Question Smart home heating recommendations

mrsausages

Standard Member
Hi All,

I'm thinking about switching my home over to smart heating; I have an oil-fired boiler (no hot water tank) with a simple 7 day timer controller, and radiators with simple manual thermostat valves (seem to be Danfoss make). I'm in the UK if that makes a difference.

My main requirement is something that would not loose local functionality if the internet goes down, as this can happen reasonably often where I live. That would seem to rule out Honeywell, Hive and Tado, as they all specify that the app controls at least stop working with no internet connection. It's not just the internet going down, I'm also wary of putting in something that depends on an external companies servers keeping going e.g. if they get bought out by a competitor for example.

So, I've been looking at bit at Z-wave equipment; perhaps with some open source home automation software running on my NAS, replacing the radiator valves and my boiler controller with z-wave ones and adding some z-wave thermometers / thermostats. I guess I also need some form of z-wave hub.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Particularly the boiler controller, I'm not really clear what I should get in that case. Also, it's quite possible I've misunderstood some of this stuff, so any enlightenment is welcome!

Cheers
 

PsyVision

Distinguished Member
Have a look on vesternet, they have some z-wave boiler controls, I presume the boiler is combi if you have no hot water tank? Not sure you'll need a two channel one of that is the case as hot water is on demand rather than stored? The Popp z-wave trvs appear to be pretty good too.
 

wysinawyg

Active Member
Before you go down a full roll your own zwave solution I would have a look at Wiser. The app works locally (when you are local Wiser Support: Help & FAQ for Wiser Smart Home Control ) so no worries about loss of internet. Also its Drayton so a proper old school heating company rather than cash grabby startup.

I'm also not sure that roll your own zwave is the panacea you're looking for unless you're going to get your hands very dirty on the programming side. If you go for an (if cold = on, if hot = off) style logic you're going to have a really rubbish heating system.

More sophisticated than that (and particularly with an app) and you're probably locked into someone else's proprietary thing all over again. e.g. SmartThings is very popular as a zwave hub but AFAIAA is at risk of Samsung pulling the servers and I'm not sure if the heating components work without internet.

All said as someone who has a MacMini running a zwave server (Indigo Domotics) with a Secure Boiler switch and a dozen zwave TRVs gathering dust whilst my Wiser receiver with a pair of TRVs and a Thermostat controls my heating...

Actually scrap the above, you should definitely go zwave, don't suppose you want some second hand gear? :rotfl:
 

Andy98765

Distinguished Member
You say you do not want to lose functionality if the internet goes down. Well my Hive continues to work from the local controller which is part of the package. All I lose is control via the phone APP or PC. I believe Nest can also do the same.
 

PsyVision

Distinguished Member
Tado can too via homekit, but not if you're an android guy.

You could go for a good z-wave hub like Hubitat and use their functionality for heating, or roll your own such as Home Assistant on a raspberry pi etc
 

Andy98765

Distinguished Member
Also you mention "As for companies keep going".
Hive is owned by British Gas, reasonably big.
Nest is owned by Google, well damn big.
 

neilball

Well-known Member
If you use Honeywell Evo then you retain full control/functionality via the Evo Touch controller should your internet go down. It is only app-based management that is lost. All setpoints/time programs etc are stored locally within the Evo Touch system, none of this relies on the cloud unlike some other systems that you mentioned. Evo also has graceful failure modes should any component suffer a failure or issue too, in as much as it tries to keep operating in system me fashion rather than just sticking fully on or off should something go wrong (battery failure or loss of communication with a device etc).
 

mrsausages

Standard Member
Really interesting series on it over on Automated Home which is what persuaded me to give it a chance:

Drayton Wiser Smart Heating Controls Review Part 4 – 1 Year Older & Much Wiser

Thanks - yes, it is interesting. One question though, prompted by one of the questions here: https://www.screwfix.com/p/drayton-...te/9953v#product_additional_details_container . It seems to suggest that the room thermostat is what controls the boiler, not any radiator valves that might be connected.

The issue for me would be this: I work from home quite a lot, and have an office upstairs in my house. During the day I would want this heated, but not the living area downstairs. In the evening I would only want the living area heated - then in the morning probably just bedroom and bathroom for a bit.

Is there a way of making it work if one of the areas will only be heated in some cases?
 

mrsausages

Standard Member
It is only app-based management that is lost. All setpoints/time programs etc are stored locally within the Evo Touch system

Thanks, that's a good point, the Honeywell one has a lot more local functionality in the touchscreen than the others. Still, I would prefer not to loose any local functionality (including apps) due to internet outages.
 

mrsausages

Standard Member
Also you mention "As for companies keep going".
Hive is owned by British Gas, reasonably big.
Nest is owned by Google, well damn big.

Yes, they are owned by those companies at the moment; but there is nothing to stop them selling them off if they feel they are not profitable, and nothing to stop any purchaser switching them off in favour of their own products.

Of course, it could result in a number of pretty angry consumers! But it would be a commercial decision, and a risk I would prefer not to expose myself to if I can avoid it.
 

mrsausages

Standard Member
You say you do not want to lose functionality if the internet goes down. Well my Hive continues to work from the local controller which is part of the package. All I lose is control via the phone APP or PC. I believe Nest can also do the same.

Thanks, I'd prefer to keep the app control even if internet is down, but it's actually not essential for me. The main reason I had discounted Hive was that I couldn't see any support for local radiator thermostats, which I would need if I want to heat rooms differently, since I don't have a multi-zone heating system. But maybe I've missed something?
 

wysinawyg

Active Member
It seems to suggest that the room thermostat is what controls the boiler, not any radiator valves that might be connected.

...

Is there a way of making it work if one of the areas will only be heated in some cases?

Either TRVs or Thermostats can control the boiler.

Basically you set up a "Room" which contains one or more devices and then set a minute by minute schedule of what temperature that room should be.

If a Room contains a Thermostat it will use the temperature of the Thermostat and will control the boiler (and I think any TRVs) based on the temperature of the Thermostat.

If a room only has TRVs then it will use the termperature the TRVs are registering and will switch the boiler on if necessary.

Thermostats are touchscreen to let you change the setpoint / boost the heating. TRVs you can twist to boost the heating or temporarily cut it in that room.

You can get exactly what you want if you add TRVs everywhere. Personally mine works as a semi-smart system right now. A Thermostat in the lounge, a TRV on one rad (of two) in the main bedroom and in a TRV in the Toddler's room. Dumb TRVs everywhere else. Aimed at comfort rather than money saving / efficiency.

So the Toddler's room is always warm at bedtime (and can't get too cold during the night) and our bedroom can't get too hot even if the heating is generally on. The Lounge Thermostat then performs more like a dumb thermostat to just give general heat through the house.

We don't really use the App or the controls for the most part. It just runs and I have Alexa set up so you can shout "Alexa boost the heating" and it will put the setpoint on the lounge Thermostat up to 24 for an hour.

Amazon is much cheaper than Screwfix for the TRVs if you do go ahead.
 

Andy98765

Distinguished Member
FYI, Hive are looking into TRV controls, I was approached regarding possible testing. And BTW any company can go down the drink, so having the backing of a large company does help.
I do not work for them BTW but have had Hive since there early days and never has it missed a beat in all those years.
 

mactec

Novice Member
Dont know if you are up and running yet but I have found Fibaro very good as the control dost leave the home.
 

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