About Senztek

 

Senztek is a NZ owned and operated technology incubator who has designed and manufactured energy management technology in New Zealand since 1993. Senztek currently produces high precision industrial signal conditioning and a successful hot water energy controller and cylinders.

Senztek designs technology that enables home owners to either pay less or pay absolutely nothing to get energy in their homes – without any interruption of supply.

Senztek’s focus is on making products like smart hot water cylinders, off grid lighting and residential heater/damp chasers that can be run by either efficiently managing existing energy sources (electricity) or harnessing renewable energy sources (solar).

Senztek’s emphasis on innovative design and quality manufacturing means Senztek products and components are reliable and long lasting.

Senztek Directors

Lance Allen is Senztek’s Technical Director and has been a director with the company since 2006.
Originally qualified in radio communications, Lance went on to build high end access control systems. Next, he joined the University of Auckland and worked in electronics project design. This involved everything from touch screens for pigeons to designing and building hydrophones for recording whale song in Tonga. He also worked in robotics in the latter part of his time at the university.

Tell us about a successful product you have created at Senztek.

SolaStat and Solarsmart series solar hot water controllers. These clever devices read your hot water usage and regulate the power required to heat your water. This means your hot water cylinder is not using energy when there is no demand for hot water. They are easy to install, easy to program and easy to read. Senztek has sold over 45,000 solar hot water controllers in New Zealand and Australia. They are rugged and tolerant of high temperatures which is why they can be installed outside – even in tough Australian conditions.

How would you describe your approach to design and engineering technology?

The most important step is understanding who our customers are, what frustrations we are trying to solve for them and how they will interact with our products. What our customers say they want and what they actually want are often quite different. It is important to be mindful of this. I always ask myself if there really is a need for a product (will it make people’s lives better?) and would I buy it. Only after this understanding can you start on the actual engineering and fit for purpose design. At Senztek we always design for reliability, over specify components so they can easily handle worst case scenarios and allow for rough installers.

What is your favourite part of the product creation process?

The conceptualisation is by far the most satisfying. At this stage you have a nearly blank canvas, like a potter moulding clay. Each requirement helps form the final product, yet it can still carry your design philosophy.

What are the biggest myths about solar in NZ?

  1. Solar hot water is less cost effective than solar electric
  2. Solar electric has to be expensive, professionally installed and is only for the wealthy.

What products/markets make you excited about the future of solar?

Our scalable, safe, extra low voltage (ELV) products tick all the boxes. They are innovative, they have great design unlike some existing products, they utilise renewable energy and they save customers running costs.

 
Brian Knolles is Senztek’s CEO and has been a director of the company for eleven years.
A 25 year long career at Telecom NZ saw Brian take on various roles. He started as a telephone exchange technician became a radio technician, qualified as a telecommunication engineer before managing the Radio Engineers office.

Next came the difficult task of managing relationships with Telecom’s competing customers. These were rival telecommunication companies who were on the one hand competing directly with Telecom yet still requiring to purchase services from Telecom. From there Brian worked in London as a Sales Engineer for Telecom NZ International helping to facilitate international phone business between Europe and New Zealand. On his return to NZ Brian worked as COO for a Waikato based IT Telephony company before investing in Senztek.

Tell us about a successful Senztek product you are proud of.

The Senztek Hot Water Controller is a truly smart piece of kit. It will manage the energy your hot water cylinder uses and gives you visibility of a household device that currently you have very little control over. It will save you money and no other company has yet conceived of a similar device.

I’m also proud of the off grid EVL lights we are currently developing. These lights will save you costs on the operation of your lights, the design is innovative and they look great.

What do you find frustrating about the perception of smart energy products?

The one size fits all approach, that when aligned with the idea that there is only one way to deliver energy to the end user.
At Senztek we are lucky because we are a small operation with great design expertise. This allows us to challenge conventional ideas often promoted by large companies with large marketing budgets. Our size and expertise allow us to be innovative and agile.

Energy (electricity) is reasonably low cost in New Zealand compared to international prices. This means people are not motivated to question existing delivery. Our challenge is to educate people about the smarter energy products that are already available. They can make considerable savings while contributing to the health of the planet.