ARD, ZDF, FAZ, THE TIME, the Wall Street Journal and Wirtschaftswoche: the start-up company tado° cannot complain about a lack of media interest.
With its smart heating and air conditioning technology, the Munich company seems to have its finger on the pulse of this time: tado° sells its heating products in over three thousand shops, online and with partners in the ‘solution’ sector – even in the US since July. Now, there is a collaboration with Kampmann. What lies behind the success of the young company? KAMPMANN HEUTE considers the question in an interview with founder and Technical Director Christian Deilmann.
Why does the world need a smart thermostat?
A third of the world's primary energy is consumed for heating and air conditioning buildings. This is more than for transport or industrial processes. This is because the heating and air conditioning technology is used inefficiently in many cases. Heaters are far from being smart. We recognised the potential smart-control technology: it can significantly reduce the energy consumption of heating or air conditioned buildings.
Your promise up to 31 percent energy cost savings with tado°. How do you achieve that?
Our thermostat finds its way into the network. We connect to the heating system via the digital interface. That way we have access to the temperatures at different points, pump speeds, water pressure or error codes from the heating system. We then use this information in our algorithms to optimise control. We are unique in connecting to the heating systems’ digital interfaces.
The American manufacturer Nest has also developed a smart thermostat …
… but Nest is a learning thermostat. The user sets his required temperature and Nest learns how warm I like it and when. It is cold if I arrive home earlier. That’s why tado° sends real-time signals from the tado° app on your mobile phone. When the last person leaves the house, the mobile phone sends a signal to the heating system, which then switches to energy-saving mode. And vice-versa. On the way home, the app signals to the heating system that it can start heating up. The difference lies in its compatibility: tado° is compatible with on average 95 percent of all European heating systems – Nest with fewer than 50 percent.
The current outside temperature counts with heating. Why does tado° also take into account the weather forecast?
The weather forecast is relevant for slower and more weather-related systems because they take longer to come up to the required temperature. A traditional heating system has an outdoor sensor on the side of a house facing away from the sun. And depending on the outside temperature, the heating system regulates the flow temperature via the sensor. The problem is that the heating system does not know whether the sun is shining through the window. If this is the case, it creates a kind of greenhouse effect that warms up the rooms. When it gets too warm, the user opens the window and then it becomes too cold. This is an unfavourable combination of energy wastage and loss of comfort. tado° uses the weather data to know whether the sun is shining, but also if it will still be shining in five hours and so can turn down more sluggish systems.
Does every building not behave differently in terms of energy?
Precisely – for this reason the algorithms adapt themselves to the characteristics of the building. When I leave the house, tado° learns how fast it cools down. When I come back, the device learns how quickly the rooms heat up and the effect of solar radiation on the room temperature. There’s simply a lot more data that tado° can include in the control. And this improves the interaction.
What is tado° Care all about?
We evaluate all the information from the heating system. In the event of a fault, we send a message to the user by mobile phone. That way he can react in a timely manner. Here's an example: in the summer, we check whether the heating system is working. Quite often something’s not working at the end of the summer. Without tado°, the user only notices in the autumn that the heating system is not springing into life. But at this time of year, all heating engineers are working flat out and have no time. tado° lets the user forward the problem to the installer, which means that he, in turn, can bring the right spare part with him.
And if I don't have a smartphone?
You can set up a schedule on a PC or a tablet. Or you can enter settings into the tado° thermostat itself. But you're quite right: tado° is optimised for smartphone users.
What plans do you have for the future with tado°? Where are you heading?
We are now also starting to make air conditioning systems ‘smart’ with a new product. In terms of air conditioning, we are looking in more detail at individual room control. We differentiate therefore not just whether people are at home or out, but also which rooms are currently in use. By means of sensors and a smartphone app, the system identifies which room needs to be air conditioned and how. We have also developed a function to regulate the humidity in the air for some regions of the world.
And also we have our collaboration with the air conditioning expert Kampmann on the horizon…
Precisely – we will soon be combining our respective core expertise with Kampmann to enable us to offer even better solutions. Our strength is the digital "consumer experience" and Kampmann is very strong in system technology – that’s an ideal combination. We are very much looking forward to the collaboration.
Information on the smart tado° thermostat at: www.tado.com/gb
Christian Deilmann (32) studied Mechanical Engineering and Management, with a focus on thermodynamic energy technology, and has a Master's in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In September 2011, he founded tado° with software developer John Black (32). Today, the two founders with marketing specialist Leopold von Bismarck (34) manage a 90-strong company with offices in the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and the US.