Heat Genius – Controlling Your Central Heating From Your TV

Last year Johannes Jensson reviewed the Heat Genius system for us on Automated home. Now he’s controlling his heating from his telly with the addition of a few accessories…

I decided to do an experiment and try to find out if I could access and control my Heat Genius Intelligent Heating Controller through my TV. In theory this should be OK as Heat Genius have created an Android App that should run on any device that has the compatible Android OS and can communicate either through Ethernet or WiFi via a Router.

Heat Genius – Android TV Box

For those of you who have not heard about Heat Genius, the system lets you control your heating from anywhere. Connect to the Internet with your Smartphone, Tablet, Laptop or Computer and the Heat Genius app gives you complete control of the heating in your home.

Android is a mobile operating system (OS) based on the Linux kernel and currently developed by Google. Android works on many platforms such as Phones, Tablets, Wear and TV.

Before I attempted to test out my theory I decided it was better to be safe than sorry so I contacted Simon at Heat Genius and asked him, if he though this could work and he agreed with me that in theory it should work but he said Heat Genius had not tried to operate the Heat Genius through a TV and he did not know anybody who had tried it either. Heat Genius native Android App is compatible with Jelly Bean: Android 4.1 and KitKat: Android 4.4 so yes it should work. However, Simon had one warning for me, he said they had found that new Android releases have an issue with the App. He then went to explain that Heat Genius are currently going through another development cycle, and so the next release will certainly pick up any issues with KitKat: Android 4.4.2 compatibility, if they exist.

What Android Hardware do I need?

To access Heat Genius through your TV you need Android hardware attached to your TV. In my instance this connection was done through an UGOOS Android TV Box. There are 100’s of manufacturers worldwide who make Android Mini PCs and Android TV Boxes. Many of these Android devices are inexpensive but still powerful computers in their own right. The price of a Android Mini PCs can start as low as £20 to £30 but as with anything else you get what you pay for so the better performing and higher specification Android TV Boxes can cost as much as £120. But, what if my TV is not the latest Digital TV and it does not even have a HDMI port? Don’t worry you can buy a HDMI composite cable for few pounds on eBay etc.

The Low budget Android Mini PC solution

The Ugoos Um2 Android Mini PC TV Dongle has a decent specification and excellent price (2GB RAM 8GB Flash Quad Core Rk3188 Android 4.2).

These dongles feature internal hardware similar to that of many smartphones and tablets. An ARM-based SoC attached to a bit of memory, flash storage, and network controllers, and they run the Android OS. Plug the device in to an available HDMI port on an HDTV and supply the needed power, and the dongle will essentially turn your TV into an all-in-one computer running Android. You’ll have to plug a mouse/keyboard into the dongle (or connect input devices wirelessly via Bluetooth) to complete the setup and click icons or enter text. When you’re done, you’ll have access to everything the Web and the Google Play store have to offer.

However, a word of warning. These devices are very small and if you cannot hide them from display, once loaded they do like a mess when all your cables and add-ons are connected.

Ugoos UT3 TV Box

The High-end Android TV solution

For a more powerful option check put the Ugoos UT3 kit. It has an impressive quad-core specification (2.0GHz 4G+32G, RK328, Quad core, Android KitKat 4.4, XBMC TV BOX with 2.4/5Ghz WIFI, Bluetooth 4.0, H.265)

The High-end Wireless Remote Control Air Mouse

It doesn’t get much better than the MELE F10 Pro 2.4G Wireless Remote Control. The advantage of using a Air Mouse over lets say traditional wireless mouse is that you don’t need a table when you operate your Air Mouse. If you’re buying either a Android Smart TV Box or Apple TV Box this item is highly recommended as it’s much faster to use and significantly enhances the user experience.

You just wave it about and click the buttons, It really is like child’s play. Surely you have seen someone use a Nintendo Wii? Well you don’t need to take it to the extreme of trying to beat Andy Murray at Wimbledon. No your task is much more serious than that – your task is to beat the energy companies at their own game by better managing and ultimately cutting down your heating bills and your new Air Mouse is one tool that will assist you with this task.

