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Why is Lochinvar software so expensive?

MIke_JonasMIke_Jonas Posts: 209Member
Hey bobbyg..I'll check when I get home later, I don't keep that on the truck. But, I'm pretty sure it's made by Keyspan. I think I got it from amazon for, like twenty bucks. I'm pretty sure it's the same adaptor I already had for connecting my Fluke 54-2 meter. I also wound up needing it for my Testo 523 refrig set-up (which I don't use anymore). When I got the Knight software, I didn't think ill of the cable, because I just figured all the really cool companies were using this cable end, however odd it appeared at the time. I think it's 9 pin to usb.

One thing I'm not sure of, is this intended for homeowners to use, because I can see settings get out of whack by someone monkeying around with them. I do hydronics all day, every day, and I still refer to manuals on most every job. Don't start the hate about not allowing homeowners to work on their own stuff. I made enough money last year alone off of fixing diy'er mistakes, that my first grandchild has her first year of college bought and paid for. Homeowners/diyers'/engineers can crack it all open as far as I'm concerned. I've never had a customer ask if they could monitor a system themselves, over and above what is on the display originally. Which is quite a bit on the Knight compared to others.

SmartSystem software would be cheap at twice the price.


  • scrook_2scrook_2 Posts: 610Member
    Why is Lochinvar software so expensive?

    I am a homeowner with a Lochinvar Knight KBN-105 boiler. I have been very happy with the operation of the boiler, which is on its second heating season. I was interested in obtaining a copy of the "Smart System" software for my PC, so that I can monitor operation of my system. I lost interest after finding out that the kit, which apparently consists of the software plus a cable, costs several hundred dollars. I don't mind covering the cost of the items, but why charge so much for a support package that could be very beneficial to both installers, as well as operators?
  • MIke_JonasMIke_Jonas Posts: 209Member
    You're kidding, right?

    You consider that expensive? At what price would you consider the software and cable reasonable?

    The boilers they sell are a benefit to consumers and installers. Do you think they should be given away at cost also?
  • scrook_2scrook_2 Posts: 610Member
    I'm not kidding

    I expect them to sell their boilers at a profit. It seems to me that this software is a support item, that could be provided at a nominal fee. It seems like it would be a good marketing tool. It provides installers with more setup flexibility, and operators with a better picture of system performance.
  • scrook_2scrook_2 Posts: 610Member
    I'm not kidding

    I expect them to sell their boilers at a profit. It seems to me that this software is a support item, that could be provided for a nominal fee. I believe that it could be a good marketing tool. It provides installers with more setup flexibility, and operators with a better picture of system performance.

    I my estimation, a double digit price would be reasonable.
  • MIke_JonasMIke_Jonas Posts: 209Member
    You're kidding, revisited..

    My first question would be why didn't your installing contractor have this to begin with? I bought the software with the first Knight I ever sold, didn't even ask what the price was. Wait a minute, the price was the cost of doing business. You call this a "support" item? I call it an optional piece of equipment. You obviously don't feel the dollar cost of this software equals it's value to you. Maybe Lochinvar needs to do a better job of showing this worth, but I don't think so. I watched this software run for 3 minutes and knew I had to have it. To say this should be sold at virtually cost blows my mind. Where would you draw the line at "support" items being sold at cost? I see installations all the time without air separators, should Honeywell and Spirovent sell these at cost, merely for your convenience? Some contractors must think they are only a "support" item, because if they thought they were "necessary", you'd think they would install them. Where do you draw the line at a company making an honest profit, to stay in business and support it's vendors? Do you think Lochinvar threw that software together overnight? With some high school kid doing the code? You don't think this software is being evaluated and updated on a continuing basis? Who pays for that? The people that "need" this software as opposed to those that want this software for "support"?
    How much did this system cost? And you want to bellyache over what, couple hundred bucks? What does your installing contractor say? Or did you buy this off the internet and install it yourself?
  • scrook_2scrook_2 Posts: 610Member

    I'm not sure why my installing contractor doesn't have the software. Hot water heat is not a big player in our neck of the woods (SW Michigan). There are only a few contractors in the area that were familiar with the Knight. I went with the one who had the most installation experience. (No, I didn't buy it off the internet, but I seriously considered that option).

