The market for smart home technology products continues to grow, and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. According to a report from Markets and Markets, the Internet of Things (IoT) is estimated to grow from $157.05 billion in 2016 to $661.74 billion by 2021.
Homeowners have become more familiar and comfortable with the smart home concept and it is now an expected feature in new homes and is part of the decision-making process when replacing an HVAC system or adding a home security system. For HVAC contractors, the increasing demand for home automation represents an opportunity to increase revenues, provide new levels of service to their customers, and differentiate themselves from their competition.
As a trusted HVAC contractor, you can assist your customers in making smart choices about smart home products such as thermostats, ventilation systems, and home area network hubs. When you can offer them tech-savvy, money-saving products, you will become their contractor of choice. In turn, they will reward your knowledge and assistance with loyal, repeat business and customer referrals.
Here’s some basic info on the smart home you’ll want to share with customers:
- Smart Thermostats– One of the most important smart devices in the home is the smart thermostat. There are a wide variety of thermostats in the market. Smart thermostats break out into two categories:
- Connected smart thermostats– The term “connected” refers to WiFi-enabled smart thermostats that allow users to control temperature settings remotely from a smartphone or computer. While models on the market vary, most also offer touchscreen displays that track energy usage in real time and over given time intervals – providing useful feedback and helping users save. WiFi-enabled units are especially useful for homeowners who often forget to pre-set their programmable thermostats or for owners of second/vacation homes.
- Learning thermostats– These WiFi-enabled thermostats learn daily habits and automatically schedule temperature levels accordingly. In addition, these models often come equipped with features such as sensors that monitor motion, light and humidity. If your customers are currently using an older, non-programmable thermostat, the energy savings they will reap from switching to a learning model could quickly offset its cost.
- Smart Ventilation Systems – The new smart ventilation systems are revolutionizing the way an HVAC system provides the right amount of airflow to ensure maximum comfort in a home. These systems manage the flow of air room by room through the automatic control of the vents and allow a resident to manage the airflow in a home based on a variety of factors. There are several benefits of installing a smart ventilation system for your customer such as:
- Reductions in energy use and energy costs
- Equivalent or enhanced Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
- Reductions in peak load (or equivalently time-of-use pricing)
- Smart Home Network Hubs – With the myriad of devices in the home and the need to connect them all for ease of use and management, the smart home network hub has become the brain of the smart home system. It is important to understand how these hubs work to make recommendations to your customers about the best network hub for their home and lifestyle. In addition, many hubs only work with their proprietary smart products, so it is important to understand the limitations of those types of network hubs.
Some things to consider when installing a smart home network hub are:
- Wireless connectivity: A Wi-Fi-enabled hub that doesn’t need to be physically connected to a router is a good bet, as this gives more options as to where it can be placed in the home.
- Expansion capability: The higher the number of products/devices it can support, the better.
- Protocol compatibility: A hub that can communicate with the major home automation protocols — Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE — is important.
- App control: While a website interface is nice to have, make sure the hub has an app that is compatible with a smartphone. An automated home works far more smoothly from the palm of your hand than from behind a computer screen.
- Scheduling/Automation System: The hub’s software should be able to set up schedules for all devices and create actions to connect different devices.
- Alerts/Messaging: The software should be able to send alerts when chosen actions are completed, such as an alert when someone opens the front door with a unique code.
To take the lead in the smart home space, today’s HVAC contractors need to ensure they provide the knowledge and the products to their customers now and in the future, which means staying abreast of industry trends. Look to Source 1™ HVAC supply to assist you in carrying a wide selection of smart home products and to provide the knowledge and information you will need to succeed in the connected building environment.