Connecting 3 230v 20A A/C units

project_hvac

#1

Hi all,

My apartment has 3 ‘through-the-wall’ AC’s. All 3 are high voltage (230/208) and 20 amps with plugs that look like this http://www.furmansound.com/images/20amp_plug.gif .

I want to know how to connect them, if possible, and automate the home temperature settings…

So far I have gotten these steps down:

  1. Get a Z-wave wireless outlet (20 amp)
  2. Get a temperature sensor
  3. Get a hub

I’m having some trouble putting all the pieces together though. In particular, step 1 - is there a wireless outlet that will work with the AC units that I have?

If this isn’t the way to go, could someone please point me in the correct direction?

Thanks in advance!


#2

Are you in the US or the EU?

If you are in the US, see the following thread (this is a clickable link)


#3

Hi JDRoberts,

First, thanks for the reply! Yes, I am in the US.

Second, I did take a look at the ThinkEco’s, but as far as I can tell, they are no longer supported even by their manufacturer. I was hoping for a more modern solution that would also connect all 3 standalone A/Cs to a single programmable / smart thermostat.

I went through the second link in your link, and I saw you mentioned the Enerwave, ZW20R’s. These are what I had found out about as well - and I can go ahead and replace the outlet since it is a condo, not a rented apartment. But no one seems to be selling them anymore!

So, I guess, 2 questions. Are the ZW20R’s discontinued, and if so, why? And if they are not discontinued, where can I buy them from, but more importantly, they probably won’t work since they are listed as 120VAC?

Thanks again,


#4

Sorry, I’m feeling tired, hopefully other people will be able to help. Just a quick answer without looking anything up…

The Enerwave outlet

I would contact www.zwaveproducts.com and ask them if they’re expecting the Enerwave outlet back in stock. They’re one of the biggest retailers and they should know. There are a lot of Z wave devices going out of stock right now because the manufacturers are getting ready to bring out zwave plus models and they’re just letting the retailers sell out what they have of The older models . But you never know.

As far as the specs on that particular outlet, I haven’t looked at them recently, but you may well be right and it might not be a match for your current.

There are some 230v options. And most of them are micro relays that go in the wall. There are a couple on the official “works with SmartThings” list. SmartenIT has one which is popular for pool equipment, and it should work. There’s also an Aeon heavy duty micro which I believe can handle 20 A. So in that case you keep your current outlet, you just have the relay wired in behind it and that gives you on/off control from the network.

Backing up–would just on/off give you what you want? Otherwise forget about the outlet all together, what you want is control of the AC itself. Not just the power to it

But all of that implies that what you want to do is turn the outlet on and off, and honestly that doesn’t usually fit with an air-conditioner use case. On/off is more for fans.

Do your air-conditioners have a handheld remote now? And if they do is it an IR remote?

If so, there’s a Remotec zwave Device made for controlling air conditioners that have IR remotes. So it’s just acts as a bridge between smartthings and the air-conditioner.

Which by the way while I’m thinking about it if you can tell us the brand and model number of the Air-conditioners people can help more.

Global cache is another alternative for IR control which gives you more granularity, but you need to set up a man in the middle to get integration with SmartThings so that’s a whole other conversation.

And the harmony hub might be yet another option. It has the best out of the box integration with SmartThings, but costs more.

If they don’t have remotes, or if the remotes are 433 MHz, it’s a whole other set of steps.

back to the original problem

Set let’s go back to your original question…this is a problem where it’s easiest to work backwards

One) what exactly do you want each unit to do? If it’s just on/off, then we would look at networking the outlet one way or the other, probably with an In wall micro. But if you need to be able to do things like have the air conditioner switch to a different temperature set point, or really anything except on/off, then don’t worry about the wall outlet – – you’re going to want to have the power on all the time anyway. We just have to find a way to communicate to the air-conditioner.

Two) So assuming that you do want to Do something other than just on/off, how do you currently give commands to the air conditioner. Are they wired to a thermostat? Do you have a handheld remote? Or do you have to push buttons on the air conditioner itself? Because that’s the process that we have to automate.

Three)a) if you already have a central thermostat controlling them, life is simple – – you just replace the thermostat.

3b) if you don’t have a central thermostat controlling them but they do have a handheld remote, then we need to check the frequency on that remote. If it’s infrared (IR) then there are several options including the harmony. Other people can discuss those with you. If it’s a 433 MHz remote, there are some possibilities but it requires rigging a maker type device, SmartThings itself doesn’t support that protocol. There’s also a possibility of physically hacking the remote or using button pusher actuators. But those options are pretty kludgy. But not impossible, people have done them.

3c) if they aren’t already wired to a central thermostat and they don’t have a handheld remote, you’re cooked unless you’re willing to wait for the Prota push microbot or you want to hack a similar actuator. This would be something that physically pushes buttons. The prota look nice and they are from a reputable company, but they’re not on the market yet, they’re still in pre-release. So it’s hard to say what kind of integration you’ll be able to get with smartthings. I am quadriparetic with limited hand control, so I’m very excited about the prota microbot potential, although as always with anything that hasn’t come to market yet, we’ll just have to wait to see what they actually deliver. I’m not pre-ordering them, but I am following them closely.

https://prota.info/pages/push

So, if you just need on/off, use the microswitch to get control of the power outlet.