5-1 port HDMI splitter – Optional

You probably need to get yourself a HDMI splitter if you already have Playstation, Xbox, Humax or other devices connected to your TV. Again these are fairly inexpensive like these ones on Amazon.

Home Plug – 100 or 1000Mbps (Pack of 2) – Optional

When it comes to buying Powerline Home Plugs the choice becomes very confusing indeed. Many Home Plugs are sold with a description that states that they can operate at up to 200Mbps or 500Mbps and then there are other 1,000Mbps Powerline Gigabit Ethernet Adapters.

I can recommend the ZyXEL PLA5206 or the TRENDnet Powerline 500 AV Nano Adapter because I own and have had no issues with both these Powerline Ethernet Home Plugs devices. To use them you need two matching identical plugs one for each end and you don’t need to configure anything. Both these devices work beautifully. You can run different type of plugs at the same time on your electrical power grid and there will be no data interference between them -for simplicity sake – same lets say they will not know about each other.

Although the newer and faster Powerline Home Plugs are true Gigabit Ethernet Adapters you need to be aware that your comms will only be as fast as your slowest component, so put some thought into it when your are specifying and buying your components.

But… what about wireless networking?

The same rule applies also when you are planning to use your wireless networking, but everything is not always what it seems so before you start you should consider the following aspects of wireless networking – Speed, Interference, Range and Application.
Wireless Network Speed

The Gigahertz (GHz) range that a wireless device is using does not necessarily determine the maximum speed of the wireless network. A Wireless-A device that runs on the 5 GHz band can also support a maximum data rate of up to 54 Mbps, which is exactly the same data rate that a Wireless-G device running on the 2.4 GHz band supports. The environment in which the network will be set up is what really should be considered.

Interference

A 5 GHz network has a lower chance of picking up interference because most wireless devices such as Bluetooth devices, cordless phones, wireless door bells, baby monitors, microwave ovens, and computers use the 2.4 GHz frequency. However, if you WiFi network has truly slowed down it is probably your neighbours’ Wi-Fi Networks that is probably be the biggest source of interference. The problem is that most existing Wi-Fi equipment operates on the crowded 2.4GHz band. There are basically three non-overlapping channels that can be described as a three-lane road that’s really, really busy. If you use a 2.4GHz router and live in a densely populated area, your neighbours’ Wi-Fi networks could interfere with yours, hindering the performance and range of your wireless network.

Range

The 5 GHz band has a shorter range compared to a 2.4 GHz band because in radio frequencies, the higher the frequency the shorter its range. In other words, if you are using a lower frequency like the 2.4 GHz, the distance it will cover will be greater than the 5 GHz band.

Application

It is recommended to select the 2.4 GHz if you will be using computers to access the Internet for simple browsing and email. These applications do not take too much bandwidth and work fine at a greater distance.

Making the Connections

Installing either a Android Mini PC or Android TV is rather painless affair. As often as these words are muttered something will not work as you planned or you discover you need additional component that you forgot about in all your excitement of connecting your latest Android Kit. Just make sure everything is working OK before you proceed to the next stage of downloading the Heat Genius Android App from Google Play Store. For the ones of you who are not sure what the path is for the store I have added the path here: https://play.google.com/store?hl=en_GB – you will be able to navigate to this location through your installed Android Device.

For the ones of you that have not yet bought Heat Genius Controllers or have not had your kit delivered or you just want to test how the system will work

Smart Home Genius Heating Controlled From Your TV

Running Heat Genius on your TV

Once the Heat Genius Android App has been installed on either and Android Mini PC or the more advanced Android TV Box, you can Login using your Username and Password and subject to how responsive your Android device is you should have a direct connection to your Heat Genius Hub and at a same speed as if you were using your Android Mobile or Tablet.

