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  1. #1

    Where to Start with Wireless

    I'm a former professional computer programmer, and before that a thermal engineer (but not HVAC). Unfortunately I know nothing about current control systems and the names in most of the thread titles mean nothing to me.

    Most of the systems I have seem claim to provide an interface to make it easy for most customers to use. The thing is, I want more control than those things are going to give me. What I'm designing is a residential system,
    but it will be fairly exotic, with multiple heat sources, thermal storage, and so on.

    What I want is to buy is wireless sensors and controls and an interface to a computer. As long as those things have some sort of API (application programming interface), I can handle the programming from there and use the incoming data to tell the controls what to do.

    Ideally (tell me if I'm just dreaming) there would be little thermal sensors which I could access through an existing wireless network, using HTTP or perhaps a proprietary protocol. Anything as long as it's well defined. There would also be valves and switches I could control the same way.

    What's the closest I can some to this? Ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    520
    You're just dreaming.

    But seriously, wireless sensors and such are available in a variety of protocols. Zigby seems popular. I've used Thermokon wireless sensors which is what Distech Controls uses and they have some wireless-ready controllers as well. The bottom line is that we can almost always run a wire for less than the cost of the wireless, especially given the additional complexities of wireless (like will my signal get there?). Anyway, the easiest way to get the data from these devices into something programmable is to buy a, you guessed it, a programmable controller. There are lots of those out there. I use Lonworks and you might want to look into it and the new i.LON Smart Server which is fully programmable, from what I understand. See http://www.echelon.com

  3. #3
    Thanks - that gives me a couple of names to follow up on.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    9,564
    I'd check with Engenuity on that wireless resi system they are reselling.

    I'll be honest, right now wireless is a pain. I'd like for somebody to really show me a good one without interference issues and redundant setup issues for integration into BAS.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    345
    BAPI is another source.

    But I'm curious why wireless? The system you describe is not an entry level system and is sure to carry a price tag. If so, the additional cost of running wire is not a huge component of the overall cost and it completely eliminates any issues associated to a homeowner not having a regimented battery change program.

    Just remember that if you lose a battery the impression of the customer will be that the entire system sucks. He doesn't care WHY it's broken, just that is IS broken.

    Further, most wireless stuff is at the sensor level today and the wall mounted stats don't allow for things like scheduling etc.You may be planning on having a fancy interface to the system for doing this, but people are still people and will always want to fiddle with the thermostat(s).

    Wireless has it's place, but in many it's applications people using technology for the sake of technology. Concentrate on our core offering and find a suite of hard-wired sensors that compliment what you're doing, not ones that will overshadow it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    9,564
    I like the BAPI guys. I don't like their wireless. Why would I want to hardwire points into a controller? Might as well wire them completely rather than remotely.

    "Wireless has it's place, but in many it's applications people using technology for the sake of technology."

    I concur. I wouldn't use it unless you absolutely have to use it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    17
    "I'll be honest, right now wireless is a pain. I'd like for somebody to really show me a good one without interference issues and redundant setup issues for integration into BAS"

    Depends really what your after in wireless - Wireless systems themsleves are currently a pain due to the lack of tools available.

    The company I am working with currently has come up with a product which brings wireless controllers into current wired systems using the Lontalk or BACnet protocol -

    Good first step to where systems will be in the future -

    If you are interested - Check it out!

    http://www.viconics.com/beta_home.htm

    Wireless sensors and point to point systems definitely have there place, however almost always running wiring, even if the project requires surface mounted conduit or wiremould (in retrofit apps)

    The key is really to make wireless (mesh) systems as easy to apply, install and integrate as traditional controllers, with the same reliability and redundancy for local terminal control.

    Let me know what you guys think -

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    345
    I think it's great you guys are developing wireless, but perhaps your immediate engineering efforts would be better spent on making the BACnet t-stats you sell now work.

    When I see your product quality come back to where it was before I'll consider looking at your wireless products. Until then, you're not even on the radar.

    Nikko

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    9,564
    Give them a break.... it's hard to make any independent bacnet device really work....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    In my previous job we installed an Andover Native BACnet system on 96 heat pumps (if my memory serves me right, I can dig up the drawings and check if anybody is that concerned) on 4 wireless MSTP networks communicating BACnet/IP between the BCX controllers in an existing commercial 2 story office building less then 200 yards away from McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas. It worked like a charm, we were initially concerned about the radio frequencies and traffic from the airport but when I left LV 6 months ago we had not had any issues with the networks.

    kontrol out
    "Open is as open does." - Forrest Gump
    "Can't we all just get a Lon?" - Garry Jack
    "BACnet: integration or interrogation?" - The Janitor
    "Open protocols? You can't handle open protocols!" - Nathan R. Jessup
    “What’s that? Aaa… open protocols? Don’t talk about…. open protocols? Are you kidding me? Open protocols? I just hope we can hardwire an interface!” - Jim Mora http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7fjDS0jKiE

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    9,564
    I think the guy is asking about wireless devices, not wireless networks. Are you saying each device was wireless?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    194
    Try Kele. They have some wireless gear.

  13. #13
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    Dec 2006
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    Steve had asked the closest way he could achieve his wireless control network, his post mentioned sensors and controllers tied into a GUI. So I gave him my experiences.

    You could have small Andover controllers spread out with a couple of wired sensors, relays and control loops (I heard rumor that tac was working on a wireless thermostat, no word on sensor).

    The BCX can have up to 32 nodes each and there are 16 channels to use for a total of 512 nodes. Each BCX can also serve web pages for basic access and configuration. All in all it was a nice solution for the customer.

    kontrol out
    "Open is as open does." - Forrest Gump
    "Can't we all just get a Lon?" - Garry Jack
    "BACnet: integration or interrogation?" - The Janitor
    "Open protocols? You can't handle open protocols!" - Nathan R. Jessup
    “What’s that? Aaa… open protocols? Don’t talk about…. open protocols? Are you kidding me? Open protocols? I just hope we can hardwire an interface!” - Jim Mora http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7fjDS0jKiE

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