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September 17, 2019

 

Data Security as an HVAC Selling Point in the Age of IoT

Can you make the Internet of Things work for your HVAC business' bottom line?

If you feel left behind when it comes to IoT (Internet of Things) and how it affects your HVAC business, it’s time to get up to speed. This form of technology will not go away any time soon. Research reveals that around 54% of businesses integrate IoT into their businesses as a cost-saving mechanism.

Unfortunately, around 84% of companies who have adopted IoT technology have experienced IoT-related security breaches. As more and more household appliances and systems connect to a home-based network through apps and software, it’s important to avoid creating a backdoor for hackers.

Stay one step ahead.

In the HVAC industry, businesses need to stay up to speed with the latest technology. Currently, smart homes demand the integration of appliances to a home network to allow the occupants to control things such as temperature and lighting from a convenient location. But now, simply offering access to the HVAC system is not enough. Companies now develop HVAC and AI (artificial intelligence) integration that will allow the HVAC unit to think. Left unsecured, the home’s security may become vulnerable as a result. HVAC installers need to offer their customers peace of mind. No one wants their home network compromised through their HVAC unit.

Increase efficiencies from the ground up.

If an HVAC unit happens to connect to an IoT system, it’s very easy to determine whether the unit itself is increasing heating or cooling costs through lack of maintenance or servicing. This information can help your customers know when they need to reach out to you for HVAC services. Everyone wins here. You customers don’t have to wonder if their unit is working optimally, and you gain a new source of maintenance revenue.

Offer tangible solutions.

For HVAC companies, the installation and maintenance of the HVAC unit will change significantly as the connection to the home’s IoT network opens up a whole new field of specialization. HVAC installers who want to capitalize on these changes need to familiarize themselves with network security measures to implement in order to prevent hackers from accessing the HVAC system. You also need to secure your own network from hackers if you happen to have remote access to your customers’ HVAC systems as part of a maintenance agreement.

As an HVAC business, you must provide a secure network framework as part of your service agreement. Of course, some customers may not want an external party to control their systems. One workaround? Make only certain readings forward to your team to preserve customer privacy.

Work with professionals to discover network weaknesses.

While the actual HVAC system might be secure, there are other things that may cause security issues on the network, such as sensors that have been tampered with and firmware that’s out of date. Routine maintenance should include a professional security check to ensure that the unit is not compromised in any way. End-to-end encryption and token-based access control serve as two ways to ensure that outsiders can’t gain unauthorized access to the network.

Natural risks to security systems in an HVAC unit could include pests such as rats and roaches. These critters sometimes affect or set off sensors unnecessarily, and if that happens often enough, it may dull down response times in the event of an actual system failure. Water damage and general damage by the elements should also be monitored to ensure that all the components of the HVAC system remain intact.

The Ability To Access The Faulty Section

One of the biggest frustrations when servicing a faulty HVAC unit? Finding the area responsible for the issues, especially if it’s duct related. In larger buildings, this can take hours to decipher. Luckily, sensors go a long way to making the job easier, though they still don’t alleviate all the questions surrounding the fault. What else helps? Connect the HVAC unit to an IoT system and you can analyze the relevant information as it gets fed into the cloud. Not only will this help prevent faults, but in the event that they happen, this information will prove critical to taking future preventative steps. For HVAC businesses, the ability to provide solutions to common HVAC problems will go a long way in selling IoT.

HVAC has grown significantly from just a mechanical system that heats and cools a building. For HVAC businesses to remain part of the industry, they need to keep up with technology and adapt accordingly.

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