Author Topic: Vacation control  (Read 5297 times)

Offline ron22

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: +0/-0
Vacation control
« on: May 21, 2014, 10:51:07 pm »
First I have a second home with internet access that we use off and on year round.
I am looking for a system that I can turn on the AC remotely or turn the heat up. When not in use in summer the AC will be off in winter the heat need to be on set above freezing (keep the pipes from freezing)
I also want a thermostat that will function like a "normal" programmable setback thermostat when in use.
I want a system that has a built in web portal. I do not want to use a 3rd party web site.
Looking at the Vera energy saving solution.  There seems to be bad reviews with the Thermostat ZTS-110 that comes with the package.
Would I be better off buying the VeraLite and then a Honeywell thermostat?
In the future if this works would like to add a switch to turn on the outside light remotely also. Possible some others add ons.
Do not plan on any fancy stuff run by the Veralite. Just log into it before we leave set the thermostat . Then when we leave log on and set thermostat.

Offline Lonestar10

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 214
  • Karma: +4/-1
Re: Vacation control
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2014, 12:55:36 pm »
The only thermostats I have ever used with Vera are branded Trane thermostats.

http://www.amazon.com/Trane-TZEMT400BB3-Remote-Management-Thermostat/dp/B0052MHPP4/ref=pd_sim_hi_6?ie=UTF8&refRID=1YQHA47EC3KPJPA7Z1VT

I've never had a problem with them.  You can probably find them cheaper on eBay or elsewhere.  Someone on the forum said most thermostats are made by one company anyway.

I bought my first Vera to do exactly what you are wishing to do; control the temperature of a remote house.  Vera can do that nicely and them some.  I now have more than 60 devices controlled or monitored by Vera.  It's addicting.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2014, 12:57:22 pm by Lonestar10 »
IU5 Vera 3 - VeraLite - Trane Thermostats x3 - Kwikset - Schlage - Nest - GE & Leviton Switches

Offline integlikewhoa

  • Master Member
  • *******
  • Posts: 5529
  • Karma: +149/-348
Re: Vacation control
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2014, 01:37:02 pm »
First I have a second home with internet access that we use off and on year round.
I am looking for a system that I can turn on the AC remotely or turn the heat up. When not in use in summer the AC will be off in winter the heat need to be on set above freezing (keep the pipes from freezing)
I also want a thermostat that will function like a "normal" programmable setback thermostat when in use.
I want a system that has a built in web portal. I do not want to use a 3rd party web site.
Looking at the Vera energy saving solution.  There seems to be bad reviews with the Thermostat ZTS-110 that comes with the package.
Would I be better off buying the VeraLite and then a Honeywell thermostat?
In the future if this works would like to add a switch to turn on the outside light remotely also. Possible some others add ons.
Do not plan on any fancy stuff run by the Veralite. Just log into it before we leave set the thermostat . Then when we leave log on and set thermostat.

What your asking for is more then basic for the VERA. Any z-wave thermostat can do you what your requesting. Not all are the same to install tho. I suggest you do some research on which thermostat you want and how the wiring is going to be before you buy any of them.

When your using z-wave devices such as the thermostat it requires power to keep it running and on the z-wave network. Some thermostats can run off batteries, but that is short lived and not good for a house that your not always around to change batteries when your far from home. The upside is the battery thermostat requires no extra wires and is therefor fairly easy to install.

I use a Trane tzemt500bb32ma and that just like the Honeywell posted above doesn't use batteries but rather an extra wire (commonly called a 5th wire) to bring the 24v common from the a/c unit to the thermostat to power it up. There is adapters that can be used to add a wire if you don't have any extra unused in the wiring loop to the thermostat. But all this requires a bit of know how or a a/c technician to install. And even the a/c technicians are not used to "Z-wave", "Vera", and "Home Automation" and usually get scared off if you try and explain it to them. You would have better luck just telling them to install this thermostat and hand them a box. The more you tell them it's "special" the more they get scared and the more they charge.

Important thing to know is that any good thermostat is going to require an extra wire or 24V common wire (which I have yet to see a basic non z-wave thermostat use) 

All of these thermostats have normal buttons on them just like a non z-wave so anyone in the house can use as normal.

Veralite is a good way to start then pick up the items you need from there. Where are you located and do you shop online or locally? Vera's can be bought from anywhere (mine came from Amazon.com) and I buy most of my switches here in California at Lowes. Lowes also has DoorLocks and thermostats in stock here too, but my thermostats (7 of them) came from E-bay for 89.00 each.

Light switches are also a little special to install. They require a neutral (except some dimmers but they have light type and min. load limits)  which normal switches don't require. Normal on off switch just have 2 wires, hot in from breaker and a hot out to the light, with constant neutral going to the light. Since the z-wave switch needs to be powered up at all times, it will require hot in, hot out and a neutral. Newer houses usually have the neutral wire in the box (as its code here in my area) it's just a matter of a short jumper wire to make the connection.

Everything can be done just realize there minor differences and account for them before you get a surprise. Read on this forum alot......... Then post questions if you still have them. But most things have been covered many types, including which thermostat to buy, Veralite vs. Vera3 and some other things you should start with before the purchase.

