Self-diagnostics tools are common in both residential and commercial HVAC, but are they beneficial? Our own Gary Hsieh offers his insight.
Are self-diagnostics more residential, commercial, or both?
Self-diagnostics are prevalent in both commercial and residential. Commercial applications/products tend to focus more on having an informed building manager and there are typically defined levels of understanding of labor cost, restrictions of maintenance hours, etc. In these situations, self-diagnostics can be an effective tool. In residential applications, self-diagnostics help the DIY installation flow and aid in preventative maintenance which typically aids users. The challenge though is understanding the methodologies behind the self-diagnostics. Without this, they are not effective troubleshooting tools for contractors.
Are self-diagnostics “dumbing” down the industry or making it more plug-and-play?
This is a good question, with a complicated answer. It depends on the features. WiFi, and connectivity in general, is an area where the contractor needs self-diagnostics to untangle abstract potential issues. In this case, self-diagnostics is an effective area of Plug-and-Play. But if the self-diagnostics give the contractor or user limited control or understanding, then it would be dumbing down because ultimately, the contractor can diagnosis the situation faster and more effectively than a self-diagnostic process.
For instance, if self-diagnostics can only flag a potential issue without any clear or actionable plan to resolve it, then it’s not a help to the contractor, who over time, has his/her tribal knowledge to fall back on. Self-diagnostics needs to provide value to be seen as effective.
What are the primary challenges when it comes to self-diagnostics?
The primary challenge when it comes to self-diagnostics is the how meaningful the responses are. Contractors need to feel confident that the output provided is driving the best action. Not just a bunch of information without a recommended corrective action. The information must also be presented in a clear and simple manner so that action can be quickly and easily taken without assumptions. And, finally, the self-diagnostics need to be robust enough to help a contractor make the best on-site decisions.