By Vanessa Willats, Offer Manager Switches and Sockets, NZ
I started in the electrical industry over 20 years ago. Back then electrical technology was limited to how many power outlets you wanted in your home, and where you wanted your switches to be placed. Colour options weren’t a thing, and USB powerpoints were not invented. If you were lucky, you had a manually triggered door switch in your pantry that turned your lights on when you were hunting for a midnight snack. Back then, this was considered smart.
Making standard switches smart
Jumping forward to 2016, we launched a new range of light switches in New Zealand called PDL Iconic. In 2017, we started introducing optional Bluetooth mechanisms as part of this range and revolutionised the electrical industry.
Essentially it meant home owners could chose to turn their standard switch into a Bluetooth light switch. Then with the introduction of Bluetooth timer mechanisms this allowed them to turn a standard switch into a timer which has the ability to schedule appliances like heated towel rails or spa pools to come on and off at set times, and all from the ease of the Wiser Room App on a smart device.
A standard Iconic light switch can simply and easily become a smart light switch. It doesn’t have to be done at the initial point of installation either. The beauty of the system is you are not locked in. You could decide a couple of years later that 'I’d really like that standard light switch to be smart now' and arrange for an electrician to install the smart mechanism, without too much trouble or cost.
New Wiser Iconic Connected Socket
Now in 2020, we are proud to again add to the Iconic Bluetooth range, offering electricians, builders and homeowners even more choice when it comes to their customers and homes, with the introduction of the (drumroll please) Wiser Iconic Connected Socket.
The new Iconic smart outlet comes with in-built Bluetooth connectivity, and runs off the same PDL Wiser Room app as the other Iconic Bluetooth offers. It allows homeowners to use a run-on timer, or set up to 16 different schedules for appliances that they don’t necessarily want on all the time, such as gaming systems, TVs, WiFi routers (those of you with teenage kids I can hear your minds whirring) or even irons and electric blankets.
The Iconic smart socket is a double switched 10A horizontal connected socket. The left and right hand side outlets can be controlled independently, giving you choice in terms of how you want to use it. There is a touch actioned pairing button in the middle of the two outlets with an LED indicator light. Once paired to your smart device the LED arrows on the button will indicate whether the right or left hand side sockets, or both sockets are in use.
The outlets also come standard with safety shutters, to offer added protection against electrical risks. The dolly rockers are identified with text saying “OFF” and “SMART” so you can clearly identify the mode of the outlet. When in “SMART” mode, you will be able to use the Wiser Room App to set run out timers, schedules or simply control whether you want it on or off, when within range. When in “OFF” mode it disables any app control, schedules or timers. As with a standard outlet, off means off.
Pairing to the socket is simple. Open up the PDL Wiser Room app on your smart device. Ensure Bluetooth function is enabled. Simply touch the middle touch switch three times. Both LEDs should flash rapidly for 30 seconds, and then it the app will give you instructions on how to pair. Once paired it will be discoverable on the app under “Socket”. From there you can use settings to label the appliance and add schedules or timer functions as you wish.
They are straightforward for an electrician to install, as they use standard wiring and are compatible with most standard flush boxes and brackets. The Bluetooth mechanism is in-built into the outlet, so in terms of ordering it is simply the Connected Socket Grid (PDL395CSG), and then the Iconic Skin cover of choice, so 2 parts.
Wiser Iconic Connected Socket Parts list:
Grid Socket Connected Horiz Twin 10A250V
Skin Socket Connected Horiz Twin Anthracite
Skin Socket Connected Horiz Twin Cool Grey
Skin Socket Connected Horiz Twin Vivid White
Skin Socket Connected Horiz Twin Warm Grey
Skin Socket Connected Horiz Twin Essence Ash Grey
Skin Socket Connected Horiz Twin Essence Arctic White
Skin Socket Connected Horiz Twin Styl Crowne
Skin Socket Connected Horiz Twin Styl Silver Shadow
Skin Socket Connected Horiz Twin Styl Silver
The benefits stack up
The benefits of smart home technology in terms of energy efficiency and power savings can really add up over time. According to Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), an average household spends $175 a year to run a towel rail continuously, but you could easily save $115 if you used a timer to only have them on for eight hours a day.
Using existing and affordable Bluetooth technology to simplify scheduling a heated towel rail to automatically turn on and off for homeowners, whilst continuing to give them the control to adjust and change the timings to suit their ever-changing lifestyles seems to be a practical way forward. With many homes with 2 or even 3 bathrooms now, these savings could very quickly add up.
For many Kiwis having a full home automation system isn’t practical or what they actually need. They might simply want to turn one device on or off, or they may just want a countdown timer on their bathroom fan or a particular wall socket. There will be instances where a fully connected home is the best solution, but when someone just wants a few things to be smart, Bluetooth connected switches, timers and powerpoints might be the best answer.
If you had told me 20 years ago, that I would be championing the cause for the adoption of smart home technology in New Zealand, I probably would have laughed in your face. But even us more mature folk can change our opinion and ‘move with the times’, especially when we can see the obvious benefits it can have for our customers, power management and the environment in the long term.