This project researched the state of internet-connected adjustable vent products (smart vents).
Smart vents allow residential HVAC systems to operate dynamically. The vents use motion and proximity sensors to detect which rooms are occupied, allow residents to set room-by-room target temperatures and feature motorized vents that automatically open and close to redirect air as needed. Used with a smart thermostat, smart ventilation systems can save energy and increase comfort.
The project team researched smart vent’s market potential and barriers to adoption through literature review and interviews with manufacturers, distributors and customers.
- The product category of "smart vents" represents a diverse set of capabilities that are rapidly evolving.
- Smart vents are overwhelmingly marketed as a comfort product. While product suppliers cite the potential to save between 20-40% on space conditioning energy, with one even citing an average of 15-20% savings, all suppliers acknowledge energy savings will vary depending on the application.
- It is difficult to estimate average energy savings with any degree of precision based on an engineering-based analysis alone. From preliminary calculations, it seems unlikely smart vents currently on the market will achieve more than 10% average energy savings. Furthermore smart vents currently available on the market and deployed as a whole-home solution may not result in more than 5% average savings.
- Lack of awareness of smart vent products is the biggest overall barrier to adoption. While some customers and installers of smart vents see the product category having mass market potential, smart vents remain a niche product today.
- While the do-it-yourself market is ready, trade ally market readiness for smart vents in the ComEd service territory is low.