At this year’s AHR Expo, the SmartPlug hot water recirculation control, introduced by Taco Comfort Solutions, won the Expo’s Innovation Award recognition following rigorous review by a panel of third-party ASHRAE experts.
A hot water recirculating system can save homeowners a significant amount of water – up to 12,000 gallons per year. But continuously running circulators and improperly programmed timers can waste energy by operating the circulator and hot water heater at times when hot water isn’t needed.
With the patented SmartPlug, using less water just got a lot more efficient. The SmartPlug upgrades a hot water recirculation system to a smart system. SmartPlug technology makes any corded circulator up to 94 percent more energy efficient by learning hot water usage patterns and delivering hot water only when needed. This increases hot water comfort, reduces energy use and helps to extend the life of the hot water heater.
Installation is quick and easy. There’s no programming or use of timers or aquastats. Simply plug the SmartPlug into a 110V outlet, then plug the circulator power cord into the SmartPlug.
Using a sensor that mounts to the hot water supply pipe, the SmartPlug will learn the daily hot water usage pattern in a home or business and adjust the circulator run time automatically to delivery hot water only when needed. When usage patterns change, the SmartPlug adjusts run time automatically.
The SmartPlug also includes a “pulse” mode option that continuously cycles the circulator on for 5 minutes, then off for 10 minutes, as well as a “vacation” mode that shuts the circulator off after 36 hours of no hot water use. While in vacation mode, the SmartPlug’s exercise function cycles the pump for 10 seconds every seven days to prevent corrosion or scale buildup.
SmartPlug also offers a “pulse” option for homes or buildings where usage patterns are hard to track – say, for a facility that’s almost always in use. Pulse operation simply recirculates for 5 minutes every 10 minutes.
There’s also a vacation mode. After 36 hours of no hot water use, the SmartPlug automatically turns the pump off. While in vacation mode, the SmartPlug’s “Exercise” function will operate the pump for 10 seconds every 7 days to prevent scale or corrosion buildup.
SmartPlug isn’t thrown off by power outages and daylight savings time. When a power outage occurs, a normal 24-hour analog timer gets all out of whack and needs to be reset to the correct time when power is restored. Likewise, when time changes in April and October for daylight savings time, the timer gets pushed off by an hour twice a year.
SmartPlug can be applied for light commercial use because it’s rated for connection to domestic hot water recirculation pumps at up to ½ horsepower in size, or 6 amps. But its key application will be in the residential retrofit market.
Today, more and more homes and businesses have hot water recirculation, yet many of those systems have no intelligence to improve operation (convenience + comfort) or to conserve water or energy. This product – just by plugging it in and connecting an existing hot water recirculation pump into it – quickly avails all of that.