That time you felt the heat, air or heard your music, but you couldn’t quite tell where it was coming from … that’s what the connected art movement is all about.
You get the perks of a heater, air conditioner or speaker with the aesthetics of a piece of art.
“The problem with most space heaters now is that they’re bulky and they’re an eyesore to look at,” says Alex Birch, project manager of Hot Art.
Hot Art has developed a space heater disguised as a painting. The company’s Inspire series is designed to be mounted and hard wired to the wall or ceiling, so cords are out of sight. The 24-by-24 or 24-by-40-inch paintings can be customized with your client’s own high-resolution images or can be ordered as white panels.
The Mobile series might not be as appealing for the builder. It’s meant to be portable and can be plugged in to any outlet.
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All of Hot Art’s products are controlled by switch, thermostat and most home automation systems and use infrared rays that radiate outward to heat whatever is around the piece.
Birch says a lot of customers stick the heater in a lanai. “The infrared space heater will not get affected by a draft, where in other space heaters, it takes away the heating factor. Our product doesn’t heat the air.”
The units are designed for residential and commercial construction as an energy-efficient alternative to conventional heating solutions. The panel system can be integrated in new construction or used in remodeling projects.
“You have different options for builders,” says Birch. “It’s easy to drop into a 2-by-2 or 2-by-4 inch ceiling grid.” There’s also an option where half the panel is an LED light and the other half is a heater.
Operating costs are lower than a traditional space heater. The company touts a 60 percent savings in energy costs, but the up-front cost is quite jarring. One piece of artwork can go for around $600.
LG’s Art Cool series offers homebuilders dual functionality. This series of three products is part of LG’s duct-free line and is meant to heat and cool the home with style, as much as 4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
The Gallery Inverter has a vertical, square cabinet that accepts artwork or a photograph up to 20-by-20-inches in size. The consumer can replace it at any time.
“The gallery has motorized assembly that redirects the front glass panel that holds the artwork,” says Ken Kastl, regional sales manager for LG electronics. “Upon startup, the panel will open up at a three degree angle to allow stale air from inside the home to enter behind the glass, through the coil mechanism and then it’s either comfort cooled or heated through the coils.”
Those coils are hidden discreetly behind the unit. The air is conditioned through two to three vanes and then forced into the space.
The Mirror works similarly, except its cabinet is fixed in place. It’s a dark, smoky color that fits in well with a more modern look.
“The art cool mirror unit reflects and will actually take on the colors of the room,” says Kastl.”It can be more discreet than a white, traditional style unit.”
The third portion of the series, the Premier line was a silver award winner in the 2013 Dealer Design Awards Program and is a visually enhanced traditional unit that goes on the wall and is energy efficient and very quiet. “The systems are operated by what’s know as an inverter,” says Kastl. “It eliminates the cost of running expensive and archaic duct systems throughout the building, and you can zone control the space that you’re living in at the time that you’re living in it.”
The premier product is the only one of the three that can connect to an application called “LG Smart AC,” a plug and play device that is hidden in the indoor unit.
The unit gets Wi-Fi connectivity through that device and can be controlled by the smart phone. The application is free, but the hardware, which transfers the signal through the home router system, retails for $199. Basic installation of Art Cool products usually starts at $3,500 and up based upon the size of the unit and other building criteria.
Kastl says a more advanced form of connectivity is in the works for all three products in the Art Cool Series.
“We are launching, within 60 days, an interface that would allow connectivity to any third party control, including Nest, EcoV or Honeywell.”
Soundwall also connects to a home’s Wi-Fi, taking a piece of art to the next level by making it sing or speak. The company works with well-know artists, like Jay West and Bradley Theodore, to create original pieces of artwork that are transformed into home speakers.
“It’s a tool for builders to help homeowners create a unique space that hasn’t been done before,” says chief of staff Danielle Carroll. “There’s an option to not only have a speaker that sounds amazing, but also have a unique piece of art.”
The board artists use is from Soundwall. The company mounts special audio exciters to the back of it that cause the surface of the artwork to vibrate, similar to a cymbal or guitar string. This is unlike traditional cone speakers, which have crossovers and “sweet spots.” The piece wirelessly streams from mobile devices to play music, soundscapes and audio commentary chosen by the artist.
And Carroll says homebuilders won’t have to go through any intricate wiring to install a Soundwall. “It needs one outlet, and that’s pretty easy to move up, especially if you’re building a house from scratch.”
It’s best if builders or contractors install a plug behind the work of art, so that the images that typically cost between $2,500 and $10,000, don’t have a cord hanging. But Carroll says the unique product is worth it, especially for builders looking to differentiate themselves, which is important now more than ever.
Consumers’ interest in the connected home and energy management solutions will increase six fold in the next five years, according to Accenture Research.