The Device Chronicle interviews Bas Flipse, COO & Co-founder, Quatt.io on heat pumps and IoT connectivity and why they will help with much needed energy use reduction this winter.
Hybrid heat pumps are using OTA firmware updates as they get powerful capabilities from IoT connectivity. Quatt.io is a Dutch startup that has designed a custom hybrid heat pump. Quatt goes direct selling to consumer online sales, it has been 8 months ago they started.
Bas Flipse is Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder: he explains “That the tragedy of war in Ukraine has been a driver for the adoption of hybrid heat pumps. The general public’s attention has shifted to heat pumps”, and so the company was covered in a major Dutch news outlet – De Telegraaf.
Quatt’s competitors are slow-moving traditional companies from the natural gas boilers market. Bas proclaims that Quatt is the first IoT hybrid heat pump on the market as opposed to “connected” which means it has bluetooth to connect to an installer’s laptop. Quatt’s competitors are Remeha – Dutch heating company, Daikin, Interhas, the heating companies use one of the big manufacturers of AC/Heating Systems such as Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Panasonic. Bas explains “They (competitors) do not go directly into the natural gas boilers market in Europe. The supply chain is complex, but Quatt sells directly to consumers without using distribution channels and installers and so the cost comes down.”
IoT and what it means
For Quatt, IoT connectivity means that a consumer can download an app onto their smartphone and build a schedule for the heating in their homes and get data on the energy consumption – natural gas compared to alternative energy. Bas explains that the Quatt.io hybrid heat pump can be installed quickly and work with the natural gas boiler, and you can eliminate 70-80% of heating costs with heating schedules on the app. The Quatt app also manages the thermostat capabilíties.
OTA firmware updates
Quatt uses Mender to enable remote updates and to get products out earlier to the market based on working hardware. The PCB in the pump has been designed in such a way that all connectivity needed is already there to accommodate new applications.
Advanced process control
The performance of the heat pump is dependent on the quality of the process control, not necessarily the hardware. “You get a complex control problem when you have 2 heat sources, heating schedule and the efficiency of the heat pump varies based on the ambient temperature outside. And then you have the energy prices for gas and electricity on top of this.” The potential is to move away from a simple rule-based control system to having a self learning and advanced control system that learns from the heating preferences of the customer and learn what kind of house it is in and how this the materials and insulation levels in the home affect how quickly it cools down after the heating is switched off. Firmware updates enable the development of a more advanced control system over time, so the Quatt development team don’t have to wait until we have the perfect control system and you couldn’t visit all your customers to perform manual upgrades.
Quatt will have 300 pumps installed in homes before the end of the year. Bas explains that their heat pump innovation is not in the hardware but the controls, software and form factor. Thermal power output has to be carefully selected and the Quatt heat pumps are relatively small. The heat pump was sourced through a partner with a custom development project with a custom design. The heat pump has the following embedded capabilities: it is Linux-based and the control system is made in Matlab, with C++ and Python.
We wish Bas and his colleagues at Quatt.io well as they help us with heating management and energy use reduction in our homes.