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Geysers get smart

Can CBI’s Astute Smart Controller for geysers save electricity? SEAN BACHER tries it out.

With Eskom constantly increasing electricity rates, most South Africans are looking for ways to cut back on their electricity usage as much as possible.

Some have resorted to unplugging appliances when they are not in use, even going as far as to unplug phone charges, although they use a minuscule amount of electricity. 

But the biggest drawers of power are stoves, ovens and geysers. Stoves and ovens are easy to control as one just turns them off when not in use. Geysers, on the other hand, are a little more tricky. One can buy blankets that insulate the geyser, keeping the heat in and thus controlling how often the thermostat kicks in. But the jury is still out on how effective that really is.

One sure way to stop a geyser from using electricity is to turn it off at the distribution board. But this leads to other problems, like forgetting to turn it back on and then bathing or showering in cold water.

Now there is a solution, namely the CBI Astute Smart Controller.

At first glance it looks like any other timer but the Astute Smart Controller connects to a Wi-Fi network and comes with a CBI app for control. It is installed into the distribution board and connects to the main geyser trip switch, so the geyser switch remains on all the time and the controller connects and disconnects the geyser. 

Even though it comes with a wiring diagram I recommend getting an electrician to do this work.

Once wired up and connected to the network, download the app and pair it with the controller over the network. The timer function in the app allows you to choose the time you want the geyser to turn on and for how long each day. You can also set a countdown in hours for when you want the geyser to turn on.

Another screen displays the wattage being drawn while it is on, and the total wattage for that day, week and month.

Making other appliances smart

The Astute Smart Controller range includes three-pronged power outlets for other appliances. These are quite simple to install, but once again I suggest getting an electrician if you don’t have the electrical skills.

They work exactly the same as the geyser controller, in that timers and countdowns can be set. If there are a few installed around the house, the app allows you to group them per room. For instance, you have two in the bedroom and one in the dressing room; these can be grouped to turn on at the same time. 

The CBI Astute Controller retails at R450, a small price to pay for a large saving down the line.

Availability: Leroy Merlin or Builders Warehouse. 

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