Smart air vents

It’s getting closer to the holidays, which means my ecovent system should be coming soon!!! It’s be hard waiting 13 months for this baby!!

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Anyone building a baseboard vent, very popular in the cold Buffalo area?

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So it’s been a little over a year now and every week I get my updates from ecovent about the status of when the vents will be shipped out. I had the opportunity to speak with them last night and I asked a lot about their API and if it would play nice with ST. Seems like I should hopefully get my vents in Jan which is awesome. It also sounds like they are going to get the IFTTT integration done first and then focus on the API side of things after that. They did also say that their hub for the vents have a zigbee chip in it but didn’t say if they were going to use it down the road or not for HA. I know the system is more expensive compared to the econet vents but it’s a whole system that include keeping an eye on the pressure within the HVAC system and also multiple temp sensors, which is useful for pulling temps and humidity into ST in order to control my ceiling fans via a photon and outlets for my humidifiers.

My Ecovent system, http://ecoventsystems.com finally arrived yesterday. I have an older home so I need to do some modifications in order to get the vents installed. Right now they still haven’t opened their API access but hopefully it will soon, so I can use the sensor data for controlling my ceiling fans and humidifiers in the bedrooms. I hope to get some or all of the vents installed today and I’ll update how it goes. I’ll be using a nest for my thermostat however “works with nest” program seems to be strict and seems like a Sensi thermostat would allow the ecovent system to have more control of the system. I’ll start out with the nest and see how things go. If I have to I’ll switch over to a Sensi to see if it does q better job.

For my order they sent 5-6x10 vents, 3-6x12 vents, 4x12 floor vent, 7-room sensors, Samsung tablet and all the little other things shown in the photos.


The app looks different from the website because I’m using the Nest. With the big number is the nest target temp. The rooms you adjust them warm or cooler than the nest target temp. With the Sensi I guess everyroom you actually set a temp. My concern here using nest is if a room is cold and ecovent knows it but the nest has hit its target temp the ecovent can’t trigger the nest to call for heat to just warm up that room, because it’s against “works with nest”. With a Sensi I guess ecovent call call for heat to just warm up that room.

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Jealous… Still waiting for my vent sizes to go to production.

I have 8 Keen vents installed along with @yvesracine ScheduleRoomTempControl app and everything is working perfectly. Previously I could never balance the temperature upstairs and downstairs, but now I have everything working great. Now all my rooms are usually within 1 degree of each other. I do agree with @krv that you need a separate temperature gauge in each room, as the Keen vents are not even close, especially when heating. Everything I learned was on the thread at:

Setup went well with my vents but was a little pain. I had to mod my vents because the age of my house after that all the vents popped right in. I wasn’t able to install one vent because the opening is all messed up, new weekend project I guess. (Photo below) Now as I spoke about above the nest with ecovent has limitations. When the HVAC runs all the rooms get to the temps I set however when my sunroom gets cold it won’t tell the nest to run just to heat up that room (photo below) I have to wait for the nest located in my hallway to drop below the target temp. The support has been awesome and respond to my questions within hours. They are still working on the app and system so I hope they might improve this because I don’t want to switch to the Sensi thermostat. I had one vent give me issues during the installation. I couldn’t get it connected and they had help me get that fixed within the hour via email support. Now I’m waiting for them to give me access to a portal that will allow me to see all the vent and sensor data and I am still pressing them to give me access to their API. I have plans to use my ST motion sensors to tell ecovent if a room is occupied or not and also use sensor data to bring into SmartThings to control my fans or my humidifiers.
Ceiling fan controller?

Cant’ wait to hear how your system works over time @ijthoma . I find that in the winter my setup is extremely effective and I couldn’t live with out it. Basically preventing the upstairs rooms from overheating trying to heat the downstairs. Last summer I basically just opened everything up as I don’t really have problems over cooling the downstairs. Will be interesting to see if that’s any different now that I have the whole downstairs fitted setup with Keen vents. (I have all econets on the upstairs.) @yvesracine is there a reason you went with the schedule approach with ScheduleRoomTempControl and didn’t use modes? Are there any plans to support modes in the future?

krv

Hi @krv,

By modes, you mean ST hello modes like Night, Home, and Away or any custom ones?

ST Hello Modes are already supported in all my Zoned Heating/Cooling Solutions on the Schedule Setup page (next to/ last parameter at the bottom of the page).

