My Automated Home: Heat Genius Smart Home Heating Controls

Heat Genius Hub

This months ‘My Automated Home’ feature follows Johannes Jensson’s compressive review of his Heat Genius installation…

Nobody has escaped the rapid rise of gas and electricity prices over the last 5 years. I had a feeling that my cash was really going up in smoke and I needed a permanent way to reduce my heating cost.

I had already taken quite a few steps to make my home energy efficient. I was an early adopter of low energy lighting and the kitchen is fitted with an induction stove. All white goods and electrical appliances are ‘A’ rated. My electricity consumption had dropped so rapidly that my energy supplier was suspicious and sent an inspector!

All the windows are double glazed with high performance thin sealed vacuum units. My house is well insulated and draught proof. Both front and back doors are double glazed composite doors that have insulation core and are classed as highly thermal energy efficient and draught proof. The attic space is insulated using cross-laid 30-40 cm thick glass wool and the floor concrete slab on the ground floor is insulated underneath using two layers of 5 cm polystyrene insulation.

The house is heated using a 30kW gas condensing boiler with 8 designer type, double-column and triple-column radiators. Column radiators create a greater surface area which allows more effective convection and control than standard panel radiators. This also cuts down how often my boiler switches on and off as the radiators stay warmer longer because they contain a greater volume of water.

Despite this, my heating bill was becoming uncomfortable. My boiler was controlled by an external Drayton Digistat 3+ Room Thermostat. It can punch above its weight in comparison with many other mightier thermostats but there’s a point that you cannot take it any further and in order to save energy, you must take a quantum leap in technology.

After doing extensive research into what I could do to save on my heating energy cost I decided to turn my home into a smart heated home.

Deciding what I want

I started by created a long tick list of features that I wanted included in my system specification and went about to compare available systems and their features. I looked at Hive, Tado and the Nest and although I found them very clever, I also came to the conclusion that they are really only a means to control your house thermostat remotely through your mobile. Neat, but not exactly groundbreaking.

I then came across the Heat Genius System, which can control individual radiators using wireless valves. That’s a huge step forward, because then you can turn off the radiators in any of the rooms you’re not using (e.g. the bedrooms during the day). That must save a lot more energy than simply being able to turn the heating off when you go out.

I contacted the company with a long list of questions about precisely what their system was capable of, so I could compare them with the Honeywell Evohome system. To my surprise Heat Genius (HG), a UK based startup company matched all Honeywell’s smart features that I wanted to turn my home into a smart heated home but they also had invented few of their own unique features. Since I installed my system they have added even more features to their already impressive specification.

The Heat Genius System comes with a “Genius Hub” which connects to your internet router and then uses Z-Wave, an open wireless communications protocol, to communicate with the boiler controller, electronic radiator valves and motion sensors. It means you can control the heating in any of the rooms of your house using any suitable smartphone (iPhone or Android), iPad or any web browser. To be honest the app’s not perfect on my Blackberry, but it’s usable.

Heat Genius Hub

Z-Wave is a wireless communications protocol designed for home automation, specifically to remotely control applications in residential and light commercial environments. Z-Wave communicates using a low-power wireless technology designed specifically for remote control applications.

Heat Genius System Features

  • Setback Temperature — the Heat Genius System has an important setback temperature feature that gives the user the option of changing the temperature setting automatically at night and also during the work day when the occupants have left the house.
  • Timer — timer mode lets you set the temperature of a room from between 4C and 28C, for any period of time.
  • Footprint Mode (aka smart occupancy detection) — in Footprint Mode the system will note your footsteps and help you reduce your carbon footprint. As it learns which rooms you use and when they are used, it will continuously optimise your heating schedule based on your lifestyle.

Each room that is in footprint mode will heat up ready for when you use the room, based on the pattern of use it has learned. At all other times, the system will switch off the radiator, saving you energy. The system also learns how long each room takes to warm up, so that it’s ready and warm when you come in.

Footprint Mode requires a Heat Genius radiator valve controller on each radiator and a Heat Genius motion sensor in each room that you wish to control automatically. You don’t need to fit these to every room, you can just install wireless Heat Genius radiator valve controllers and sensors in the rooms you use the most and schedule the other rooms manually.

Setting up temperatures can be done very quickly and easily, using ‘copy and paste’ to set schedules for other days of the week and other rooms in the house.

  • History — this feature allows you to look back at the temperature, the occupancy and what the heating was doing in previous weeks. You can even choose to be emailed a summary of how long your heating has been on for at the end of each month.
  • Weather Compensation — when the weather is sunny, the temperature can be reduced and you’ll still feel comfortable. Using the weather forecast and checking for sunny weather, the Heat Genius Hub can automatically reduce the target temperature in the rooms of your house, saving energy. You can choose to enable or disable this feature for each individual room.
  • Frost Protect — looks after your house when you are not there. If the temperature falls too low, then the heating will protect your home, and you can be sent an email alert to reassure you that everything is okay.
  • Away — when you go away on holiday, there is no point heating the house as normal. But you shouldn’t let the house get too cold either, or you could have burst pipes and other problems. Tell the system that you are ‘Away’ and enter a ‘Setback’ temperature and rest assured that your home will be looked after. You can check the temperatures when you are away using the app on your phone or any computer with internet access, just as you can at home.

If you’ve installed Heat Genius System in a second property, it can prove really useful to have full control of the heating even when you are not there. If the house is unoccupied you can simply choose to turn the heating off until you or your guests arrive.

What sold me the Heat Genius System?

It was the ability of the Heat Genius System to be expanding into home automation and how the Heat Genius System was well suited to retrofitting to my existing central gas heating system that convinced me that the Heat Genius System was the right system for me. I must admit that it was also many of the features that are unique within the Heat Genius System and the systems favourable ‘return on investment’ also weighted heavily and admittedly influenced my decision.

