Trying to Connect a Gas Fireplace


(Adam Morgan) #1

I don’t know much about wiring so I thought I would start a new thread that covers my specific need instead of trying to decipher the various threads that have discussed z wave fireplace hookups.

I have a gas fireplace that has a remote as well as a switch (picture attached). I am trying to replace the switch in the picture with a z wave device. To summarize: I do not not want to include the remote that came with the device and I am not looking to have a manual power switch. I want the device to turn on/off only by z wave commands. The blower is a dial on the fireplace itself so that is not a concern here.

The switch has 4 wires coming out of it (2 red, white, gray) and those wires bundle into two gray wires that go into the wall. If I am correctly understanding the various threads that cover this topic, do I only need to add the Remotec device?


(Ray) #2

I actually changed out one of this switch not too long ago for a client. It’s really just an on off switch for your thermocouple. Any z-wave relay dry contact will work as long as you have 110v nearby to operate the relay. I would wire the relay in series with your current switch. That way you will still have the thermostat/remote. Obviously I don’t have to point out about gas and electricity (spark) too close together right?


(Johnathan Fullman) #3

The important thing here is that you by a switch that says “dry contact” on it.
A switch powered inline with the relay will not work because the voltages are different.

I would wager there is a relay in your black box there. Which means you probably have all the wires you need to get it going. You can use a multi-meter to identify the wires. The 4 wires will be:
-low voltage load
-low voltage source
-110v to relay
-110v nuetral

Get them all right and you are good to go.


(Adam Morgan) #4

Thank you both so much for your help. I’m a geek but my knowledge is severely limited in this area.

So the remotec device is what I am looking for? And I assume that if I do a little digging I would find a how-to identify those wire types using a multi-meter?

As for the electric/gas warning, I am assuming that the issue is messing with the wires too close to the fireplace? The switch is actually located on a wall a few feet away so I am assuming I am safe. Either way I will turn the gas off.


(Eric) #5

replying just for monitoring…been struggling here myself.


#6

You need to bring in a licensed electrician. This is not a learn as you go first time project.

If you want to learn more about wiring projects and you live near a Home Depot, most have classes on how to install a light switch, which is a good place to start.

A gas fireplace is not.


(Eric) #7

My electrician in fact elected not to deal with it and said to talk to the fireplace guys. Who said, well, we don’t really worry about the electrical, just the gas.

They are all hung up on this “zwave switches” newness they don’t have a lot of experience with.


(Michael) #8

I just automated my millivolt valve with an Arduino with a motor shield and ThingShield. The millivolt valves have a always on pilot light and mine had a “dumb” remote you had to hold on until it lights. I programmed the Arduino to turn on thee motor for a certain number of seconds for On and the reverse for off. Works great as I also have a Minimote controlling it.


(Ray) #9

Take @JDRoberts’ advice on this one. The risk is a little too high if you have doubt. Chances of an explosion is low but it’s there. I don’t think you can get an electrician to do this for you because of reliability.


#10

If the regular electricians in your area don’t do this, you should be able to find a fireplace company that does remote switches. Because the radio transmitter is always on, it is in fact a bit different than a lot of simple remote relays. So it may be that they want to put the network switch a long way from the fireplace, it could even go all the way back to the circuit box if the lighter is on its own circuit. Or just further upstream. I personally would want to put the radio at least 15 feet away from the gas source. The caution isn’t unreasonable.

But professionals being nervous about something is rarely a good argument for doing it yourself. Just sayin’… :wink:


(Adam Morgan) #11

Thanks again everybody. Yes, I am all about playing it safe (I won’t even look at the hot water tank). So I should be safe buying the remotec device that I liked earlier and the contacting an electrician to do the work?


(Ray) #12

The remotec relay should work. Just to be safe. Check to see if it’s on ST supported device list or there is a device type for it.


(Antonio Lopez) #13

So @JDRoberts I’ve been thinking of connecting my fireplace for a while now as well but I think @muchgooder setup is different than mine. Our house is 2 years old and I have a toggle switch next to the fireplace like so:

So are you saying that I can’t just add a z-wave switch there?


