As the days begin to shorten and the leaves start to fall thoughts turn to the winter ahead and the ever increasing energy bills. Heating control is a problem that’s made for home automation to solve and there’s always plenty of advice on our Heating Control Forum.
Hello Max – One solution that’s being discussed in there more and more is ‘MAX!’ from German manufacturer ‘eQ-3’. A system of inexpensive components including wireless battery operated TRV’s that easily retro-fit to your existing radiators without the need for a plumber, or to drain your system. Once MAX! is installed, it will control each radiators motorised valve individually, creating a zoned heating system with higher efficiency and in turn reduced bills.
It also has the added benefit of allowing you to control your heating on the move with a free iOS app for your iPhone / iPad plus an Android version too. The system uses the 868 MHz frequency to communicate between its modules.
eQ-3 MAX! Wireless Wall Thermostat (~£25) – The wall thermostat is more business like than handsome, but it’s still looks better than most. It can control up to eight MAX! radiator thermostats in any one room and has an internal sensor that measures the temperature in the room and transmits it to the radiator thermostats.
eQ-3 MAX! Wireless Radiator Thermostat (~£25) – The Radiator Thermostat is responsible for regulating your radiators. All configuration settings are made with the MAX! Software and different settings can be made for each room. Communication between MAX! components is bi-directional. This ensures that the information sent reaches the recipient. There’s also a ‘Plus’ version of the thermostat available for an additional £5 with a more comprehensive LCD display and local control. Both units use 2 x AA cells and e-Q3 quote battery life as 2 years with 2 operations per day.
eQ-3 MAX! Cube LAN Gateway (~£45) – The Cube is the gateway between your LAN and the RF comms of the MAX! system. An Ethernet port connects to your network and power is provided via a USB socket. Once attached you can configure the system with the MAX! software. In addition you can monitor the status of your system and control it from your PC or Smartphone / Tablet across the Internet via eQ-3’s server. Local control can be carried out without the need for an Internet connection. The Cube seems to ship with 3 years service included in the price. This means you’ll have to pay for the service from year four. eQ-3 says the sub prices are set by their distribution partners but from what we can see they’re not expensive (a few Euros per year?).
eQ-3 MAX! Wireless Window Sensor (~£20) – The Window Sensor lets the system know when a door or window has been opened allowing the Radiator Thermostats to automatically reduce the temperature to save energy, and increase it again once the window or door has been closed.
The value of the drop in temperature can be set separately for each room in the MAX! Software.
eQ-3 MAX! Eco Switch (~£20) – The MAX! Eco switch allows you to set back the temperature in all your rooms with a single button press when you leave home. When you return you can also set all rooms back to auto mode by pressing the button again. The battery operated wireless device can be mounted almost anywhere and can be stuck to the wall with adhesive tape.
There’s also a Plug Adaptor for controlling electric and water heaters but it appears to only be available with a European socket design. It’s unclear whether this could also be used for boiler control, one aspect of the system that seems to be lacking.
The Language Barrier – Currently the apps are only available in German and they also use the German time zone which can’t be changed. We asked eQ-3 if there are any plans to remedy this and they told us…
“The apps are only available in German language currently. Changing the local time is planned in a future software release but we have no estimated date for the release of an English version.”
Integrating and Hacking – There’s no API for MAX! and it doesn’t look like there will be one in the future. There is a third party Control4 Driver available from Extra Vegetables if that’s your home automation controller. For the DIY hacker there’s support for MAX! built into the Fhem open source software package. You can control the actuators using several hardware devices from Busware including an Arduino module and this Raspberry Pi Extension Board. There is more information available on the MAX! Protocol Here if you have the qualifying neck beard.
Like most of these systems we’d love to see it opened up officially and feel it would benefit eQ-3 in the long run to have its affordable wireless system integrate with the largest range of home automation controllers possible.
Whether you want a standalone zoned heating control system with smartphone app control or one that you can hack to your hearts content and won’t break the bank then the MAX! is definitely worth checking out.
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Last update on 2022-07-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API