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443 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 150267 17-Jul-2014 06:15 Send private message

My solar hot water system's circulation pump seems to be running itself at night for short periods. I don't want it to do this because it will be wasting hot water as it gets sent through the cold panels.

It may be the freeze-prevention system kicking in, but it happened in the summer too. Or it may be something else.

The controller unit is not very sophisticated, with a limited, menu, history & no socket to plug a PC in, or network connection.

I want to be able to monitor the water pump for a period of time to see how much it is running in hours of darkness. And maybe plot the results to see if it is regular.

Can anyone think of a cheap, nifty way to do this, that doesn't involve me sitting under the floorspace all night with a stopwatch?

I have a PC just a couple of metres away - I was thinking some sort of sensor that would pick up the electric current flowing when the pump is running?






TV: Sony Bravia KDL324000. Freeview|HD
PC: ASUS P8P67 Pro B3, intel i5, 8Gb RAM, 120Gb SSD, Win 7
HTPC: Antec NSK2480B case, AMD A4-5300 CPU, Asus F2A85-M LE mobo, WD Caviar Green 64Mb 2TB HDD, HD Homerun, Win7 Home Premium, RAM 1600Mhz 4Gb.
Laptop: Sony VAIO VGN-CS16G
iPad 2

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845 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 261


  Reply # 1090330 17-Jul-2014 06:31 Send private message

Killawatt meter or similar?

Jaycar used to stock something like this.

A phone app that detects movement may do the job too. Something like a sleep quality app maybe. It'd be cheaper too.

573 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Smart Things NZ
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  Reply # 1090350 17-Jul-2014 08:18 Send private message

This is probably a little more complicated than you would like, but if you buy a cheap Arduino Uno (or Raspberry Pi) you should be able to write a quick sketch which monitors an input pin and copies the value to an output pin whilst logging when that change takes place. Would mean intercepting the control signal from your solar controller to the pump and using that to set a digital input pin high/low on the Arduino. Then you would need a cheap relay on the output side to switch the pump depending on the signal.

I do this for my underfloor heat pump. Like you I was interested to know how often it was turning on/off as I was concerned it was cycling too often. 

Would take a bit of tinkering, but then that is half the fun ;).




Check out www.smartthingsnz.co.nz for all your home automation needs. We specialise in Z-Wave products and are happy to answer any questions you might have about anything home automation related.

3456 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1090385 17-Jul-2014 08:51 Send private message

My set up is probably different as my solar HW are open (heat transfer through colis) so freezing isn't a problem.

I have a controller that compares the solar tank temperature with the bottom of the HWC and when there is a difference of about 7 deg it pumps.

To stop the pump firing up every time someone turns the hot tap on I put the pump on a mains timer so it only runs at certain times of the day, so for example its off between 6 and 9 weekdays and then off from 11pm through to about 1 pm the next day, and at other times that fit with our lifestyle.

305 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1090724 17-Jul-2014 14:18 Send private message

Just make sure that there isn't any plumbing related faults in the system. As if you have a failed one way valve, water my be thermosiphoning out of the hot water cylinder to the panels. The controller might be detecting this and then switching the pump back on. Can also happen if the plumber who installed the system didn't install a thermosiphon trap (big loop of pipe). At the cylinder end of the pipe that takes water from the panels back to the cylinder.

As for programming an Arduino Uno, If you are going to do that, get the Arduino to do the actual pump control. Should be easier than what I had to do for my solar panels. I have an Uno that currently runs 2 pumps. (will eventually be more) 1 for the solar panels, Another one that monitors the water temp in my radiator central heating system. And sends heat to the cylinder when the central heating is running. It works well enough for now, but need to debug my code and add some extra features. Have since bought a spa pool and want the unit to automaticly control the heating of it from the radiator system. (manual control is a pain) And there is a bug which means that the central heating pump often doesn't turn off when the cylinder gets up to temp. Sometimes end up with 90+deg hot water coming from the taps. Sure beats having to use the electric element though, and the constant failures in the pilot wire system are not an issue here.

573 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 24

Smart Things NZ
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  Reply # 1090737 17-Jul-2014 14:25 Send private message

Yeah I have been looking into replacing my solar hot water controller with an custom Arduino based solution. Mainly to give me the ability to monitor and manually boost my HWC remotely - via openHAB (home automation software). Currently the controller works well, but I would like to disable automatic boosting of the cylinder in the early mornings if we are away on holiday for example - since obviously no need for hot water. Would also be nice to check the HWC temps and manually trigger a boost if I am on my way home from winter sport and need a shower but the wife has used all the hot water already!

