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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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  1.  
    I see that Octopus prices are available in IFTTT which you can use to switch a smart plug at cheapest times. I guess the smart plug could be wired in the circuit of the central heating controls, in series with the clock and thermostat, to run the heating at the best times - has anyone tried that?

    (I know you can do this with raspberry pi etc or with a hive style thermostat)
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2020
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenI see that Octopus prices are available in IFTTT which you can use to switch a smart plug at cheapest times. I guess the smart plug could be wired in the circuit of the central heating controls, in series with the clock and thermostat, to run the heating at the best times - has anyone tried that?

    (I know you can do this with raspberry pi etc or with a hive style thermostat)

    I was wondering the other day whether anybody was producing the equivalent of a smart plug but designed to be wired into a circuit. A smart SFU or FCU kind of idea. I haven't found anything so far. There are one or two wif-fi units but they seem to be tied to proprietary phone apps, which limits what you can do with them, and exposes you to all the risks of Internet-facing IOT devices. Anybody aware of anything?
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2020
     
    Posted By: djh: “I was wondering the other day whether anybody was producing the equivalent of a smart plug but designed to be wired into a circuit.”

    I've been using Sonoff TH16s, which have line, neutral and earth in and switched line, neutral and earth connections out, to control my fridge and central heating. As bought they're Internet-of-Things things with proprietary phone apps so, as DJH says, not much good but they're reprogrammable with the Arduino IDE so fairly easy to turn into Intranet-of-Things devices, though I did have a little adventure working out how to power them while doing the actual programming operation:

    https://edavies.me.uk/2019/07/sonoff/

    The fridge controller is because the fridge thermostat went wonky. All the control is done in the TH16 which is wired as a rather gangly “smart” plug with a DS18B20 in the fridge though it sends temperature and running/not running state to my RPi logging system.

    The CH control has the TH16 tapped in to the wiring centre. It takes line from the power coming from the normal central heating programmer and sends its switched line to the (S-plan) motorized valve in the same way as the thermostat in the living room. I just leave the programmer in the “always on” setting and turn the living-room thermostat right down then a Python module in my logging system takes control via Wi-Fi. It keeps the temperature in my study a lot more stable than the thermostat in the living room meaning it's not so chilly in the morning and doesn't get unnecessarily warm later in the day.
    • CommentAuthordereke
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2020
     
    Interesting stuff Ed, I just bought some of these https://shelly.cloud/knowledge-base/devices/shelly-1pm/
    Basically the same thing but no need to flash them. Incidentally I'm about to flash the ESP8266 controller in my thermostat and heatpump. Good times ahead for me :shocked:
    • CommentAuthordereke
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2020
     
    oh my bad - I see the TH16 is actually a bit more than just a switch!
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2020 edited
     
    Posted By: derekeoh my bad
    Not at all, the temperature sensor connection is handy for my fridge controller but that Shelly would do fine for my central heating control and answers DJH's question very well. It's also quite a bit cheaper than the Sonoff - about same euro price as the Sonoff in pounds but you get two of the Shellys. The power measurement's neat, too. Thanks - bookmarked.

    PS: I would add that I think some care should be taken wiring these things (Sonoff or Shelly) into the fixed wiring to make sure they're downstream of a small-enough fuse/breaker. The one controlling my fridge is off a fused plug and the one for the CH is powered via the 3A FCU for the whole CH system. Any of these on a typical 6A lighting circuit would be fine, too, but on a spur off a typical ring final circuit (32A) they need another fuse in line IMHO.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2020
     
    Thanks chaps. I think I understand what the TH16 is/does but I can't make any sense at all of the Shelly. What do you connect to what?

    Both of them need an additional wallbox - they can't replace an SFU/FCU. And the TH16 needs a double wallbox. But I suppose that's not a showstopper.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeNov 30th 2020
     
    Yes, the Shelly User Guide isn't super clear about the wiring but I think it's simple enough for mains operation. Mains line and neutral go into the L1 and N connections and the switched-line output to the load comes out of the O connection. You have to sort out the neutral and earth connection to the load separately [¹]. L and SW are used for an auxiliary switch which can be used to manually control the relay and also for getting it back into access-point mode if the configuration gets all messed up.

    The TH16 is a bit large to go in a back box. Probably it's intended to go in a ceiling void or somewhere like that. The Shelly ought to go in a deep back box, I think.

    [¹] This is somewhere the TH16 is a bit tidier as it has 6 connection points for L, N and E in and out respectively.
  2.  
    I was thinking more about precooked, plumber-friendly solutions to allow heating to take advantage of Octopus lowest price times on IFTTT.

    Not really my field, but there's lots of small switched receivers available for remote control of lights - these ones were £6 from eBay iirc and are double insulated for surface mounting in a light fitting, but would easily go in a back box. They switch 5A. Mostly they use ZigBee, though this one is some other radio system. So internet hosting is optional, eg controlled by some proprietary device such as Alexa/hue/homehub etc with logic in IFTTT, or driven by a local device such as RPI, which can retrieve Octopus's published price data, . (Will stop now, as out of my technical depth.)

    Obviously the back box should be plastic not steel....

