A Mould Bomb Is Coming

Usually, I am hesitant to write about issues that could be seen as a fear-mongering warning, but in this case, I don’t think I have a choice. There is a mould bomb coming for every housing provider in the UK and unfortunately, it has teeth. Fitness f...

  • News
  • by Alex Brodholt on August 14, 2020

The Technical Side of Switchee

When discussing our product, we here at Switchee often encounter a number of the same questions. So we thought a better way is just to publish our answers!

When we talk to the industry about Switchee, we often find the same set of questions come up. Some are about the technology, some are about its ecosystem but often we find it helps to crystallise what our offering is by answering them. As such, we’ve pulled together several questions we get asked a lot about the technical side of Switchee into one place. Think of this as your cheat sheet for the specs of our Switchee smart thermostat.

  1. How is Switchee powered?
  2. Can Switchee connect via Wi-Fi instead of its in-built GSM connection?
  3. Does it replace the existing thermostat in a property?
  4. How long does it take to install a Switchee unit?
  5. Does Switchee work with just gas systems or does it work with other heating systems?
  6. Can Switchee be connected to additional sensors?
  7. Is Switchee considered Boiler Plus compliant?
  8. Will Switchee improve a property’s SAP score?

 

How is Switchee powered?

Our Switchee thermostat comes in two parts. The first is the display unit (or what most would consider the ‘thermostat’ and a boiler receiver unit. The boiler receiver unit of nearly every thermostat is wired directly into a property’s wiring and in our case, the unit is 240v mains connected. Our display unit, however, uses a 12v connection from the BRU to power itself. This is standard wiring for any existing wired thermostat.

Can Switchee connect via Wi-Fi instead of its in-built GSM connection?

Switchee is built around our core GSM module. This means that Switchee is always connected – whether a property has an internet connection or not. We have had versions of Switchee that have utilised Wi-Fi instead of GSM but we have found that without the use of GSM, many key features are no longer as effective. For example, when a property becomes a void, that property is likely to have its internet connectivity shut off either due to a termination of its internet contract or for cost-saving for a housing provider. This means that our void and heating monitoring systems are no longer capable of transmitting the required alerts.

Does it replace the existing thermostat in a property?

This one is simple – yes. Switchee provides for both thermostat and programmable timer meaning no other equipment is required. It has also been designed with social housing in mind and as such has an easy-to-use interface and several technological adaptations (including colour-nudge technology) to ensure it gives residents the highest quality user experience.

How long does it take to install a Switchee unit?

This is dependent on the way you are installing Switchee. Having the experience of thousands of installed Switchee’s, we have found that installing Switchee when you are installing other measures is what works best. For example, if you install Switchee at the same time as you are installing a new boiler or are upgrading the heating system, there is no additional time required when compared to any other traditional wired heating control. There is, however, a small additional step of registering the device on our installer app - this takes on average around 2 minutes.

Does Switchee work with just gas systems or does it work with other heating systems?

Good news - Switchee works with most modern heating systems. We have built our system from the ground up to work in social housing - and that means working with as many different types of systems as possible. We have found it is easier to say what we currently can't work with than what we do:

  • Night storage heaters
  • Electric panel heaters (where they have individual programmers built-in)
  • Some district heating systems where their implementation is non-standard

As a general rule, Switchee can be installed alongside any gas boiler, single-zone central heating system, air-source heat pump, ground-source heat pumps, heat interface units (HIU) and zone valves for communal heating etc.

Can Switchee be connected to additional sensors?

Yes - from the get-go Switchee has been built to be expandable. Switchee’s communication standard is called Z-Wave (a standard IoT connectivity protocol) which means that numerous different third-party sensors are compatible with our system. This means that additional sensors can be paired to our devices to expand its range. Generally, we suggest that most 4 bedroom houses and below are sufficiently served by a single Switchee thermostat as the instruments included inside of the device are extremely sensitive. If you wish to augment the existing sensors with additional types - typically these are C02, humidity or power meter sensors - Switchee provides additional third-party sensors for those purposes.

Is Switchee considered Boiler Plus compliant?

Yes - Switchee is Boiler Plus compliant. Boiler Plus compliance requires heating controls to provide one or more of the following features:

  • Load compensation
  • Weather compensation
  • Automation combined with optimisation

Switchee is capable of automation as well as optimisation - which puts it firmly inside of the Boiler Plus specifications. You can find out more about Boiler Plus here.

Will Switchee improve a property’s SAP score?

Despite increasing the energy efficiency of a property, at present no smart thermostat has any impact on the SAP calculation. With the upcoming update of the SAP system, however, Switchee is involved in discussions about including smart thermostats in the SAP system and assigning a point value to its installation.

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