IoT [internet of things] is a term that has been thrown around in various industries for a while now; most often related to tech companies like Google or Apple. Would it surprise you if I said that the manufacturers of plumbing and HVAC equipment are rapidly adding their names to the “tech” company listings? Well, maybe not officially but one thing is for sure, the equipment delivered to the jobsite or stocked on the local supplier’s shelf is more loaded with technology today than ever before.
One of the first introductions to IoT devices came in form of the nest thermostat. Later purchased by Google, nest was invented by former engineers of Apple and its main function was to provide interaction [really for the first time] between the end user and their hvac system. Its no wonder that a tech company would invest in such technology as it really showed potential for sales growth in the residential market of building automation and energy conservation; business segments that until previous to the nest [on large scale] was limited to commercial and industrial properties.
What is the IoT?
As defined on Wikipedia: “The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity—that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. “
What its not.
Devices. That seems almost trite but the IoT, in my opinion should be less thought of as physical devices rather the connections those devices share. As the modern, connected society moves forward the importance put upon technology to connect the various devices we use everyday has grown. In the early days of digital technology the PC was the hub of our communication and connectivity to the world of business and pleasure. A lot has changed since I got my first computer in the early 90’s and, like anyone my age; my phone has evolved as the central hub connecting me at every turn.
The central “hub” or point of contact is where the IoT starts.
There are many companies in the end-user device market of IoT and throughout 2015 and into ’16 many plumbing and hvac manufacturers have developed equipment and appliances for this market segment.
My travels to KBIS and AHR Expo this year introduced me to many new product lines either recently introduced to this space or existing, improved products that have set the footing for this technology. We featured a handful of those products here on The Hub. There are and have been a variety of thermostats on the market operating on Wi-Fi allowing energy monitoring and remote connection, that hardly seems like new technology today but, new to the industry are residential heating and cooling systems that provide sytem-like connectivity. I thought the day would never come when I could say our industry is finally moving out of the Dark Age and into the current century.
I’d like to end this blog here. I have a lot to talk about on the subject and have been reaching out to multiple manufacturers offering connected plumbing & hvac products. As I gather more info and even put some to the test myself I will return to the subject here, in this forum.
Just this week I have been installing a new boiler on one of my jobsites that employs Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s the second of its kind that I’ve installed so everything here is still a little new and shiny for me but the intention of curbing downtime thru remote monitoring and feedback opens the install and service industry wide open for future profits. I’ll report back on this system soon and until then I will be playing around with the new Smart Things Hub I’m installing in my own home.
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