With the dog days of summer upon us, I think we can all appreciate the value of a good air conditioning system. On steamy, hot evenings, it’s hard to imagine how we ever survived before the invention of AC. It’s also fun to imagine what’s ahead as the HVAC industry innovates in the era of the Internet of Things.
As more homes and buildings move toward “smart” connectivity, the HVAC industry is leading the way. Technology is both increasing and improving, as is the desire (and in some cases, mandate) for more ecologically-friendly HVAC solutions. These are the forces driving key innovations in HVAC.
- HVAC systems are getting smarter: We’ve already seen smart thermostats, and many homeowners are already able to control their home’s heating and cooling from their iPad. These trends are now extending to the corporate world. Per MSI Data: “Smart thermostat technology, smart equipment integration, and IoT technology allows HVAC contractors to automate much of their sales and service processes, giving managers more time to leverage the financial benefits of effective asset management.”
- As part of this trend, HVAC field service teams are moving towards a mobile infrastructure. Not only can teams monitor HVAC systems to detect issues in real time, they can efficiently deploy teams, and accurately allocate and track hours. This allows teams to be more proactive in maintaining systems and faster in responding to events, while the automation of the tasks like scheduling and billing gives teams the opportunity to focus on the bigger, more important issues.
- HVAC is getting smarter about efficiency. Stricter regulations are forcing the industry towards efficiency and reduced emissions, but so are budgets and consciences. According to IHS, smarter systems are enabling more comfortable temperatures when the first employee keys in for the day, and powering things down when the last employee punches out. That saves both corporate budgets and the environment with minimal effort.
- Some completely new green technologies are coming down the pike, as well. Ice Energy in California has developed a cooling system that runs on – you guessed it! – ice. Their Ice Bear freezed 450 gallons of water, then uses it to provide cooling for up to six hours. The system runs in conjunction with traditional cooling systems, allowing buildings to both save money and reduce their carbon footprints.
- Advances are also being made in geothermal heating and cooling systems which rely on an sub-surface pump to heat cool spaces. While many believe geothermal systems are only effective for heating, the experts at NatGeo dispel that myth: “They work just as effectively in cooling and can be engineered to require no additional backup heat source if desired, although some customers decide that it is more cost effective to have a small backup system for just the coldest days if it means their loop can be smaller.”
There’s so much innovation in the HVAC industry today, it’s become a very exciting industry to watch! We’re proud that we currently partner with some of the most forward-thinking companies in the space already, and we’re eagerly looking forward to what’s ahead. It’s one of the many reasons you’ll find us back at the AHR Expo in 2016.
What are your thoughts on the latest trends in HVAC? Comment below or tweet to @Etratech and let us know!