Smart thermostats

The greatest thing since dumb thermostats

Smart thermostats. We’ve all heard the name, we’ve all heard the hype, and we’ve all heard the oppression against their “smartness” when coupled with today’s high efficient reverse cycle heat pumps.

My smart thermostat journey began when I was tasked with integrating a Nest Learning Thermostat into one of our customers high efficient Daikin ducted reverse cycle inverters – one of our project managers took our famous CMS “can do” approach a little too literally. When he was asked whether we could fit a Nest, his first initial response was “of course, how hard could it be?” After the job was quoted and promises were made, my team approached me (me being the company’s leading controls technician), Nest in hand – “make this work on that system” was how I seem to recall the request.

At first, I eased into the project, head held high ready for a simple integration. Boy, was I wrong! Long story short, this was no simple feat. I was determined and in the end we engineered a solution, but in the mean time, I realised what is really wrong with the internet and it’s users.

I scoured the net looking for help (or a shortcut so I didn’t have to engineer the solution myself) with the thoughts of “surely someone has done it”. Every corner I turned I ran into the same wall;

“Will the Nest work on my system?” asks one user.

“My controller has different wires than the one on the website” stated another.

“I’ve wired it in and nothing happens” seemed to be a trending phrase.

In response to all these questions were equally uneducated statements from the sites peers.

“The website says it works with 95% of systems; just cut the wires and it will work”.

“The Daikin website has a Nest on it – that means it should work!”

I think the biggest issue relating to the smart thermostats is it’s target market; tech savy Gen Y’s who aren’t afraid to rip an extra low voltage thermostat off the wall and replace it with the futuristic smart thermostat, because they’ve read how to do it on the internet, and the internet says it’s easy.

Don’t believe me? Read for yourself help needed, or even INCOMPATIBLE.

The only problem is, Australia seems to lie directly in the 5% of incompatible (for the tech savvy home user) HVAC systems. Naturally, their response is to go back to where they found the ‘easy to install’ information and tell the rest of the world that smart thermostats are dumb.

All in all, after all of the hour’s spent searching the world wide web, I came up with nothing but pages full of either “why doesn’t it work?”, “smart thermostats are dumb” or “for sale – thermostat is not compatible with my system”.

This turned my determination to find a solution into an obsession to find an answer. And I am proud to say I succeeded.

The truths about the smart thermostat

I’m not one to read the internet and make a final decision. I also don’t believe it’s very fair to pass on information to the unsuspecting public, unless you are 100% sure you have all the facts you need.

During the many countless hours I spent designing, testing, failing, redesigning, and being told it wouldn’t work, I got to spend quite some time with these thermostats in hand. I compiled a list of truths about the thermostats to ease the mind of my fellow readers.

“Smart thermostats only control dumb HVAC”

While this is somewhat true, it’s not the wiring system that makes these devices smart, but the algorithms that have been programmed in that provide the smarts. It is just the wiring interface provided for the end user is a little dumb, although with a bit of manipulation we can overcome this issue.

Truth is – these thermostats ARE compatible with Australian HVAC systems. Not “straight out of the box, wire it up and you’re good to go” – but yes they are compatible with a little tweaking. This little “tweak” began as a CMS customer only advantage, however we have now come to the realisation that the rest of Australia are (not just asking, but) pleading for a solution.

We are listening.

CMS are proud to announce that we are currently in the process of manufacturing a DIY integration interface. This interface will allow home owners anywhere in Australia the ability to connect smart thermostat (such as Nest, Ecobee, Tado etc) to their existing HVAC system. All you will need is basic electrical knowledge, or your local HVAC technician to perform the task for you! ETA March 2018.

JOIN OUR MAILING LIST TO RECEIVE THE LATEST UPDATES ON OUR UP-COMING DIY KITS!

On 03-01-2017 42 1772

42 thoughts on “Smart thermostats

  1. Al says:

    So I’m confused. Your article points out that we are missing some information and you will presumably provide it Toni’s. so where is it? 😊

    • admin says:

      Hi Al, good to see someone actually reads what I write 🙂
      I do state that there is information overlooked, and I provide a solution to the lack of information through our smart thermostat interface. The downside to our product is that it needs to be installed by a HVAC technician sue to the fact that we need to plug a few plugs into the main pc board on the indoor unit, and this will expose people to 240v. If I can help you out personally, id be more then happy to take the discussion further in depth.

    • admin says:

      It Can definitely be done, It is becoming a regular job for us now.
      I’m more than happy to answer questions and provide information, But as I’m sure you can understand, this is my job, and I need to make at least a little bit of money from it, so handing out my hard work to be replicated will take some convincing. In saying that though, if you’re a good convincer, you might just get the better of me. 🙂

  2. Andy says:

    I am also lost researching this.
    I have a old 1987 hi voltage reverse cycle ducted system (i think) and i want to install a nest for my google home.
    Can you install for me or point me to someone on melbourne who can?

