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Author Topic: Hive / Nest and other "smart" thermostats/boiler controllers  (Read 13684 times)
dimengineer
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« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2015, 01:16:23 PM »

Do you find they work well? I've got one fitted as a trial, and I'm very unconvinced about its efficacy.
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alankelly
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« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2015, 01:41:25 PM »

Hi

Yes I find they work very well

Not sure about their total claims on savings as I have always tried to reduce my gas bill with the installation of a ImmerSun and Solar Thermal, but I have seen a big difference on my gas bill since installed.

And it is an easy way of creating a fully zones house with seperate controls for every room in the house for temperature and controlling when each room is heated (Other than the living room that has the normal wall stat) . As there is no point heating all three upstairs bedrooms / bathrooms during the day when just the wife is downstairs doing the normal everyday house jobs. (And if you are only heating downstairs surly you must be saving energy?)

(Just for info' Bedrom TRVs set at 15 degrees during the day to ensure house is not too cold upstais, and as we know hot air will always rise upstais naturally)

Also what I have notice is that the house seems to warms up much quicker, as when the heating starts in the morning at 6.00 am (I rise at 6.30 to go to work) as only the downstairs living room and dining room rads are on (room temp controlled by the normal wall stat) on as no one eles is up till 7 a.m, so no sense of switching on the bedroom heating until 6.45am

Also same applies in the evening as once the kids are tucked up in bed, the bedroom rads return to a standby temp of 15 degrees so again we only heat downstaire when me and the other half are watching TV etc

Best regards Al.
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dimengineer
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« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2015, 10:22:45 AM »

Thanks for the info. I suspect I have my trial one in the wrong room for a test. I shall have to have a think..
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DaveF
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« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2015, 12:25:34 PM »

Hi All,

Just wanted to mention another product that appears to be aimed for commercial installs but because it's a small local (N. Ireland so local to me) company, thought I'd give them a mention.

http://www.heatboss.co.uk/

The website is lacking in technical detail but whilst I have no direct connection with them I do know a guy who is involved in the manufacturing of the product and he has sung the products praises-but then he probably would. Apparently, the replacement for the TRV is battery powered and fully wireless and they also provide a controller for the pump and boiler so that these work in conjunction with the radiators.

No idea of cost though.

Regards,

Dave
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tiptop
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« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2017, 08:54:24 PM »

I opted for a standards based solution using z-wave devices with the following characteristics
Every radiator trv is battery powered danfoss lc-13 and z-wave connected and controlled
z-wave battery powered thermostat in each room (overkill I admit as I never refer to these)
All underfloor heat zones are controlled via z-wave mains power relays
Using the Vera edge z-wave controller box and this is web access externally as well as in site
Web interface allows user to set up schedules and rule and overrides for each zone or device.  Its not a pretty interface but its got thousands of users so not gonna go offline anytime soon
Apps for mobile devices work nicely giving great remote control (set to away or vacation or home.
(in addition I have devices on door entryphone and letterbox so I know when to look for mail etc. ESP. When they try to 'card' me while I'm home)

Impressions?
I love the thermal wave as my home office cools at teatime and the sitting room gets toasty
Saving not yet verified but certain..  
Quality of life is better for sure and relative comfort is so apparent

Advice?  what to invest in?
Zoned heating each with separate schedule
Mobile phone controlled
Standards based if possible i.e not hive or nest
Prepare to ignore the super geeks who automate everything and make it more complex than needs be
Prepare to spend some time getting up to speed on how it MIGHT work
Do NOT trust all devices that use (any of the wireless) standards to work together - some do but sadly many don't. Search forums for what works with what
Do anticipate a fern hiccups such as when you adopt a firmware upgrade into a device... be a late adopter like me
Accept that you will periodically have to replace batteries
The range of things apart from TRVs that are interconnectable is limited and not really increasing.
With battery powered actuators etc. They save battery life by not being connected much, they can have the polling time set such as poll every 30 mins to see if new instructions have been sent.  Instant adjustment can be made such as hitting buttons on the device itself.

My setup has one controller, 9TRVs two UFH circuits, a letterbox sensor, a door bell relay and a couple of wall switches to boost heat for an hour in a single room.
I have four mains powered z-wave controlled relays for water heating and central heating: one each to override the on command from the Wired system controlbox and ditto for override the off.  With a dead z-wave system my heating and dhw will always still work
Total cost 750
Expected payback in about 3 years but the comfort also has a value.