    For me, the cost exceeds the benefit. If I were an installing contractor, the story might be different. I am an engineer who likes to understand the inner workings of systems. I have enjoyed watching the Knight ramp up and down at startup, and as loads come on and off line. Sometimes, especially under low load conditions, the Knight will overshoot the setpoint without ramping down to minimum firing rate. It is behaviors like this that I would like to better understand, and I felt that the smart system software would allow me to better monitor the variables.

    I am an engineer for a company that sells electronically controlled transmissions for heavy duty trucks. Much like a mod-con boiler, these are complex systems with sophisticated controls and diagnostics. Like Lochinvar, we expect to make a profit from sale of our products. We also provide diagnostic support software for service technicians and customers. We provide the support tools at low, or zero, cost. It is our expectation that providing these tools results in better understanding of the system, faster and more thorough troubleshooting, and more satisfied customers.

    I guess it is this paradigm that led to my initial question of "Why does Lochinvar charge so much?"
  • Uni R_2Uni R_2 Posts: 589Member
    A few hundred bucks?

    And you're complaining? Check out the cost of dataloggers. That's an excellent price. Wish there was something available for the Prestige period.
  • scrook_2scrook_2 Posts: 610Member
    I'm Dutch

    I come from a long proud line of pennypinchers.

    Do you know how copper wire was invented? It was a couple of my ancestors fighting over a penny...

  • bobbyg_2bobbyg_2 Posts: 139Member

    "Do you think Lochinvar threw that software together overnight? With some high school kid doing the code? You don't think this software is being evaluated and updated on a continuing basis?"

    If they updated it on a continuing basis it would have a different connection wouldn't it. Lochinvar replacement parts/optional equipment is, in general terms, priced higher than "other" equipment manufacturers. That is their perogative. My only "complaint" would be to have it updated with a better connection.

    I would like to see a USB connection for the software.

    Spicoli, what type of adapter do you use for it?

    my .02 worth.
  • Jim_65Jim_65 Posts: 184Member

    I just spoke to my local rep and the ballpark price he quoted me seemed extremely fair. It is a very useful and helpful tool that we use on start-ups and determining if we actually have an on-going issue. Anything that is beneficial generally has a price associated with it. Obviously you understand that.

    I would be very pleased that your boiler came with Outdoor reset and DHW priority...Some others have chosen to charge for those controls as an add-on after the fact.

    You get what you pay for and you won't get what you didn't pay for.

  • Buzz G.Buzz G. Posts: 61Member
    Price for software

    is obviously a topic for contention. I think the HO was asking why the price is so high for one user. The pros can spread that out over all their installations and then it is truly cheap. That one guy has to add that to his install cost entirely. If you have never copied a CD or used a copy of some Microsoft or other program you have a perfect right to take the high tone I hear. However---
  • DaveCDaveC Posts: 201Member
    Two Versions

    It is my understanding there are two versions of Smart System software. One is the contractor version which allows access to all the parameters and controls, the other is read only for owner. I'm not sure of the difference in price, but would help with the tamper issues. The adapter goes from 9 pin to phone jack and when I asked if I could route through my modem instead of the adapter Lochinvar said the software developer made that as a priority adapter to prevent multi- machine use of one copy of the software. I would like to see Lochinvar offer a LON card option that would give a large building owner the constant control and readout from a remote computer like other building control systems. That would give acceptable control to a building operator and prevent them from throwing away the Knight's brain just so they can control it from their office or home. I also cried the first time I heard the price but only because I didn't realize that it was going to be necessary on my first install. Now I wouldn't be without it.
  • G TerrillG Terrill Posts: 13Member
    Email me

    jnjvan could you email me when you get a chance. I want to hear about your installer and their experience. My knight is on order from a contractor and I'm in sw michigan too.
    [email protected]
  • Different philosofies

    I'm in the chiller A/C business, where some suppliers offer expensive software that requires dongles and take control over your com-port. Others have 9-pin com connectors on the controls that can be accessed with a normal terminal program and use ASCII caracters and plain text with help functions. Their service programs are just terminal prorams with extra features.

