Smart control – let’s get real

We hear a lot about smart building control these days, and it doubtless has a huge role to play as we meet the needs for energy efficiency while providing comfort and economy and a degree of luxury. Remarkable technology is available that is only limited by your client’s imagination but, of course, their budget comes into the equation as well.

When they first set out on a project, relatively few people expect to rip out and replace what may well be still a perfectly serviceable wiring system. Nor do they budget to install premium-priced control devices, or to have to pay a custom installer to set them all up. Besides, there is still a certain reluctance to trust computer-controlled systems altogether.

In my experience, people still want to see exactly what is going on and feel that they are in control. I did hear a tale of a couple who came home to find the automatic gates wide open, lights and TVs full on throughout their home, and a babysitting grandma transfixed in front of the fancy control panel on the wall. There is, it seems, such a thing as overkill.

In practice, most of us really only require modern time switches they can trust, and that are easy to set up and use.

Increasingly these days, ‘easy to use’ means control from a mobile device, whether you are away from home or a few feet from the device. It’s all good business for you because the controls still need to be wired in.

Another attraction is that the actual heating or lighting appliances don’t need to be ‘WiFi ready’ or altered in any way to be controlled from a phone any more – you just upgrade what they already have by adding a timer, thermostat or fused spur with a version that adds WiFi value.

The key to achieving energy efficiency and economy is, as always, time and temperature control. These are the base functions your customers need to stay on top of. Everything else can be just icing on the cake. There’s no expensive rewiring, because you can find plenty of devices that are simply wire for wire replacements for the old ones they are upgrading. You just need to find the ones you can rely on. Be sure to choose wisely – low cost devices without the back up of a trusted brand may soon let you down. At the very least, make sure devices have over-ride buttons so they can be controlled manually should the user’s home network fail, or they lose or damage their phone.

You can replace time switches with the new WiFi version of the trusted Timeguard NTT timer, popular for immersion and space heating. With a 16A rating it is well suited for HVAC control and for commercial as well as residential use. So Timeguard has provided a locking boss to make it tamper-proof in offices, workshops and public places. Or you can just replace the 13A fused spur with a version that includes WiFi control via a free Timeguard App. Even simpler, if the key requirement is simply to ensure appliances aren’t left on for too long, you can fit a fused spur with an integral push-button countdown boost timer.

As you’d expect, Timeguard has also provided WiFi control of heating. Featured in its 2018 Programastat Plus range of single and multi- channel heating controllers is a fabulous-looking WiFi wall thermostat. A stand-out design feature is the subtle white neon temperature indicator that puts these devices on a level with the most-expensive designer wiring accessories. Why would you want to make life more complicated or expensive for you or your customers?

Find out more about Timeguard’s WiFi solutions at