Tom



« Last Edit: January 24, 2017, 09:03:39 PM by tiptop » Logged

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desperate
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« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2017, 10:07:24 PM »

MMM, I dunno, we've seen mixed results with these kinds of controls, mostly based around user unfamiliarity with how to set it all up again after the battery has gone flat and the programme has disappeared into the aether. Maybe the latest versions have a hard memeory?? We have had pretty good results by splitting heating systems into up and downstairs with a zone valve and an extra single channel programmer and room stat, and a carefull balance, costs about 350 ish. I wonder how much less effective it is, and no batteries to go flat.

I have a sneaky suspicion that a lot of these "smart" devices are more about making more profit for the makers than absolute energy efficiency, moi? cynical.... ballspin

spreaD ete
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Philip R
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« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2017, 12:37:29 AM »

I work on the premise of designing a thermally efficient gas boiler system, but not to make bits of the house go cold, and maintain an overhot boiler.

Weather compensation with internal temperature compensation, availible either as opentherm control. Or ebus control, hard wired or radio controlled.

Are nest and hive just straight volt free contacts turning boiler on/ off to preset flow temperatures or do they communicate to the boiler temperature control setpoint and modulate the boiler, oprinimising its operation in the condensing zone, like I do on my installs.
Philip R
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tiptop
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« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2017, 12:38:05 AM »


  .......      how to set it all up again after the battery has gone flat and the programme has disappeared into the aether.


For the whole system... As long as you are able to restart the controller (a box with Lan and z-wave and WiFi that holds the instructions and backs up online to the cloud etc. Then all seems to go well.

For an individual device it retains memory of who it is and the controller knows what to do with it once it comes back online

When devices do from time to time go offline the interconnected network does self-heal and (unlike Christmas tree lights of old) the whole system battles on regardless.

"smart" devices are more about making more profit for the makers than absolute energy efficiency

My views.   avoid those who try to monopolise rather than use standards such as z-wave. So no Hive etc.
I work with technology standards and know its a very impure and commercially jaundiced aspect of capitalist industry. ..... just sayin.

The big point is that you get as many heating zones as you have radiators without new zone valves and mains power.   Whoopiedoooo!
One new (single radiator single room) zone adds about 60 and no time at all if you have relatively up to date valves such as Danfoss RA
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tiptop
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« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2017, 12:51:09 AM »

I work on the premise of designing a thermally efficient gas boiler system, but not to make bits of the house go cold, and maintain an overhot boiler.

Weather compensation with internal temperature compensation, availible either as opentherm control. Or ebus control, hard wired or radio controlled.

Are nest and hive just straight volt free contacts turning boiler on/ off to preset flow temperatures or do they communicate to the boiler temperature control setpoint and modulate the boiler, oprinimising its operation in the condensing zone, like I do on my installs.
Philip R

Great questions but lets try out my simple idea:

Demand for heated water can be governed by consumption-side controls (per rad, per zone etc)
Optimisation of boiler heat provision can be isolated from the demand-side detail and reduced to a 'how hot is the dhw circulating water?, how hot is it outside? Question

Add to this a well designed interlock (no 'call for heat' signal to boiler unless one or more TRV is open.

Any problem with that?  I'm not a practitioner so not presuming one way or other, hoping we're both right

« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 12:54:22 AM by tiptop » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2017, 08:18:02 AM »

I'm with Desp on this.
I have doubts as to the real-term practical savings one could achieve, not to mention the hassle of setting it all up and then 'tweaking' settings until you get it right - and if you don't work on optimising settings then the potential benefits would be lost anyway IMHO. How many adopters of these systems actually fully understand how they work? I just think of how many people I see with TRVs set to max "because it felt colder in here"... Those of us here in the pioneering days of solar thermal well remember the on-going tweaks we made to optimise the settings on the solar controller just to get that right - and there are many threads on the subject from 2006-2010 or so Roll Eyes
I would also be concerned about longevity of the electronics - the expected lifetime and replacement cost has to be factored into the "savings" equation.

Antman
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TheFairway
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« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2017, 10:03:02 AM »

I've been running a Honeywell Hometronic system for last 7 years and have mixed feelings about this type of system for the uninitiated.

Firstly at time that I bought my system, there really were little if any alternatives for an automated system - one has to remember that you can always manually mimic most of what these systems provide.

These days, Hometronic has been largely superseded by the more basic but considerably cheaper EvoHome system. Evohome does not provide controls of other systems such as lighting, blinds or shading - I use the lighting function in a minimal way plus I have two Velux windows that could be automated by my Hometronic system if the windows had actually been installed - Hometronic is compatible with IO-HomeControl so can control compatible blinds and windows.

