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Author Topic: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4  (Read 24621 times)

Oldtimer

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Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« on: July 04, 2007, 08:34:48 PM »

    This is the fourth article in the series.  Unlike the
three previous articles it was written specifically for the Forum and will be modified later for inclusion in the family instruction book or FAQ. 

As always all comments and suggestions are welcome.

HOW THE ATTIC FAN WORKS AND WHY
July 3, 2007

Oldtimer
A Supplement To The Household FAQ Book

  • Section "VIII"-Oil Burner & Thermostats
  • Section "IX"-Electrical System & X-10 Controls
  • Section "XIII"-Seasonal Maintenance
[/b]

While we don't actually live on the beach we live right on the Connecticut shore which provides us with some beneficial weather patterns.  On the average it is 10 degrees cooler in the summer and 10 degrees warmer in the winter then it is inland.  Also, because of the differential in the temperature between Long Island Sound and the inland land masses we get prevailing on or off shore breezes most of the time.  The direction depends on the time of day.

To take extra advantage of this, in 1991, the first full summer we spent in our present home, I installed a large fan in the ceiling of the upstairs hallway to exhaust air into the attic and out the two vents at each end. This fan included the usual louvers that opened with the force of the air flow from the fan.  Several years later one of our grown daughters pointed out to us that in the summer we should keep the louvers open all the time even if the fan wasn't running to allow natural ventilation to occur.  It worked very well and we've done it ever since.  In the winter the louvers are shut and fiberglass insulating bats in plastic bags are put over the fan in the attic to eliminate drafts and insulate that part of the ceiling.

Although we had already started to convert the house lights to X10 before the fan was installed there was no computer control for them at the time so I chose to use traditional fan controls.  These included a summer/winter switch, an electro- mechanical timer and an industrial low limit thermostat installed in the attic along with a fan speed control and manual/timer switch in the upstairs hall near the fan. These worked OK but we ended up almost always operating the fan manually.  The timer couldn't be left on if we were away with the windows closed and the residual heat from the roof overrode the air temperature so the thermostat never turned off the fan when it got too cool downstairs in the house.

The beginning of summer, 2007. I ripped out the old traditional attic fan control system and replaced it with X10 modules, X10 switches, a thermostat in the upstairs hall and AHP macros and timers. Below is a block diagram of the new system.


Click below to see more complete information. They're all PDF files so be sure to enlarge them in your browser or print them off in normal mode to get the best view.

   (Landscape)
   (Portrait)
   (Landscape)
[/list]

Here are some photos of the installation:




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« Last Edit: October 20, 2009, 10:04:48 PM by Oldtimer »
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Boiler

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Re: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2007, 10:37:15 PM »

Oldtimer,

You're a mind reader! I finished installing a 2 way relay switch on my whole house fan 4 hours ago.  I have it set up on a macro timer so I don't get kicked out of bed at night to "turn the #$a% fan off".  My mechanical switch is the dedicated breaker and, like you, I use batt insulation during the winter.

Then I was thinking - how could I automate this?  Enter the mind reader!

As usual, a very nice well documented system (as if we'd expect anything less).  Are you sure you aren't a NASA system engineer?

All I need to do now is figure out an A/C lockout...

The Boiler
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KDR

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Re: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2007, 06:46:48 AM »

Very nice Oldtimer great documentation. It was helpful and gives me some ideas for my own attic.

----------------KDR
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Brian H

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Re: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2007, 07:02:38 AM »

Wow another great How To. Thank you for the work it took to get this posted. Photos and all.
Got a helpful from me.
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HA Dave

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Re: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2007, 08:33:45 AM »

Great job Oldtimer! You do quality work, both at home, and here at the forum.
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Oldtimer

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Re: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2007, 11:07:06 PM »


All I need to do now is figure out an A/C lockout...


Boiler: To start the thought process try a Google product search using "TR-3025-S" which will probably work with a PSC01 or PF284 interface.  Toroid Corp. lists it at $15.54. For more sophistication try the same search using "ABB AC Sensor".  You'll come up with several, but the TCS series looks right, only it's in the $70.00 plus range.

When you think about A/C variables such as window mount, through the wall or central and whether you want to sense overall power on, fan power on or compressor power on or any of those actually running, the complexity gives me a headache.

