or year along with the ability to configure different kWh prices for each hour of the day. It will also send notifications, warnings and recommendations direct to the smartphone to keep the consumer informed about the status of the installation to help save on consumption. The app also displays the weather where the installation is located, as well as the weather conditions at the current location, allowing the user to react to different scenarios.
The new Rointe self-learning system allows the products to learn patterns of use and respond to them by adapting its programming and operation to the lifestyle of the consumer. The system even allows remote locking at any time from the control centre to prevent others from modifying installed products.
The products in the D SERIES range connect directly to the Wi-Fi router without intermedia gateways, offering a higher speed of data transmission between the products and eliminating any limitations on the quantity of connected products. Nor do you need any additional configuration on the user’s router.
As an added benefit, the range is also the first low power electric heating system that can be controlled by Amazon’s Alexa voice control. With the Alexa voice assistant, there’s no need to approach the radiator, towel rail or water heater and the Rointe Connect app is not needed to make any changes to them. Just mention a simple phrase and Alexa will perform the action on the indicated D SERIES product.