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Background:

We have a heat pump driven central heating system with four zones. Currently, the system operates as follows:

  • The heatpump heats a deposit of water
  • Water pumps, 4 in total, connected to 4 "dumb" thermostats deliver hot water when needed to 4 different zones.

I would like to switch to a smart-home setup with a system that is compatible with home assistant, however, there are many different options to choose from.

Question:

What are the correct industry keywords and/or terminologys to use when describing these components within a central-heating system?

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  • The goal of this question is to find the technical terms (if any) that are used to describe the different components/aspects of a central heating system. I have removed a secondary question and some text that may have confused that goal. Feb 1, 2023 at 6:45

2 Answers 2

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Most heating control systems can control a heat source such as a boiler for starting times and duration, which in your case can be the heat pump.

Then you need to control 4 zones, the real questions start with do you want to control these fully independently or are they linked for start/end times etc

Once you have decided the level of zone control then you can check out what analogue or digital solutions will give you the functionality you require.

The latest heating system controllers will even react to the outside ambient conditions to start/stop heating according to the weather - the program also learns how the building gains or loses heat to predict when heating or cooling is needed.

I planned an underfloor heating system with individual control for each room on two floors. Works well as planned. Heat source is a solar system with woodstove backup. Family house (4 bedrooms) needing 1 cube of wood during winter.

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  • Thanks @solar-mike, I would like to be able to control the zones separately. The system uses underfloor heating so takes a long time for any thermostat change to be reflected in the room. As a result I tend to have each zone at a "sensible" temperature. Jan 31, 2023 at 10:11
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    OK, this comment isn't an answer bc it's opinion based , so here goes: Smart t-stats expect a pretty responsive heating system. I have in floor heating with several zones with programmable t-stats. I set them up as one would do for a HP or furnace with night time setbacks, daytime scheduling, etc. But bc the infloor heating is so darn slow, it never worked well. So I gave up and just set them on permanent hold at the desired temp for each zone during the winter. Yeah, it probably costs a bit more, but at least my home is now evenly heated. ..continued below: Jan 31, 2023 at 14:03
  • So you may not like this advice as we all like to modernize, it's not always compatible. Given that you have an in floor heating system... I'd just stick with the dumb t-stats, I don't think you'll be satisfied with smart tstats combined with hydronic heating. Just my comment/ opinion, not an answer, but hopefully I have given you some food for thought. Jan 31, 2023 at 14:08
  • @GeorgeAnderson underfloor heating does have a slower response - ours involved a concrete slab 6" thick for each floor. However, the upside was a planned temperature swing that was much lower, also due to the design of the house using the solar and lots of insulation. All down to detail.
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 31, 2023 at 14:10
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    @GeorgeAnderson Your descrption of overshoot is a classic problem when the system is not designed as a complete unit with appropriate control. We evaluated the passive solar gain based on the windows & direction, the insulation (30cm) in the walls & roof and 20cm between the ground and floor. As mentioned in my answer, we used one of the latest heating controllers , the algorithm "learns" the house and how it thermally behaves due to the internal rate of change and the external effects. As a result we had a 2 degree swing from the set temperature, the living area at 21 and the bedrooms at 18.
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 31, 2023 at 14:35
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This is a bit of an opinion-based answer.

Don't tie your solution in to an assistant ecosystem. Use systems that are open enough to work with multiple devices including whatever assistant you care about. To that end, look for stuff that works with Home Assistant. It will be more work, but you'll end up with a system that can keep working down the road as things change. This doesn't mean you have to use Home Assistant, but it does mean you'll have options in the future that don't include replacing all your controls.

Also, since you're using a system that is often more efficient in steady state (a heat pump) to feed a system that has very slow response (hydronics) know that the advice has shifted lately to not set back for short periods.

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  • Ummm... "very likely using home assistant" edited 9 hours ago. HA is precisely what the OP is intending to do. Unfortunately, not only does this not answer the question asked, but it suggests doing what the OP is already planning on doing.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 31, 2023 at 19:20
  • In that case I really don't understand where OP is struggling - HA has an extensive compatibility list including Z-Wave bridges that will interact with many other devices. Not sure how I totally missed that link.
    – KMJ
    Jan 31, 2023 at 23:13
  • @KMJ, the struggle is that there is currently no smart hardware for HA to talk to. The first step is therefore to acquire that hardware. However, without knowing what to look for, there is a danger of investing money in the wrong solution. Hence the request to find the terminology and keywords that should be part of that solution. Feb 1, 2023 at 7:34
  • Again, then, @RichardCorden, I strongly recommend you hit up the HA folks on Discord. Try the #hardware, #zigbee, or #zwave channels first. Someone will post the link to <something>.blackadder.<something> (sorry, can't recall the precise URL ATM blackadder.com is something alcohol related, don't try that ;) that lists every device known to work with HA.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 1, 2023 at 12:52
  • @FreeMan Thanks again --- I did ask for info on the #hardware channel of HA discord - but didn't get anywhere. I'll try again on the #zigbee channel as you suggest. Feb 1, 2023 at 13:27

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