Why smart thermostats don’t work in commercial buildings – and why ioAirFlow is different

There are many intelligent devices that can help you create a ‘smart home’ platform. For temperature control specifically, there are many options to improve control of a residence. You may already have a Nest or Ecobee smart thermostat in your home.

You might also have asked – why doesn’t this technology exist for commercial spaces as well?

The benefits of installing a Nest-like technology are obvious – greater temperature control, remote monitoring, and detailed feedback on your energy consumption. Energy savings is one of the strongest arguments for a smart thermostat, as outlined in Nest’s white paper on the topic. Commercial buildings want all of these same benefits, but the market for a large-scale building wireless solution is sparse.

There are many reasons why these solutions don’t exist around commercial buildings, mostly having to do with questions around security and cost on available technology. Network security is a top issue, with Wi-Fi being a major concern in commercial buildings. If you have a system connected to Wi-Fi, you could be at risk for being hacked. Notably, Target suffered a massive data breach in 2014 when its Wi-Fi-enabled HVAC system was compromised, which gave the hackers access to their entire customer network – as a result, 40 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen. Not good.

Cost is very prohibitive for building automation systems – you can install a wired intelligent system, but retrofit or renovation costs often price themselves out of the market with existing buildings. Building managers don’t always have the available capital to finance expensive projects, so even though they may be able to save money in the long run, they can’t afford the installation.

Cost and security are two of the main reasons why smart thermostats don’t work in commercial buildings. That’s where we come in.

ioAirFlow is revolutionizing how to retrofit a building to make it smarter and greener. We are taking the concept pioneered by residential smart thermostats, and bringing it to commercial-industrial buildings.

There are some key differences in our approach – first, Nest is still a single thermostat that measures temperature in one place. Our platform eliminates the need for conventional thermostats, while giving thermal control to everyone. Depending on how you want to set up your network, you can completely democratize the temperature of your building, with each tenant providing input into their desired temperature state.

Temperature democratization is an important factor of the ioAirFlow network, because it allows for greater control over the system you have to live with. With conventional thermostats, one person can effectively control the temperature of an entire space – with ioAirFlow, the HVAC system can create micro-zones based on user and tenant preference.

Another benefit of this accessibility to temperature control is that access can be restricted if required. If a building owner doesn’t want tenants to have access to temperature control, it can be done – it’s all a matter of who is given authorized access to the system. For example, if someone is abusing the system by cranking the heat on a hot July day, their access can be restricted. Tiered control is also available, so temperature can be controlled only within a certain deadband, a certain time of day, or any other possible variation. Because ioAirFlow’s system is software-based, the possibilities are endless.

Greater control, democratization and a low installation cost are just some of the reasons why ioAirFlow’s system is leading the way for commercial-industrial buildings to adopt greater energy efficiency measures. And of course, temperature is only a part of the solution – our platform can control lighting, windows, blinds, power bars – all helping to reduce that building’s carbon footprint, and save on utility costs.

If you’d like to know more about ioAirFlow’s platform, contact us today.