/ Smart Boiler Controls

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The New NickB - on 09 Jan 2017
I have had a new boiler installed today, central heating working again, just in time for the cold spell due at the end of the week.

I thought it might be a good time to get a smart control system to go with it. Has anyone got any experience of the HIVE, NEST, TADO, Netatmo or Bosch Worcester Wave systems? Most seem to be £200-300 installed.

I quite like the geopositioning concept with the TADO system, but I have no idea how well the systems work in practice.
Jack_Marshall - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

I have a honeywell evo home installed, the zone control with the TRVs is great but it just runs to a schedule rather than geo position, which would really help. but other than that its has been no problem.

that said unless it is likely to save you the install cost in your energy consumption in it predicted life time of the system. don't bother. this is often quite hard to quantify beforehand though.

Things to ask are things like how long does the manufacturer guarantee support for the system use this as a guide for the lifetime, and how much energy can it save you, in kWh then find out how much you are paying and do the math.

chances are if you have anything that is not optimal in terms of insulation its like to be more cost effective to do that first, it might even be better just change energy supplier to reduce costs.

I realise my reasoning has been money based but that seems to be the biggest driver in energy consumption reduction, in my experience. often the flashy cool thing doesn't really do much to cut through the hype if you have access to European standards EN 15232 tries to quantify controls impact on energy use. but its not worth the £200 ish that it costs for a single house
mav - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

We looked at it, spoke to people who had HIVE and then didn't bother. Unless you have thermostats in every room, which drove up the cost, the predominant benefit seemed to be the ability to switch the heating on and off remotely, which didn't interest me hugely.
gethin_allen on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

Seems like another unnecessary gadget to me. Most people's lives run to a fairly regular routine; go to work at return at regular times etc. so it's easy to set a normal timer thermostat to turn the heating off in the day and then heat the house around the time you get home.
I bought a non-smart wireless programmable thermostat just because I didn't want to run cables through the house and although I could carry it around the house with me so that I'm only heating a room to the temperature I want at that moment and can change the temperature from my seat I could also just turn the radiator off of walk 10 paces to the kitchen where the thermostat lives most of the time.
MG - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

Does anyone have programmable room thermostats? They make more sense to me. For instance, I don't want to heat my.bedroom at the same time as the living room, typically.
kathrync - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

I have Hive - we got it because when we moved into our house two years ago and needed a functional thermostat, they were on a deal.

We have had no problems with it, but as others have said, I am not sure it is worth the premium if you have a single thermostat. The only advantage is that I can switch the heating on and off remotely (occasionally handy on the way back from a mountain day, or if I get drenched on the way from work).

We also have a Hive light bulb that we got as a freebie - that is quite good for having a main light on a timer while away, but there are other ways of doing that. It also enables my partner to annoy me by switching the lights on and off while he is off shore.
jkarran - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

I suspect unless you're always coming and going at random times in truth they're mostly just gadgets for the sake of having gadgets. I can see some point to many of the functions modern controls provide but bolting them on to an existing install is unlikely to realise much of their power and the money may be better spent on insulation, draft proofing or adding a heating zone and an additional 5/2 programmable thermostat so day and night spaces are properly controlled and separately. I say that though as someone who dislikes gadgets and who still has much low hanging fruit to pick when it comes to improving my leaky old heating system
jk
The New NickB - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

The house is well insulated, but I don't have a functioning thermostat, the old one never worked, the heating was either on or off, no more control than that. I have also moved the boiler. I need to sort out a thermostat anyway, possibly more than one, so it seems to make sense going to a smart system.
mav - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to kathrync:

One person I asked about it said that her husband turned the heating from the office while she was in the house as he felt it wasn't needed yet. (It was the only point I saw the advantage...)
thommi - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

One advantage of the Wave is that it is a weather compensator, meaning it will adjust the temperature of the flow from the boiler in relation to the outside temperature. This does save energy.
deepsoup - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to gethin_allen:
> Most people's lives run to a fairly regular routine; go to work at return at regular times etc. so it's easy to set a normal timer thermostat to turn the heating off in the day and then heat the house around the time you get home.

