Energy efficiency and improved home comfort are driving the creation of ever more sophisticated connected home and business HVAC products. Today, ecovent, a startup that makes wireless air vents and sensors for the home, raised $2.2 million in seed funding from several angels and Atlas Ventures, through an AngelList syndicate. It joins Building Robotics, which two weeks ago raised a $5.5 million round for its office HVAC app, in getting new money and attention.
Ecovent, which you can visit with at Structure Connect on Oct. 21 and 22 (it’s a Garage participant) also began taking pre-orders for its room-level temperature control system. The system consists of plug-in climate sensors, wireless vents that adjust to the temperature and mobile app. Ecovent says it will cost about $200 per room for the system with about a 50 percent discount for customers who order during the pre-order period.
It reminds me of the Keen wireless vents combined with the temperature sensors and algorithms that are part of Ecobee’s third-generation thermostat. And like the Nest, it will learn from users’ input over time.
The challenge that the wireless vent makers will face is that retrofitting an existing A/C system to voluntarily shut off air flow isn’t great for the air conditioning unit. Without a feedback loop it’s still trying to heat or cool an entire house, but installing different zones or controllable vents inside ducts is an expensive retrofit, so these solutions will likely have a place in the market.
The Ecovent team, which hails from MIT, explains in its marketing materials that it optimizes airflow and preserves HVAC system integrity, but I’m not clear how it does that. There’s a huge opportunity to increase both energy efficiency and comfort in both homes and offices, so it’s good to see so many companies taking on the challenge.