    Irritatingly, they all seem to take in L and put out switched-L. So you can't put in a line that has already been switched (eg by a dimmer switch) and switch it some more. (Edit: the Shelly seems to be great for this - permanent L supply terminal to power the Shelly and separate terminal for previously-switched L that the Shelly will switch some more)
      IMG_20201201_110852712_copy_780x1040.jpg
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2020
     
    I've got a 4Ch WiFi relay rigged into my CH controls. You cannot get the ones I have but search for "wifi relay" on amazon and you will find a wide selection.

    I flashed the Relay with Tasmota (as I do all my IOT stuff) and control it through Home Assistant. This integrates with the Agile tariff data from Octopus and automations decide to turn things on when the price drops.

    In effect, all the relay is doing is making or breaking the circuit. For me that means I use one relay to take over control from the 'dumb' controls and a second relay to do what I want. CH and DHW are all low A loads so you can use 5A relays without trouble. I just used some Wago connectors in the CH wiring box to simulate the thermostat switching (it is simply a mechanical relay) and a 'boiler' demand.
  3.  
    "and automations decide to turn things on"
    What do you mean by automatons ? are these parameters you've set in 'Home assistant'?
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeDec 12th 2020
     
    Posted By: jamesingram"and automations decide to turn things on"
    What do you mean by automatons? are these parameters you've set in 'Home assistant'?
    Yes, just the 'automation' system that is fundamental in Home Assistant.

    I turn the bolier on quicker (i.e. at a higher tank temperature) when someone is showering, so the recovery period is shorter.

    I turn on the immersion when Octopus Agile drops below 3p/kWh.

    I turn on the lamps an hour before sunset and off an hour after. I also turn them on after 5am when movement is detected outside my bedroom door.

    That is a just a few examples of what I have done.
  4.  
    Had a look at the software and few YouTube vids , looks very interesting for diy home tinkering .
  5.  
    Borpin, do you have any links that describe how to interface the Agile tariff in Home assistant.
    Also is there a way you interface PV generation similarly
    Thanks.
    Like Will I'm a novice in wifi automaton and software , more a wires, pipes and joists guy
    :-)
  6.  
    In answer to my own question this seems a good place to start
    https://octopus.energy/blog/agile-smart-home-diy/
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeDec 24th 2020
     
    What is 'entech'?
    • CommentAuthorborpin
    • CommentTimeDec 26th 2020
     
    Posted By: jamesingramBorpin, do you have any links that describe how to interface the Agile tariff in Home assistant.
    If you do a search on the Home Assistant forum, there are several methods of interfacing with the Octopus Tariff data. I wrote a Node-Red node that I use. It really depends what you want to do.

    For me, when the price goes below 2p, I switch on the immersion, so all need is the current price. I do have a display panel in the house that I display the current/next price plus a graph of the days pricing. I currently don't have an EV, but if I did I'd be looking for the x number of hours when it is cheapest to charge it. I don't have any PV or Battery storage, but again I'd be looking to control those to maximise cost saving and grid balancing.

    HA is fairly easy to use, but it a steep learning curve. To get the most from it, you need to trawl the forums looking for ideas as there is a lot of stuff generated by the community that is not 'core'.

    If you are testing the water so to say, an SD Card and a Pi is the way to start. If you want it to be an integral part of your home, you need to think more carefully as to your setup and the hardware employed. I currently have a Pi4 and SSD setup, but once the initial Brexit angst dies down, and a UK supplier comes on board,I think I'll get one of the new HA Blue offerings. Basicallay an ODROID-N2+ and 128GB eMMC but in a cute case.

    There is a risk of throwing all your eggs in one basket as it has addons for InfluxDB, AdGuard, MQTT, Grafana, Node-Red to name a few I have used, but I have gradually moved away from these integrated ones to standalone instances of them on an old Laptop running ProxmoxVE. If HA went down, it took everything with it. By breaking things up, you have a more resilient system.
  7.  
    •  
      CommentAuthorDamonHD
    • CommentTime4 days ago
     
  8.  
    So today they are offering to pay you 20.5p/kWh to export any PV you generate at 1pm. You can reimport it overnight on their Go tariff for 5p/kWh and so help balance the grid. Time to ditch the immersion diverters!

    If you have a battery you can charge it overnight for 5p and get paid to export it at 5pm today for 148p (!!!) - maybe time to re-evaluate home battery storage?
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTime4 days ago
     
    My pv not up and running yet, even is it was, not been anywhere enough sun. Those with wind turbines won't benefit either certainly not here in N Wales where it has been pretty still most days recently. Even if you have a battery you won't earn much more than a quid depending on its capacity.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime4 days ago
     
    For anybody else that doesn't use twitter, the data source is https://www.energy-stats.uk/ I believe.

    Posted By: WillInAberdeenSo today they are offering to pay you 20.5p/kWh to export any PV you generate at 1pm. You can reimport it overnight on their Go tariff for 5p/kWh and so help balance the grid. Time to ditch the immersion diverters!

    Aren't you the one that says PV is limited by lack of cost effectivity?
  9.  
    :-)
    How many kW is your PV exporting today?

    Only 4GW of wind available today, and freezing cold, so the price is way high and they are running 4GW of zombie coal power stations as backup.

    There were 17GW of wind available on Boxing Day evening, so they were giving it away and even paying you to consume more of it so they could still claim their FITs
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