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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthor2ev
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2018
    I've had a Vaillant Boiler and Solar Thermal installation since 2007. After suffering the limitations and quirks of the Vaillant VR400 control unit I've decided to upgrade to something useful. Current front runner is Hive2 but I'm still in the process of understanding what I will gain / lose in the transition. I have an outdoor temperature sensor driving the weather compensation functionality which I think I will lose by removing the VR400. Also I've read that with Hive (and also Heat Genius) my VR65 unit will have to be ditched too. What I have no idea about is the significance of losing the weather compensation facility and also any functionality that the VR65 provides (if any). Can anyone out there advise please?
    • CommentAuthorSimon Still
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2018 edited
    What do you perceive as the limitations of the current controlller?

    What are you hoping to achieve with Hive - ie what do you want to be able to do/control?

    What is your property (layout, open plan vs closed rooms, occupation pattern) and how well insulated is it?
    • CommentAuthor2ev
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2018
    Hi Simon
    Limitations...unintuitive interface, annoying as hell to programme, difficult to visualise programmes without turn..click..turn..ad infinitum, and, for me any way, the requirement to consult the manual when doing anything other than relying on manual on/off and programmed cycle. Plus, and this may just be my incompetence, programmed segments occasionally seemed to drop out.

    My requirements are largely to do with flexibility and ad-hoc requirements eg my son will use my house after school on certain days to wait for collection by his mum but these days vary. I'd like him to be able to switch on the heating before he arrives. IFTTT functionality also sounds useful but may turn out to be an unecessary 'frill'. Also the ability to override the programmed cycle when plans change. I'm now leaning toward vSmart rather than Hive as it seems to have the required functionality and I have a Vaillant maintenance plan for heating and solar so it may be useful to stick with their product. It is a shame vSmart seems to rely on weather compensation via the web rendering my installed temperature sensor redundant and that the gateway power supply is a standard mains plug rather than fed from eBus, unless there is a facility for an eBus powered alternative?

    Property is a 1900-1910 solid walled semi with 3 bedrooms. Occupation pattern is work from home (without heating fro, 08:00 to 16:00) and son before and after school Monday and Tuesday. 18:30 to 07:30 Wed to Fri with son present 16:30 to 17:30 intermittently. Insulation is poor currently but I've been trying for a couple of years to arrange a combination of EWI/IWI and potential secondary glazing but that's a saga in itself.
    Looks like the Vsmart gives you smartphone remote control and withe the benefits of weather compensation.

    Web based weather comp *could* be better than actual if the algorithms are smart - if it's working off a forecast it will know the temp is going to fall before it actually does.
    • CommentAuthor2ev
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2018
    Web based compensation may turn out that way but no matter how sophisticated the algorithm a more significant factor might be local conditions and the proximity of the weather station that's feeding the gubbins. vSmart is not alone in this as Heat Genius uses a similar web based weather compensator facility.h
    It might not matter much - if you've got internal stats and the weather comp is just used to vary the 'time to reach temp' then accuracy of 'within a few C' is probably enough.

    Right now the BBC weather forecast for my location is currently 4C. Boiler outside temp reading is 3.9C
    • CommentAuthor2ev
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2018
    BBC local forecast was 2 degrees out (warmer) when I checked but who knows what input the vSmart compensator temp takes as a feed...
    • CommentAuthor2ev
    • CommentTimeFeb 6th 2018
    Just been reading the basics on the vSmart on the Vaillant website, it says......

    How does it work?
    [preceeding text removed] The Gateway unit establishes a WLAN connection to the internet through your wireless enabled internet router. The information is encrypted and securely sent to our servers which then communicates to the app on your device

    What happens if the Internet connection is interrupted?
    If the Internet connection is lost, the thermostat will start operating as a normal thermostat. It follows the heating programme, taking the measured temperatures into account, and also switches to "away" and "Frost protection" mode until you manually override it with a different setting.