P.S. If you have any other questions, please send them to services@maisonsecomatiq.com, as it’s easier for me to follow any customer requests through gmail conversations.

Regards.

I currently using a Particle Photon to control one of these. I’m using 2 AA batteries and a simple H-brige motor controller, along with a DS18s20 temperature sensor. I activate the motor for 1.2 seconds to open or close based on temperature (still need to hand a scope on the original controller and measure the actual time). Right now the senor is hanging out the side of the vent, taped 6" away to minimize influence from the cold air coming from the vent.

The Photon allows remote programming via WiFi, and once complete, vent to vent communications so I do t close too many vents at one time. I also need to work out n power reduction, as I eat through the batteries in a couple of days.

More to come, but these vent-miser’s work great, especially for the price.

Tim, just be sure you don’t harm your HVAC system. I’ve done a fair amount
of research on this topic since originally looking at the vents, and it
appears that the various pressures and backpressures in a system are indeed
of critical importance.

Jerry Hatchett, CCE, EnCE

Certified Computer Examiner
EnCase Certified Examiner
Licensed Private Investigator (Texas PSB License #A18333)

Omni: 713-364-2467

DISCLAIMER: Anything I say, particularly with regard to technology, should
be interpreted generally, not specifically. The online world is a wonderful
thing, but rarely is it practical to cover every imaginable scenario in a
written, fast-paced forum. There are often exceptions, so keep that in mind.

Here is a question for everyone who follow this. With the smart vent (Wifi control), to me it doesn’t make sense as I don’t really play around with temperature setting everyday. So for my use, I just want to program the room as what I normally do with the house thermostat (lock at 70°F all day due to stay at home wife) then never have to look at it again. For this, it does not justify to pay extra money for the Wifi control system that I don’t play with the setting everyday.

That being said, I’m a homeowner of a 4 rooms (colonial, 3 girls) in Michigan. Two of my daughter’s room facing south, so in the winter time it’s always hot when the sun came out but fine without the sun. I have made an automatic vent open/shutoff using a $3 Arduino Nano, $3 servo, an el cheapo thermostat and a 5 volt transformer (old cell phone charger). This have been working great in one of my daughter’s room and I’m planning to do a few more for the other rooms. With less than $20/room I think it’s great on a lot of ways. Not cooking my kids in their own room is the biggest factor of this project but also a low cost project and potentially save money on heating and cooling in the long run. The money saving was not what I planned. It’s the safety of my kids is what I’m after. There were a couple times that my kids woke up with bleeding nose as it was too hot in the room while they were sleeping.

If anyone feel offensive please don’t as I’m just asking for everyone opinion regarding the WIFI control as I have seen more and more coming out in the market.

This thread has a great amount of detail that’s really helpful. I have a similar question, except it’s a little different in that I’m starting from scratch.

I recently purchased a house with four very small efficiency apartments. The apartments are supplied by a common residential HVAC system. As the landlord, I pay the utilities. The units are very small and each has what appears to be a single 4x12 heating vent (although I need to research this further). I’m looking for ways to minimize my utility costs without sacrificing tenant comfort. As a starting point, I thought about putting in a smart thermostat with time of day controls and a system to monitor temperature in each unit. However, this could quickly start to cost money and I’d like to move in a direction that I could expand into a more capable system.

The total solution that I’m looking for would ideally:

(1) provide remote monitoring and control, via internet (preferably via wifi),

(2) give the ability to install a temperature sensor in each unit and track temperature by unit over time

(3) provide the ability to install a smart vent in each unit and intelligently control the smart vent centrally via programmatic rules

(4) Give ability to link sensors and vents to create HVAC zones (one zone for each unit in this case)

(5) Provide the ability to slightly limit airflow to units without totally shutting off airflow (I wouldn’t want a computer program to decide to shutoff all vents except one then fire up the furnace possibly damage the HVAC system… a system of detecting high pressure at the vent and opening the vent when pressure is high would also be good),

(6) At a minimum, the ability to adjust vent volumes somewhat to maintain constant heat across units,

(7) A simple user interface (web browser with temperature by time of day is ok),

(8) The ability to automatically get all of this to work together to maintain a separate custom temperature schedule in each unit (nice to have),

(9) the ability to slightly reduce heat / cooling to empty units based on motion sensing (nice to have),

(10) booster fans in the vents that can be used to increase airflow at vents that have lower pressure (very nice to have)

(11) the ability to set custom rules around running the blower fan on the HVAC system to redistribute heat is also a great idea

(12) Finally, the solution needs to be reasonably affordable (under $1,000 for everything, preferably under $500), and be sufficiently reliable that I don’t worry about it running on its own a couple miles from my house or constantly need to drive over to tinker with it to get it to work

Thoughts and advice are definitely appreciated.

