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Thread: controlling the heaters remotely via entry system

  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Default controlling the heaters remotely via entry system

    Hi all

    My first post here, so forgive my ignorance.

    I run a business where we rent apartments to tourists. Trouble is the tourists love to leave the heating on and turn it up to make it tropical in the apartments. So I was wondering if some smart-home gadgets might be possible to modify for my use.

    Most of the apartments we manage are heated either by a building gas system, city gas supplying hot water to the radiators or a gas boiler in the flat. My idea is to use remotely controlled thermostat/regulators on the radiators. Ideally these could not be controlled manually but I guess that isn't a requirement.

    I have seen something like this exists, but I might be wrong. If it does exist I'd like to hook the controller up to a card entry system, so when someone comes into the apartment they put the entry card in a slot and the controller knows someone is home. It would then turn the heating up a bit to make it an ambient temperature. When they go out it would drop the temperature down to a maintenance level.

    My plan is also to cut off all electrical power except for essential items when the customer is out.

    So then, does anyone know how I might do this, and if I have more than one apartment in the building might it be better to get some central control unit for all the apartments?

  2. #2
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    There are many ways to tackle this.
    But try Googleing for Hotel room entry systems or similar. I know many security systems can be used to control various things, so when the system is armed ie nobody inside it switches off the heating or lowers the room stat from say 22 to 18.Or even lower if you want. This might be better as it takes the chill out of the building and still saves money.

    Honeywell Hometronic may be able to do this and the new kid on the block the House Heat system.
    The house Heat system is here http://www.house-intelligence.co.uk/
    And the Hometronic here http://europe.hbc.honeywell.com/hometronic/default.htm

    Other ways would be to use RFID technology to track the apartment keys and when they are out of range of the building then the heating is turned off.

    Another option is to put in a prepay meter for the heating. Many camp sites do this for dryers and I have seen it in villas for AC use. They can run on either a timer so a 1 pound coin or 1 Euro coin gives you 12 hours of heating or 10 units of electricity consumed. There are also versions that use cards rather than cash, maybe better as then there is no chance of the meters getting broken and someone pocketing the cash.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  3. #3

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    Honeywell Hometronic could do the shut-down on non-occupancy via a volt-free contact from the occupation sensor (card unit or similar) and also provide upper & lower limits (or no adjustment at all) on the heating that cannot be overriden. Note that Hometronic would require a system per apartment rather than being a central system.

  4. #4
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    So the Honeywell Hometronic has regulators directly at the radiators controlling water flow into the radiators?

    How would you suggest tackling a system where there is an in-house gas boiler and (before I do any modifications) the temperature is controlled by a wall thermostat regulating boiler output? Would regulators at the radiators also work on in this case or would the boiler go nuts trying to get the heat up to the level of its own thermostat?

  5. #5

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    Hometronic would replace the existing time clock and room stat with it's own controls. Each radiator would have a battery powered motorised actuator to control the water flow at the radiator. This module also has a built-in room sensor. There is a central controller that allows upto 16 rooms to be controlled independently. Finally there is a controller that goes next to the boiler to switch it on when a room needs heat to give "proper" heat-demand control of the heating rather than having the boiler cycling on its built in thermostat.

    Where abouts are you based? If you need more detail then Sensible Heat are the UK distributor for Hometronic, in other territories Honeywell have different arrangements so if you are outside the UK then you could contact Honeywell directly for details.

  6. #6
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    Hi. We are all over. We have a few hundred apartments around Europe leased from landlords. We have about 50 flats in London and in edinburgh. The rest are outside the UK.

    The turnover of places tends to be quite high. If the tourists make noise or trouble we can get evicted, so ideally we'd need a solution that is relatively low cost to install and portable so we can take it with us to the next apartment when we go.

    If you could help me with pricing and info that would be nice

  7. #7

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    Feel free to drop me a PM or email at neil@sensibleheat.co.uk

    Hometronic is definitely portable - very easy to fit to most standard heating systems. However it is not cheap though being Honeywell's premium residential control system.

  8. #8
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    Had a look at the brochures and prices, and whilst it makes perfect sense for domestic use, I might have to deinstall it and reinstall it every 2 or 3 years, so it's unlikely to be cost effective for me.

    I need a solution costing a few hundred euro tops. Anyone know of something with less features and maybe less prestige than Honeywell?

  9. #9
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    I was just thinking now since the flats would usually need to be the same temperature throughout it would be enough to put a single motorized radiator actuator at entrance/exit of the radiator water to the whole apartment. Then I could control it VIA PC. I could write my own software for that. Anyone see a good reason not to go for this route?

    For this project I would need:

    Mini laptop with wifi to control the actuator
    RFID reader to know when customers are home
    SIM reader so I can control the PC remotely when there is no occupancy
    Electrical relays to control the electricity
    A single actuator on the input/exit pipe to the whole flat

  10. #10
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Why not fit a relay to the thermostat so when the apartment is occupied the relay is on and when it is not the relay is off and therefore the thermostat will not work.
    Or something that just switches the boiler on and off at the mains.
    There is no need to start controlling valves if you require a simple solution.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

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