I don't. I live alone, work more or less random days, usually go out early when I am working and return some time between noon and about 8pm. (Also quite randomly, though I usually do have at least a vague idea how long the job is going to take.)

I have a single, wireless thermostat (really don't need more than one) and what would really suit me is if I could replace that with something I could turn up remotely when I'm leaving work to come home to a warm house. It'd be fantastic if that was compatible with what I have now (a fairly bog-standard 'Danfoss' thing), so I could just 'pair' the new one with existing receiver. Apart from the 'remote control' bit, it wouldn't need to be 'smart' at all.

Don't suppose anyone knows of something like that available to buy do they?
krikoman - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to MG:

That what Jack Mashalls system does.

I've got an older version, two zones, upstairs and downstairs. Thsi saves heating the whole house when we're all watching telly.

The new Honeywell system has individual valve controls for each radiator, this sounds like a much better idea, especially if you work from home.

Our system isn't tied into the boiler controls, we're renting at present, but it's great to just have downstairs heating on and not wasting/ getting upstairs too hot.

The only thing I might like to do, and I think Hive does it, is to be able to control our system remotely, i.e. switch it off when on holiday and switch it back on when you're on you're way back.

I have a remote SMS control module for that, but it's a bit of a pain to integrate into an existing system. This didn't cost me anything though as it was a work project we'd been trailing and it somehow managed to end up in my house. But they are relatively cheapish £120 or so and it works!
krikoman - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to deepsoup:
> Don't suppose anyone knows of something like that available to buy do they?

It depend how clever you are with a screwdriver, electrics and your heater controls.

You could easily override or switch on the heating by using a remote plug-in socket (Tp-Link Kasa or WeMo) £30 and a relay or direct to the controls. You could then switch this on via your phone.

The tricky part is making sure it's integrated into the system and is easily override-able

In it easiest form you remove the power from the boiler and plug it into the remote socket, set the boiler to constant heat, then when the socket is on the boiler fires up the heating.

Edit: this isn't the bet way to control the boiler, and may not work for all boilers.
Post edited at 14:03
Denzil - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB: I installed a NEST thermostat a couple of months back, having got fed up of the unreliable mechanical thermostat I had on the system. Even replaced with an"better" mechanical one a couple of years back but it still often overshot by a few degrees. The NEST does a good job of controlling the temperature and I like that it uses the projected external temperature to decide when to turn on and ensure it's up to the correct temperature for the time selected. Not sure if it will save any money overall, but it does allow easy changing of the timer settings, rather than fighting through the steps with the original timer/controller, and it looks after itself when the clocks change. The motion detector does a reasonable job of shutting down when not in, but my phone can't take advantage of the system that allows the presence of your phone to be used instead/as well. It's one of those gadgets which can simply be left to itself the majority of the time, which is how I like them (having spent 37 years designing high tech pieces of electronic equipment, I find little fun in playing with gadgets). I have used the remote access to pre warm the house when returning from a trip.

Fiona Reid - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

We have an old but perfectly working boiler which originally had on/off thus no real ability to control temperature. We opted for a wireless thermostat and TRV's fitted to all except the pass through radiator. This seems to work fine as we can set the TRV's to low in the bedrooms and high in the lounge as that's where we usually spend the evenings.

The thermostat normally lives in the hall (where the pass through radiator is) but as it's free standing / wireless we can shift it to whichever room we want. The thermostat lets you set minimum/maximum temperature along with programming when the heating comes on etc thus we can program it to come on a couple of hours a day and just override this when we're at home. The minimum temp setting forces the heating to come on if it gets really cold so pipes etc don't freeze.

Personally, I don't see much point in the remote control stuff as if it's cold when I get home I just put the heating on and usually by the time I've cooled down from cycling/unpacking the car/cooking or whatever the place has started to warm up. If it hasn't or it's really really cold then I have a down jacket.
deepsoup - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to krikoman:
> It depend how clever you are with a screwdriver, electrics and your heater controls.