Having that sort of control just gives you so many more options...




Check out www.smartthingsnz.co.nz for all your home automation needs. We specialise in Z-Wave products and are happy to answer any questions you might have about anything home automation related.

2975 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1090768 17-Jul-2014 14:51 Send private message

It's expensive but I would personally look at mFi by Ubiquiti. I've never used ti so can't vouch for it but it seems to be able to do what you want right out of the box with little programming knowledge needed. Maybe use the current sensor?





389 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1090769 17-Jul-2014 14:51 Send private message

SumnerBoy: Yeah I have been looking into replacing my solar hot water controller with an custom Arduino based solution. Mainly to give me the ability to monitor and manually boost my HWC remotely - via openHAB (home automation software). Currently the controller works well, but I would like to disable automatic boosting of the cylinder in the early mornings if we are away on holiday for example - since obviously no need for hot water. Would also be nice to check the HWC temps and manually trigger a boost if I am on my way home from winter sport and need a shower but the wife has used all the hot water already!

Having that sort of control just gives you so many more options...


Does openHAB have an internal scheduler that you could use for a holiday mode?  Or do you use something like the GoogleCal connector.  

That Google Cal link looks really interesting because you could use IFTTT to do all sorts of cool things.  Like using the Android location channel to shut things down if you're out a 50k radius of your house.

573 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Smart Things NZ
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  Reply # 1090782 17-Jul-2014 15:07 Send private message

openHAB has a cron style scheduler - so you can schedule rules/tasks for any given sec/min/hour/day/month etc. I have a 'virtual' item in openHAB - HolidayMode - which I just flick on when we go away for longer than a day or so. Then all my rules etc check this item before activating various parts of the system - i.e. heating and lighting etc.

I do use Google calendars to automatically set PublicHoliday mode. This doesn't disable heating for example, but will stop the morning alarm firing. I do this via a pretty basic python script which just checks my personal Google Calendar every night after midnight and sets the PublicHoliday item in openHAB via a simple HTTP POST request (openHAB has a full REST API for querying and updating state and sending commands). Then I just load the freely available NZ public holidays calendar into my personal calendar and it works like a charm. Happy to share this if needed.

If you are interested in presence detection I would recommend looking at OwnTracks which reports your location to an MQTT broker of your choice. MQTT is integrated into openHAB at a low level and I am finding it more and more useful for all sorts of tasks. The OwnTracks app on your phone lets you configure waypoints/regions which consist of a 'point' + 'radius'. It will then send 'enter'/'leave' messages to your MQTT broker when you move in/out of that region. openHAB has a binding specifically for OwnTracks (which I wrote BTW) and monitors those events and updates an item in openHAB - you can then use these to control rules - i.e. turn off the lighting when no one is home. The binding in openHAB is call Mqttitude as this was the original name of OwnTracks.

The possibilities are endless ;).




Check out www.smartthingsnz.co.nz for all your home automation needs. We specialise in Z-Wave products and are happy to answer any questions you might have about anything home automation related.

200 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1090786 17-Jul-2014 15:09 Send private message

turb: ... Can anyone think of a cheap, nifty way to do this, ...

Is it a 230V 50Hz pump motor? Friend solved similar by putting an ordinary self-starting mains powered electric clock in parallel w. his pump. Clock runs only when pump power is "on". The clock will show how many hours pump on overnight.



443 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 25


  Reply # 1090795 17-Jul-2014 15:15 Send private message

Aredwood: Just make sure that there isn't any plumbing related faults in the system. As if you have a failed one way valve, water my be thermosiphoning out of the hot water cylinder to the panels. The controller might be detecting this and then switching the pump back on. Can also happen if the plumber who installed the system didn't install a thermosiphon trap (big loop of pipe). At the cylinder end of the pipe that takes water from the panels back to the cylinder.



I think I should maybe get this checked first - it sounds quite likely. And I can't see anything that looks like a thermosiphon trap.




TV: Sony Bravia KDL324000. Freeview|HD
PC: ASUS P8P67 Pro B3, intel i5, 8Gb RAM, 120Gb SSD, Win 7
HTPC: Antec NSK2480B case, AMD A4-5300 CPU, Asus F2A85-M LE mobo, WD Caviar Green 64Mb 2TB HDD, HD Homerun, Win7 Home Premium, RAM 1600Mhz 4Gb.
Laptop: Sony VAIO VGN-CS16G
iPad 2



443 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 25


  Reply # 1090797 17-Jul-2014 15:17 Send private message

lapimate:
turb: ... Can anyone think of a cheap, nifty way to do this, ...

