Product Report: Hip Thermostats and Home Control

Product Report: Hip Thermostats and Home Control


Now you can control the temperature in your home with several cool and unassuming thermostats. Courtesy of Nexia Home Intelligence.

Since when did thermostats become sexy?

If new thermostat offerings are any indication, those clunky old wall blemishes are soon to be relics of the past. This week we bring you two very cool and unobtrusive ways to offer climate control, a couple of home control and connectivity systems for production homes, and a touchscreen system for custom homes.

 

 

 

 

Musical Thermostat

Believe it or not, Nest’s little round thermostat isn’t the only cool climate controller available. Get a load of Allure Energy’s EverSense, which not only controls your home’s climate, but streams audio as well. And that’s not all. EverSense has a proximity sensing feature that allows you to preset temps in your home when you’re a certain distance away. So, on your commute, your heating or cooling can kick on as you reach a preset distance from home and get your digs to just the right temperature when you walk through the door. EverSense can be used with iPhone and Android apps, and those with Android phones with NFC (Near Field Communications) can put their phones on a separately sold SyncPad to wake to their music or climate preferences in the morning. Energy saving tips appear on the touchscreen display as well. Music streaming uses DLNA (Digital Living Networking Association), which requires an app on Apple devices. The $349 EverSense measures 7.76 by 4 inches and has a 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen and two built-in speakers. It works with one-or-two stage gas or electric heating and cooling systems and heat pumps. EverSense communicates via Wi-Fi and uses a common wire to power the unit battery-free. Currently, only wall-mounted versions are available.

 

 

 

AMX’s More Affordable Touchscreens Yeah, yeah, everyone wants to control their home systems from a smartphone or iPad these days, but what if you have a large home that requires an enterprise-grade home control and automation system like that from AMX? You could opt for a super-cool Modero X touchpanel available in landscape formats up to 20-inches wide with the ability to run apps and browse the web. And yes, those can get pretty pricey. With that in mind, AMX has also introduced the Modero S Series touchpanels at about half the price as their Modero X counterparts, while providing the same enterprise-grade control and automation functionality, streaming video capability and 24-bit color depth. The S Series sacrifices the web browsing and new G5 graphics engine of the Modero X touchpanels. Sizes range from 4.3 inches ($1,200) to 10 inches ($2,995). In a luxury custom home already in line for a home control and automation system, that could be a small price to pay.

 

More Home Intelligence

One of the hottest home automation products being adopted by builders is the Nexia Home Intelligence System, which isn’t one product but several—even a couple of hundred if you choose to add to it. Nexia uses wireless Z-Wave technology and a Nexia Bridge to communicate with a variety of digital door locks, IP cameras, light switches and dimmers, smart outlets and plugs, thermostats, even some window shading systems. Homeowners can control the systems to turn devices on or off remotely, check video cams and more from smartphones, tablets or computers. Nexia has also added window and door sensors, and cloud-based video storage capability (via the Internet).

National homebuilder Lennar offers Nexia as standard in its homes, and big production builders Meritage and Pulte offer it as options. Shea Homes’ Trilogy active adult communities offer Nexia packages as well — as do several regional builders, according to Nexia parent company Ingersoll Rand. The $10 monthly subscription that allows web-based access and control is typically offered free by builders for a limited time. After that users can continue to use the devices in the house, but control of the systems via the web and smartphones require a subscription.

“Builders like that it’s scalable, and it’s a great way for homeowners to dip their toe [into home automation],” says Matt McGovren, marketing leader for Nexia for Ingersoll Rand. The Nexia web portal will also be able to see solar production from Enphase solar inverters as Lennar rolls that out, he adds.

Nexia can also show energy consumption as read by the eMonitor energy monitoring system from partner Powerhouse Dynamics, a feature that is now being installed in some Meritage Homes.

The company is also working with EnergyHub, now owned by Alarm.com, to offer energy-saving demand response programs through electric utilities’ smart grid programs, says McGovren.

 

And Wiser Homes, Too

We wrote last week about production home giant KB Home installing basic Schneider Electric Wiser Home Management systems in its homes — and we have a feeling that more homebuilders will follow. The Wiser system uses a simple Internet Gateway that is connected to a home’s broadband network, and systems can include an a Smart Thermostat, In-Home Display, Smart Plugs that can monitor individual devices and turn them on and off, Load Control Breakers and Relays for monitoring and managing large loads like pool pumps and HVAC compressors, and a Wiser Power Monitor to measure electricity at the electrical panel. The Wiser system components communicate with the gateway via wireless ZigBee radio frequency, which is compatible with many two-way communicating smart meters, making it suitable for areas where utilities are deploying or planning to deploy smart grid programs.

 

Unobtrusive Thermostat

Don’t want a big, honking thermostat on the wall? Leviton offers the Thermostat Display Control (TDC), an unobtrusive device that can control the climate of any room. It’s designed to be mounted on the wall or next to a light switch for a clean appearance, with buttons to dial the temperature or fan up or down and an OLED screen that displays the temperature. A built in temperature sensor communicates with Leviton’s Omnistat2 RC-2000 series thermostats, which can be mounted in a mechanical room and can control both single and multi-stage HVAC systems. The temperature sensor can be averaged with other TDC sensors and/or the sensor in the RC-2000 thermostat. Temperature averaging among these devices ensures precise reading and automation for enhanced energy efficiency, says Leviton.

The TDC requires use of the TDC Communication Interface that provides power while facilitating communication with the RC-2000 thermostat. The TDC and the TDC Communication Interface are available in a kit (95A03-1TKT) for easy ordering. Up to four TDCs can be connected to a single TDC Communication Interface. The device is supplied in white with color change kits available in Black and Light Almond.

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