    • admin says:

      Hi Andy,

      the older the units are, the easier they are to integrate.

      Unfortunately our operations are confined to Canberra, although I am more than willing to help where I can.

      If you could send through some more details on your unit and the thermostat that your currently utalizing, ill see what i can do to support the installation of your smart thermostat.

      look forward to hearing from you

  3. admin says:

    Hi Guys,

    I’ve been contemplating producing our interface as a package to sell to consumers, The package would consist of our interface, detailed instructions how to install the interface and install your smart thermostat, and all required cabling. If I can get enough interest for the product, I think id be able to reduce the price and make our interface readily available to the public.

    let me know if anyone is keen and ill get things started

    regards
    Chris Wilson

    • Ann says:

      All the tech savvy GenXers who’ve been smart enough to read about the issues and talk to actual master tradesman prior to purchasing a $600 hockey puck will come out of the wood work. I just hope you find a colleague in Melbourne to partner with for interstate installs.

      I got advised that even if the power (extra transformer) and connection issues could be overcome that the safety concerns of the need for a central override in the apartment block (private aircon unit, common vent for drawing fresh air) would nix it!

      • admin says:

        Hi Ann,

        We are full swing in the development of a diy kit to help the rest of Australia be if it from smart thermostats,

        The power and connection issue is resolved through our interface.
        In regards to the fresh air issue you described, Although it is a case by case scenario, generally the outside air is enabled through a relay built into the indoor ac unit when ever the unit is running, it has nothing to do with the thermostat, so I don’t see it being an issue

        Thanks
        Chris

    • Rols says:

      Hey Chris,

      I’d be interested in seeing what you guys come up with. I have a Daikin BRC24Z4 & want to add WiFI capabilities to it. I cant believe in this day and age how hard it is to add WiFi controls!

      Please add me to the mailing list.

      Thanks

      • admin says:

        Hi Roland

        Daikin does have a module called a “skyfi” that you can add onto your indoor unit to provide wifi functionality. It lacks any smart features but does enable full control and remote access via your phone and the daikin app.

        The issue with zones and smart thermostats is that you need to have 1x smart thermostat per zone. As I’m sure you could imagine, that gets expensive. But it does enable individual temperature control per zone.

        I’ll add you onto our mailing list

        Thanks

  4. John Op De Laak says:

    Hi Tony I have an ACSON system and I would like to purchase wiring diagram and technical support information from you so I can get someone on site to replace existing wall controller with a nest remote thermostat. We live in Harvey Bay Queens land, about 300 km above Brisbane or I would ask you to install it directly. Can you give me an idea of the price and if I send you a picture of our unit would you be able to tell me if your wiring diagram will enable me to replace the existing controller
    Thanks John

    • admin says:

      hi John

      We are located in Canberra,

      If you would like to provide me with your unit details I’ll see what we can do to help you out,

      Thanks
      Chris

  5. John Op De Laak says:

    Hi Chris it’s an acson system that’s about 8yrs old. Consists of what looks like a 7 hp unit with three ducts ( one in each bedroom and one in the sitting room). I have pictures of the inside of the unit I will try and catch to this note if not my email address is JohnOdel@Gmail.com

  6. Owen H says:

    This has been killing me too – the provided controls for scheduling on my Daikin ducted system are terrible at best, downright impregnable at worst.

    I don’t need the exact answer to get some kind of better thermostat onto it (to replace BRC1E62), but given you’ve got experience, a point in the right direction would be much appreciated 😀

    But if not, I might need to just hit you guys up!

    • admin says:

      Owen, don’t get me started on the scheduling abilities of proprietary controllers :).

      We are full swing in the development of our DIY kit. This system will provide users the ability to adapt their smart thermostat of choice to any inverter-based system.

      The system is currently working well for our Canberra clients but was designed with professional installation in mind.
      we are hoping to have the product ready mid feburary.

      I’ve added you to our mailing list so you will be among the first to know of the updates,

      thanks again Owen, and as always, feel free to contact us to ask further questions

      • Owen H says:

        Thanks so much! I’ve got an electronics background, but I’ll probably leave it to the pros – can’t wait to see the DIY kit 😀

  7. Andrew Hargrave says:

    Hi, what you say in your post seems to make logical sense – these smart thermostats are simply the same as our old dumb thermostats with WiFi connectivity and programmed algorithms inside. I thought there real reason they aren’t in Australia is due to their radio comms not being legal in Australia. Am I wrong?

    • admin says:

      Hi Andrew,

      I’m not sure where you received that information, Are you talking about their WiFi interface or the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless protocol? To my knowledge, both comply.

      Id like to hear more from you about this through.

      thanks
      Chris

  8. Richard Stokes says:

    Hi, keen to be added to list for further information and kit. We are looking at adding this to the spec of a new home. Any notes on limitations would also be of interest.

