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Author Topic: Hive / Nest and other "smart" thermostats/boiler controllers  (Read 13574 times)
dan_b
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« on: December 03, 2015, 10:56:26 AM »

Just wondering what the view of the forum is on the Hive/ Nest type "smart" thermostats?
Are they a genuine innovation and worth the spend, or are they just a pretty way to part people with their money?
If they are useful, which is better?
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HalcyonRichard
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2015, 11:13:50 AM »

Hi,
     Some time ago TPI controllers were advertised as saving 10%. Very believable and from a control system point of view it all seemed very plauasible to me. Then the Buiding Research (BRE) tried them. In the controlled conditions of the laboratory they had some merit. Then they put some in real houses with real people and monitored them over time. They found NO significant difference in fuel consumption. So I saved the £100 odd quid it would have cost. To me the most influential part of any control system is the user. Good control systems help but there are massive differences in consumption with different people in the same type of house. I would not buy one until a decent real world trial prooves if they are worth it.

Richard
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Sharkbait
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2015, 12:18:06 PM »

I am fairly sceptical about the Nest/Tado/Etc offerings as they all still measure the temperature at a single room and base the rest of the house on that. 

However, there is also the Honeywell Evohome which seems to get excellent reviews.  This system equips every radiator with a TRV and digital thermostat which can be controlled independently from every other radiator - multiple radiators can be grouped into virtual zones. In this way it is possible to control the temperature in every room in your house individually so, for example, if there are rooms that you don't need to heat in the morning then you can set them to a lower temperature than the rest of the house.  Similarly you can delay heating your bedrooms until closer to the time you go to bed rather than from late afternoon.
To me this approach makes a lot more sense - why heat rooms [to a higher temperature] when you don't need them?  I am considering installing it but the cost of about £1k is quite a big step, although on the plus side it means I could heat our (fairly cold) kitchen while leaving the rest of the house alone - it's either this or an Aga!
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HalcyonRichard
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2015, 12:41:04 PM »

Hi £1k seems a lot for that. Most systems have TRV's fitted any way. And turning the bedroom one on 1/2 hour before bedtime does not seem too onerous. All that seems to give above a normal system is "labour saving" rather than energy saving.

Richard
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Charli
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2015, 01:00:26 PM »

I have an interest in OpenTRV- http://opentrv.org.uk/

Gives each rad a radio-control TRV, so you can essentially program each rad individually, enables a sort of zoning for people who don't really have zoned systems.

Not exactly a buy, fit and forget system right now though.

My Mum wants a Nest/Hive- purely so she can turn the heating on using her phone, from work so it is warm when she gets home. I have a well insulated house that doesn't loose much heat, and as I have internal insulation and no real thermal mass it only takes about 10 minutes for the heating to make an actual difference to the room temperature, so such a device would be rather pointless.
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AndrewE
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2015, 02:27:45 PM »

each rad a radio-control TRV, so you can essentially program each rad individually,
Mum wants a Nest/Hive- purely so she can turn the heating on using her phone, from work so it is warm when she gets home.

1) I guess each radio-control TRV has a [mains] powered valve then, so there will be more wiring/redecorating plus a bit more electricity consumption, on top of that of the control system
and
2) I like our programmable thermostat which can have a different set of times and temperatures every day - but that's only OK if you come home on a reasonably regular schedule.  I suppose that you could have extra programmable thermostats opening zone valves, or, if just using one, close the rad valves in rooms you didn't need warming until after you got home.
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Quakered
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2015, 03:48:07 PM »

I have the Hive, and before that the previous generation of British Gas control system built around the Drayton Digistat. Both can be controlled from the iPhone remotely (and I think Samsung's imitations of the iPhone). The Hive is easier to use and a lot more flexible. It recognises when you leave home and asks if you want to turn the heating down and the reverse when approaching home. The killer benefit over the Nest is that it controls the water heating remotely as well. Hive are expanding to control other devices and has recently launched a 13 amp socket that can programmed and remotely controlled.

I believe they are also going to  offer zone control. If you live in an average size house that is well insulated, I don't think zone control saves anything. I have tried my own crude attempts at this by switching off all the upstairs radiators. This makes not a jot's difference to the temperature upstairs or indeed gas consumption as the heat rises from the heating on the ground floor and is captured upstairs by the loft and wall insulation.

I think if you use the facilities to control your heating, you can make savings. Over the last 3 years with remotely controlled thermostats in a house occupied by 2 old pensioners full time, our gas usage for heating, hot water and cooking, has dropped from 14,200 kwhs of gas to just over 10,000 kwhs. Now part of this might be due to variable winters and also better management of the WBS.

I am a big fan of the control it offers and think the savings I have made more than justify the one time cost. More importantly I feeds by desire for more "boys' toys" and think that makes any investment in toys worthwhile.
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Stochengberge
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« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2015, 08:01:27 PM »

Hi £1k seems a lot for that. Most systems have TRV's fitted any way. And turning the bedroom one on 1/2 hour before bedtime does not seem too onerous. All that seems to give above a normal system is "labour saving" rather than energy saving.

Richard

This all depends on how many rooms you have, the overall size of the property, whether the rooms are occupied every night or have occasional occupancy, if you have the time to wander around the house adjusting TRVs, iI could go on...
And also does everyone else in the house understand that turning a TRV up to maximum won't heat a room up any more quickly, it will just make it hotter in the long run, possibly depriving heat from other rooms so someone just goes and whacks that one up to maximum as well. Hence why I've put maximum limit stops on all my TRV's so it can't be turned to Max ( Worth remembering Max = ON and will stay on regardless of what temperature the room is at...)
This approach needs the buy in and understanding of everyone in the house. An unlikely scenario, I would suggest...


SB
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Sharkbait
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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2015, 09:06:31 PM »

Quote
This all depends on how many rooms you have
This is my feeling also - we are lucky enough to live in a fairly big house and manually changing the TRVs is just not going to happen.  The high install price is basically down to the fact that we have in the region of 18 radiators!

Quote
I have tried my own crude attempts at this by switching off all the upstairs radiators. This makes not a jot's difference to the temperature upstairs or indeed gas consumption
Surely you must use less energy if you switch off half of your radiators?
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JonG
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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2015, 10:06:16 PM »

We looked at the options and decided to opt for Evo as installers, probably/possibly the most adaptable out there, it has its limitations and some bugs but is a good bit of a kit and is compatible with opentherm that can make a huge difference in terms of modulation of a gas boiler.

Remember it is a max of 12 zones, this could include 3 rooms as 1 zone with an electronic TRV on each rad, but 12 is the limit plus 1 hot water unless you have 2 or more base units.
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baker
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2015, 08:26:52 AM »

smart controllers
can reduce the life of pumps and boilers and cause problems after a time
you need a smart system , for a smart controller
baker
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clivejo
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2015, 11:54:22 AM »

I was very interested in that Open TVR link but there doesn't seem to be any technical information at all!  It just seems to be an idea someone had and decided to stick up a website.

The reason for my interest is that I want to control how heat is distributed.  I currently have TVR's on the radiators, but most of my heat is via WBS.  The settings for this are very different and while the WBS is lit, I want to transfer as much heat into the house as possible, starting with the core rooms and then just dumping heat regardless of the temperature they are. However, come the morning time when the boiler comes on I only want it to heat the core rooms to comfort level and then turn off, but only if its cold and the WBS isnt still lit !!  Complicated setup, but if I had access to some remote control TVR's which are sensing the room temperature and that linked to my RPi which is monitoring the hot water tank and pipe stats, it would be a good system.
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2015, 01:48:33 PM »

I have Heat Genius, happy to answer any questions on it. Same as evohome.
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Charli
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2015, 02:03:31 PM »

I was very interested in that Open TVR link but there doesn't seem to be any technical information at all!  It just seems to be an idea someone had and decided to stick up a website.

If you look at the OpenTRV Git repository (https://github.com/opentrv) there's code and 3D printer designs for adding motors/etc to various TRVs. I'm not quite clever enough to take this and make my own, I'm hoping in another year or so they'll have something more marketable though.

Their website isn't great (and this website actually has more details: http://www.earth.org.uk/open-source-programmable-thermostatic-radiator-valve.html). But there still aren't exactly detailed instructions on how to set your own up! The main developer does various talks and presentations that are very interesting, and they do have it up and functioning in some households- but it is very much still under development.
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alankelly
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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2015, 02:57:47 PM »

Hi all

I have these fitted to give me a cheap system

wirry at first (You soon get use to it) But does the job of switching off rads during the day (mainly bedrooms etc as the kids are at school ) And also giving complete control over each room temperature and heating times for the week and weekends

http://www.screwfix.com/p/pegler-terrier-i-temp-i30-programmable-thermostatic-radiator-valve/71054
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