30 Apr 2021
We’ve come a long way since the invention of the ‘damper flapper’ to control coal fire furnaces. As it reveals its latest version of evohome which features a firmware update, Rob Whitney from Resideo looks at what’s changed since those days, and how far thermostat technology has evolved to automate changes to heating systems, give users more flexible control, and play a crucial role in building a sustainable future.
When the ‘Damper Flapper’ was invented in 1885, homes were kept warm by coal fire furnaces. If the property was too cold, the device would lift the damper on the furnace, allowing air to fan the flames, thus automatically increasing the temperature of the residence. Over the next century, clocks were added to enable timings to be pre-set, and in the 1950s, dial thermostats appeared, including Honeywell’s famous round design. By the 1960s, hot water and heating could be controlled separately. In the 80s, the first thermostats with digital displays were launched, and advancements in electronics enabled more functions such as the ability to pre-set what times and days of the week the heating should be switched on.
Fast forward to 2021; not only are we now able to change the temperature and time settings for the heating and hot water in our home from anywhere in the world, room by room if required, but also automatically adjust our heat source’ output according to internal and external conditions, and caters for the next generation of renewable solutions.
The evohome control is just one model that has gone through several evolutions over the last decade, reflecting efficiency, and customer and installer needs now and for the future. The grey scale screen of the 2010 version, for instance, gave way to a colour screen and gateway installation in 2014 before moving to Wi-Fi and gateway-free installation in 2015. Now, the updated version offers additional advanced functions that reflect the increased interest in renewable energy sources and provide the technology to increase the efficiency of a heating system. Here, we look at the key trends and issues that have driven these technological advancements.
Decarbonisation of heat
Although heat pumps were first marketed back in the 1980s, consumer awareness of this technology was low. Now however, the heat pump market is expected to experience significant growth over the next few years as governments develop policies, legislation and financial incentives to decarbonise heat in domestic and commercial properties.
Thermostatic controls are therefore evolving to ensure compatibility not only with this technology, but also with other equipment that is often used with heat pumps to provide a full heating system. Resideo's next generation of evohome system is no exception; not only is it suitable for controlling heat pumps as well as on/off or modulating OpenTherm boilers, but also radiators, underfloor heating and hot water cylinders. This way, homeowners who have it installed now to work with a boiler, can rest assured that it is futureproofed should they wish to change their heat source to a heat pump
In today’s world, being able to switch the boiler on or off according to pre-set temperature levels and timings is no longer enough to maximise energy savings and lower our heating bills. More precise control of the boiler’s output and how it operates depending on current conditions inside and outside the property, is now becoming the norm to optimise the heating system’s energy performance.
Take weather and load compensation technology for example, which modulates the flow temperature from the boiler based on external, internal and set temperatures. Widely used in Germany, it is now becoming a popular feature in heating systems in the UK too. The updated evohome system has taken this a step further. Using its smart weather control feature, it can reduce the heating system’s energy usage based on outdoor temperature, room temperature and a unique capability that learns the heat losses in each room. So when it warms up outside and heat demand reduces, it will automatically turn the heating off and save energy.
Conversely, when it detects a drop in temperature outside, it will increase the set temperature and automatically revert back to the pre-set programme when outdoor temperatures rise again. Because the evohome system can separate a property into a maximum of 12 zones, it can automatically adjust the settings for each zone according to their individual conditions. This means residents can feel just as comfortable in areas with poor insulation or large windows as they would in the rest of the house.
The evohome system can also learn each zone’s heat capacity via its advanced load scaling technology to better control the boiler’s output. It will limit inefficient high return temperatures and keep the boiler at its lowest possible rate.
From checking whether we have locked our car, to being able to monitor our homes when we are out via smart security cameras, consumers now expect to also be able to adjust the settings for their heating systems without needing to stand in front of the thermostat. Using voice-activated digital assistants, home dwellers can change the temperature from the comfort of their sofas, or access their thermostats from the other side of the world to change the settings via an app on their smartphone or tablet. The availability of 4G from the late 2000s onwards helped to make the latter possible, so that users don’t waste energy heating their homes when they’re not in.
With built-in Wi-Fi, not only can the evohome system be accessed via voice activated connected home systems, but also remotely.
Whilst no one knows exactly what the future will look like, there’s no doubt that the above factors will continue to have a significant influence on consumer demands and the evolution of thermostat technology. For example, with more flexible working patterns on the horizon, they will need to give homeowners more flexibility in how they can heat their homes. Needless to say, heating systems will need to move with the times too, and impact on the development of thermostatic controls in the next decade and beyond.Back