The Heat Genius System allows you to cut your household energy consumption by only providing heating when you need it and where you need it. The Heat Genius System can control heating in each individual room. It can even learn the best schedule automatically, to fit when you normally use each room. (Footprint Mode)

The Heat Genius System allows you to create zones in your home – meaning you only heat when you need and where you need. You can create zones in your home that have multiple radiators that you can control as one area. I have one designated zone that is an open area that covers my Living room, Kitchen and Dining room. This zone has 3 radiators that work as a single identity.

You can create your own heating schedule that reflects your lifestyle and the way you use your home.

Placing my Heat Genius System order

My Heat Genius system consists of:

1 x Heat Genius Hub — the ‘brain box’ that provides the link between your broadband router all the other components on the wireless (Z-wave) network. The Hub allows you to schedule your heating from any web device.

1 x Heat Genius boiler controller and thermostat — the Heat Genius System comes with HRT4-ZW and a ASR-ZW boiler controller that have extensively tried and tested, and uses open Z-Wave standard wireless technology. The boiler controller is compatible with most heating systems because it fits onto a standard thermostat backplate. The HRT4-ZW comes supplied with 2 AAA batteries and you can expect a battery life in excess of two years.

8 x Heat Genius wireless thermostatic valve controllers – these slip on to the end of your radiator instead of the existing thermostatic radiator valve head, and communicate wirelessly with the Genius Hub.

6 x Heat Genius intelligent zoning thermostats and motion sensors — the Heat Genius multi-sensor looks like a motion sensor and acts like one too. But it’s also so much more. The sensor combines a PIR (Motion) sensor with a light sensor and a temperature sensor all in one small package.

Heat Genius Z-Wave Motion Detector PIR

The multi-sensor enables intelligent control with motion sensing. The wireless Heat Genius motion sensors allow the system to be able to collate and then learn when you use each room and schedule the heating automatically (Footprint Mode).

The sensor’s 3V Lithium battery (CR123A) that is provided should give you more than 2 years of use in normal situations; the sensor sends an alert to the network when the battery needs replacing.

4 x Smart sockets — these simply repeat the wireless signal it on to other Z-Wave devices in your network. This extends the range and ensures that the network is reliable even through thick walls and other obstacles.

Heat Genius Z-Wave Socket

Within minutes of placing my order on the HG website, I received a confirmation of my order together with an email with installation instructions and user manual. While I waited for my order I spent some time reading over the instructions they had sent to me and tried to see the whole picture how the system needed to be installed and what the system was capable of.

Installing the Heat Genius System

I installed my own system – yes it took me much longer than it would take a professionally trained HG installer because I had to read the instructions manual first. Still, I found the system can be installed quickly and easily. There is no plumbing required and no mess. The wiring for the boiler controller is sometimes mains voltage though, so unless you’re sure that you can do it safely, get a Heat Genius installer to do it for you!

If you want to later expand your Heat Genius System, adding more intelligent radiator valves and motion sensors is easy to do yourself – and if you move house, it’s easy to take it all with you.

Genius Hub installation
This step is easy — just connect the Genius Hub to a free ‘Ethernet’ jack on the back of the internet router using the short Ethernet cable provided. I tucked everything out of the way and out of sight.

Boiler controller installation
My gas boiler is a Glow-Worm 30csi combination condensation boiler. My particular boiler model has both a volt free thermostat connection and a 230 volt mains voltage connection. I could see from the manual of my previous thermostat is “volt free”. I double checked this by checking how it was wired into the boiler.

Heat Genius Boiler Installation

To be completely sure that I would wire it correctly, I decided to give the Heat Genius support team a call. I was asked details about my boiler and how my current thermostat was installed. I was asked to take few digital photos of my current installation and send to them so they could study them and then accurately provide me with advice that best suited my installation. It did not take the HG Team long to advise me how I should wire up my Heat Genius Boiler controller.

The wire leading from my boiler was 3-core and consisted of Live (brown), Blue (Neutral) and Yellow/Green (Earth connection). As my Digistat 3+ Room Thermostat was a volt free thermostat and was double insulated it only required two wires: Live (brown), Blue (Neutral). The Earth wire had been terminated with an Electrical Connector Terminal Block (see image)

Installing Heat Genius intelligent thermostatic radiator valve controller
To control individual room temperatures, you’ll need to install a wireless intelligent Heat Genius radiator valve controller on each radiator in the rooms that you wish to control.

If you have ordered Heat Genius intelligent thermostatic radiator valve controllers with your system you will receive with them two types of valve adapters or valve collars that will fit most standard radiator valve bodies installed within homes in UK.

The Heat Genius System comes supplied with two types of radiator valve adapters: Danfoss RA valve adapter and a screw type threaded adapter for valves with M30X1.5 connector. You will also receive two alkaline AA batteries and a 2 mm Allen key to be used for fastening the RA adapters.

All my radiators were installed with Danfoss RAS-C2 TRV’s. If you have older type of TRV’s this might be more complicated but it is very likely that you have either RA type of valves or valves with M30X1.5 connections. The Heat Genius technical team is very knowledgeable so I’m sure they can easily confirm whether it’s just a straight swap or if you need to change the valve.

Heat Genius Danfoss Z-Wave TRV

To be precise and economical as possible each one of the Heat Genius radiator valve must know the exact opening point of the valve it controls. During the first night of operation ‘the Heat Genius’ shuts off the radiator heat and then slowly opens again to detect the opening point. If necessary, this procedure is repeated once a night for up to a week.

Installing the Motion Sensors
When you are making a decision where to install your motion sensors I recommend you follow these five golden rules:

1. My advice is to mount the motion sensors at a height of 1.2 meters. The sensor is calibrated to measure the temperature most accurately at this height. If you install the sensors much higher like at a height of where motion sensors for a security system are installed you will get a totally wrong heat reading and it will just confuse the Heat Genius System.
2. The sensor needs to be positioned somewhere in the room where it has a good view of people when they are sitting down or where they spend most of their time in the room.
3. Don’t let the sensor face a window or to be placed in a location that is in a path of a direct sunlight.
4. Don’t let the sensor face the source of heat such as a radiator.
5. Try to avoid placing the motion sensor on an outside wall. This is to avoid the sensor misreading the room temperature.

