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  • Neil Wood

Alde Future intelligence at KamperBitz

Will Alde heating systems use AI?

Recently, a tech savvy Alde fan asked us whether we intend to use AI in our heating systems.

The answer surprised them. We already do use AI in our heating systems.

  1. "A lot of cutting edge AI has filtered into general applications, often without being called AI because once something becomes useful enough and common enough it's not labelled AI anymore." —Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University

The Past

Alde's Intelligent Climate Technology has been developed over decades, based on the expertise of Alde's heating engineers.

Our first computerised heating system was the Alde Compact 3010. It superseded the Compact 3000, a mostly mechanical system in which Alde's near silent combustion fan and self-cleaning gas burner were developed and are still used today. But the Compact 3000 still used a crude i/o control panel with physical switches and a room thermostat.

Launched in 2004, the Compact 3010 used a basic algorithm that remained essentially unchanged over its 10 year life. Basic but it still react to desired set temperature, ambient room temperature and fluid temperature. When the Compact 3020 launched in 2014, this algorithm was improved and made more sophisticated. Not only was it refined with up to four software releases a year but it could now react to outdoor temperature and alter behaviour depending on whether climate control or continuous hot water were enabled.

The Current

The Alde Compact 3030 launched in 2022 with a whole new layer of sophistication, Two Zone Heating. The algorithm can now run two plumbed, separately pumped heating circuits—three if you include the summer circuit for continuous hot water—all in harmony and with Truma air conditioning if enabled.  

Even the simple act of circulating the heating fluid is more nuanced. When arriving at site and switching on the heating, the fluid might start circulating immediately. But when coming out of Night Mode, the circulation might trickle feed for a gentle wake up rather than roasting people in their beds.

Antibacterial mode on the Compact 3030 is also automatic, running in the background when an opportunity arises. If the system can't complete this 30-minute sterilising of the hot water, because the user has other plans, it will show a notification.

This top-down programming approach makes software one of Alde heating's most valuable and exclusive features.

The Future

But these days when people talk about "AI" they mean generative AI and that might be where Alde draw the line.

Generative AI has to be trained on big data and so Alde would have to start gathering telemetry from our heating systems. So immediately we'd need to build in far-field Internet connectivity and convince the owner to pay for mobile broadband.

Generative AI is very energy intensive so most of the computational work would be processed at a rented data centre and it's a mistake to assume all usage data is usable data. Most people know someone who can't operate their central heating sensibly. Feeling too cold? Let's whack the thermostat up by 3 degrees and an hour later we'll throws the windows open and complain.

So the data would still need curating by a human expert, otherwise the AI might learn the wrong lessons and generate a heating algorithm that's a bit weird and not quite useable. Exactly like AI artwork!

  1. "[In] considering all the limitations AI has, it’s probably not going to be the right solution in a lot of places." —Alex de Vries, VU Amsterdam

It's more likely that Alde will programme in more subtle, bottom-up/adaptive behaviour. This would require less computational power but could still improve the user experience by underlaying it.

If you always take a long shower on a Friday night at 19:00, for example, the Alde system of the future might learn this and activate hot water boost in the background so it's ready for you.

We'll keep you updated!


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