    Seems to me that the 'what happens..' section contains a contradiction......if it follows the heating programme how is that compatible with also switching to 'away'? Am I misreading it? Could be that it follows any 'away' instructions to over-ride the established programme I guess. Will seek clarification from Vaillant I think.
    I agree - that seems contradictory. Pretty much all of the smart thermostats with app control rely on the vendor keeping their servers running. The fall back *has* to be that they work as a normal non-smart stat with local controls. We lost our internet connection for a couple of days when some building work put a digger through the south london fibre network. It's not uncommon for households to end up offline for weeks when a supplier transfer goes wrong/moving house.
    • CommentAuthor2ev
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2018
    I've been reading some of the horror stories on the HiveHome website which reflect the high install base and would assume most if not all the alternatives suffer similar issues to a greater or lesser extent. I'd be reluctant to trust my heating control to a system subject to so many potential points of failure. I had made the assumption that if you were in your own home with wifi you'd be able to modify the programme with the app using that but if the servers are unavailable for any reason but it seems for Hive at least without the round trip to the Hive servers the fall back is manual on/off if for whatever reason you need to deviate from the established programme. I suppose that's not so bad if the system is otherwise reliable! It's a great big target for those pesky hackers though! Guessing that at least some of the Hive servers are UK based, you'd hope Vaillant had some this side of the channel too...from a connectivity perspective rather than a nationalistic one... Would be interesting to get hold of the Hive and Vaillant server IP addresses or DNS names and find out how many hops away they are.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeFeb 8th 2018
    You can run your heating with HG without an internet connection. You just need to know the IP of the server and can connect to it. In addition if you don't have access to the server you can simply turn the controller on/off and vary the TRVs.

    Not that I disagree with your concerns!
    • CommentAuthor2ev
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2018
    Thanks Gravelld, I was impressed by the HG initially then realised that I was unlikely to utilise all the whizzy features which I think now would be the case with most of the products. I'm now investigating a 'home brew' solution involving a Raspberry Pi (there's plenty of info on the internet with reference to Vaillant but it's by no means straightforward).
    Regarding Vaillant connectivity I've run a tracert command with the Vaillant website and the results suggest that's hosted in Germany although I realise that may not reflect the location of the nearest vSmart server. Does anyone have any information on DNS info for Hive / Nest etc?
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2018
    I don't understand how that information is useful; they could change their server location at any point.

    Are you worried about Russian ships cutting our cable?

    TBH as soon as it goes outside your house you're at risk.
    • CommentTimeFeb 11th 2018
    Posted By: gravelldI don't understand how that information is useful; they could change their server location at any point.

    TBH as soon as it goes outside your house you're at risk.

    Exactly. +1

    Anything to do with the basic operation of my house, I want to be inside my house. Same with my car. Same with my phone, even.
    Tricky. My Viessmann has a ‘local’ controller. There was an old option to give remote access/integration with home automation systems etc needed a few bits of hardware that cost about £400 in total. the new app has a £100 wifi unit that interfaces with the boiler through the optical diagnostic interface, releys on a Viessmann server. Seeemed like a reasonable risk to me for the cost saving (especially given the benefit is small)
    • CommentAuthorbhommels
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2018
    Hive seems to get pushed a lot with installers.
    I bought a Nest 2 a couple of years ago, so Google knows when I am home and when I feel cold. Nonetheless I think it is great, especially with quick reacting systems (i.e. not screed buried UFH). It has got many features that I turned out using in practice, such as the automatic away function.
    Its advanced features (weather comp, mobile proximity, remote on/off) rely on it having a WiFi connection, without network it does still work but just runs its internal schedule and the auto-away function.
    Just my £ 0.02.
    • CommentAuthor2ev
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2018
    Gravelld, the information is not necessarily useful but interesting from my perspective, working in IT. And also to get some availability stats. I admit 'they' can change it any time (although what's more likely is for the devices / IPs behind the DNS aliases to change) and it doesn't reveal any of the resilience sitting behind the provider's infrastructure. The Russian ships are only one of the risks, there's power outages, DDoS attacks, the 'end of net neutrality' etc. Thanks DJH & bhommels
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2018 edited
    I really think you're overthinking it, at least in terms of how you think you can assess the risk.

    Exactly how do you think you can assess the resilience of the provider's stack? Are you guessing because their IP might resolve to some PaaS provider somewhere... e.g. it's AWS so it's x much reliable? That makes no sense; you can have reliable services in AWS and unreliable ones. Something based on their geographic location? Again, you're trading one set of risks for others.

    The point is: it's out of your control, but that might be a risk you are willing to accept.

    I made the calculation when I got HG that I was happy to accept the risk. I'm actually less happy about it now, but that was a decision I made. If I could've afforded a low energy retrofit four years ago when I installed it I would've done that instead as it's clearly a better solution than smart heating.
    My view is that resilience and location of servers are the least of your worries. They're very unlikely to cause anything but short term issues.
    Long term support on the other hand - at what point will the supplier stop supporting the tech you are installing and shut down the servers you rely on or stop updating the smartphone app.

    • CommentAuthor2ev
    • CommentTimeFeb 19th 2018
    Gravelld, Simon. All good points. I wasn't necessarily 'overthinking' it but acting as devil's advocate and approaching it with some curiosity from an IT perspective. Definitely not as keen as I was though.
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