Smart air vents


(Jerry Hatchett) #1

I’m sure I’m not the only one to think of this, but by using a smart vent and a temp sensor in a room or area, you can put together a poor man’s version of a zoned HVAC system for a pittance, compared to what the HVAC people charge (thousands on thousands).

I’ve seen some discussion here about both the EcoVents and the Vent-Misers, and I see that ST is saying hold off on the EcoVents right now until a hub bug is squashed.

As for the Vent-Misers, they’re not smart in the sense of being connected; they’re just programmable to open and close the vents at certain times. Given that some of them are only $7 (yes, seven dollars) on Amazon, I ordered one just to dissect it and see how the mechanism works, and thus how easy or difficult it might be to turn it into a connected smart vent.

I’m brand new to all this fun stuff, so tell me if I’m way off base, or if I’m right in thinking some of these things might be useful for cobbling together a battery-powered Z-wave switchable air vent?

http://bit.ly/1tA3wOo


(Ben Edwards) #2

@urman is working on certifying a vent right now. And I like what I have seen from Keen Home, http://www.keenhome.io/ too.


(Chrisb) #3

@ChopOMatic,

I’d take a hard look at those devices on your linked page before buying. I know some of them say z-wave, but the frequencies they generally are listed do not appear to be correct for z-wave.

From Wikipedia:

Frequency band: The Z-Wave Radio uses the 868.42 MHz SRD Band (Europe); the 900 MHz ISM band: 908.42 MHz (United States); 916 MHz (Israel); 919.82 MHz (Hong Kong); 921.42 MHz (Australian/New Zealand).

Looking at the details pages for those remotes, most of 'em list:
315mhz /433mhz

Even this one (Linky) which specifically says ‘z-wave’ in the title shows the frequency range as the 315/433.


(Kristopher Kubicki) #4

Keen looks awesome.

Econet is a relatively popular device based on Zwave. Needs a proper device though

Would also recommend being shy on the Aliexpress “z-wave” stuff.


(Jerry Hatchett) #5

Thx, I shall indeed be wary of anything on AliExpress. Z-Wave or not. Tis why I posted here, where you guys know infinitely more about what to look for at this point than I do.

The Keen stuff does look good, but their Kickstarter campaign ended way over a year ago. Can you actually buy their product anywhere yet?

I do have great appreciation for off-the-shelf products that are ready to roll and fulfill their purpose. Being a tinkerer and inventor, I also like to think of ways to cobble solutions together. I would especially love to cobble a smart vent solution around a $7 vent. :wink:


(Greg) #6

can you share which vent @urman is certifying?


(Geko) #7

I’m interested in this too. Please share your findings as soon as you get a chance to take one apart. :smile:


(Kristopher Kubicki) #8

If you’re a bit of a hacker this is the “better” solution

Pair that with a relay switch and your system will be way more efficient. There are also various boosters and combinations of normally closed / on.

Also - no need for batteries which is great.


HVAC Zones via Duct-Dampers instead of Smart-Vents?
(Jerry Hatchett) #9

Yup, controlling the ducts, the nearer to the air source the better, is no doubt the best approach. At the moment, I’m living in a rental house; any smartness I install needs to be something easily switched back out upon departure. :wink:


(Kristopher Kubicki) #10

No sense of adventure? And with a name like ChopOmatic… :smiley:


(Andrew Urman) #11

@greg http://econetcontrols.com/


(Jerry Hatchett) #12

Heck, I’m already to the point that I’ll have to allot an entire day to switching out crap, LOL.


(Chrisb) #13

A few months back I was semi-considering moving… My kids are 13 and 11 and the thought of only one full bath with a soon to be teenage girl and an already teenage boy concerned me a bit. I was semi-looking at houses with a master bath.

One of the reasons I haven’t decided to move is the thought of “un-smartening” my existing house. I’ve got 30 devices now that are hardwired in and it would be a pain to have to take all of them out and put the old switches/outlets back in. And that’s not even talking the stuff that’s just stuck on the walls, doors, and windows!

I figure in 5-10 years have smart switches/outlets will be a nice little extra selling point, but right now not enough people are adopting it that I’d get the boost in home value that all the devices are worth.

Still debating whether to add a Master Bath over the den… anyone got an extra $50K they wanna give me?? :slight_smile:


(Tommy) #14

Sell the house at a premium to recover the costs of your installation.


(Jerry Hatchett) #15

You might find all that smartness is a bigger selling point for your house than you think.


(Chrisb) #16

It all depends on who looks at it. If you get someone who’s interested in that, then yeah… it might very well be. But I wonder how many people would really look at that right now and have it sway their decision financially. I think at best we’re talking a very small install base right now of SmartHomes. I would estimate it’s probably around 1 or 2%… and that might even be a high estimate.

Just off the top of my head I’m thinking of my family, friends, neighbors, co-workers… people I know for sure who would or wouldn’t have any Smart aspects to their homes… Including my home I can say for 100% certainty whether there is or isn’t anything in 20 different homes. Of those, 1… only mine… has any Smart attributes.

IF I find the right buyer, then yeah, I can see him/her being willing to payout a higher price for the smart things in the home. But I think that most people will look at it and compare to a similar home and say: The z-wave stuff is nice and all, but this home is $600 less… are we really going to use that stuff so much?


(kkern) #17

$95 seems a bit pricey for a Vent, “smart” or not


(Blake Westerdahl) #18

We replaced our furnace two years ago and looked into installing zones. We decided not to because it was going to add about $4,000 to the overall cost (we have an old house and it would require quite a bit of duct alterations). I can do the same things with these and even including the couple extra temp sensor I need it will be less than $1,000.

If @urman gets a device type for these, I am definitely buying a few for testing.


(Eric) #19

I am on board to try econet controls out too if @urman gets a device type for that…I have some trouble rooms.

I have talked with EcoVents at length, and their system will not be even in production until late next summer…and they didn’t promise Zwave integration in the end, which seems odd.


(Jerry Hatchett) #20

K, I agree. Especially when you consider the components that should be necessary to put the solution together. I have the $7 vent in hand now, BTW. Should have a chance to dissect it tomorrow. Will post some info and pix here.