Offline RGraham

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Vacation control
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2015, 02:10:38 am »
The 2GIG thermostat is both inexpensive (< $100) and easy to use. Can use preset time conditions (home, away, sleep, vacation, etc.) and easy to adjust on the front panel also. Ideally it will use the 24V wire to power it, but it will also run off AA batteries for a very long time. I had one on batteries in my house for 6-12 months without changing batteries (new furnace = new wiring and new thermostat recently).

Offline Localbar

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Vacation control
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2015, 01:07:20 pm »
I was in the same boat.  I wanted something where I could warm up the house before I arrive, PA winters are brutal and I didn't want heat the whole house 24/7.

I have electric baseboard heating (common in PA vacation homes - cheap to install massively expensive to run, great for builders, sucks for the homeowner) I would keep the rooms with water lines at 50 and the rest of the house the heat was turned off which makes for a cold arrival especially when it's late at night and everyone just wants to hit the bed.  I was going down the Nest path but with electric baseboards that's one Nest per room and that's super expensive.   Also at the time Nest was a one-trick-pony (still is but it?s integrated with more systems now) In my head I thought of many other home automation uses I'd like to have for the vacation home and at the time Vera was pretty much the only worthwhile user installed game in town.  I love DIY and hate paying subscription fees, Vera was the clear winner for me.   

Major Challenge for baseboard heating: I had to figure out how to convert the 240v baseboard line down to a 24v to accommodate a nest or any other 24v stat. To my knowledge there are no 240v z-wave or wifi stats yet.  After some searching I found a really well-made, smallish transformer made by Aube: http://www.amazon.com/Aube-RC840T-240-Switching-Electric-Transformer/dp/B0037MXM1C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433340966&sr=8-1&keywords=aube+rc840t-240  You can get a 240/24 at your big box store but those are massive and heavy and cannot be installed in-wall and I wanted it installed in the wall (not visible).  The wiring was a bit tricky but once you figure out how your house is wired the rest is easy, I even stumped an electrician buddy of mine with this but I figured it out and it works flawlessly.   I opted for the 2Gig stat: http://www.amazon.com/2gig-CT100-Z-Wave-Programmable-Thermostat/dp/B008CQ4V3Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433341055&sr=8-1&keywords=2gig+thermostat and I am very happy with it.  In my case each room with a stat had a total cost of ~$130 vs the Nest $249 + $ 45 for the relay = $300

I can control the temp via my iPhone, Computer (Vera UI) or the actual stat itself.  As for programming you would have to set that up in the Vera UI as a schedule and make it active. The 2 Gig does not have an onboard programmable setting.  I set up a program Vera UI and I enable the schedule only when I am at the house.   My AC is separate and I haven?t found a reason to find a solution for it yet.  In the summer my house is generally very cool especially when we first arrive and it only takes minutes for the A/C to cool down the house so I have not needed to pre-cool it after all these years. 

I also added some security sensors: http://www.amazon.com/Schlage-RS100HC-SL-Window-Intelligence/dp/B008Q5CTBE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1433341423&sr=8-3&keywords=zwave+security+sensors that tell me if a door or window was opened. 

I added a fan controller: http://www.amazon.com/Leviton-VRF01-1LZ-Capable-Control-Almond/dp/B001HT4M48/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1433341500&sr=8-2&keywords=zwave+fan+control  since my fan is very high and unreachable without a ladder so it was set to one setting and it was either on or off. The z-wave fan switch allows me to control the speed from my phone or the wall switch itself.  I only go into the UI to activate or deactivate schedules and to tweak winter / summer settings for my various scenes.

I replaced most of my light switches with zwave switches and dimmers ? take your pick of product and need.
 
I use these guys: http://www.amazon.com/GE-Wireless-Lighting-Control-Appliance/dp/B0013V58HU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1433341709&sr=8-3&keywords=zwave+plug for lamps, heating blankets but you can use them for several other things.   

I have a 4 way sensor: http://www.amazon.com/Aeon-Labs-Aeotec-Z-Wave-Multi-Sensor/dp/B008D5TYGU/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1433342254&sr=8-18&keywords=zwave  but the actual motion sensor is unreliable as it has too many false trips so I deactivated the motion sensor but I use it for humidity and light levels to trigger scenes.

My favorite is a basic scene I created to open the house.
As we arrive we hit the "open house" scene and all the lights go on including the outside lights and the sensors are disarmed.   The kids love that feeling.   My dropcam sends me a welcome message and it just feels good.

When we leave I hit ?close house? and all the lights dim off, the sensors are armed, the stats are set to appropriate setting and my dropcam wishes me well until the next time.

My next project is to create triggers so that if someone was to open a bedroom door and the sensor is disarmed and the light level is dark then turn on the hallway light at 25% for 3 minutes (that usually means someone is going to the bathroom).  If the sensor is armed and gets tripped than all the house lights go on so my dropcam can get a clear video recording of who and what tripped the sensor.  I also thought about getting a few Hue?s and if any sensor is tripped the outdoor lights would flash red and trigger an audible alarm.   

Home automation is a Vacation Home essential.