Heat Genius radiator valves
The Heat Genius intelligent thermostat controller is in total control while at the same time its built in fuzzy logic is provided to learn and adapt to my lifestyle.

Features:
Open windows function — If a Heat Genius wireless electronic valve controls detects a sudden drop in temperature e.g. due to an open window or an open outside door, the valve reacts by temporarily shutting off the heat on the radiator, saving you money.

Valve exercising — If the radiator valve is in the same position for a longer period of time (e.g. during the summer) the radiator valve might get stuck. To avoid that, the valve automatically ‘exercises’ every Thursday at approximately 11am by opening it fully for 5 seconds and then return it to normal setting.

Conclusion

Before I bought the Heat Genius I only had one thermostat, located downstairs. If I raised the temperature in my main Living Area (Living room, Kitchen and Dining Room) the heat went up everywhere else like Master bedroom, Bathroom, Guest Room, Study and Hall – this wasted a lot of energy. When I started to look at what heating controls were available on the market I decided to get all my radiators replaced to give me more surface area and better control of the heat and I had all the radiators fitted with Danfoss TRVs. It was very easy to switch these to the Heat Genius valves.

The thing I like about the Heat Genius System is its simplicity in use. I like to use the App on my Samsung Galaxy Note Tablet and on my PC. I use it extensively and find it easy to use and configure and there are not many features that I have not used. I also like how fast the company reacts when I have needed clarification and assistance setting up my system.

What I discovered when I was using the App is how well my house is insulated and how little the temperature fluctuated. I use the App to set the Master room temperature to warm up the room at night-time and then I configure the Setback Temperature not to drop below 17C.

My friends who have come over to see how my new Heat Genius System works often comment on the fact that the Heat Genius System is almost invisible to the eye. My reply to them is that invisible home automation is perfect home automation!

Personally, I’ve found that the way to set and use your Heat Genius System is to find the lowest temperature settings that you are comfortable with at the different times you have chosen, and then leave it alone to do its job. The best way to do this is to set low temperatures first, say 18C, and then turn them up by one degree each day until you are comfortable with the temperatures. You won’t have to adjust the system further, and you’ll save as much energy as possible.

Measuring the use of gas when operating with the new Heat Genius TRV Controllers I estimate that I am now saving somewhere between 43-46%. This might sound a lot but it is as near as I can work it out. My house was well insulated to start with, but buying the Heat Genius System is still one of the best investments I’ve made. People with poorly insulated homes should save even more.

heatgenius.net  :  More Smart Home Heating Reviews

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36 Responses to “My Automated Home: Heat Genius Smart Home Heating Controls”

  1. Nice article and some good tips to improve home heating system. However, I don’t believe that batteries would last for 2 years. I used few dummy Z-wave PIP sensors (they had 3 AAA batteries) and they were almost empty after 1 month (placed in a busy area – kitchen) or 2 months (placed in less busy corridor).
    Another remark, Z-wave is not an open protocol. It cost heavy license money when one wants to develop for Z-wave. Therefore, my wireless technology of choice is the energy harvesting EnOcean. No batteries and the protocol is open.

  2. Johannes Jensson June 24, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Thank you Michal for your valuable input to my article. I stand corrected — indeed the Z-wave standard is not an open protocol. It is a proprietary wireless standard and I apologise for suggesting that the Z-wave was anything else but a proprietary standard.

    However, there is an advantage using Z-wave over EnOcean as it uses MESH networking that is more suitable for residential environments, especially where the setup might be complex like in older residential building. Z-wave is also suitable for small to medium size business premises.

    No single wireless system can satisfy the entire user requirement. It makes perfect sense to opt for EnOcean in situations where batteries are not wanted or unacceptable because of the service investment in larger buildings with many hundred transmitting devices in one radio cell.

    However, in a small residential or business environment, the low replacement cost of batteries makes perfect sense. I stand by my words that the batteries in the Heat Genius motion sensors will last for more than two years. However, only time will tell how they will last in my HG/ LC13 radiator valves but once their batteries are depleted I intend to replace the batteries with AA Lithium and then their batteries life expectancy is guaranteed for more than two years.

    Batteries might become obsolete in the near future in some of the Z-Wave products as MiOS and EnOcean launched an exciting new plug in product that can be integrated into Z-Wave products. This product was on show at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. The new plug-in creates a energy harvesting wireless module or a bridge between EnOcean, an established standard in wireless building automation, and residential Z-Wave wireless products.

    Z-Wave users can now utilize the benefits of wireless without batteries.

  3. Hi Johannes, please post your findings with battery life duration. If you can find a Z-wave PIR which can last 12 months+ in a busy area like kitchen, then I would obviously be interested in it! But this must be based on real life usage, not marketing pitch, because the ones which died on me in one month should last more than 2 years according to the seller.

  4. What was the overall cost of your purchase?

  5. Johannes Jensson June 24, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Michal – I am sorry to hear how short your batteries are lasting but I can only report what I am experiencing at my home — the room sensors that I use are the latest Philio PSP01 PIR motion sensor that has the newest Z-wave series 400 chip. I would like to add that I don’t have any connection with Heat Genius Ltd, apart from being a very happy customer, who is interested in letting other people know what I have experienced.

    My household consists only of two people and the movement around the busiest room sensor is perhaps not nearly as high as around your Z-wave PIR sensor in your busy kitchen. I understand your concerns and annoyance with your battery life and I would also be questioning the benefits of using batteries if they only lasted 1-2 months. I hope you find a suitable solution.

    Because of your constructive feedback I intend to monitor my battery usage closely and if I am not happy with how long they last I intend to give feedback at a future date.

  6. Johannes Jensson June 24, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    My complete system including delivery and VAT came to £812.00.

    My recommendation based on my own experience is for anyone to buy room sensors to enable zoning and to be able to accurately see what the temperature is in each heating zone. I was pleasantly surprised how well my house was insulated – I knew it was supposed to be well insulated but the sensors confirmed without a shadow of doubt what the temperature actually is in each zone. Hawing room sensors enables my to see at a glance if the room really needs to be heated – of course you can allow the system to do this automatically for you but I found it valuable for me to be able to see it myself and then decide.

