Technical FAQ: Common Facts

What are the primary objectives?

The primary objectives are:

  1. Home comfort;
  2. Energy cost savings.

In that order.

The secondary objectives are, in no specific order:

  • Flexibility;
  • Remote accessibility;
  • Seamless integration with home automation.

What's wrong with existing systems?

First of all, they are outrageously expensive. Typical cost per room is anywhere between $600-1300 in 2000 dollars.

They are also not too smart for the price.

Very few systems offer variable airflow control, usual way of operating is known as "bang-bang" - totally open or totally closed damper. The consequences of this are the temperature swing (common for all low to midrange HVAC systems, though), abrupt changes of the airflow and static pressure, and associated noise.

The extensibility of the zoning systems is usually very poor - "advanced" systems that are capable of handling just 2-3 zones are not a rarity.

All of the systems offered on the market are proprietary.

How is Home Climate Control better than commercially available systems?

Previous paragraph points out what's wrong with existing systems.

Now, here's why it's wrong. Existing systems were built by companies that have been on the market for a long time, have established operating procedures, trained personnel, quite possibly they have grown beyond the ability to change. They do stuff a certain way "because we always did it this way". They completely ignore the progress in the embedded systems and still rely on low integration specialized chips to manufacture their controllers, and miss the opportunity to utilize the power that embedded microprosessor based systems offer.

This system, on the other hand, was originally created as a hobby project that was not intended to be run on anything other than a quite powerful workstation, but in the end it turned out that it is SO SIMPLE, it can be run on $100 microprocessor board without any changes to it.

Summarizing the advantages:

  • It is infinitely flexible;
  • The number of zones is practically unlimited;
  • Functionality can be added without adding cost;
  • It can work with cheap hardware as well as expensive without any changes;
  • It can be remotely controlled;
  • It can be remotely diagnosed;
  • It is fault tolerant;
  • It is cheap as dirt.

How many zones can the system control?

Short answer: unlimited.

Long answer: it is limited by how many sensors, and actuators you can connect to your computer. It doesn't make sense to enumerate how many devices exactly can be connected to any particular hardware protocol connector, this number grows every day.

Can the system be used for gas heating?

Clarification: this question pertains to forced air gas heater, also known as a furnace.

Yes, in fact it works even better with gas heating because the heat exchanger takes time to cool down after the gas valve has been closed allowing the gas valve to be cycled to maintain a constant discharge temperature. The controller will prevent the heat exchanger from overheating while the unit safeties will remain in case of a catastrophic failure.

Can the system be used for water heating?

Clarification: this question pertains to the heater that heats the water in the tank and then sends it to heat the radiators in the rooms.

Yes, there are known installations going as far back as 2003.

Can the system be used for radiant heating?

Several attempts to do that are currently happening. One of them is being publicly documented, in Hungarian, though :)

Is it possible to have a wall controller?

Short answer: yes, but it isn't practical.

Long answer: HCC Remote (available on Google Play since May 2012) turned out to be so convenient, nobody wants to fiddle with anything on the wall - it's faster and simpler to reach for the phone than to get from under the blanket.

What's wrong with making the graphs visible to all the Internet?