Home Climate Control runs on any UNIX, however, the evolution selected the Raspberry Pi as the ideal platform for running it. Read more...
What makes it special?
From the moment it was conceived back in 2000 and started continuously operating up to the present moment, it seems to be the only residential solution that offers an unlimited number of zones and heterogeneous HVAC units, and offers such a good view into what is happening with the house that users soon just set the schedule and leave it alone. It is invisible. It's like your heart - it's there, but you don't notice it.
Not to mention it is free, both as in Speech, and as in Beer.
How does it do it?
Let's take a quick look at a few pictures that tell you the story.
What's in the picture
The picture on the left is a screenshot of the Swing Console, one of the core components.
You can see 11 (yes, eleven) zones, all in cooling mode (cyan borders on the zone strip, cyan setpoint and current temperature). Left to right:
- Four of them are a four node Raspberry Pi cluster;
- One of them has malfunctioned - HCC knows about that and compensates for it;
- One of them ("Family Room", currently selected) had the setpoint recently changed from 26°C to 25.5°C - look at the yellow line (which also is a deviation from the "Weekend" schedule, note the asterisk). The system activated the AC unit, and temperature (vertical axis) is now dropping. Control signal (line color) is changing from CALL (red) to HAPPY (green). Meanwhile, the background gradient shows how soon the zone will be happy;
- Next four zones (bedrooms and a server room) are totally happy;
- The rightmost zone is slowly getting anxious.
What's not in the picture
The fact that there are three HVAC units of different nature (two heat pumps and one fan panel) are behind this display. They don't necessarily have to be all cooling or heating at the same time.
As time goes...
Current temperature drops, signal goes all the way to green, and the background gradient rises up, filling the background - and, incidentally, letting users know that the system is about to shut off.
Meanwhile, zone 4 is getting hotter and will switch on soon.
A bit later...
Finally, the anxious zone 4 (one of Raspberry Pi cluster nodes) heated up enough to call for cooling, and caused zone 10 (server room) to jump on the bandwagon.
Meanwhile, the family room is happily cycling on and off around 25.5°C, with AC being on for about 10 minutes at a time. Note how the background is different from when the AC is running - this turned out to be an excellent deterrent from users trying to adjust the setpoint when they feel too hot or too cold. One glance at the display tells them that they don't have to worry about anything - and soon, they learn to trust the system and just leave it alone. Zen in action.
But wait, there's more
What you see above is just a glimpse into how the system operates. One of most important features is - long term trend analysis. You can see how outside conditions change the performance of your system, and notice problems well ahead of time.
Another feature that was introduced well in advance of others, but is now commonplace - remote control. HCC Remote turned out to be so convenient, the system never got a standalone wall controller.