  7. Thank Johannes for your input. To give you my findings, the Z-wave PIRs died after about 12000 messages (I use openremote together with emoncms to monitor it) which gives about 16 messages/day if then need to last 2 years. Obviously the traffic in my kitchen is much heavier :-0 (my wife cooks every day and our dinner table is there too).

  8. How good is this system compared to the more high end automation technologies such us Luxone.

    Is it possible to control other things with this setup? Like lighting for example? Can you suggest a system?

  9. Johannes Jensson June 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Michal – thank you for sharing your findings and your experience with your PIR. Again I share your frustration that your Z-wave PIRs died after about 12000 messages.

    I am not sure how much your software allows you to adjust the sensitivity settings in your PIR but the app that I use with my Heat Genius system allows me to configure the sensitivity of the occupancy detection of my room sensor (PIR). Currently I have all PIR configured apart from one sensor to 50%. In addition I was careful where I positioned my sensors but I am sure you have taken this into account in your situation.

    I read about your impressive profile and now realise that you have an extensive education background and that you are a hard core automation enthusiast with background in microelectronics and electronic instrumentation. I take my hat off for you and I am glad your posted a question to my article.

  10. Johannes Jensson June 25, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Atif Jung – thank you for your question. Let my first admit that I don’t know much about Luxone. I did look at them briefly when I was drawing up my wish list and deciding the specification I wanted for my gas boiler heating control system and although I found Luxone were providing very impressive high end automation technologies they could not provide me what I was after.

    I know that Heat Genius are working on a API to allow integration to other home automation systems but I don’t know how far they are to complete their work.

    Perhaps you should contact them and ask them. I am sure they will be interested hearing from you.

  11. Johannes Jensson June 25, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Atif Jung – Sorry for not answering all your questions. As I mentioned in my previous reply Heat Genius are currently focusing on a way to integrate their system with other Home Automation systems through their own developed API.

    However, if you wanted to venture into the full Home Automation and you wanted to stay with Z-wave technology then there are number of impressive controllers on the market such as:

    Z-Wave MicasaVerde Vera Lite
    Z-Wave VERA 3 Internet Gateway
    Z-Wave Fibaro Home Center Lite

    and then there is the big-daddy and the most impressive high end Z-Wave Fibaro Home Center 2 System, which can do almost anything that anyone may wish for.

    Please note: The Heat Genius system provides unique control of your heating system and are in many ways more advanced than anything else currently on the market.

  12. Hi Johannes

    How do you control your hot water? as it seems heat genius only controls heating

    Thanks

  13. Hi Nasal – thank you for your question. I control my domestic water through my built-in-control in my gas condensing boiler.

    Heat Genius controls the central heating by measuring my pre-set room temperature.

    Heat Genius can also controls hot water. This is a new feature that was recently added as a free upgrade to the system.

    I know there is a Beta program under-way to control under floor heating and as far as I know it is nearly fully developed.

    Basically the Heat Genius is designed to handle almost every type of heating and that includes even geothermal heating control.

    I hope this answers your question – if not please let my know and I will do my utmost to answer any further questions you may have.

  14. Hi Nasal – I forgot to mention that the new App that is now currently in use Version 2.8.5 has support for Hot Water remote control. My apology if this has caused you any confusion.

    Also I would like to mention to you that Heat Genius is re-launching their website next week and there might be more information on how their latest App now supports domestic hot water.

  15. Hi Johannes

    I am having my heat genius installed on Tuesday taken advantage of the free fitting offer have you any tips to get the most from it i know its been a warm summer so you probably have not used it much but have you found any problems I can’t wait should have been having the UFH control as well but that has been put back a month so they can sort out a problem with it nothing major.

    thanks

  16. Johannes Jensson October 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Hi Steve

    Congratulations on your purchase of Heat Genius Smart Heating Controls. You will not be disappointed with your system and it is almost bullet proof. I have had minor problems but everything has been ironed out and these problems can almost all be contributed to myself for not understand fully what I was doing.

    I have been using my Heat Genius since the beginning of this year so I have some experience of using my system during very cold weathers and yes this summer has been great but as I have my house divided into six zones I have really only had to switch my heating on for 15-30 minutes at a time.

    If you have bought the multi sensors – they measure the temperature in the rooms and are extremely precise and well made and visitor usually don´t spot them. I use the readings from the room sensors to get a better understanding how each room in my house reacts to outside temperature. This again allows me to set the temperature more accurately for comfort and to save energy.

    My gas bill has dropped down so dramatically that my energy supplier NPower have sent a gas engineer to inspect my gas meter and how my gas boiler is plumbed in.

    My gas savings this year are going to be over £400, which is far better than I had anticipated.

    I have been analysing how this has been achievable. My house is very well insulated, all my walls, ground-floor and attic are insulated. All my windows are double glazed and both the front and back doors are composite insulating doors. I have to give the Heat Genius most of the credit for my savings but some of it I can put down to having column radiators that hold larger volume of water and 15-30 minutes in the morning is all you need for the rest of the day – During colder spells I intend to leave the system in Foot Print mode and let the system sense how we use our home and to switch the heaters on and off as it thinks fit – I intend to monitor this mode carefully but I think I will save even more than using the system in manual mode.

    Tell my a little bit about how your system is going to be configured i.e. how many zones, sensors, type of boiler, radiator valve controllers etc., and your underfloor heating (UFH).

  17. Hi Johanness

    Well been installed this morning minor problem with boiler but was fixed after the plumber called Worcester. I have a Worcester greenstar 30si combi boiler.

    I have 4 zones at the moment the Living room has two radiators which have been linked and one PIR installed, The stairs and landing one rad have not bothered with a sensor at the moment here. The bathroom one rad and one sensor and finally bedroom one rad one sensor.

    The UFH which is in the extension will hopefully will connected to the heat genius system next month they are having a slight problem with how much power the pump pulls when it kicks in but have been told they will sort it out, when it has there will be one sensor in there.