In addition to EvoHome, various automated TRV's are available plus automated single zone thermostats such as Hive, Nest etc.

I will say now, I really do not see much point to Hive/Nest type systems when for what is potentially a moderate extra expenditure, more flexible systems are available.

My take on Hive/Nest type systems is that the significant proportion of the cost of heating a space is the actual rising of temperature. For a well insulated space, the cost of maintaining a temperature is a much smaller proportion. So if you are just using Hive/Nest etc to adjust the time when you heat that space, then you have already incurred that energy/cost expenditure. In addition, having heating controls 'on demand' can lead to heating to a comfort level and therefor using more energy. In my household, my wife's warmth requirements are very different to the rest of us and having the ability to have a warmer room than is necessary would be too tempting at times - with my Hometronic, some rooms have external thermostats that have a +/- adjustment on it. When my wife found this, I noticed +3 being used often. This override was soon disabled in Hometronic and worked well until she realised after a bit of decorating that a thermostat hidden away in one of the cupboards meant that the room was warmer - but I digress.

Hometronic was a pretty big outlay and I think EvoHome would be about half that these days - Hometronic seemed to be licensed to one UK supplier which meant that prices were held high. Thankfully, other Honeywell products came along which meant that some components were shared with other product ranges which helped reduce prices. And now, many of the EvoHome products remain compatible with Hometronic - I recently replaced a failed HR80 TRV with a HR92 from EvoHome and its fully compatible. Plus eBay and ScrewFix type suppliers help.

As for energy savings, things are hard to quantify. The main driving force for us with Hometronic was that I studied/worked from home so heating my study to a nice temperature but not the rest of the house was high on the list. This worked well and I am sure would have saved significant amounts of energy, but as said earlier, probably could have been achieved by going round each radiator and turned each off/down manually...

What I did spend many seasons on was optimising my system and this made huge differences in energy use/comfort. In the end I ended up with a hybrid system, maintaining the old DHW/CH timer in the loop to counteract the often overzealous radiator optimisation of the Hometronic system - it optimised the pre heat of the radiator to ensure that the room was at a set temperature by a set time - much of the benefit of this was probably undone with us leaving curtains open at night on a large window resulting on preheat in cold nights of up to 3 hours.

I always maintain that a room at 18C being heated to 21C feels warmer than a room maintained at 21C. I think this is very much true - I suspect probably partly phycological and partly down to feeling the convection and smell of heat(dust probably)...

Other than optimisation , the other negative of Hometronic is that it can lead to relatively short cycles of the boiler - not ideal. There are ways around this and with a more modern boiler that offered modulating heat and pump, I don't think it would be so much of a problem. Part of the short cycling is down to the boiler only needing to heat one radiator - with Hometronic and EvoHome, it is the radiator TRV's that tell the boiler (via Hometronic manager) that it needs heat - something not grasped by many when comparing with more basic automated TRV's. Even though the Hometronic manager has some logic to allow some zones to borrow heat from requests made by another, it still can result in one room/zone only demanding heat - having the system reducing flow makes a bypass valve (or similar) in the system important - thankfully we already had one.

The other thing of note about Hometronic/Evohome is that 90% of their functionality can be achieved with plug and play - assuming that you already have TRV valves which are compatible - most are. I ran my system using only my old time switch for a good few months until I got the timer units added. This worked surprisingly well and TBH, makes the cost difference between a fitted hive unit and a DIY EvoHome system very small.

As for opening up heating systems to the internet, call me old fashioned, but even as an IT professional, I'm not keen.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 10:04:33 AM by TheFairway » Logged
myozone
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« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2017, 10:28:15 AM »

http://bwired.nl/
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tiptop
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« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2017, 02:16:48 PM »

Interesting repose from The Fairway

Part of the short cycling is down to the boiler only needing to heat one radiator - with Hometronic and EvoHome, it is the radiator TRV's that tell the boiler (via Hometronic manager) that it needs heat - something not grasped by many when comparing with more basic automated TRV's. Even though the Hometronic manager has some logic to allow some zones to borrow heat from requests made by another, it still can result in one room/zone only demanding heat
As for opening up heating systems to the internet, call me old fashioned, but even as an IT professional, I'm not keen.
I find the effort to hack my devices would be of such minute interest to malevolent humanity as to be a reasonable risk. If a digital intruder set my bedroom rad to 28C I'd more likely giggle than cry.

