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Is remote diagnostic the new connected home trend?

When Delta-ee first looked at the connected home space many years ago, there was a fashion for selling or giving away energy monitoring devices. We coined the phrase “average time to kitchen drawer”, which we thought could be as little as two weeks: end-users lose interest in energy monitoring devices very quickly.  From 2012, a new trend emerged - with the beginning of the remote heating control market through smart thermostats.

Now, many energy suppliers and heating appliance manufacturers offer smart thermostats, and recent sales numbers start to demonstrate their potential. These products can now be bought on Amazon, in shops, through different platforms, from an energy supplier or even alongside a boiler installation. Through our Connected Home Service we’ve analysed 48 of these products in our InfoBase – and that doesn’t cover every single product!

So what do we expect from the 2014 heating season?

The IFA event in Berlin has seen lots of announcements of products being brought to more markets – for example Nest will soon be available in France, Belgium, Netherlands and Ireland – and of innovations from the giant appliance manufacturers such as Phillips, Samsung, Apple etc.

Despite all these movements from some big names, there is a new connected home trend starting to emerge: remote boiler diagnostics. Although they are not marketing it strongly for now, some leading connected home players are already active in this field. We think it could be much more than a passing fad.

  • Leading European boiler manufacturers Bosch (EasyControl Pro through their Buderus brand in Germany and Moduline product in the Netherlands), Vaillant (ComDIALOG in Germany and Austria) and BDR Thermea (through Remeha in the Netherlands) all have products on the market.
  • UK energy supplier British Gas recently announced the trial of 700 Bosch connected boilers in the UK with remote diagnostics functionality. This could both reduce their cost of servicing millions of UK boilers a year as well as offering added-value services to customers – and adds a new dimension to the company's connectivity offering (they have already installed 100,000 Hive thermostats).
  • Building on its remote control thermostat, the Munich-based start-up Tado° just launched Tado° Care, which offers remote diagnostic functionalities.

And it’s not just Europe that’s moving in this direction. We’re particularly interested in Emerson’s Comfort Guard product in the US which remotely monitors a customer’s HVAC appliance, and will be following its progress closely.

So, will smart thermostats and remote diagnostics prove to be a short-lived trend? We think not. Remote control won’t appeal to all, but evidence so far suggests many customers, once they have this functionality, value it and would be reluctant to give it up. And remote diagnostics can create real value for service providers such as British Gas and installers by reducing the costs to maintain heating appliances.  End users benefit too from the improved service levels.

So we believe smart thermostats and remote diagnostics are set to last on the energy side of the connected home – unlike simple energy monitors.  We have no doubt new trends will come along - not all of which will succeed - but we see plenty more value creation opportunities in the connected home. Our Connected Home Service investigates smart thermostats, remote diagnostics, new trends and emerging opportunities.

We are holding a free webinar, launching our Connected Home Service, on the 24th of September 2014. If you would like to join the webinar, email info@delta-ee.com and we will send you joining instructions.

 

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