    Have got two other rooms but have not installed anything on them yet will do in future they are not really used a lot so just leave the honeywell trove on them for now.

    Hopefully will start to save some money on my gas if can save about half what you have will be really happy

  18. Johannes Jensson October 7, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Hi Steve

    Again congratulation on the installation of your new Heat Genius Intelligent Heating Controls.

    Thank you for describing to me what you have installed in your home. The only thing i can advice you to check is – make sure your PIR sensors are exactly 1.2 meters from floor level. This is where the manufacturers have calibrated then to be as accurate as possible.

    You can always install more PIR at a later date or when your budget allows it as they are they key for the Heat Genius system to work most efficiently.

    The beauty of the Heat Genius system is that you can keep adding more and more to the system at a later date once you have the core system installed.

    Is your new extension on one floor? Again the height or the location of your PIR for your UHF might be different to the rest of your home.

    Have you started to play with the system? What type of computer, tablet or a mobile are you using to access your system?

    Enjoy your new Heat genius Intelligent Heating Control System – I am sure you will love how accurate and easy it is to operate and I am sure your heating bills will be lower and you will start seeing some ‘return on your investment’

  19. Hi

    The book says the sensors should be 1.6 mts yes the extension is just one floor about 20sqmts i access the system using my iPhone 6 + and on my iMac at home had had a good play with it luckily last night had to pick wife up from Birmingham airport so on way home switched on a few rooms when got back there were nice and warm

  20. Johannes Jensson October 8, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Hi Steve – if your Heat Genius installation book says 1.4 metre, then it is best to stick to what Heat Genius says.

    However, if find the rooms to be in any way too warm or cold you can always look at alternative height adjustments. Incidentally, how are your sensor/PIR fitted to your wall? Are they fitted with black sponge that allows you to relocate the sensor if the need arises or are the permanently attached to the wall with the narrow double sticking tape that came with the sensors?

    If you are not sure you can always check the sensor by grabbing the sensor and move it around slightly and if you can rock it about it has the black spongy pads and then you can easily move them about if you need but I am sure your installers will have picked the best spot for each room sensor/PIR you have in your house.

    I find it great to raise the temperature before I get home as it gives me more flexibility that having it pre-configured for a specific time of the day. If I am delayed going home I delay the heating coming on but the same things happens when I get home early.

    Its all these small adjustment that save you gas and money over time.

    I am interested hearing from you again when you get your UHF working as I am considering UHF if I get a new house built.

  21. Hi Johannes thank you for your very detailed review – extremely helpful.

    I have a holiday let and am looking for a remote control system for heat and hot water with self managing capabilities and HG looks good.

    One thing I can’t quite understand is the incremental benefit of the room sensors if wireless TRV’s have been fitted – can you try to enlighten me please?

    Also in a holiday let situation the guests will need the ability to call for heat or hot water during programmed “off periods” and also to adjust the space heating temperature away from the system settings. It is essential that when they do this they can’t lock out my remote control access. Do you have any knowledge of how this local overriding would work with HG?

    Many thanks

    Matthew

  22. Johannes Jensson November 3, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Hi Matthew – In my view Heat Genius would be ideal for a holiday let. It gives both the guests and you full control of the system. One of the benefit for you is that you can pre-warm the holiday let before the guests arrive and you can also reduce the heat immediately when the let is over and the guests have left. It also allows you to monitor the status of the system. You can instantly see if any batteries are needing replaced (needs to be replaced every 2-3 years).

    As for your guests they can download the Heat Genius App onto their mobile phones or a Tablet (Android or iOS) before their holiday starts. The system can also be accessed through a PC, but you access the system through the Heat Genius website.

    If you have a Combi-boiler there is very little you need to monitor but if you have for example a electric powered water tank you might want to make sure the heating elements are kept on as little as possible both to save energy and to reduce the wear and tear of the heating elements.

    The main benefit of using wall based thermostats are that they give you far more accurate measurement of the rooms and believe me when I say ‘you will notice a difference’. The wall thermostats that are used with Heat Genius has three sensors – one is used to measure temperature, another is used to measure movements and the third is used to measure light.

    Heat Genius combines the data from the temperature and movement sensors and they use a cleverly designed function that they call ‘Footprint mode’ There are 3 settings in the Footprint mode so that it works the way you want.

    The first mode is Super-Eco and the heating will only come on in a room if it is currently being used. This saves the most energy, but rooms will feel cold when you first walk into them. The Genius Hub will be reactive and will not bring the heating on before you get home.

    The second is Eco which is the standard Footprint mode setting, which learns when you use the the rooms and heat these up at expected times so the room is warm for when you use it.

    The third setting is Comfort and this is where Heat Genius will learn when you use rooms and if there are short periods of time when you are not in the room, the heating will stay on until it is sure that the room is no longer in use. This saves the least amount of energy but will be the most comfortable.

    Another advantage of having a wall based sensor is that the curtains can be pulled over and heavy furniture located close to the TRV and this will not affect the room temperature in any way apart if the curtains are very thick and fully pulled over the radiator it takes of course longer for the room to reach its requested temperature but if the radiators are not behind curtains this scenario does not apply.

    Having wall based thermostats allows you to divide your holiday let into different Zones. Each room can be an individual Zone are an open area like joined together Living room and Dining room that have perhaps 2-3 radiators. These areas can be programmed as a single Zone for comfort.

    The LC13 TRV’s Heat Genius use are great and near as bullet proof as things can become – I love them and I have extensively tried to confuse them but they don’t get fooled that easily. One of the function that I really like is how they can go into a temporary lock-down mode if a window has been left open when it is cold outside and the room temperature drops rapidly and in a short time. A normal thermostat would switch into full heat mode and unnecessary start to waste energy as a consequence.

    The clever thing about the LC13 TRV is that even if the system would go down say through some unknown reason the heating can still be controlled as a last resort from the TRV Smart Controller Heads directly. (In this scenario the curtains could fool the TRV if they are thick and are pulled over the TRV)

    One feature that might be of interest to you is how you can easily monitor any movement live at the holiday let. This is of benefit to you when there should be nobody occupying the premises. Any movement the sensor picks up is also recorded and you can view it in the graphic chart module.

