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Manual user control | Timeguard

Users are benefiting from the market forces that are leading manufacturers to adopt a common Wi-Fi App platform. It means electricians have more opportunity to build smarter multi-application installations, combining different manufacturers products. Their customers can control it all with ease via a single app. As ever, it’s time control that is the core function – but don’t write off manual control just yet, says Andy Douglas, Managing Director at Timeguard.

Does everyone else’s email inbox get inundated with offers of market reports for specific product groups? You know, the global reports that are yours for just a few $1000s. Reading through the blurb. I always wonder if the full report is going to state very much more than the obvious. I suspect not.

It seems from the teaser information on the latest wave of timer reports (global market 2023-2030), that the massive North American market dominates, and the western Europe leads in technical innovation. Driving markets are industrial users and lighting. Engines for change will be advanced manufacturing (bringing costs down) and artificial intelligence (AI), (which will probably also bring costs down as well as boosting control chip functionality). So, no surprises there.

At the end of the day, and as ever, all eyes remain on manufacturers to keep adding tech functionality and subtracting costs. Luckily there’s still scope to do just that, given that modern timeswitches are, in effect, single-chip computers. Programmable logic has largely replaced traditional electro-mechanics, and opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

Nevertheless, we still need to get the balance right and never lose track of the bottom line: devices must do the right job, do it well, and be easy for the owner to understand and make best use of.

Not quite out with the old

In the channel, we focus on professional installers who are trying to balance customer expectations of control and functionality with price. They need to cater for all budgets, preferences, and applications.

So it is that general purpose electro-mechanical switches do continue to sell for industrial/commercial as well as domestic use, alongside electronic cousins. They continue to sell at a steady rate – enough for us to continue to list and stock them.

In industrial and commercial settings, key concerns are about loading, reliability and tamper-proofing as well as the ever-present need to demonstrate energy saving. From supporting heavier loads of lighting, heating and other electrical appliances, our NTT HD 20A heavy-duty models fit the bill.

They now include a programmable loop function, which is great for pumps providing routine circulation, charging cycles for appliances utilising a battery back up power supply to save energy, or simply for allowing intervals on your circuit. They have a myriad of uses and are also planned available as OEM modules as well as for surface and pattress box installation.

For domestic users, it’s how to control the timer that has dominated recent developments. Increasingly Wi-Fi control is seen as the norm and people who expect more from it.

One app to control them all

An overarching trend we’ve been looking at for some years now is how people want a single app to control multiple devices. Just as smart home users want a single control panel, the rest of us want a single app interface – and these days we’d quite like to be able to talk to it too!

The argument is largely won in the marketplace. There are fewer proprietary apps and those that remain are often only minimally maintained. The market has pretty much leapfrogged proprietary apps, other than is very specific uses. People want to control and integrate devices and appliances from multiple manufacturers from the same app, with the manufacturer-independent apps like Tuya Smart leading the way. They are proven, trusted, and well maintained with a rigorous licensing process that means products developed using the application programming interface can be relied on.

At Timeguard we’ve standardised on the TuYa app, which also offers voice control via Alexa and Google. It also enables us to build in great features such as colour temperature adjustment and Hi-Lo control on our Wi-Fi floodlights and activation of other devices connected to the app so that walking by a PIR or a programmed timeswitch event will trigger a whole lighting and heating scene.

Of course, mixing and matching is all very good, but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Never has been sticking to branded quality been more important.

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