Is it a 230V 50Hz pump motor? Friend solved similar by putting an ordinary self-starting mains powered electric clock in parallel w. his pump. Clock runs only when pump power is "on". The clock will show how many hours pump on overnight.


I like it - very smart. Nifty in fact.




TV: Sony Bravia KDL324000. Freeview|HD
PC: ASUS P8P67 Pro B3, intel i5, 8Gb RAM, 120Gb SSD, Win 7
HTPC: Antec NSK2480B case, AMD A4-5300 CPU, Asus F2A85-M LE mobo, WD Caviar Green 64Mb 2TB HDD, HD Homerun, Win7 Home Premium, RAM 1600Mhz 4Gb.
Laptop: Sony VAIO VGN-CS16G
iPad 2

773 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 41

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  Reply # 1090897 17-Jul-2014 17:01 Send private message

turb:
lapimate:
turb: ... Can anyone think of a cheap, nifty way to do this, ...

Is it a 230V 50Hz pump motor? Friend solved similar by putting an ordinary self-starting mains powered electric clock in parallel w. his pump. Clock runs only when pump power is "on". The clock will show how many hours pump on overnight.


I like it - very smart. Nifty in fact.


Next problem, finding a mains powered clock that isn't digital and resets to 12:00 when the power is cut...




443 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 25


  Reply # 1090911 17-Jul-2014 17:32 Send private message

turb:
Aredwood: Just make sure that there isn't any plumbing related faults in the system. As if you have a failed one way valve, water my be thermosiphoning out of the hot water cylinder to the panels. The controller might be detecting this and then switching the pump back on. Can also happen if the plumber who installed the system didn't install a thermosiphon trap (big loop of pipe). At the cylinder end of the pipe that takes water from the panels back to the cylinder.



I think I should maybe get this checked first - it sounds quite likely. And I can't see anything that looks like a thermosiphon trap.


Getting it looked at next week, thanks for the advice.




TV: Sony Bravia KDL324000. Freeview|HD
PC: ASUS P8P67 Pro B3, intel i5, 8Gb RAM, 120Gb SSD, Win 7
HTPC: Antec NSK2480B case, AMD A4-5300 CPU, Asus F2A85-M LE mobo, WD Caviar Green 64Mb 2TB HDD, HD Homerun, Win7 Home Premium, RAM 1600Mhz 4Gb.
Laptop: Sony VAIO VGN-CS16G
iPad 2

389 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1091015 17-Jul-2014 20:45 Send private message

SumnerBoy: 

If you are interested in presence detection ........

The possibilities are endless ;).


I'm interested in the synchronicity of combining open source tools with things like IFTTT.

573 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 24

Smart Things NZ
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  Reply # 1091028 17-Jul-2014 21:06 Send private message

I have never tried IFTTT as everything rules based is handled by openHAB for me. I presume they have some sort of API for triggering rules? If so I can't imagine it would be all that hard to write/add a binding for IFTTT to openHAB. There is already an HTTP binding which lets you do all things HTTP. For example I have motion running on my server, which monitors a couple of IP cameras around the house. Using HTTP GET requests (via openHAB) I am able to arm and disarm the cameras by a nice little button in my openHAB UI. 

Here is the openHAB item binding;

Switch Camera_LivingArmed "Living Room Armed" <camera> (CamerasArmed) { http=">[ON:GET:http://weka:9280/2/detection/start] >[OFF:GET:http://weka:9280/2/detection/pause]" }
Switch Camera_LivingMotion "Living Room Motion" <camera> (CamerasMotion)

The second item is updated by the camera itself when it detects motion - using the openHAB REST API. Very easy to do. This means I can do things like arm the cameras once everyone leaves the house and then play loud dog barking sounds over my Squeezeboxes if the camera detects motion!

I guess I am just trying to show you how easy it is to integrate things with openHAB (I sound like a bit of a preacher sorry!). And that using these simple HTTP bindings you can probably link it all up to IFTTT without too much difficulty. But again, I have never used IFTTT so I can't be sure...





Check out www.smartthingsnz.co.nz for all your home automation needs. We specialise in Z-Wave products and are happy to answer any questions you might have about anything home automation related.

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