75F Rethinks Heating and Cooling With IoT-based Solution

The Minnesota-based firm uses room-level sensors and weather data to provide granular controls for HVAC systems in commercial buildings.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
May 31, 2016

Yoga is all about balance and awareness, and about being in tune with nature. Right? Not exactly, explains Deepinder Singh, CEO of 75F, a Minneapolis-based company that sells a smart heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. "It's such an energy waster," he says.

To be clear, Singh is not trash-talking yoga itself, but rather the practice of heating yoga studios to as high as a sweltering 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) for certain types of classes, as is generally done for Bikram yoga or derivatives of that style. This is especially true in Minnesota, during winter.

A schematic of the IoT-based heating and cooling system
Let's step back 10 years. Singh, then a new father working as a software engineer in Minnesota, noticed that his daughter's bedroom was cold and that this was causing her to awaken during the night. "The temperature dropped about 10 degrees in her room at night," he says. He quickly realized the cause: the thermostat was located in the master bedroom, which faces west and receives more heat from the sun during the day.

Singh saw an opportunity. If HVAC systems where designed differently to account for the shifting radiation patterns throughout a building, he realized, they could ensure more even temperature distribution. He thus quit his job and launched a company known as Suntulit, which developed remotely controllable vent covers designed to maintain each room within a house at a set temperature, based on a daily schedule established by the homeowner.

But by 2012, Suntulit had not yet brought its product to market (a company called Ecovent has since released a similar solution), and Singh decided to pivot, opting to start 75F, a firm that would instead focus on innovating HVAC systems for small to midsize commercial spaces, since that, he says, is a large and untapped market. High-rise office buildings generally have sophisticated HVAC systems, Singh explains, but that is not always true of small- or medium-sized commercial buildings—those measuring 50,000 square feet or less in size—which make up 94 percent of the commercial building real estate market, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

75F's eponymous product uses proprietary dampers wired to a monitor in each room. Those monitors contain temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and occupancy sensors, and communicate those readings to a central control gateway in the building, via a proprietary 900 MHz radio, every 60 seconds. The gateway is connected to the Internet and controlled by 75F's cloud-based software platform.

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