Control4 home automation has always had a smart thermostat to integrate with its home automation system, and for a long time has supported third-party wireless thermostats as well (yes, Nest too). At the ISE 2015 conference in Amsterdam the company is (finally) launching a home-grown successor to its original smart thermostat that controls virtually all functions of any HVAC system. The new wireless, ZigBee-based thermostat is being launched in conjunction with Control4’s new OS 2.7, which dramatically improves the “Comfort Control” experience for users with simple (and pretty) at-a-glance controls. Control4 teamed with Aprilaire to develop the latest iteration of Control4’s decade-old original model. The key features of the new product are:
1. It works with the vast majority of popular HVAC systems worldwide, including radiant heating, split HVAC, dual fuel and geothermal systems.
2.It provides user-accessible humidity controls
3. It is “more reliable” than the 10-year-old Control4 model, says Paul Williams, VP lighting and comfort products for Control4.
4. Let’s face it, the thermostat is not a thing of beauty. Hide it in a closet and use remote temperature sensors instead.
A Better Interface
The thing about a thermostat that can control such a vast array of features for a wide range of HVAC systems is that it can be quite confusing. So Control4 “went back to drawing board,” says Williams. “People are often intimidated by thermostats. How do we simplify the experience?” A better interface, enabled by Control4’s new OS 2.7, was born.
Control4 started working through its UI with OS 2.6 introduced last year, starting with a vastly improved interface for pool and spa controls. Now Control4 is taking the same experience to HVAC systems. The UI features an intuitive dial interface for quick access to all comfort functions, including temperature, heat/cool setpoints, thermostat mode, fan speed and humidity levels, as well as access to new configurable presets. There’s a colored ring in the center of the screen that glows orange in heating mode and blue in AC mode. Furthermore, solid blue dots in the ring indicate the system is humidifying; outlined dots indicate dehumidification. Two tear drops around the ring can be dragged into place to establish heating (red) and cooling (blue) setpoints. Importantly, consumers themselves can configure their own HVAC scenes, incorporating temperature, humidifaction and other related settings. They then can incorporate these settings into more global schedules and scenes, such as “away.” Previously, only the integrator could create HVAC scenes. Control4 plans to provide end users with more ways to configure their home automation systems without requiring intervention from an integrator.