    I prefer the latter, and equal the former to charging authorized dealers for download of documentation for products they sell.
  • Kevin O. PulverKevin O. Pulver Posts: 380Member
    The cheaper something is

    the more DIYers are going to go out and buy one.
    Lochinvar has a right to profit off their software and you might argue they have a duty to their contractors to not make it TOO cheap lest the contractor is seen as not needed.
  • Tony_23Tony_23 Posts: 1,033Member

    Why should they make it cheaper to a one time purchaser ?

    You say your company sells (or gives away) "support" items at or below cost. I'm betting that's to the mechanics who do the service, not the drivers/owners of those trucks. Do you want truck drivers to have the ability to tamper with their truck's transmission ? There are, after all, truck drivers who are capable. How do you tell the difference ?

    Boundaries...... :)
  • Different perspective

    several hundred (2-300?)dollars is a price that makes all, except the most ignorant, installers buy such a tool right away when they begin selling a new line of products.

    It is also enough to discourage all but the very dedicated homeowners (I would buy it at that price if I had such a boiler, and would pay extra money against a competing product that didn't offer access to the control)

    I chose a car that I can access with tha VagCom software over a cheaper alternative where I would be in the hands of the dealer.

    1000-1500$ plus the hassle with dongle and special adaptors, like in my case for Carrier chillers, makes companies buy one to share between several service guys, which means they never have it with them when they get a service call.
  • Doug_7Doug_7 Posts: 209Member
    Perspective - Expensive relative to what ?

    A Lochinvar KBN 500 running at 2/3 capacity would burn $30,000 worth of natural gas per year. Over 5 years that is $150,000.

    The software costs $200-$300 and is an excellent tool to optimize boiler performance.

    I didn't have to think very long about this purchasing decision. I bought the software with the boiler, which allowed me to fine-tune boiler settings and performance from day one. Runs on an old desktop PC ($100 value) that is located right beside the boiler.

    Saving money and the environment is what this is about.

  • scrook_2scrook_2 Posts: 610Member

    Of course we have have limits on what can be adjusted. Our tools are primarily used for diagnostics and troubleshooting. Anything that might be safety related is not avialable for tweaking.

    There has been a lot of commentary about whether a homeowner should be able to adjust boiler parameters. There are very few parameters that the Lochinvar software makes available, that are not accessible from the front panel. My desire was to get the monitoring capability that the software offers.
  • scrook_2scrook_2 Posts: 610Member

    The price that I was quoted was $100-$200 higher than your number. It represents about a third of a heating season's worth of fuel. It is not clear that the software allows sufficient fine-tuning opportunities to recoup its price over the life of the boiler.

    Another perspective would be that it represents a 12+% increase in the cost of the boiler.

    Both of those perspectives seem pricey to me.

    I would like to note that the environment is important to me, and that I bought the boiler for its efficiency. Simple ROI calculations would not have led me to replace the previous unit.
  • Dave_4Dave_4 Posts: 1,405Member

    Comments are all very reasonable. Did Lochinvar generate this software to make money or to help the service person do a better, quicker, and more complete setup and checkup of their equipment? If it is the latter, then making it more readily available would be the approach to take. If it is to supplement the boiler company's income, then price it as high as the market will go. My installer does not have it and since has no other Knight boilers yet is unlikely to buy it for just my setup and maintenance. Of course he is not likely to recommend them either since can't get the info out that would tell how well the install works. Sort of self-perpetuating ain't it?
  • I'd say, \"both\" Robert

    Lochinvar is in business to make a profit. Otherwise they won't be around any more. They also try to make their products better, and easier for the installer, at a competitive price-
    so more guys will like 'em and buy 'em. Yes, THAT is self-perpetuating.
    I'll bet your installer would love to install some more of them and the price is competitive. He sold YOU one after all, and you're a smart consumer right?
  • Bruce MBruce M Posts: 166Member
    Another Perspective

    There is another method of getting software out there. Look at Microsoft. All of their updates and fixes for the various operating systems (Think Windows XP, Vista etc) are free. They offer a free virus scan and free defragmenting and registry cleaner. Now this is one of the all-time smartest companies when it comes to making money and capturing share of the market. If a company gave away some software they might have a better chance of having their equipment properly serviced which in turn could lead to more sales. My point here is that Microsoft learned long ago that by giving things away for free they are able to make more money. I know this is a hard concept for some to grasp.
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