In our house we have a large, through the wall, unit that handles the whole first floor of our relatively small home.  I think if I were going to do it I'd put a heavy duty X10 appliance module on the power feed to the unit. Then I'd put a pair of macros in AHP that allowed either the A/C or my attic fan lock, G11, to be ON but not both at once.

What's your situation like?
« Last Edit: July 10, 2007, 08:24:45 AM by Oldtimer »
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Boiler

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Re: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2007, 12:52:46 PM »

Oldtimer,

Thanks for the information on the current sensors.  I have a number of areas where I could use something like the "TR-3025-S".  Unfortunately my HVAC system isn't one of them.

When you think about A/C variables such as window mount, through the wall or central and whether you want to sense overall power on, fan power on or compressor power on or any of those actually running, the complexity gives me a headache.

In our house we have a large, through the wall, unit that handles the whole first floor of our relatively small home.  I think if I were going to do it I'd put a heavy duty X10 appliance module on the power feed to the unit. Then I'd put a pair of macros in AHP that allowed either the A/C or my attic fan lock, G11, to be ON but not both at once.

What's your situation like?

I agree completely with the headache - what's worse is the fact that I consciously did this to myself.

I built my current house in '2000 (two story + walkout basement).  This was my first two story house and I didn't want the heating/cooling problems normally associated with multi-story houses.  I also did not want two HVAC systems for the two floors.

Enter zoning - I had the HVAC contractor plumb the house for three separate zones (forced air with three separate trunk lines).  The compressor unit was then sized to handle a single floor + margin.  I did not initially install the actual zone controls.

In 2005 I finally installed the zone dampers, thermostats, and control panel.  I'm happy with the system.  It allows me to treat the house as three distinct, smaller zones that I can heat and cool as I wish.  As a result, my heating/cooling bills are actually less than my old ranch which was half the size.

Unfortunately all of the system smarts are built into the thermostats themselves.  What I would like to be able to do is have my thermostat tell my automation system that it's in "cooling" mode (i.e. lock out activate the ventilation system).  I just can't figure out how to get the mode information out of the programmable thermostat.

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Oldtimer

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Re: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2007, 12:30:48 PM »

As some of you may have noticed I ran into a problem with this system after I posted it. :-\  The PSC01 wouldn't consistently operate the same way as a PF284 so I was forced to change the wiring and macros slightly.  During that change I discovered a loose connection that vibrated when the XPFM module was activated which masked the power-on signal from the PSC01. :o  Actually the changes I made have improved the functioning of the system so only my hair suffered. ;D  If you were thinking about doing this yourself take a look at the diagrams again since they've all changed slightly. ;)
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Boiler

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Re: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2007, 06:46:06 PM »

I seem to be paying the price for "bragging" about my zoning system.

We had a storm front move through last night that thankfully pulled the temperature out of the mid 90's (75 today).  I came home to find the house a little warm and was about to shut of the AC and open some windows.  I noticed the thermostat was calling for A/C, but the compressor wasn't running.

My zone control panel appears to be belly up.  No microprocessor heartbeat.  Powering down and resetting the micro did nothing.

Checked my receipts, sure enough the 2 year warranty expired in June.

I thought I had everything in the house protected from spikes - WRONG again.

Oldtimer - thanks for the info on your whole house fan automation.  I may be needing that much quicker than I had anticipated.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2007, 05:18:26 PM by Boiler »
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Oldtimer

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Re: Home Environmental Control No. 4 of 4
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2007, 12:35:24 PM »

Now that we've lived with the new attic fan control system for almost a month I've made some changes in how the fan is turned OFF automatically.  While these may seem odd if you haven't lived with a system like this they have helped keep the WAF high along with that of visiting family members.

The changes are the addition of another macro and some new timers.  So, if you're thinking of doing this yourself, take a look at that page and also the verbal description of their functions on the wiring diagram.

From an ergonomic standpoint this is by far the most complex X10 sub-system I've installed.  It came out that way because everyone in the house is aware of it every time it turns on or off and has their own opinion about whether or not it should happen. It also can affect the A/C operation and be effected by windows being closed when it's raining, both of which still require human intervention.

Other than that it's working very well and is a vast improvement over the old control system.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2007, 12:38:25 PM by Oldtimer »
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