    Your guests can have multiple access simultaneously to the system but you will also have full access to the system and you cannot be locked out and once the let is over you re-set the password so your guests cannot access the system once they have left after their holiday let.

    I hope this post has answered your questions but if I was not clear enough with some of my answers let me know and I will do my best to rectify.

  23. Thank you Johannes for your wonderfully detailed response. I will read carefully all you have said and see if I have more questions.

    One instant thought is that some guests would not want / be able to manage the web interface and would need a more conventional “button” to press in the house. I understand that HG are developing something along those lines.

  24. Johannes Jensson November 13, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Matthew – you are right when you said that Heat Genius are working on a solution that would allow your guests to be able to manage the heating without having to interface through a web interface or rather using a conventional “button” to press in the house.

    I did contact Heat Genius and I asked about this specific feature and the good news is that this feature is near completion.

    This has been in the pipeline for a while but as far as I understand this new feature is going to be in their next upgrade.

  25. What if the Internet goes down for some reason? If the WiFi in the house is still working does the system still work? When your app losg in, are they logging in to the local hub or a server in the cloud run by HG?

    I am just always a bit wary if the company running the system goes bust and you may be left with a collection of bits that now do nothing.

  26. David – your questions are very valid and I thank you for allowing me to answer them.

    When I invested in my Heat Genius Smart Intelligent Heating Control System over a year ago I asked myself these same questions. Many of your questions were at the top of my question list that I wanted to have answers to before I took the risk to buy into this new technology.

    In my view – investing in a Heat Genius Smart Intelligent Heating Control System is rather low risky – unfortunately we as end users or home owners cannot control everything but we don’t want to buy something expensive without a safe exit plan. Let’s look at the possible scenarios you put forward.

    What if the Internet goes down for some reason?

    If the Internet goes down the Heat Genius system defaults back to providing access through the WiFi – in other words, access is limited only through your Mobile devices. As long as your WiFi is up, you will have full access to your system.

    What happens if the Heat Genius System Hub brakes down and your WiFi access is cut?

    In general a lack of WiFi affects only the way that you can communicate with your heating and not the heating’s ability to operate. In the case of the smart thermostats it generally follows that the heating will continue to act as it did before and your problem will be limited to your inability to change the schedule.

    In the unlikely instance of your Heat Genius Hub braking down you will generally find that you have to disable the central hub and revert to use manual controls. When you buy into the Heat Genius Smart Intelligent Heating Control System you get Smart Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV’s) that you use to replace your standard TRV’s. The Heat Genius TRV is a Smart TRV that is intelligent enough to operate even though it looses control with the Heat Genius Hub in the Scenario if the Internet goes down or the unlikely event that the Heat Genius Hub braking down and you loose your WiFi. Each Heat Genius Smart TRV has two heat setting buttons to enable you to raise or lower the temperature on your radiator.

    What happens to smart heating when the batteries run out?

    In this scenario you can either replace the batteries or allow the Smart TRV to go to its default setting which is ‘On’ position. As a last resort or as a safe fall-back position the Heat Genius Smart TRV will place itself into a open position to provide heat to your radiator and whatever room it is located in. Once you replace the batteries the TRV goes back into its autonomous mode.

    In the event of Murphy’s Law coming into affect and the Z-Wave going down or the Heat Genius Hub not working the Heat Genius Smart TRV will operate like a traditional Danfoss TRV’s but with all of its built in fuzzy logic and intelligence intact so it is a great fall-back feature.

    If you are worried about how long the batteries last, please believe me when I say: don’t worry about the batteries – they will last a long, long time and the cost of replacing batteries every 2-3 years is negligible in comparison to the cost of installing hard-wired TRV’s and sensors.

    What happens to smart heating when there’s a power cut?

    When there is a power cut – Heat Genius will be affected like any other power reliant heating systems in the event of the lights going out – in the scenario of having no electricity or power it is simple there is no heat. However, all your timings and heat setting are stored in you Heat Genius Hub and your system comes back on-line immediately when the power is restored. You don’t have to do anything – the Heat Genius System is fully autonomous and the heating works as it has always worked after a power cut.

    When your app logs in, are they logging in to the local hub or a server in the cloud run by HG?

    You can login by either connecting through the Heat Genius Website – this gives you access to your system through their server. However, you can also access your Heat Genius System through your Mobile devices (Android or iOS) and this will connect you directly to your local Heat Genius Hub.

    I know for a fact that the guys at Heat Genius are working on a upgrade that allows you to control your heating without having to login either through their server or use your mobile device.

    When you get you system installed or if you install your system yourself, you will get a separate digital thermostatic controller that will enable you a semi manual access to your Heat Genius system. This will also give you a facility to or a access point to enable you to switch the system to ‘Away’ setting by turning the wheel down. Exactly how this interesting feature is going to work in its final stage you will have to wait for the next upgrade.

    What happens if the system provider goes bust and you may be left with a collection of bits that now do nothing?

    We are now looking at a doomsday scenario and I sincerely hope this will never happen and this is where a safe exit plan comes into play.

    If this unlikely scenario happened you will not have lost all your investment – the Heat Genius system as it currently stands is undoubtedly the best there is and the Heat Genius heating algorithm is one of the most advanced so it is going to be valid for many years to come.

    You can access your Heat Genius system by your Mobile devices and through your WiFi even if the Heat Genius Server stops operating and lets say if your HG Hub then gives up on you then you can always purchase something like the VeraEdge Z-Wave Home Automation Controller to replace it. On paper this is quite a capable system but there are number of other Smart controller out there that you could get to provide access and control your home heating controls.

    One advantage of investing and using Z-wave devices like Heat Genius is that even if a worst case scenario materialises all is not lost as you have a fall back position. Nearly all Z-wave devices can be used with other Z-wave system.