If you need more than on/off, check the AC models to see if they can be wired to a central thermostat or if they already are wired. Then you just get a thermostat that can work with SmartThings. You don’t have to change the AC units at all except to connect them up to the thermostat. You don’t have to change the power outlet.

If they cannot be wired to a central thermostat, see if they have an existing remote that could be connected to SmartThings. IR is the easiest, 433 MHz is possible but requires additional devices and some work, anything else has to physically hack the remote. Again, though you don’t have to change the power outlet.

And if they can’t be wired to a central thermostat and they don’t have an existing remote and your only means of control is pushing buttons on the face of the device, you have to essentially get a robot finger to do it. Once the prota microbots come to market is they’re anything close to what they’re promising now they will be in nicely packaged unit you can buy off-the-shelf. Otherwise you have to build your own button pusher. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

At which point a lot of people just go with buying a new air-conditioner. :wink:

Anyway, I hope that helped explain the process. Again, other people can help you with the details but I hope that makes more sense.


#5

Hi JDRoberts,

Thanks so much for the helpful reply!

Here are the 3 A/C units

1x Friedrich WY13B33C-B
2x GE AJT10DFV1

Only the Friedrich has a remote control.

I am wondering if ‘on/off’ control would be enough on the 2 GE’s, to be honest. It would just turn on power and cool the A/C to the point needed, then turn off power. Basically, I could combine with a temperature sensor, and I wouldn’t be able to control:

  1. How fast it cools
  2. Switch to heat
  3. Switch to fan only

Is this a bad idea?

The Friedrich does have a remote control.

I would like to use the EcoBee3 thermostat to tie all of this together.

So, the plan is starting to look like this:

  1. Insert these fixtures (https://www.amazon.com/LINEAR-FS20Z-1-Isolated-Contact-Fixture/dp/B00EPTMFH8/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1471879527&sr=8-4&keywords=z-wave+20a) into the wall behind the plug for both GE’s.
  2. Get the Remotec for the Friedrich (https://www.amazon.com/Remotec-Z-Wave-ZXT-120-Extender-Conditioners/dp/B00CJBBYS0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471879827&sr=8-1&keywords=Remotec+z-wave)
  3. Get the SmartThings hub
  4. Get the EcoBee3 + 3 temperature sensors
  5. Use the magic wand to tie everything together

Does this sound reasonable?


#6

Pretty sure the linear is only rated to control lighting, you need one rated to control motors/appliances. The draw pattern is different.

If your GE is on and you unplug it and then plug it back in, will it come back on? Many units don’t, once they lose power they stay off until you push a button to bring them back on. Networking the outlet only works if the device comes back on when the power is restored.

If you network the outlet, it’s basically a mini power outage each time you turn it off. That works fine with some devices, but it may be hard on others and reduce their life. Just something to be aware of.


#7

Hi JDRoberts,

Once again, thanks for your replies.

I’m pretty sure they will turn back on - but need to check that when I get home from work tonight. As for the life duration - not sure about that either - I guess I might have to get in touch with GE to check on that?

For the in-wall fixture, I think this one is rated for motors/appliances? https://www.amazon.com/Evolve-LFM-20-Controls-Z-Wave-Certification/dp/B006U1O978

Thanks and Best Regards,


#8

That evolve model is also intended only for lighting. I know there are some people using it for other things, but it is not safety rated for that.

A good clue is that a device that is rated to control motors will typically list the horsepower rating as part of the product description. Or it will have the word “appliance” or “motor” control in its name.

You still need to check the voltage and horsepower specifications as well, but if it doesn’t say appliance/motor it probably isn’t suited for an air conditioner.

I would look at this one:

Or the smartenIT Zigbee device I mentioned before. But the Aeotec is less expensive and quite popular for those who have this kind of motor control need.


(Mark) #9

FYI the zxt-120 list of IR codes doesn’t include Friedrich a/c’s. However you can program the zxt-120 to learn your remote’s codes. It’s a little annoying but can be done with a community device type in the ST app (but you also need to manually edit a parameter for the device handler in the IDE). And depending on how your remote works, you may not be able to program every single command.

Or if you’re incredibly patient you could try all the codes in the zxt-120’s manual, and see if one happens to work with your friedrich. If you do, let me know :slight_smile:


#10

Hi guys,

Thanks so much for the help! Looks like the Aeon ZW078-A would work.

As for the Friedrich and the zxt-120, is there any post or guide somewhere how to program it?

One concern that I have, before attempting any of this - I’m going to be connecting the Ecobee3 to this. Is the EcoBee3 able to control these z-wave switches (through the SmartThings hub), based on information it receives through its own temperature sensors? Never done anything like this, so I’m not sure how ‘out of the box’ this is, and how much custom programming I would need.

Thanks again,


(Mark) #11

Yup, you have to kinda combine instructions from the device’s own user manual and a device handler that’s available on the forums here. Have you installed a custom device handler or smartapp before?

As for the ecobee, I’m not sure. Do you control your a/c’s with a central thermostat now?