The heating industry is joining traditional energy supply companies, telecoms players and internet service providers in trying to develop connected home appliances which offer more control over heat and power demand.
According to new research from distributed energy and heat research and consulting company Delta-ee, heating equipment suppliers are trying to leverage their position in appliances and controls to create value from connectivity, but they are encumbered by traditional supply chains and distance from the customer. Bosch is one of the companies at the forefront – with Wifi connectivity already built into some of its boilers – and products targeting German installers and Dutch homeowners.
Nearly 500,000 ‘smart’ thermostats were installed in Europe over the last two years, Delta-ee finds in its new Connected Home Service research, which analyses the sector. Arthur Jouannic, manager of the service explains: ‘Today, most products are largely ‘point solutions’ and relatively simple in terms of functionalities.’ However, Jouannic adds: ‘We expect the sophistication of these products to quickly improve’.
The research tracks over 50 offerings and the company notes that an increasing number of these are connecting with other appliances in the home.
Alongside heating equipment companies, energy companies are also entering the space, motivated by an opportunity to develop deeper relationships with their customers, new revenue streams to offset challenges in their core business, and possibly demand response in the future with RWE and British Gas amongst the leaders.
They are joined by internet and electronic giants such as Google (through NEST) and Apple (through HomeKit) which are striving to secure their position at the centre of the connected home and telcos. Deutsche Telecom is a key player with its Qivicon platform, Delta-ee finds.
‘It is important to understand the value creation and the motivation of all the different players to make sense of this fast moving space. It can be hard to entice customers to pay for products and services today, but there are some attractive upstream values to be exploited. It’ll be interesting to see who will be the first to crack this market’, concludes Jouannic.