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Thread: Advice on the population of UK Heating Programmers

  1. #1
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    Question Advice on the population of UK Heating Programmers

    I’m looking for some advice please from the assembled brains at Automated Home…

    AlertMe.com just launched its peace-of-mind service in the UK, and I’m one of the founders of the company. I’m considering whether we should add to the AlertMe system the ability to control domestic heating (i.e. central heating and hot water). All of our accessories contain high-quality temperature sensors, so your AlertMe system already has a good idea of the temperatures around your home, and AlertMe knows when you’re at home too. This is all highly relevant to controlling heating better, so if we introduced a replacement heating programmer I’m sure we could optimize when the boiler runs, to save you money and save the planet too. After all, apparently 60-80% of the typical UK household’s energy consumption is spent on space-heating and water-heating. According to the useful chart here, “most” UK programmers fit on a standard Landis & Gyr RWB2 wall base. I recently changed mine, and it took me just a few minutes to swap them over, very straightforward.

    So on to my question…
    Imagine we introduced an AlertMe replacement heating programmer which fitted onto this “standard” base, and provided a single changeover heating output, and a single changeover hot-water output. In what percentage of UK homes would this be a drop-in replacement?

    Thanks,

    -Pilgrim Beart

    By the way, if you haven’t already, please do take part in our survey which closes at the end of Feb and mentions this idea amongst others – I’d love to hear your views.

  2. #2

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    PilgrimBeart - welcome to the forums and thanks for asking the question here.

    Heating Control (HVAC) is one of the core Home Automation functions. Rising energy costs and the whole "carbon footprint" thing are concentrating home owners minds more than ever before on efficiently utility controls.

    I think an AlertMe heating controller would therefore be of interest to many users, especially as an optional add-on that could be installed when funds allowed, or even be shown to pay for itself over the medium term.

    Personally we have a split system with underfloor heating downstairs and rads upstairs, with a third hot water channel so your proposal would not fit our installation. Would it be difficult to produce a 3 channel system?

    Thanks

    M.

  3. #3
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    Default >2 channels?

    Otto-mate,
    Thanks for your response. Adding more channels is easy, for some incremental cost, but I wonder:
    a) how many people would actually need them (we're aiming at the mass-market first). I gather that new build will typically have 2 central-heating zones these days?
    b) how they'd be connected. For example, does your house have the "standard" programmer backplate I was referring to? I notice on my programmer (which is only 2-channel i.e. h/w & heating) that there are spaces for some extra pins, not fitted. This implies that the position for some extra channels might be standard too. Any ideas where to find info on this?

    I'm really looking for some "survey" type information to give us an idea of how much of the market we can hit with a single product - I'd like to be able to say that e.g. 60% of UK homes use the standard backplate, 20% of UK homes use combi-boilers, 10% have >2 channel programmers etc. (I made these percentages up - but I need to find the real ones!).

    While you're at it, I notice that programmers need to be told whether your hot-water is pumped or gravity-fed, usually with a link. Do you know what difference this actually makes to the programmer's 2 outputs? For example, if gravity-fed, does it always make sure that the heating is on whenever the hot-water is on, so the pump runs?

    Thanks for all advice,

    -Pilgrim

  4. #4
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    Well... the standard plate would certainly do the job for me.

    I'm in a fairly standard 3 bed semi built 9 years ago. one water zone, one heating zone.

    Sounds like an interesting approach.

  5. #5

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    PilgrimBeart - there's a photo of our existing controller and back plate in this article...

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/Conte...l-Heating.html


    BTW - All the articles on Automated Home concerning heating are tagged with HVAC and can be viewed together on this URL

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/Tags/hvac/50/0

    M.

  6. #6
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    My system is also a fairly standard combi boiler, 1 DHW, 1 CH leg. However, I opted not to bother with an external controller/room stat for a couple of reasons:

    I have TRV's on all but 1 rad.
    I had the option of an electronic timer/programmer fitted in the boiler itself
    External room stats are a rubbish way to control the heating! (like where do you site it for instance?)

    Thus I don't have any form of external control unit, and thus a swap-over unit wouldn't be suitable for me.

    However, I *am* very interested in getting my CH automated! - currently, my intention is to go with the Honeywell Hometronic system, since I also require integration with my existing systems (Comfort primarily). This is a blooteringly expensive option though, so I'd definately be interested in alternatives, - but only if they integrate.. - so I'd only be interested in a controller that had options for interfacing with A.N.Other HA controller...

    Cheers.

    Paul G.

  7. #7
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    Hi

    I have a standard combi bolier with manual TRV's on the bedroom rads only and a thermostat in the lounge. I leave the system on all the time and just operate by the thermostat. The hot water is "on call" and therefore has no timer.

    This system would be ideal if it catered for combi type boilers, as my thermostat is not ideally placed (the mrs likes it hot 26 - 28 deg C in the lounge, which then makes the rest of the house cold).

    The ability to exclude a room from the system would be useful so that when she puts the fire on, it doesn't skew the stats from the rest of the rooms.

    I would assume that it would take an average temperature from the included rooms and then switch the boiler on and off as required???

    Neil F
    Last edited by frostie; 25th February 2008 at 01:43 PM.

  8. #8
    Automated Home Sr Member SiliconPixel's Avatar
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    Hi Pilgrim Beart,

    You might get a few more answers to your questions if you could re-phrase or ask some different questions. AIUI, you're trying to find out how many of the users here have a programmer that utilises the "standard" wall base you mentioned?

    Would it be better to ask a simple question of as many people as possible as to exactly what make/model of programmer they have?

    I would have thought it extremely unlikely that anyone can answer your question as to what percentage of HAers have a compatible system???

    BTW, I have a Honeywell Hometronic system, so not compatible with what you're trying to do I think.

    I'm not trying to be pedantic but trying to help you get the answers you need - the more HA kit and control options out there the better

    Cheers,

    Paul.

  9. #9
    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    Currently I have a system boiler with one DHW zone and one CH zone, although I'm thinking of separating the upstairs into it's own CH zone too. So yes, at the moment a 1-and-1 controller would suit me.

    Would a 1-and-1 controller suit "most" UK homes? I'm not sure. Many new properties and conversions have replaced their system boilers with combi boilers, and then go rid of the DHW cylinder to give a bit more internal space. I'd hazard a guess that this would be a suitable for a large number of existing properties.

    Generally I think heating control is one of the more tangible examples for people first starting out with automation, and the remote access feature gives them an answer to the "why automate" question (extra features etc.). So again, yes, I think the idea is a good one

    HTH,

    Tim.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the encouraging responses everyone.

    Looking at your article Otto-Mate, your base plate is a 9-pin version of the 6-pin Landis and Gyr one I've got.

    And looking at the back of my old Danfoss programmer, it has holes for 3 optional pins (not fitted, see picture below), and cunning holes in the plastic so it will engage with lugs on either 6- or 9-pin backplates.


    So it all starts to make sense. One tiny question still...what does the extra pin do?! For a 6-pin (2-channel) backplate, the pins are:

    Live
    Neutral
    HW OFF
    CH OFF
    HW ON
    CH ON

    I assume there's a single-pole change-over relay providing power to one of two pins depending on whether HW is on or off, and ditto for CH. So adding another channel would require only 2 more pins. But there are 3 more!
    Does anyone have a pinout for the 9-pin version, or a 3-channel programmer which lists the pin functions on the back?

    Thanks all,

    -Pilgrim

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