With a user interface based on direct manipulation, Android is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, with specialised user interfaces for televisions (Android TV), cars (Android Auto), and wrist watches (Android Wear). The OS uses touch inputs that loosely correspond to real-world actions, like swiping, tapping, pinching, and reverse pinching to manipulate on-screen objects, and a virtual keyboard. Despite being primarily designed for touchscreen input, it also has been used in game consoles, digital cameras, and other electronics.

Conclusion

My experiment worked better than I had anticipated. It turned out that there is little or no difference in operating the Heat Genius on a TV or Android Mobile Phone / Tablet. 
All the functions work the same, the only difference is the method you use to access it. It does however depend on what control device you are using how easy it is to navigate and move between areas in your Heat Genius Android App in order to change different options but it is a skill a user will master very quickly and it is certainly no more complicated than to operate your TV with your remote control.

Apple TV

It was my intention to do a Heat Genius compatible test on an Apple TV but the unit as it currently comes as standard does not support iOS Apps but don’t despair as Apple is just about to launch a new much improved Apple TV Box that will support just about all iOS Apps.

Home Automation is becoming mainstream and you can judge how serious companies like Apple take Home Automation in that their new Apple TV Box will be set to become the device that you use to control all the devices in your home. Although this might be fresh news to many Apple TV Box owners – anyone with third-generation Apple TV Box and with the latest 7.0 software update will now likely have a HomeKit-enabled central hub, whether they know it or not.

Apple has already revealed that HomeKit will use Bluetooth and WiFi to communicate, and Apple TV offers both. It’s always connected to WiFi and is always in your home. You could connect to it at any time and control your house heating and other Home Automated peripheral enabled devices such security lighting when you are absent.

My Next Experiment

Heat Genius on Apple TV and Android Wear? Well why not. Is anyone interested in voice operated Heat Genius?

Heat Genius  :  More Smart Home Heating Posts

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16 Comments on "Heat Genius – Controlling Your Central Heating From Your TV"

  1. Guðný Atladóttir | January 30, 2015 at 5:58 pm |

    Very informing and enjoyable reading.

  2. Johannes Jensson | January 31, 2015 at 9:43 am |

    I am glad you found my article informative and enjoyable. Thank you for your comment and for being the first one to make a comment.

  3. I find all the articles informative and enjoyable, not sure why they don’t get more comments.

    Great web site for home automation fans

    Thanks

  4. Johannes Jensson | February 1, 2015 at 6:00 pm |

    Colin

    I agree with you – I am also puzzled why there are so few comments. Perhaps I need to find a ingenious way to drive people to my articles but I have enjoyed testing my heating system and to see if it was feasible to run my Android App on my TV and without complications. I have also enjoyed writing the articles.

  5. Jason Steele | February 4, 2015 at 12:44 pm |

    I’ve been using Heat Genius for a couple of months now and would like to see the following:
    – Ability to temporarily override a radiator setting by adjusting the temp on the valve itself (supposedly coming soon).
    – A Windows / Windows Phone version of the app.
    – An open API so that I can write my own UI and integrate it with the rest of my Home Automation.

  6. Johannes

    I find your articles informative and interesting and they explain clearly that you can operate the Heat Genius App on your TV using an Android TV Box from Ugoos UT3 which I understand it is superb kit. However your information does not explain if it is possible to operate Heat Genius on other hybrid Android TV Boxes.

    I have an Amazon Fire TV Box which is technically an Android TV Box but with Amazon’s own customised code. I would like to know if I can use my Amazon Fire Box? If I can how do I go about installing the Heat Genius App on it.

  7. Johannes Jensson | February 4, 2015 at 10:32 pm |

    Jason – Thanks for getting in touch. It is always good to hear from fellow Heat Genius users. I am aware that there is a new App being launched either this week or next week for Beta testers, which I am one. I am, however not aware of what the update will contain but I am aware that Heat Genius has been working on additional ways to control the heating but I am afraid we have to wait and see for few more days.

    As for a Windows App – I don’t expect to see a Windows App from Heat Genius for a while, especially as rumour has been rife that Microsoft is about to enable Windows 10 to be able to run native Android Apps.
    Microsoft freely admits that the company has desire to “be everywhere“—a clear recognition that it’s not enough to be a giant in the PC industry any-more.

