This morning Honeywell have announced the UK launch of evohome. The new heating system will control the temperature in up to 12 zones plus hot water and you’ll be able to control each room individually from your smartphone or other mobile device.
Further they claim that upgrading from a basic timer and thermostat to evohome’s ‘Smart Zoning’ could save you as much as 40% off your heating bills.
A single Zone can encompass several devices – for example 2 radiators in a bedroom. While 12 zones should be ample for most UK homes, this can be expanded by connecting two evohome systems together.
We got a chance to talk to Krzysztof Meinicke, Honeywell’s lead program manager and engineer on the evohome project. He told us that from today the previous evohome system will be completely replaced with this new offering and it introduces a wide range of improvements over the previous generation.
Colour Touch Screen – The new touchscreen will be available in a range of colours and its new home screen design allows users to check the status of up to six zones at a glance, including the actual temperature in each room as well as the set temperature. In addition you can view the status if your hot water circuit and access special “Quick Action” buttons.
Examples of these quick actions include a single press to turn off your heating when you leave home. They can also be setup with timed values so you could for example turn your system off for 7 days while you are on holiday with a single tap. Another quick action button ‘Eco mode’ will set back the whole house by 3 degrees.
User Interface – The re-designed user interface allows home owners to program their heating schedule in a style that’s more familiar than before. Krzysztof told us it’s more akin to programming a TV recording from an EPG, instead of the less than intuitive user experience we’re used to with some other heating controllers. Scheduling can be completed from either the touch screen or your mobile device.
Remote Access – And that leads us onto what is probably going to be the single most attractive feature of the new system to new users, the ability to program and control your heating from your iPhone, iPad or Android device from anywhere in the world where there’s Internet access. We asked Honeywell if they had any plans to add to the free iOS and Android apps with desktop applications for Windows, Mac or browser control in the future…
After extensive research we determined the optimum and most popular way of interfacing with EvoHome was via the mobile app and main controller. Honeywell always seek consumer input and if there is demand for such functionality then we will invest accordingly.
And we can’t disagree, the smartphone is definitely the favoured option for most here and they are currently evaluating the case for a Windows Phone app too.
We also asked if they planned to charge a subscription for the remote access. Happily there is no ongoing payment required as the cost is built into the purchase price of the hardware. In future there may be other optional on-line features such as energy monitoring and boiler diagnostics but it’s unclear if this cost would be born by the home owner or the utility company. Honeywell didn’t rule out a link up with Utility companies in the future to provide the system to their customers and even to use evohome to help the energy companies utilise its 2-way communication for smart grid applications.
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Learning – Another smart home heating controller is well known for its learning ability and we asked for clarification on how learning works with evohome. Honeywell explained there are a variety of intelligent technologies such as “Optimum Start” and “Optimum Stop” which is employed so the system can reach a specific temperature by a specific time. Evohome works out a dynamic boiler start-up time based on the ambient temperature, so to reach say 24 degrees by 8:00pm it may start at 7:00pm today, but 7.20pm tomorrow if it’s warmer. Evohome also employs other ‘smart technology’ to understanding when a window is left open and throttle back the heat in that room rather than fight against it and waste energy. It also learns how your house heats up and cools down throughout the year.
Better Radiator Control – A new motorised radiator control will replace the HR80. It is slimmer and less bulky than its predecessor and its tubular design is more contemporary. In addition it features a new backlit LCD screen that’s easier to read.
The binding process, where each TRV is paired with the controller, is also said to be much improved. Honeywell have stuck with their 868 MHz wireless system as they believe its lower frequency signal provides better propagation through the house than other technologies.
This means the new system is fully backwards compatible so, for example, users of the existing HomeTronic controller could swap it out for the new evohome to add all the new features (this would mean losing HomeTronic’s lighting and shutter control though).
Installation – Evohome is well suited to retrofitting to an existing heating system and its wireless nature means little or no disruption to the home. There’s plenty of scope for the DIY installer with the usual caveats for the bits involving mains electricity . Honeywell are keen to promote their network of accredited installers which can be found by postcode search on their site.
EvoHome works with a number products which will be announced over the coming weeks to its channel and installer partners. A full list will be available on the site shortly. Additionally soon we will be featuring an EvoHome system builder which will allow users to build their own tailored EvoHome solution.
API and Integration – As always we’re interested in openness and ease of integration with other home automation systems. Honeywell say they are currently developing an API for Lutron in the US and are hopeful that it’s ‘only a matter of time’ before the system will be opened up and the application interface makes its way to the UK.
Price and Availability – The evohome Connected Pack includes the new colour touchscreen with table top stand and power supply plus the boiler controller and the network gateway and has an RRP of £249. The radiator zone kits have an RRP of £77 and both items will be available for purchase in the UK from January 2014.
[UPDATE] – Check out our full Review of the Honeywell evohome system.