Is the hydronics industry ready for more smart tech?
On Sept. 24-25, the Canadian Hydronics Council, along with the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH), hosted the Canadian Hydronics Conference in Ottawa. Over the two-day conference, participants were able to walk the exhibit floor and learn about the latest hydronic technology, as well as listen to presentations by leading hydronic heating experts.
I learned a great deal about the latest pump technology, snowmelt systems, radiant cooling, water quality, and smart technology, among other things.
It is interesting to hear where this industry appears to be going and how best to prepare for those changes. Many of these changes are happening at a rapid rate. The industry predicted that many of these changes will be seen within the next five years.
Hydronics appears to be a key player in the heating industry moving towards carbon neutral. It can contribute to this movement through its high efficiency equipment and by developing fossil-fuel free heat sources. Air-to-water heat pumps might be one solution.
Every sector of the construction process needs to work together, including architects, engineers, and mechanical contractors.
Smart technology is here. We are able to see this with every system that can connect to our smartphones. As convenient and interesting as these systems can be for the homeowner, there are some dangers that haven’t been spoken about at great lengths, such as security standards.
Now, I can’t imagine that some random hacker will find much interest in taking over your customer’s snowmelt or radiant heating system. But the precedent remains. If manufacturers keep moving towards smart technology, codes and standards need to be made to protect everyone involved.
To drive home (pun-intended) the importance of security on this type of system, Michael Breault, senior technical instructor/instructional designer for Watts Water Canada, showed a video of hackers getting into the computer system of an SUV, where they were able to mess with the heat, fans, wipers, and even brakes of the vehicle.
What is next for this industry is hard to really predict. In smart technology, there are drawbacks and advantages. As there is a push for net zero housing, I can see hydronics becoming more and more important in the world of space heating. Time will tell how quickly this occurs.