Peter Sayer for PCWorld: "A series of tubes" is one of the most famous explanations of what makes the internet work, but it's also what many Europeans use to heat their homes. That's made room-by-room heating automation difficult -- until now.
Heating systems in Europe typically circulate hot water from a boiler to radiators around the home, with the pump and boiler controlled by a central thermostat. Programmable timers can boost the temperature on winter evenings or lower it at night.
Generally, though, such control is an all-or-nothing, whole-home affair, making it impossible to heat the living room only in the evening but warm the bathroom for a morning shower. Smart controllers like Nest and its European competitors Tado and Netatmo can't change that, as the series of tubes in most homes doesn't allow for independent control of different heating zones. Cont'd...
Last winter I installed a Z-wave thermostat. Integration was good, but usability was dreadful. The Wife Acceptance Factor plummeted; my own with it. Waking up to a chilly house about a month ago reminded me that it was time to turn on the heating, and replace the thermostat. I was torn between a better Z-wave model and a Wi-Fi unit. Whatever I chose had to integrate with my Home Automation system, and that was the challenge.
Wireless automation provides the next of level of sophistication to HVAC zoning by increasing the number of controllable zones, automating energy efficient programming from a single location and providing connections through a secured wireless mesh to allow home owners to control the temperature in every room.
If it were my home and money was not a concern, I would put in geothermal units with zoning, media air cleaners, UV lights, steam humidifiers, whole-house dehumidifiers and energy recovery ventilators. I would then be able to control each zone from the home automation systems through touchscreens and remotes.
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