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Big Ass Fans Creates Haiku Smart Home Ecosystem with Affordable Fans, Smart Lights, Multizone HVAC

With new consumer division, Big Ass Fans makes Haiku fans smarter and more accessible, adds smart lighting products and intros first intelligent HVAC system at CES 2016. Haiku Home becomes a complete smart-home ecosystem with learning capabilities.

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Design buffs often covet the appropriately named Big Ass Fans that cool industrial venues and, increasingly, residential spaces. But the consumer-oriented Haiku fans have been out of reach price-wise for most consumers. At CES 2016, the company is launching a new consumer division called Haiku Home that includes not only a more-affordable consumer fan, but new smart lights and the company’s first intelligent HVAC system — all of which will become part of one smart-home ecosystem that learns consumer behavior to eventually control lighting and temperature/comfort conditions without human interaction.

Let’s start with the new L Series of Haiku fans, which are half the price of the originals ($450 MSRP including LED light fixture).

“We’ll maintain premium offerings with high-end finishes, but now we can offer a really efficient ceiling fan to a lot of people,” says Alex Reed, BAF director of consumer products, in an interview with CE Pro.

Enough has been written about the efficiency of BAF fans, so we’ll just take that as a given. Let’s talk about the intelligence in the Haiku fans. The company added IoT capabilities to Haiku in 2014 with SenseME, comprising a Wi-Fi module and an app for controlling the fan’s lights and blades.

With multiple on-board sensors, SenseME enables some fairly rich services such as the ability to learn user behavior in order to automate the fan’s operation.

With the L Series, the SenseME functionality moves out of the fan mechanism and into a new Haiku Wall Control ($125 MSRP), which fits in a standard Decora-style faceplate.

Since BAF launched SenseME, it has added a few integration partners, including Nest and Jawbone (UP band), but other partners have been slow in coming. The control's built-in motion sensor can respond to the user’s presence, automatically turning on and off the connected fan and/or light. The wall-unit also incorporates temperature and humidity sensors to optimized fan controls for comfort and conservation.


Download CE Pro's Ultimate Guide to Home Automation at CES 2016


At CES, BAF is announcing at least one new partner — Amazon Echo — which will enable voice-control of the smart fan.

Beyond that, we’ll have to wait for more features in the “smart” category from BAF. The company hasn’t moved on Thread yet, despite being one of only three CE product manufacturers (with Nest and Yale) to join the Thread Group as a founding member.

And while it would be wonderful to have an API for integrating Haiku’s rich native feature set (speed control would be a good one), the company is still working out its strategy in that department. The company does note in its literature that both its fans and new light fixture (below) will integrate with other devices.

For now, we’ll have to settle for turning the fans off automatically when Nest goes into “Away” mode.

The big news here is that Haiku with SenseME is now affordable to a broader market … and the fan and onboard LED lighting will keep getting smarter.

“The fans and fixtures have occupancy and environmental sensors, so once configured they’re operating somewhat autonomously. We really want to minimize human interactions.”

— Alex Reed, Big Ass Fans director of consumer products

New Light Fixtures

More interesting perhaps is BAF’s foray into consumer light fixtures with the new Haiku Designer Series. The ceiling fixtures (starting at $199 retail) feature SenseME technology, allowing them to respond to presence and vacancy, and to synch with Haiku fans and other devices that might integrate with SenseME in the future.

An app allows users to group lights and schedule them. There’s a built-in ambient light sensor so the fixtures can adjust themselves automatically, keeping light levels balanced “without the need for constant-switch-flipping,” as BAF explains.

The premium products can shift color temperatures from 2,000k to 5000k.

Standalone lighting is a “pretty natural extension,” says Reed, given BAF’s long history of incorporating lights in their fans. Last year the company launched the super-bright Garage Series Light, which left CE Pros drooling.

BAF’s First Smart HVAC System

If lighting is a natural extension to ceiling fans, then so is central heating and cooling. BAF’s most ambitious new effort is the development of a complete HVAC system that would tie into the smart fans and lights.

Not surprisingly, BAF is going for a super-high efficiency rating of 25 SEER. Motorized dampers would modulate temperature in different zones of the house and there might be – just maybe – smart HVAC registers in the mix, according to Reed.

One of the biggest wastes of energy in the home is conditioning rooms that are unoccupied, so the HVAC system would tie in nicely with the sensors built into Haiku light fixtures and Wall Controls. And if a space can be cooled most efficiently with fans rather than A/C, then the Haiku ecosystem would respond accordingly.

The communications protocols at this time are still being worked out, Reed says.

The important thing is that a single Haiku Home app would integrate all of these interrelated pieces for energy efficiency, comfort and convenience.

And at the end of the day, BAF doesn’t even want consumers to use the app except as a device-commissioning tool.

“The fans and fixtures have occupancy and environmental sensors, so once configured they’re operating somewhat autonomously,” Reed says. “We really want to minimize human interactions.”

He acknowledges that turning lights on and off and changing the fan speed is “not that difficult, but you don’t need to do it.”

Today, Haiku fans with SenseME balance the room conditions with occupancy and user preferences, says Reed: “If you adjust it, we’ll take note.”

Now … Imagine what happens when you add intelligent lighting and HVAC control to the Haiku Home.

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
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Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson

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