Central Heating modernisation..

  • Having concentrated on boosting insulation on my modest (modern) home, largely guided by information from the array of temperature sensors in all the living spaces etc., am now turning attention to the heating system in advance of winter.

    There are a few quirks which turned up to be resolved, Fit reflective foil behind all the radiators, Change radiator valves to bidirectional types to stop the control heads jutting into the rooms, Change two towel rail valves fitted on return flows to stop them 'hammering', Change out one radiator found to be undersized on analysis, Refill system with inhibitor rather than the anti-freeze mix installed (a local cheap and nasty habit), and possibly fit pressure regulating cylinder if the existing leaking tyre inflation valve cannot be extracted and changed out.

    These are the knowns, but as ever, that itch to tinker or modernise a bit is ever present. The heating runs fine, no heart-stopping bills, a good capacity combi boiler controlled by a Lounge RF thermostat, the system is balanced (that was fun), and all radiators have thermostats, albeit wax versions probably. Whatever I end up doing in addition to the above, savings will never cover the investment cost, so I puzzled over whether to replace the thermostatic heads with good liquid versions or go for individual radiator RF control, flexibility being the only real advantage.

    Most commercial development has centred on "SMART" control and zoning, most notably the class leading if slightly flawed and expensive Honeywell 'Evo' system, but many rely on internet connection, and even Danfoss went for comms over wifi, which sells a lot of their signal boosters.
    The next generation Evo ostensibly will incorporate house security, which reads suspiciously like collateral development off the back of presence detection their system was lacking, all of course at additional expense...

    Although the principle of zone control is appealing, at 90euro for each of 9 TRVs and a 180 euro hub, the appeal fades rather rapidly.
    At the cheaper end there are the MAX variants, etc., not so sophisticated but much more affordable, and a lot of development has gone on in Germany and elsewhere.

    Anybody have any experience or insights they would care to share ?

  • I often think about upgrading my heating system controls. I have hot water heat, which is not common in the US except in the northeast. And, of course, the US uses different standards, so when I see an interesting TRV, it is for the European market and won't fit my radiators. They are available, but expensive . ....
    I have thought about some MySensor controlled devices that would electronically turn the manual valve on each radiator. I bought some cheap worm gear motors for that purpose, but they are still sitting on my workbench. Hope to find time for that project before heating season starts again.

  • @nagelc My only experience of US heating systems was Lennox oil burners and hot air blowers, so no idea how different the US wet systems are or how common, all my contacts there use hot air. From your description they sound like standard screw down cone valves, but surprised if a 3/4" or 1/2" push down Honeywell or similar wouldn't fit, unless the threading is weird...
    There was a guy on here recently going to use chinese manufactured zone control valves for the same duty (possibly Ukraine?), functional but hardly the last word in elegance, but no updates seen since....

    Plenty of choices in Europe for standard 15mm (1/2") valves suitable for thermostatics. Unfortunately the Romanian market is a bit of a stitch-up with cartels/distributors controlling what is available, even for the big players Honeywell and Danfoss old stock one ways presumably with a big profit typically exist and are available, so unless my local plumbing guy can get me Honeywell Valencia or Herz bi-directional or equivalent at a decent price, I'll be importing them from the UK or Germany.

    On re-reading my original post, I suspect my basic plan plus upgrading the thermostatics is probably the safer bet until all the "SMART" brouhaha novelty and bullshit settles down into some coherent order. Insulation, some timing controls and LED lighting have already halved my total energy bill, it takes maybe 5 minutes to turn down the thermostatics, I could use the balance of the "Smart" system to go to Bali for a month... Now THAT'S Smart... 😉

  • Bali in February for the win!

  • Really quite surprised at the minimal interaction given that heating is a major expense for most northern European households, but ho hum..

    From further digging around, I am reaching the conclusion that the purported financial advantages of 'smart+zone' systems don't stack up on investment costs or energy savings, the "shiny new things" hype marketing seems to predominate, but with few exceptions, little joined up thinking. Maybe that will change, but for now it is a disjointed marketing game IMHO...
    I am inclined toward installing some good but traditional TRVs, instead of the smart but dumb shiny new evolution, once it matures, will look at it again...

  • @zboblamont I also have a quite complex and too expensive system (heatpump, solar panels, RF devices) for my (floor) heating, and indeed you did the right thing : insulation is the key. Your (and every user's) goal is to spend less, Honeywell's goal is to sell you their stuff (sales) and lead you into believing that it was the right choice (marketing). So if you want to get additional benefits, you can also ... double check your air tighness and ventilation, and monitor your electricity bill. Not sure if PV is an interesting alternative where you live.

    One of the reason of the lack of feedback is that your OP is not really a (simple) question. Not sure what you ask opinion on, and you already did your homework. A second reason is ... summer.

  • @tochinet I was interested in hearing of the experience and opinions of others who had dealt with similar issues, perhaps even directing me to products I hadn't come across, but didn't think of the summer effect however....👌, good point.

    You are correct to say conservation is key, no clever control system will resolve basic deficiencies.
    The original notion on the remote TRVs was to effect better temperature control for comfort rather than energy savings, the variations in winter particularly on the upper floor I thought may be better controlled, although what effect the additional foil backed insulation installed this spring will have is unknown. It dramatically succeeded in moderating the 45+ temps from the roof over the summer, so anything else will be a bonus.

    There is no doubt remote valve positioners and sensors are the future for TRVs (remote Zone control), but it currently seems dominated by sales and marketing hype to sell subscription services, and eye-watering prices for an upgrade.
    Perhaps the MAX people will come up with a sensibly priced and reliable solution in due course, until then I will just have to wait.

    Indeed I looked at PV and solar heat exchange initially, but my bills are now so low through insulation and LED deployment (Gas peak <100 euro/month, electricity 100/month) that the return on the investment would probably be longer than my lifespan...🤣

    Heatpumps are gaining ground here where gas is not available, solar is getting more popular although some installers should be shot (Orientated anywhere, south is optional), street lighting with PVs are popping up everywhere, so changes are slowly coming...

  • I made heating as simply as possible - with good house insulation ( 20cm foam PVC for walls and 40 cm for roof ).
    I am using el. floor heating ( cables ) on both floors + fireplace like backup for unpredicable situations and for fun.
    I know, that heating cost me 2 or 3 times more than with heatpump, but consuption is low and investition was really very low too.
    ( cca 600 euros all heating cables and I made all work myself )
    Regulation in this time ( and last winter ) by cheap Wemos with relay board and ESPeasy firmware on it in each room.
    It can regulate room or floor temperature ( I am using floor temperature regulation ) .
    Mode of operation and temperature setting are made from Domoticz, but regulation is made by Wemos itself - not running Domoticz needed.
    Temperatures and energy consumption are reported back to Domoticz.
    It was very funny two weekends project. One weekend familiarization with ESPeasy and next weekend regulator and Domoticz integration making.
    But it is not final stage, because ESP is very energy "hungry" and 4 lines of my UTP cable is not enough for cca 7 Wemos with relays on each part of bus.
    And I do not want wi-fi using for my sensors.
    But I need quick solution and it was.

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