Thanks for the idea. Not clever enough to come up with something I'd be keen to use though unfortunately.
I'd want something a bit more sophisticated than that really, or I'd rather not bother.

It has occurred to me that it's the kind of thing someone cleverer than me might use a RaspberryPI for.
Mind you, if I just stopped reading UKC that would probably free up enough time to learn how. ;o)
1
elsewhere on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to deepsoup:
I'm working on my own version of this Raspberry Pi + Heating Controller project at
http://fudgetech.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-min=2013-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2014-01-01T...

Got the hardware & software working with a heating controller from ebay but a bit stuck writing a good controller algorithm*. I think I need to bite the bullet, write a crude version and make it better incrementally rather than think of a clever final design.

*I need the heating to do feed forward due to time lags (room temp peaks 60 mins or so after heating goes off).

Eg heating for 60mins 1600 to 1700 on a cold day so it is warm at 1800
and heating for 30mins 1630 to 1700 on a mild day so it is equally warm at 1800
Post edited at 16:25
sopaz - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

I have a Heatmiser and would recommend - https://www.heatmiser.com/en/smartstat-wifi-thermostat/ Cost about £120 (although fitted myself..)

It's by a local company and they have good customer support. I've no idea how long the app etc. will be supported but this will still work as a "smart" thermostat without it (it'll just be missing the remote control, geo-location, etc).

Downsides - it needs a mains connection and can't be moved around to other rooms (works well for my house but depends where you site it).

Do you actually need one? Will it save you money? Probably not, and a basic Salus wireless thermostat is 1/4 the price...

Personally I love all this gadgetry IOT stuff anyway, but I find it useful to delay the heating when out (saves a few quid a week max based on my smart energy meter and usage, so will take a long time to pay itself off!) and I like the self learning pre-heat feature - it learns how long it takes to warm the house, so the temperature hits what you choose at the time chosen, rather than just starting the heating then.

deepsoup - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to elsewhere:
Aha. See, I knew someone clever out there would be doing this!
krikoman - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to deepsoup:

I'd got for the wireless thermostatic valves, first not sure if the new one's allow youto set the temperature from outside (internet) but with control in each room you can cut out heating rooms you don't use. It all depends on you house and it's set-up to be honest.

Ours is a town house three floors all the heat ends to go to the top of the house anyway.

In the mornings we heat the bed rooms for 30 mins ( top floor ) and the kitchen for the same amount of time. Evenings Kitchen heated for when we come home, middle floor for an hour after that, that's usually enough, unless it's freezing outside.

A simple two output SMS gate opener can work for most times if you looking to switch on and off remotely, but again it depend upon access to the control wiring and how you feel about tampering with it.

Good luck.
deepsoup - on 10 Jan 2017
In reply to krikoman:
It's a small house - don't really have any rooms I don't use. Not that I heat anyway.

What I have at the moment is one thermostat (as well as mechanical thermostatic valves on the rads).
Rather than turning the heating on and off as such, the thermostat changes it's 'target' temperature at the set times. The default for "off" is to set the temp to 5 degrees, to be sure pipes won't freeze etc.

What I do at the moment is set it for a few degrees cooler than I really want at the earliest time I'll be home, so that when I do get in it doesn't take long to warm up when I turn it up a bit manually. It isn't an expensive place to heat, so in the scheme of things that probably isn't really terribly wasteful.

I'd never heard of an 'SMS gate opener' before - not useful in this case, but could well be for something else another time, so thanks for that.
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Irk the Purist - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

I have a nest and I love it. I can't say if it's saved us money as we had a new boiler at the same time. But I suspect it is.

I use ITTT app to geo fence. It knows when I'm nearly home so comes on. The auto away is brilliant (now called eco) as if you don't come in when you normally do, the heating doesn't come on.

I haven't touched the thermostat or the heating controls in months.

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