    Please note: Two unrelated Z-Wave systems cannot use the same Z-wave device at the same time. Each Z-wave is bound to a particular Z-wave controller unless you had a clever device like HG API that allows two system to integrate as one.

  27. Thank you very much Johannes, you have answered all my questions to my satisfaction. I fired off a similar question to HG yesterday and am waiting for their reply.

    I was much relieved to learn that the system can run without Internet or the servers at HG, as I have an AlertMe security system that is rather dependent on their servers and also costs me a subscription which I do not like. I would be happier with a system that was autonomous for that too. It does have fallback to GPRS GSM if Internet is cut though.

    Power cuts are always going to be a problem for my heating system as I need electricity for the pump, gas valve, thermostats etc anyway. A UPS could be used, but really I think I could survive for the sort of duration of power cut we are likely to get here.

    My system would be largely similar to yours, I currently have a Wireless programmable thermostat (Honeywell) and a dual timer for the hot water and heating valves.

    I have old Myson TRVs on all radiators apart from the bathroom towel rail. I wonder what to do about the bathroom, but as it never gets very hot anyway because the towel rail is not as efficient as a radiator and always has towels on it, putting a TRV on it does not make a lot of sense. It just heats when the boiler is demanded on by the thermostat which is just outside the bathroom at present.

    I take it that you would recommend sensors in all rooms with TRVs?

    The capital cost is quite high for the HG system, I think over £850 as a quick check. I currently consume about £800 a year in gas to my very old Ideal Mexico boiler (I know it isn’t an efficient boiler, but it is reliable, repairable by anyone, only ever needed a thermocouple changed a few times and a gas valve once, no fancy fancs and control boards etc). If the HG system could save 20% in gas then it would pay for itself 5 years or so if gas keeps going up in price.

    I already have solar PV which is doing well and meeting all forecasts. We got in when the FITS payments were at their peak.

    AlertMe uses ZigBee so on different frequency to Z-wave so no conflict there. I also have lots of stuff running on 433 MHz like weather stations, CurrentCost energy meter. The wireless thermostat which would be replaced uses the same frequency band as Z-wave as does the remote monitor for my Solar PV Inverter, but they coexist fine, so I expect Z-Wave would too.

    The construction of my home is timber framed and is a bungalow, though I have an upstairs partially converted but only heat it as necessary with electricity. Similarly the conservatory which now has an insulated roof conversion to make it less like a fridge/oven depending on season.

    I get good wifi coverage throughout the property, so I expect the lower frequency Z-Wave to do as well, would you agree? I hopefully will not need their smart plugs to boost the signal. I already have smart plugs on AlertMe for some devices, they also act as boosters for ZigBee.

    I wonder if the HG system will be enhanced to allow an electric fire in the conservatory to be controlled by one of the sensors? That would be handy. I do have a fire upstairs sort of controlled by an AlertMe motion sensor and timer routine through their smart plug. Not ideal solution and AlertMe are not really doing anything much these days.

    My final automation task that I keep getting nagged about to do, is to have remote switching on of our outside lights so we can find the drive at night. They are currently on a PIR, and if I want to switch the lights on and keep them on, I have to quickly toggle the switch. Then to switch them off again, and back to PIR, I have to switch them off for a couple of seconds and back on again. I don’t want to lose the PIR security feature, and running more wires to them would be difficult.

    Thanks again for answering my questions about the HG, it has helped a lot indeed.

  28. Johannes Jensson December 1, 2014 at 6:12 am

    David – I am glad I could be of help to you so you could get a better understanding how Heat Genius works. I share your concerns about any system that becomes uncontrollable if the Internet goes down or the company’s heat server goes down for whatever reason. It would not be a nice situation to land in, especially if it is in the middle of winter and during extreme cold spell.

    One of my original system specification that I drew up was that I did not want a system that charged a monthly fee for its usage. I know that the Z-Wave Multisensors that Heat Genius use can monitor motion, light level and temperature in any room. I know Heat Genius have looked at the feasibility of using the motion sensor feature to allow the system to notify the system owner by Email or SMS if there is an unusual movements sensed inside the monitored property when the system is set to a ‘Away’ setting.

    Unfortunately I cannot provide you with more information if or when they will provide access to this very desirable function nor do I know if this would be a chargeable service.
    When you use the system remotely you can see live feed when someone is moving about in the rooms that have sensors fitted. I once teased my wife when I was accessing my heating system when I was away – I noticed that the person icon came up that showed me that she was in my study so I gave her a call and asked her why she was snooping around in my study. She was astonished that I knew she was in my study. She then moved out and went into the bathroom and I asked her to tell me if the towel rail was warm – after a long silence she asked “how do you know” I had a laugh and explained to her how the sensor worked.

    With regards to the boiler you have – if I was you I would not upgrade my boiler unless it brakes down to point that it is not worth fixing – it is just not worth it. Depending how well your house is well insulated, draft proof etc. Heat Genius will definitely give you great energy savings. In my own situation my savings are over £400 per annum.

    I definitely will recommend installing Multisensors in most rooms – if however, you have an open plan area like a dining room and living-room I would only use one sensor for this area and for instance in my situation where my kitchen connects to my dining room and there is a large opening from the dining room into my into my living room – as there are no door between these areas I have this area configured as a single zone and I use only one Multisensor for the three radiators. For instance my house has 8 radiator and it is divided into 6 zones – I therefore use 6 Multisensors. It is the Multisensors and the Smart TRV’s that bring about any energy savings.

    Leave the bathroom unchanged as it is – you can always add a sensor and a Smart TRV to the towel rail later. I installed a sensor and a Smart TRV. I did not go for the standard installation as most UK homes use i.e. the bathroom TRV is installed to measure the radiator temperature instead of the room temperature – instead I installed the sensor to measure the room temperature and this has worked a treat. I can raise the temperature in the bathroom to 24°C, which is my preferred temperature when I go for a bath or a shower.

    Unfortunately I advised you wrongly in my previous posting to you – Heat Genius does not use the WiFi signal to communicate with their Heat Genius Hub – I got a little bit ahead of myself and mixed up my facts. However, everything else stands unchanged. My apologies.