    I am like you – I want to see Heat Genius release their API so their customers like you and I can integrate our Smart Intelligent Heating Controls to our other Z-Wave Controllers.

    I would love to hear more about how you intend to write your own UI to integrate Heat Genius with your other Home Automation.

  8. Johannes Jensson | February 4, 2015 at 10:54 pm |

    Nigel – Thank you for your question if it is possible to operate Heat Genius on other hybrid Android TV Boxes and in particular your Amazon Fire TV Box. You also wanted to know how to install the Heat Genius App on your Amazon Fire TV Box.

    The answer to your question is YES and luckily this is rather simple and easy to do.

    I have tried this out on my friend’s Amazon Fire TV Box and as far as I can work out all the functions of the Heat Genius App work perfectly and I have documented my installation and configuration as follows:

    To install Android Apps like Heat Genius on Amazon Fire TV you need to download the Heat Genius App through: Amazon Appstore, which is already installed on your Amazon Fire TV device.

    Note: To install app stores not initially present on your device, Android devices require you to enable the Unknown Sources setting. For more information, go to Enable Unknown Sources.

    Enter the following path for Google Play store to enable you to download the latest Heat Genius App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.path

    The Amazon Appstore for Android app is generally compatible with all Android devices that run Android version 2.2 or greater.

    When installing Amazon Appstore for Android, your device may display a notification indicating that the app will get access to sending SMS messages, and that “this may cost you money.” At this time, SMS verification is only used by the Amazon Appstore in selected regions, and is not required if you have an account on Amazon.co.uk.

  9. Johannes Jensson | February 5, 2015 at 8:17 pm |

    Jason – good news I have got a hold of the new Heat Genius App and one of the things you are after has now been implemented. You are now able to control the Wirelesses Radiator Valves, the Boiler Controller, the House Thermostat and Smart Plugs without having to use the App. The new App allows you to override the temperature manually.

    You can now adjust it directly on the House Thermostat and the changes will affect all of the rooms you have set to ‘Timer’ or ‘Footprint’ mode. Or, if you want to change the temperature in a single room but you can’t find your phone, you can now do heating changes straight from the Wireless Radiator Valve. The new Apps has also few additional options added how you Override Settings.

    Heat Genius have also improved and added many other exciting features which I am sure you will love when you get a hold of the new App when it has been thoroughly tested by the Beta Tester.

    Once the App has been officially released I intend to do extended overview of the new App in the Automated Home > Forum > Heating Control > Heat Genius

  10. Johannes,

    It is widely reported that Apple’s HomeKit is going to shake up the connected home market.

    Do you think that there is a chance that Heat Genius will work with the new upcoming Apple HomeKit?

  11. Johannes Jensson | February 10, 2015 at 10:29 pm |

    Nigel – Thank you for a very interesting question. Your question is not very easy to answer because there are so many variables that have to fall correctly into place before I can answer your question with definite answers but it is widely rumoured that Apple TV 4th generation could feature in addition to being a TV Box: App store, games and also become a HomeKit Hub.

    It is true that without even launching their long anticipating upgraded Apple TV, people have been wildly speculating what their new product will include. We have been waiting since January 2013 for Apple to update their Apple TV, so it is no wonder that people are questioning what Apple are going to upgrade it with.

    For some of us Apple seems to be moving at a snail’s pace with the full-scale launch of its HomeKit automation system, a framework it announced back in June 2014, at its annual WWDC event.

    I for one don’t see Apple entering the TV Box market with unchanged product. They have left it too long for that and everyone else has either caught up with them or overtaken them and brought far superior products to the market. In order for Apple to catch up they need to take quantum leap in technology and become a leading Front Runner again. Anyone who underestimates Apple, do so at their peril. Apple has already signalled to their users that they want to enter the Home Automation market.