Yep, we like it. Of course, your system would have to be configured such that its optimal flow is not impeded by the controls, but merely redirected.

I use aeotec micro double switches to control boosters and dampers within my hvac system, have used it since March of this year and saved quite a bit. Granted I used in conjunction with multipurpose sensors (for temp and window monitoring), presence , motion/occupancy, along with virtual thermostat to have the a.c. or heat essentially follow us. It wasn’t very much work it wasn’t very expensive ( 6" booster is $29, damper is $69, double microswitch to control 2 or 1 booster and 1 damper $40)

You could

  1. Put a thermostat in each unit with temperature lockouts and have the boosters and/or damper control where air went

2.Use virtual thermostat that uses temperature sensors in all of the units and balanced with the dampers/boosters

  1. A slight variation of 2, to give tenants more control use minimotes or similar to raise or lower temperature ( they would open/close damper or turn on/off booster)

I know that worked out for me and was very cost effective. Its not difficult to set up and there are quite a few smart apps that would work depending on which way you want to go with fairly simple user interfaces

Totally agree with you on this. One of the reasons why I didn’t go this route yet. I think one way to solve this is if each zoned dampers are working in conjunction with their own dedicated emperature sensor in the rooms they are heating and cooling, and then have a variable speed furnace set to turn off and on based on readings from the temperature sensors. Really, you will be controlling each individual rooms temperature on your controller (smart app) than the thermostat itself at this point since I don’t think any thermostats is capable of proper zoning.

Yes, and there is already a smartapp for that!

There are many safeguards in my smartapps to avoid closing too many vents at once.

Regards.

Thanks for pointing this out chrisf.
Here’s my solution and recommendations:

For existing systems, chrisf is absolutely right that the duct sizes are (if engineered correctly) sized for the furnace BTU for proper airflow to take heat from the furnace heat exchanger at the right rate. If airflow capacity is decreased by closing air paths, it makes the fan work harder and the system much noisier, and risks killing the furnace.

Newer modulating or staged furnaces usually have proprietary thermostats and controllers that can handle zoning and pressures, and many communicate by Zwave or something else compatible with SmartThings. There might be enough information from those to inform control of smartvents through smartThings as well, but it’s a risk if the ZWave communications go down. Proprietary zoning is the best option for sure, but I hate the look of what’s available, and I love to tinker, so I made my own.

I just put in a new 98% efficiency, fully-modulating furnace with two zones on a standard single-stage thermostat and custom zone controller (which defaults to one zone with all zone dampers open), and I am planning one smart vent for a guest room. The way my York modulating furnace works is that it starts out at minimum heat (~40%), and fan speed is automatically set to maintain the proper static pressure and airflow for the heat created. After 10 minutes if the thermostat is not up to setpoint, the furnace (and fan) start ramping up over 20 minutes to 100% until temperature setpoint is reached.

Since my fully-open system is built to handle 100% heat, I’ve set up the zone dampers so that 40% is always OK, and depending on the zone(s) calling for heat, I open first the calling zone, then ramp open the other zone as needed over the 10-30 minute period. I plan to put in static pressure gauge to help control the dampers in the future. Since the planned ZWave smart vent is on a single small branch, I feel safe to run it through the ZWave network rather than the furnace controller, as even if Zwave communications break down, it won’t kill my system. But I wouldn’t count on ZWave coordination with furnace or thermostat for more than 10% of the duct area.

Here are some explanations about smart vents vs. traditional zones. Each solution has its list of pros and cons.

Regards,

I see in the keenhome site that the ‘auto-balancing’ feature is marked as ‘coming soon.’ Is that intended to be some sort of zone controller that communicates with the furnace to modulate staging and help with minimum airflow to protect the furnace? I’m sure the company is concerned about damaging expensive furnaces, so can you tell me something about how they are addressing that issue?
Thx

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