The days of playing "vent roulette" may soon be over.
Smart-home innovators have come up with technologies for dozens of applications such as automatically turning on lights or locking doors. Now, a new system seeks to automate the age-old problem of keeping indoor air temperatures comfortable from room to room.
In many homes, rooms can get either too hot or too cold because one room gets more heat or less air conditioning than another. The simple solution is to close the air vents in rooms receiving too much air, redirecting the flow into rooms that need it.
This ongoing game of "vent roulette" is exactly what ecovent CEO and founder Dipul Patel used to resort to. Then his mother came to visit and spent a night shivering instead of sleeping when Patel forgot to open the air vent in the guest room.
Patel, a former Lockheed Martin Program Manager, found a way to fix the problem. He invented the ecovent home automation system that detects occupant movement, learns residents’ habits, and can be controlled via smart-phone app to redirect air flow and control a homes’ overall temperature. The sensors in the smart vent detect air quality and climate and adjust the vents to keep overall air temperature balanced. It also sends alerts to a smart phone if something doesn’t seem right. Patel has estimated that the HVAC monitoring system could lower an energy bill by roughly 35 percent.
There’s also a smart outlet component with sensors that communicate with the air vent. The outlet sensors detect residents’ movement and learns their habits, even if placed behind furniture.
The system works with thermostats from two manufacturers: Nest or Radio Thermostat. Much like the Nest Learning Thermostat or Honeywell’s Lyric thermostat, the smart outlet constantly evolves to learn residents’ habits and will adjust its own schedule, which sets it apart from Keen Home Smart Vent.
ecovent also looks sleeker than the typical slatted air vent with a white base covering the front of the vent, allowing air to flow through the sides.
Currently, Patel’s team is field testing beta units and, according to Patel, the feedback is good. “We’re not guessing at whether or not this thing works," says Patel. "It does work."
After receiving $2.2 million dollars in funding, the product is heading into production in early 2015 when the company will be running pilot programs that include consumers as well as builders and contractors. Each vent and outlet will cost an estimated $100 each, but the system is available for pre-order now at half off, Patel says.
What do you think? Could a product like ecovent reduce callback issues and become another great selling point? Leave your feedback in the Comments section below.