Some people like to remotely start their cars when it’s cold outside. Dan Beadle took this idea one step further by Internet-enabling his mountainside retreat’s hydronics system. The innovative design enables him to warm the house well in advance of his arrival.
In “Wireless Water Heater” (Circuit Cellar 163), Beadle writes:
My mountain home, where I have vacationed for years, is well insulated, making it a snap for the heater system to keep warm. I have a small, efficient heater; however, it takes forever to warm the house from a 50°F standby to a livable 68°F. Typically, I arrive late and shiver in my jacket for three or four hours until the house warms up—and that does not warm the entire house, just the portion needed to get through the night.
I had been thinking for a while about Internet-enabling the system. The idea was to turn on the heater before we start up the mountain. I have DSL at the house with a fixed IP. So, it seemed like it would be a simple task to enable a thermostat. I considered using an X10 thermostat, but, after a few of our X10-enabled lights found a mind of their own, I decided that I wanted better reliability. My next thought was to use simple copper to do the hook-up. I started planning a cable from my office/DSL entry up to the logical thermostat location. Then I procrastinated. I could not bring myself to run the wires along the surface of my redwood paneling. (And it was not at all feasible to remove the paneling.) Wireless makes the problem a lot simpler: there are no wires to run, and the applications processor and digital I/O on the module make the hardware design trivial.
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