I'm About to Break Stuff, and I May Need Your Help


#1

Hello friends,

I am one of the home automation community members who have always been ignored and shunned by a specific segment of the market, and my friends, that ends today!!

The small group of manufacturers who produce smart vents and allow people to have a far greater fidelity of control over their homes HVAC, have together made the decision to punish those brave Americans whose homes were built with 2" x 12" HVAC vents instead of a larger version.

I don't know why it what we did to them, but deserve smart vents too. They tell us that it's not enough room, but we know better. We are the same people who tinker with Raspberry Pi Zeros and break brand new devices wide open to hack them to make then better. If we can put a TB of data on a chip smaller than a pinky-toe nail, we can figure it out. And we will, but I'll need your help.

I know how to break stuff, in fact I'm considered an expert in the field. I am ok at fixing, but when it comes to coding and programming, I'm kinda dumb.

So here's my plans, which are already in motion. I have just ordered a 2" x 12" Vent-Miser 91663 Programmable Vent from my good friend Jeff Bezos, so it should be here tomorrow. This is a vent cover equipped with a digital programable timer which once set, will fully open and fully close its baffles based on how it's set. It does this with a battery powdered DC motor, all of which is contained within the unit (funny how they could get it to fit)

Also on my way is a Z-wave contact sensor which I've used on a few other projects because it has a built in simple open/closed input interface which can be connected to either report a change or trigger a change. I need to get the vent in my hands to see how I'm going to do this, but I'm confident I will be able to configure a simple Z-wave curcuit to enable my Hubitat Hub to open or close a specific vent in a specific room based on a temperature threshold being met.

But if for some reason I have to code or program something, I'll need help. Otherwise I'll become sad and cry.

Anyway, as I work, I'll post here for any suggestions or words of wisdom you may have. But to a greater extent enable those people who have suffered as I have a at the Amish Shunning we've we endured by the Smart Vent industry will need to suffer no more!


#2

Lol I like this guy...


#3

I am not sure what you are trying to accomplish with the smart vents? Is this improved efficiency or balanced temperatures throughout the house maybe, or something else?

I still question smart vents ability to really provide any benefit over actually improving your HVAC system itself, especially when it comes to efficiency. Now balancing temperatures throughout the house is where it may help. But then improving heat loss/gain from better insulation and a newer HVAC system I would imagine would make a much bigger difference.

I know having two completely separate central AC systems for multiple zones is more efficient then just using 1 system and a damper to control airflow to zones. I have this setup in my house for each floor and I was amazed at how efficient the system is. Each condenser is also 2 stage for even better efficiency.

The issue with the smaller vents unfortunately, there is no easy way around that one.


#4

I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish with that post? Is this to dissuade him from buying smart vents at all or persuade him to not do this particular heroic project?

I personally use them to balance the temps in my house and it actually works. People seem to think smart vents are used to shut air completely off to rooms and that's the wrong way to go about it. They work much better at minimizing or maximizing flow. I have 2 rooms that stay pretty warm in the summer and 1 room that gets ice cold. Using smart vents, I have 3 rooms that stay at a comfortable temp.

I also have a 2x12 (just 1), so I am following this thread.


#5

Most Z-Wave Contact Sensors only send data, not receive data.... So, I am curious about the Z-Wave device you have chosen - what is the make/model? Battery powered devices rarely stay awake to receive commands from the Hub. They prefer to be sleepy devices to conserve battery power.


#6

Keep a thought on Zwave signal strength and don’t go burying your controller behind a metal vent grill which might effectively shield it from the Zwave signals.


#7

I had the same thought. Something more like a MIMOlite seems necessary for this use case, right?


#8

I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from anything. I was going that my cries for equality were so over the top, it would be obvious that it eat mostly hyperbole.

I just want smart vents to help me balance time temp in my house, which runs a single zone, single compressor HVAC system. Honestly, my issues are not something most people would care about, but there are temp balance issues in the finished basement, as well as some rooms in the main floor.

I am disappointed that no one makes a 2" x 12" smart vent, and I'm pretty sure the reason is not a lack of space for the components. It's probably more based on a lack of potential market volume for that size, which I fully understand and don't blame the companies for.

My post was simply an initial call out to advise my fellow home automation brothers and sisters that I may need their help. Also, I can't imagine I'm the only person in this community to be buzz killed that they don't have the option for smart vents in that size. So now, if by chance those 3 people come across this thread, I'll have been able to help them once I throw it all together and get it working!

And one last thing...... Did you call me.... "heroic"!?!???? :heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes::heart_eyes: You're my hero too!!!


#9

I'm just looking to balance a single zone system. It would barely be a thing for anyone not into this automation and tinkering stuff, but I am, so went not!?

I'm also considering the use of electronically as a actuated duct baffles, but those things can get pricey!!!!!


#10

So what I used in the past is the Ecolink contact sensor (model "DWZWAVE2.5-ECO"). Other than getting into the Raspberry Pi-like stuff, it was the only unit I could find that was designed with an I/O connector. This allowed me to repurpose the sensor to for some specific projects I was interested in undertaking.

The first example I succeeded using this was with my driveway alarm, which as the time was not something I could find using Z-Wave or Zigbee. I acquired a driveway alarm system which was equipped with a low voltage I/O circuit from a company called Dakota. Connected the two wires between the Dakota alarm and the contact sensor and was in business.

Now when the motion sensor tripped out in the driveway and sent it's signal to the alarm unit in my house, the alarm (which I have silenced) sent a signal to the Ecolink contact sensor causing it to "close" momentarily, and was now a trigger I could use for all sorts of fun. The solution of placing a Z-wave based motion sensor out in the driveway to simplify this was not an option due to the distance. This driveway alarm has a 1/2 mile range, which is needed here.

I've attached a photo of what the setup looks like. Normally I'm a bit OCD about my stuff having a little better "fit & finish" than what you see, and when I get the time, I've been planning to clean it up by designing something in CAD to 3D print.

Now, many people have asked me what the purpose of the original post was, and I'm pleased to say that what I realized while writing this reply is the biggest reason.

I don't think that Ecolink will do the job, but I don't know. The driveway alarm triggers the sensor, but I'll need the sensor to trigger a motor. Hmmmmm

THIS is why I wrote this post, because when I involve more people, who are all generally smarter I am, there is a far better chance that someone will identify an error in my logic or weakness in my design. Depending on the capability of that contact sensor, I may end up having to go with a different component to integrate the Z-wave functionality, but still very achievable.

Thanks again to everyone!!


#11

That’s why I mentioned MIMOlite, or the MIMO2, both made by Fortrezz. The ecolink doesn’t have an input and output, but those devices do. Take a look at those.


#12

I did specify in my post that balancing temp would make the most sense for smart vents. That's why I asked what his intentions were, because if it was saving energy, smart vents wouldn't help there. I had no intentions of persuading to buy them or not. Although I would hate to see people spend money on them thinking you will save energy. For comfort in balancing temp it does make sense. But also depending on the house, insulation could also help, but of course this may not be possible to install.


#13

I will, thanks!!


#14

I like you as well, sir, on account of you being compelled share that. THANKS!!