    You can use the Heat Genius Smart Plugs to control your electric heaters but I would advise against this unless you had a Multisensor installed as your electric bill could otherwise go through the roof as it is approximately 4 times more expensive to heat your room with electricity than a gas boiler. You could also use a timed setting i.e. set the Smart plug to come on for say 2-hours at a time. Just enough to get the chill out of the room.

    If you can get a good WiFi signal throughout your property then the Z-Wave signal from the Heat Genius will easily penetrate the internal walls and ceiling in your house. WiFi signal are 2.4GHz and 5GHz but the Z-Wave uses 633.42MHz.

    If you get Heat Genius installers to install your system you will get as many Smart Plugs as your house needs included – as far as I understand you will always get two Smart Plugs to fit on each end of system i.e. one plugs in beside your Heat Genius Hub and the other one plugs at the other end or where the wireless controller is located for your boiler.

    The Heat Genius Smart Plugs work in the same way as your Smart Plugs for your AlertMe devices – the more Smart Plugs you have the better and stronger the Mesh network becomes throughout your house. As your ZigBee and Z-Wave don’t use the same frequency to communicate the two systems will do each other jobs without interference to each other.

    I am interested to hear more from you if you find something to control your security lighting fully automatic as this is something I would like to do for my house. I do use a PIR for the lighting and for a security camera at my front door and I am about to install another one for my back door.

  29. Thanks again Johannes, most useful information as always. Glad you agree about the old boiler, I have no intention of changing it unless it becomes absolutely essential, as it has been such a reliable item, must be over 25 years old now.

    Just to be clear about your correction on the situation with the communication to the Heat Genius Hub, am I correct in thinking that the HG hub is connected to the home internet router by Ethernet and therefore can be controlled by iOS or Android Devices that are on the home Wifi network of that router, even if for some reason the Internet connection is not working? I hope that is what you mean anyway.

    [I understand that the HG hub itself has no Wifi transceiver within it.]

    I think the frequency used for Z-Wave is in the 868.42MHz band, not 633.42MHz.

    My experience with my wireless boiler thermostat and my solar PV inverter wireless monitor is that there should be no problem with signal strength around my home on that frequency.

    The electric heating would only be used occasionally, and I certainly would have a timer and a thermostat to avoid huge bills. I cannot easily add a radiator upstairs, but I have found it OK without as is well insulated and other electrical items in the room heat it up anyway.

    The house has had new double glazing throughout, and new composite doors and double glazed patio doors into the conservatory, so the insulation is pretty good, and no draughts.

    I will keep you informed of what I eventually do for controlling the outside light, I am still researching my options.
    My ideal system would be an intelligent geofencing system using mobile phones, so that as myself or my partner approached the house at night the lights would come on automatically and went off once we were home and connected to our wifi, something like that anyway…

    I must try and contact HG directly now, I have signed up for their newsletter etc, and have played with their demo system, but apart from that have not had any replies about the technical questions I asked, which you have answered for them.

    I think you should get commission for the excellent job you are doing on their behalf! I understand that you are not connected in anyway with them…

    Searching the Internet I have not found much else about the HG system by other users, so it was important to find someone else that had a system installed and could explain the technicalities and give real life examples of how it was working for them.

    If I get anything like the gas savings you are seeing I will be very pleased.

    One thing I like about the HG system is that most of the components of the system are regular items manufactured by other companies, so if for any reason HG ceased trading the parts would still be available from other sources.

    The only problem would be the iOS apps, which with Apple system updates every year would probably require updating regularly by HG. Worst case an old iPad could be kept on old system software just for controlling HG.

    It may be possible to hack the HG hub or discover the API so that third party apps could be written if necessary too. Not something that I would want to do unless I was forced to if HG were no more… This is purely a thought exercise for a plan B.

  30. Guys – as a reminder we have a great Heating Controls Forum for this sort of interesting stuff. May be easier for other users to find this sort of info than these comments.

    Thanks

    M.

  31. Thanks Mark,

    We are nearly done, I think.

    Johannes,

    Has the price gone up since you got your system?
    A quick tally up here for Hub plus Hot water controller option (extra £50), 7 TRV, 6 sensors, plus fitting at £79, (or £20 shipping and DIY ) includes two smart plugs is £1009.

    That is according to their online calculator.

    Have sent photos of my existing TRVs for comment, have heard nothing.

    I suspect they are a very small outfit, with limited resources, so it may take a little time. I tried to do everything online, but may give them a phone call to chase things along.

  32. Seems to be very hard to get any answers to technical queries from Home Genius at present, have tried Twitter and Email. Not very encouraging level of potential customer service. Rather disappointing.

  33. Now getting some replies from HG on Twitter, so that is welcome progress.

  34. Finally got the information that my old TRVs are probably not compatible with the new TRVs without adapators and even then they are probably too old and sticky, so would need replacement, which of course needs a complete system drain down.

    If I was going to that length I should probably replace some of the radiator panels too.

    Plumbing is not the sort of thing I want to get involved with at this time of the year coming up to Christmas.

    I will postpone the work for at least 6 months, a lot depends on other projects needing done about the house, repairs to the conservatory which need to come first otherwise I will never get anything finished.

    I may play with a Netatmo thermostat in the meantime.

    I have even toyed with eventually going a completely DIY Opensource way with Raspberry Pi and Z-wave in the future, as I enjoy that sort of challenge.

    Thanks again for all the advice.

  35. Johannes
    Your articles have been a great help in confirming that the Heat Genius System is probably right for me but like David Anderson, I can’t get any answers out of them. My requirements are slightly different to a standard home, I wonder if you would be willing to answer a few questions for me.

    I appreciate that your answers will be unofficial and I assure you that I only have a small number.

  36. Johannes Jensson December 5, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Dave – No problem. I will try my best but can we do it through the Forum on Automated Home as it gives more people the chance to see what is being written about Heat Genius. Add your questions under the Heating Control: Heat Genius. You will also find few entries there that have added under the user name ‘Hot’