#14

Two separate issues. First, what kind of switch is it? It’s typical of fireplace switches that they look like regular light switches but in fact they stepped down the current to a very low level. This is how the control 4 fireplace switches work, for example. But electrician should be able to determine that.

Next question is proximity. I personally don’t put electrical switches that close to a gas source, but as a quad, I’m particularly sensitive to fire safety issues. If your electrician is happy with it, then that decision is up to you.


(Dan) #15

Does your gas log fireplace have a pilot light? If yes, and the switch in your picture is used to turn on the flames… Then the switch is most likely connected to a very low voltage signal that is actually powered by the pilot light heating a thermocouple. This ~1VDC signal is then used to open the main gas valve when then switch is turned on. This is how these fireplaces still work during a power outage.

If this is the design of your fireplace, there most likely is no 110VAC source in the switch box. Therefore, you’d need a battery powered relay “Thing” instead of a traditional zwave/zigbee light switch.


(Matt Fink) #16

Mine is like that - Pilot light, simple low voltage switch to turn it on… I would love to replace the switch or add something compatible to make it work with smartthings - I would never use it in automation though, I just want a damn remote because I am too lazy to get up off the couch and walk 10 feet to flip it on.


(Dan) #17

Matt,

You actually bring up a very good point… Safety. Not sure I’d trust any HA solution with the task of turning on a flame in the house… It would be awful if the fireplace came on while nobody was home, or while you’re sleeping, or anytime when it is unattended.

Please think thoroughly through any design you come up with Safety as the very highest priority.

Dan


(Antonio Lopez) #18

Hmmmm, safety is a no brainier and if it can’t be done safely then I won’t do mine. I just wanted to be able to tell Alexa to set the mood whereby she would dim the lights, trigger the fireplace, and play romance music. :sunglasses: I could catch the wife off guard and get lucky. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Anyway, found this on Amazon and in one of the reviews, a guy on Vera explains how he did it.

Haven’t had the time to review all his steps but I’ll be looking at it later.


(Matt Fink) #19

I read up on his method - not a fan…

It’s a shame that there is no low voltage switch that’s battery powered - like the cooper rf9500 but with the addition to wire in to low voltage applications - that would be amazing! I think that would be the only way I would hook up my fireplace - all the other options, having high power near open gas makes me too nervous.


#20

I had been considering hooking up my fireplace using the Remotec Dry Contact Fixture for some time and finally took the plunge. Since the fireplace was controlled by a wall switch with no power, I had to do the following:

  1. Run power from a nearby wall socket. The Dry Contact Switch needs 120V power in addition to the 3V that drive the fireplace being on. Cost: $5 in wire (plus a few favors from an electrician friend)
  2. Patch up wall where holes in the wall were needed.
  3. I had to buy a metal toggle switch cover and then DREMEL the hole so it would fit the Dry Contact switch. Then I had to adjust the mounts on the Dry Contact switch so the Dry Contact Switch would sit flush. This was the most annoying and difficult part as I am not an artist (I’m an engineer)
  4. Wire everything up using the old switch wires for the Relay and the new wires to provide power.

Now I have the switch that was there before replaced with a “push button” for physical interaction and Zwave working perfectly.

I have noticed some notes about safety. In my mind this current setup is no different that the “radio” remote that was there before. Probably the most annoying part of that setup was that the remote could get out of sync with the physical switch. This was, things do not get out of sync. In addition:

  1. I have not bypassed any of the current electronics. I only replaced the current wall-switch with a dry contact switch
  2. It is impossible (as has been suggested by a co-worker) for someone to “hack” ST and turn on the gas only (with no flame).
  3. All the connection I made are contained in the “blue box” and according to my friend, completely to code.
  4. I do have some small worries that the fireplace will be turned on in rare cases like a power outage. I have tested all those scenarios by cutting power to the fireplace, etc. No issues. Loss of power = fireplace shuts down. Power comes back, fireplace remains off until turned back on. Accidentally leaving fireplace on? Now I have a timer…