Almost 40% of ALL thermostats sold in 2014 which were WiFi capable. To me, that is an astounding figure. Around 10 million thermostats were sold and just shy of 4 million of those were WiFi capable. Of those, almost 800,000 were sold through HVAC dealers and the rest through DIY outlets such as Lowes or Home Depot. My numbers came from a session Tim Burke of Emerson presented at the recent Instructor’ Conference in Orlando. No matter your view of the utility or necessity of having thermostats connected to WiFi, CUSTOMERS have clearly spoken. The manufacturers are starting to listen and WiFi offerings abound. Just because a thermostat is WiFi capable does not mean it is necessarily a smart thermostat. The WiFi options might simply be to view and set your thermostat from your phone. There are WiFi thermostats selling at under $100. At any rate, our techs need to be up to speed with these devices. An HVAC Service Tech working on a system with a WiFi thermostat should be able to get the thermostat connected to the customer’s WiFi router. I can envision service calls that involve issues with WiFi connectivity, such as “My phone cannot find my thermostat,” or “I changed my router and now my thermostat won’t connect to it. Smart thermostats which “learn” your habits and program themselves can cause issues if the homeowner is not happy with what the thermostat has decided to do. Knowing how to make these behave can be valuable. I know a couple of contractors who have removed these for customers and replaced them with digital non-programmable thermostats at the customer’s request (and expense).
Many digital thermostats will run completely on batteries, allowing you time to play with the thermostat while reading the instructions.With all digital thermostats, I recommend to students that they install the batteries and make sure they can set up the thermostat before installing it. If the thermostat is already on the customer’s system it can be a bit tougher. One thing to do is make yourself familiar with the most common types sold in big box stores in your area, such as the NEST or the LYRIC. You should also familiarize yourself with the apps these things use so you can show customers how to use them. If you want to offer an alternative to the big box stores, look for full featured thermostats at your local wholesaler, such as the Emerson Sensi or a WiFi Honeywell Focus Pro. Do you HAVE to do all this? No, you can let someone else make all the money that comes from servicing the large number of customers who want WiFi thermostats. Did I mention these also tend to be the customers with the most money?