Smart Vent Recommendations

Wondering if anyone has any recommendations for smart vents. I’ve owned 9 Keen vents for the last two years and two of them died. Keen replaced one of them after much prodding under warranty and the second they wouldn’t (it was out of warranty which left a real sour taste in my mouth.)

I had mixed feelings with using them with Ecobee and their frequent disconnections from the cloud, but things have been infinitely better since swapping to localized solutions using HE and Keenect Lite.

However, I’ll need one or two more with a basement renovation and I’m beginning to think these things aren’t made that well and was looking for alternatives. I’ve no experience with Flair and don’t know which other ones exist now.

If I was renovating, I would use powered duct dampers, a 24V furnace transformer, and a smart switch or smart relay to power the transformer.

This one even comes with the transformer. Not sure what size you need though. And you might want a normally open instead of normally closed like shown.

https://www.amazon.com/Suncourt-normally-closed-adjustable-damper/dp/B078PS3XFB

Here is a different idea :slight_smile: I decided to play around and used hubigraphs and for 1 day ran with Keenect turned on, and 1 day with it turned off and all vents open. What I found was it didn't help for my situation. What I did find was if I set the vents to open position for room used vs closed not used it made a slight difference that built up over days.

Now I live in Arizona, so I think that make a difference and will redo this in the winter, but you might check to see if it is even worth it.

My home was poorly insulated/built in the Northeast plus I have cathedral ceilings upstairs as well as downstairs. Having the vents definitely made a huge difference in comfort and temperature spikes from room to room. Before the vents, I could easily have one room 10-degrees warmer than a room next door. So I think their usefulness is truly situational.

no argument there, I have a very well insulated house in AZ. I can track the sun position by room temperatures.

Now on to your original question, if you have access to your ducts, and can get a wire close to them, I'd be playing with duct dampers.
image

Is there a way to do room by room motorized duct dampers with one controller while utilizing ecobee and the ecobee room sensors? We don’t have separate zones and thermostats.

All the articles I see involve have separate thermostats for different areas but I don’t see why that would be necessary seeing that someone could come up with a smart zone controller.

Sure. Could use a virtual thermostat, write an app, etc. To open/close a damper.

Just be sure that your HVAC has a high pressure bypass/recirc damper too... You close too many ducts/vents off and you WILL damage the blower.

1 Like

There are purpose built zone controllers for thermostats, but I don't think Ecobee has them. Honeywell is a very typical supplier for such a controller. It will work with their thermostats, but I don't know if it works with other brands.

This is probably a question for a HVAC specialist. If you are having massive HVAC balance issues, there might be a more widespread issue like lack of returns, lack of supplies, equipment sizing, airflow setup, and so on.

Like JasonJoel notes, there are side effects to shutting off zones. You really need to be careful here.

Here is Honeywells information.

https://forwardthinking.honeywellhome.com/products/zoning/

But does anything exist aside from some smart relays which may or may not be supported by HE?

Just FYI with Keenect I currently have all the smart vents set to a minimum of 10% closed so none are ever fully closed. Even if this shaved a year or two off my blower motor, the savings and comfort have more than made up for this.

Having to have a HVAC professional install zones is quite expensive around here and I’m looking for more diy.

I get that, I like to DIY too. I even installed my own central air, generator, and more.

But if you are having this many issues, it might be time for a professional evaluation even if it costs money. You might in the long run even save money.

I don't know about your house specifically, but I wander around the HVAC websites (or did when researching my HVAC install). Some of the things I saw on those forums really had me going WTF. Look up ductopus, for example. Ducts disconnected and leaking right into the attic. One air return for a whole house. Furnaces so big they could heat 3 homes.

You might even be better off getting a home efficiency audit. Some utility companies even do this for free, but they often aren't as good as a hired one. Things like duct blasting (duct leakage) tests, and blower door test (home air leakage) will tell you why you are having comfort issues. I think RESNET is one place that certifies auditors, if I understand that correctly.

Actually there’s been only two dead vents In two years but that’s 2 too many. For the cost of a “pro”—I’ve been quoted $4k in the Boston area to add another zone to give you an idea, I’m better off with more crappy smart vents. Just looking for an alternative to them without requiring stringing new wire all over the place as well as more room by room control.

1 Like

I have been working on writing a smart zone control app for awhile. I expect to have an initial version done in a few weeks and will be looking for people to test it.

1 Like

Awesome! Will this work with mechanical dampers and which Zone controllers?

The app is intended to do what zone controllers do, but do it better and do some additional things. If there is more than one regular zone, each is assumed to have a zone damper and a thermostat. An non-zoned system is treated as having one regular zone with a thermostat but no zone damper. Each regular zone may have subzones controlled by dampers, smart vents, etc. The subzones must have a temperature sensor, which may be a thermostat but doesn't have to be. In addition to controlling the heating and cooling equipment, the app also handles ventilation that utilizes the blower.
The app is written and I am in the process of testing it using a simulated system (virtual thermostats and a bunch of virtual switches). My plan to test it in my own home's actual system has run into a snag with my Sensi thermostats not being readable by Hubitat.

Fascinating thread. One question it doesn’t address: for those of us who can’t easily access the duct work and still want some kind of automated vent, any recommendations on Hubitat integrated options? I hear mixed reviews on Keen. I hear better on Flair but doesn’t sound like they are easily Hubitat integrated. Any other options?

I think Flair is now owned by Keen (originally wrote Hubitat by mistake.) Overall, the Keen vents have saved me money and have made the house way more comfortable but I would like something more reliable.

Uhh what makes you say that?

Ugh my mistake brain not working. Owned by Keen I meant...

Well less interesting, but what makes you say THAT? I can't find anything that says anything like that. Keen and Ecovent merged, but never saw anything about Flair... I really like the concept of Flair, especially since I can DC power them. My biggest problem is none of these guys make square versions for those of us that have ceiling vents :frowning:

1 Like