Automating my heating

I want to automate the heating in my house.

I have a fireplace insert that throws a lot of heat on one area of the house. This makes it difficult to rely solely on a thermostat to keep my house comfortable, for example at night the heat from the fire keeps the thermostat from turning on the furnace (thus the bedrooms get cold).

Having computer programming experience, I can envision writing a "smart software utility", to do things like...

- Keep the bedrooms warm at night

- Conserve oil by leaving the bedrooms go cool during the day

- Conserve energy by turning on fans to circulate heat as required

- Perform in different ways based on "outside temperature", "home occupied/not occupied"(based on last motion detected), etc...

I can use X-10 to turn on fans as required (maybe a floor fan or two placed in strategic areas). I'm sure there are some in-line duct fans available somewhere, which could be connected to the existing ducts in my hot-air system, (that could be turned on seperately from the furnace controlled fan via X10). There are currently times when it's too warm in the living room, near the fireplace, and too cool in other areas of the house. So, instead of relying solely on the furnace to warm the bedrooms (while also making the existing hot areas hotter) my software can control these fans (maybe also with X10 controlled dampers) to direct heat to the needed areas of our home.

Question A : My software will need to know temperatures of various areas (three or more) of the house at any given time... Can anyone recommend a product that can be polled for the temperature (and not restricted to the vendor's proprietary software, but from my own application or via X10 commands)

Question B : Can anyone recommend a line of products for directing my furnace heat to certain areas of the house, such as X10 controlled dampers or X10 controlled in-line fans....

I know I can google for such information. In the past this is how I got my information, but I have ended up with a lot of obsolete product that I've wasted my money on that doesn't do exactly what I thought it would. So I thought I'd start here for recommendations, and try to get the right products and the right plan the first time. Thanks a million


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For Question A --- go to

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and look at the D1300 Thermocouple modules. I'm using three of these to monitor temperatures in our second home. I wrote the monitoring program in Visual Basic (I'm a programmer). The modules can be daisy-chained to a single RS232 com port. But, they're NOT cheap. If I recall, you're looking at about $325 each plus the thermocouple. I believe they also have digital outputs, so through your program you can set these to a 0 or 1 to control a relay to start/stop your fans depending on the temperature reading at a particular module. There is no X10 involved in my setup, but if you have a second com port on your PC, you can write the code to send X10 commands. I've done that just to see if I could do it, but if I remember correctly, it was a 3-six-pack effort. I'm sure that I have the code for that experiment around somewhere.

Email me for more details or any questions.

John S.

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John Simpson

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They carry zone controllers and thermostats.

Check out the controllers, the commstar, you can wire your thermostats directly in and keep them off your x-10 (might be noisy), but the commstar also has a pretty advanced scheduling to keep your heater from turning on when certain x-10 devices are on. .

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On Tue, 7 Jun 2005 22:07:55 -0700, "Jvert" wrote: Look into one wire programming devices and Labjack. The one wire devices used to be made by Dallas Semiconductor, now I believe carried by Maxis?

Search on One-Wire weather station for a start. Embedded Data Systems provides a $15 US RS-232 serial controller chip (HA7S) that can poll and control up to 255 devices on a two wire bus (ground and power/data) for basic monitoring and control. One-wire devices include power controllers, temperature and humidity sensors, A/D converters, etc. THey are very economical, easy to "interface" via the HA75, and can use a simple text-based scripting language. Best part is that many of the devices are in TO-97 or 8-pin flatpacks - This means that they can be embedde in other items such as thermostats, etc.

The LabJack device is another method for PC control that is relativly cheap ($80 US) Pligs into a USB port, adn provides analog and digital I/O ports on a PC

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