So the discussion point I was most interested in was the wisdom of many zones not just one or two.  My dwelling is not particularly easy to insulate hence heat loss from intermittently used spaces is a real issue.

In response to The Fairway's statement about heating up being inefficient...  I  dont yet find it reasonable to say the scheduling of zone temperatures is less energy efficient than constant temperature setting... there will be a cut over point below which this is true but if our bedroom trmperature drops 6C in an hour or so... then we are avoidably leaking energy all the hours its unoccupied if kept at higher temp.

Key points I make are
avoiding single zone solutions
stick to established atandards for devices not proprietary lock-in
make it resilient to normal humans and their predictable behaviours (Antman's main point.. discuss how etc.)
make system outage a non-problem (hard wired timer runs even when home automation is dead, trvs have a setting which can be adjusted at the device head not only via wireless)
if you want more intervention on the boiler operation then add that into the logical interlock and programme that as you see fit -but make it fail-soft so that call for heat always results ... in heat:)
as with even good ol secreted zone valves and wiring... budget for maintenance and unit replacements.  Electronic devices fail but its electromagnetics and valve hardware that is more the issue.  'Brittle' Software and brittle telecoms standards are equal to the risks from electronics.  thats alone is not a reason to be shy of the future.
if you're a technophobe... stay away until home automation is consumer-ready in say 10yrs.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 03:25:28 PM by tiptop » Logged

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on-roof cassette from reclaimed ali, in yard
Scaffold tower on back-order from ebay
TheFairway
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« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2017, 03:27:45 PM »

Interesting repose from The Fairway

As for opening up heating systems to the internet, call me old fashioned, but even as an IT professional, I'm not keen.
I find the effort to hack my devices would be of such minute interest to malevolent humanity as to be a tradonable risk. If a digital intruder set my bedroom rad to 28C id more likely giggle than cry.
Its not so much the hacking aspect, its the reliance on external services and standards thast need to remain available for the lifespan of the system (I don't think 20+ years is unreasonable if layout has not changed).

I've been involved in 'home automation' since early 90's. Various guieses come and go, but generally for the reasonable lifespan of the product the product is as usable at day 'n' as it was at day 1.

The problem that we have now, and I include hive/nest/EvoHome etc in this, is that these products are totally reliant on external services and standards for a large proportion of their functionality that you either end up with a product stopping working after a period of time because the external service or standard has changed or been discontinued, or you end up on the preverbial rollercoaster ride where once you start using the product, you need to regularly keep up with changes needed to still maintain the same level of functionality otherwise you will lose it. Take for example, needing to upgrade your phone OS just to be able to run the latest version of the app, but at some point, your phone will not be able to run the latest OS so you need a new phone. Not an unusual example these days with subscriptions to media or some services, but when you have a product with an expected lifespan of 20+ years, its nice to be able to get off the rollercoaster before the journey is over.
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tiptop
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« Reply #29 on: January 25, 2017, 04:30:49 PM »

...     you need to regularly keep up with changes needed to still maintain the same level of functionality otherwise you will lose it.

I think its a matter of degree and not yet avoidable to be fair.

Tips for systems include
-Pick the steady performers in the industry such as Danfoss for TRVs..  not likely to be perfect but not likely to entirely disappear either
- Generic and standards based tools such as z-wave controllers are less likely to become unsupported and obsolete than bespoke components such as Hive (??)
- Avoid total dependency on web connectivity beyond your dwelling (z-wave should be good without any upgrade ever as long as firmware is left alone)
- Upgrade e.g. controller firmware only when utterly essential, ditto user interface of the controller.
- Expect e.g. log files to fill up so avoid logging data if you're not techie. Full storage can become very problematic
- You might even want to buy a duplicate controller of same config in storage.   ... a bit OTT perhaps.
- An active online user community with forum is a great help.   no forum = more lonely and troubled developments if you get adventurous

Not disagreeing, just so pleased I did get it set up and in service
Not sure I know how HIVE or NEST match up to these criteria

« Last Edit: January 25, 2017, 04:49:27 PM by tiptop » Logged

4 Sq m of flat solar thermal panel (in sitting room) all unused, from ebay
Much ebay kit (controller, pump station, lead tile, DN12 hoses, fittings, 3Port vavle, Expansion Vessel) in crates in sitting room
on-roof cassette from reclaimed ali, in yard
Scaffold tower on back-order from ebay
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