    In other words, one thing that is 100 percent certain is that Apple will enter the Home Automation market with their HomeKit. Ever since autumn 2014 Apple has been stipulating how non Apple manufacturers will be allowed to connect their hardware through their long awaiting HomeKit but only if they meet their stringent rules.

    In September 2014, when interviewed on Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple have been working on their Apple TV Box when he said: “I love operating my Apple TV from my watch – there’s I don’t think we have showed this. I’ve got a little advance copy. And so it will operate your Apple TV, and you can imagine that it can control other things as well”. Mr Cook has been has been busy lately dropping other suttle hints on other media channel interviews.

    As to your question whether I think there is a chance that Heat Genius will work with the new upcoming HomeKit, I need to tread carefully here as I am not privy to this information.
    However, I can give you my best educated guess and that said I know for a fact that Heat Genius works perfectly well on three different operating platforms: Apple iOS 8, Android and PC Windows (Win 7, 8 and 10) and from where I stand the Heat Genius Apple iOS App and indeed their Android App fits into the category that Apple has described as an App that could work with Apple HomeKit Bridge.

    Heat Genius must however, either add support for HomeKit into their smart devices in order for those devices to be considered HomeKit-enabled or change the code in their Apps for their software to be compliant as a bridged HomeKit device. Only the future will tell, which route Heat Genius will follow.

    Let me explain what Apple HomeKit is all about – HomeKit is a framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user’s home.

    The HomeKit implementation operates as a bridge device, and maps all connected Z-Wave devices into the HomeKit device directory, using Apple’s HomeKit device classes.

    I have noted with interest that Heat Genius have declared their interest on Twitter to “create an open API so anybody can integrate their system with others, including Apple HomeKit.”

    One Z-Wave hardware manufacturer has already demonstrated that Z-Wave will work with Apple HomeKit.

    In the above mention trial HomeKit implementation operated as a bridge device, and mapped all connected Z-Wave devices into the HomeKit device directory, using Apple’s HomeKit device classes.

    I hope this has answered your question?

  12. Johannes, thanks for your replies. I got invited to the beta and have sent my Google Play account names back but I haven’t heard anything since. Can I ask what you had to do to install the app after you sent your id to Heat Genius?

    I would like to write a Universal (phone/tablet) Windows app as a new UI to Heat Genius. I tried working out the API by sniffing the traffic going back and forth from the web app – but there was a lot to work out so I didn’t pursue it!

    But the project I would really like to do is to link it up to SmartThings. I have a hub from the US so it won’t be compatible at the Z-Wave level but I would like to be able to make web calls between the two systems.

  13. Johannes Jensson | February 12, 2015 at 9:39 am |

    Jason – I am glad to hear from you again and welcome your news that you have joined the Heat Genius Beta Tester program.

    You will not have received the new App because Heat Genius are in the final stages of running their in-house pre-Beta tests but it should be released very soon.

    I would love if you can keep me in your loop when you start writing a Heat Genius Universal Windows App for Phone and tablet. I have been following SmartThings with interest as I find it a fascinating web based solution as it is programmable by anyone with a typical web-developer skill set and unusually not only exclusive to firmware developers with highly specialised skill sets.

    The Z-Wave Alliance has added SmartThings to its board of directors, represented by Dan Lieberman, head of research and standards for the Samsung home automation division.

  14. Jason Steele | February 15, 2015 at 2:27 pm |

    Hi Johannes, got the app download email for the beta and have installed it. No change so far as I think I now need to wait for the hub to updated.

    I’ll let you know how I get on with app and integration projects – but of course it’s dependant on HG releasing an API!

  15. Johannes Jensson | February 18, 2015 at 11:59 am |

    Jason – Thank you for getting in touch again. I take it that you have now downloaded the Beta release App from Heat Genius.

    I would be very surprised if Heat Genius did not release a API. It is in their own interest to do so. I expect it will not be easy but anything is possible.

    Once the Beta testing is finished I am going to open up a new discussion folder on the Automated Home forum to see what HG users want included in future upgrades.

  16. I wonder how far heat genius has come in the last year? is it now controllable from siri?

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