  9. Gary says:

    Hi in Canberra and have a ducted Deakin system in an apartment with two wires to the controller.
    Keen to contact you to discuss being able to connect to wifi through like Zwave with a nest or ecobee controller.

    • admin says:

      Hi Gary,

      We will be required to run a few extra wires to your thermostat to connect it to our interface. As long as we can do this we will have no issue integrating your daikin ducted unit with a nest or ecobee controller.

      We can provide a site visit to assess the feasibility of running the extra cables. Please contact our office on 02 6284 4221 to book in the site inspection.

      Thanks
      Chris

    • admin says:

      Hi Phil,
      Good to hear from you.

      How is the daikin ducted zoned? do you want a nest to control each zone or is the zoneing done buy a third party device (zonemaster ect)?

      send through some details of your unit and ill add you to the mailing list for updates.

      thanks
      Chris

  10. Alexei says:

    Hi, enjoyed your article and read with interest about your efforts to produce a DIY ‘kit’ solution.
    Similarly to others, I cannot comprehend how hard some of the manufacturers (specifically DAIKIN) make it to add WiFi interface.
    I would be pleased to be added to your mailing list for your solution.

    I have 3 ducted splits (for zoning), and each one currently has a BRC1D61 controller.
    Have looked at SkyFi and seems clunky.
    Ideal solution would be to replace the existing wall remotes (BRC1D61) with an IoT device, and compatible app, hosted on household wifi, and accessible by internet access thru gateway.

    Interested to know your thoughts.
    Regards,

    • admin says:

      Hi Alexei

      Thanks for taking the time to have a read.

      Our DIY solution will be perfect for your situation.
      due to the fact you will need to buy 3 thermostats and 3 interfaces it will end up costing a bit, but I think the added fuctionality will be worth it.

      You’ve been added to the mailing list so you’ll be kept up to date with our progress.

      Again, thanks for taking the time to have a read, we look forward to providing the products you need to benefit from this great technology.

      thanks
      Chris

  11. Lachlan says:

    Hi Chris,

    I had a new ducted system (Temperzone ISD141KYX) installed before Christmas in Melbourne. 2 zones, one Nest controlling each. When first turned on the performance of the system was poor, but after contacting Temperzone it appeared that the compressor was only running at 40% because it wasn’t getting a temperature signal from the thermostats, only a run signal. I’ve managed a temporary fix by flipping a dip switch in the condenser unit to disable the inverter and run the compressor 100% whenever it is on, but I’d like the variable speed functionality back if I can get it. Is this an issue you have encountered? If so is it something that can be overcome?

    Cheers

    Lachlan

    • admin says:

      Hi Lachlan.

      Sounds like you have a decent understanding of the way the units work.

      At this current time, I havn’t had too much to do with the temperzone units, but I am slowly working through the different units as they come up.

      I’ve had a quick look this morning and it doesn’t seam like it will be difficult to come up with a solution.

      I’ve added you to our mailing list so you will be kept up to date.

      I’ll let you know when the time comes to tackle the Temperzone units.

      Thanks

  12. Mat says:

    Hi, we have a Daikin RZQ100PV4A single zone ducted inverter system with the BRC1D61 wall controller. I installed a new main PCB to the outdoor unit due to rodent damage & it works really well now however the thermostat doesn’t appear to be working correctly. Set at 25 cool & it can get down to 18. Was thinking of some sort of smart controller to replace the old one when I read this thread. Hoping to find a solution soon.
    My brother is an electrical A/C technician so adding items, wiring etc won’t be a problem.

    • admin says:

      Hi Matt,

      our solution sounds like it will suit you down to the ground.

      Ive added you to the mailing list for updates.

      Thanks

      Chris

  13. Juan says:

    Hi, I am interested in your DIY solution.
    I live in Sydeny and our apartment has 2 zones controlled by a switch, but both controlled by a brc1e62 unit, I want to replace it with a Nest Thermostat.
    Thanks

  14. Luke says:

    Thanks for writers and sharing your experiences. This problems has been driving me nuts. It’s surprising that there is not a simple switch out for ducted air con controllers.

    I have an 8 yr old ducted daikin and I’m keen to be able to switch on and off remotely via my phone or easily program on and off. The standard daikin controller is so difficult to use.

    Is this something you’re offering?

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading (:.

      Yes your not alone thats for sure. We are working tirelessly to get the DIY version sorted out. Our solution will provide a fairly simple changeover for a tech minded DIY person, and will be able to be installed by any electrician or aircon guy if you do struggle a bit.

      Ive added you to the mailing list, so you’ll be among the first to benefit from this technology.

      Thanks again

      Chris

  15. Micheal says:

    I’m also interested in this for my Daikin ducted system, please add me to the mailing list so I can be advised when your kit is available. Thanks

    • admin says:

      Thanks Micheal, You’ve been added. