Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DZ3: Running Without Dampers

When I heard this idea for the first time, I though - wait, it doesn't make sense, what's the gain? Then it dawned on me - the showstopper has just been removed.

What is stopping *you* from installing this system in your house? Most probably, the idea about ugly wires all over, and/or expensive wiring and wall repairs that will have to follow.

Now, what do you need to do if you run this system *without* dampers connected? Install as many wireless sensors as you wish or can afford, and a small control unit (like this, for example) somewhere in the mechanical room where your HVAC unit is installed. You don't even have to disconnect the existing thermostat and deal with te wall repairs. Now, let's consider both sides of the coin.


You won't be able to optimize the behavior of more than one zone at the same time. It's just like the good old thermostat that you carry in your pocket, and the house follows you. Hence, no energy conservation. But, this is a trade off, and if you calculate ROI, it may turn out that possible savings in electric bill vs. cost of wiring may break even many years from now.


  • You can improve thermal behavior of your house instantly. Using different setpoints, zone shutoffs and zone voting settings (see detailed explanation here), you can have the desired temperature where you are, not where the thermostat is.
  • You don't have to destroy your walls doing wiring and deal with repairs and dust.
  • You will be able to collect monitoring data that will allow you to better assess what exactly do you need to do with your house in order to improve its thermal behavior.
So there, pick your poison.

(Idea credit: DC)

1 comment:

  1. This is the path I'm going down, at least to start. I will be using a limited number of wired 1-wire sensors, so the wiring won't be too much work, or too disruptive to the interior decorating. Key goals will be to collect & analyze thermal behavior data, and to control HVAC units based on average of multiple sensors, rather than a single thermostat.

    I like the SheevaPlug idea, but am using a regular PC as a Ubuntu server for now.

    How's this for a crazy idea? Put an iButton reader in each room, and give each person their own iButton, which acts as their unique id. As they enter/exit a room, swipe their iButton. Use the location information to alter the zone voting. Don't waste energy heating/cooling unoccupied rooms.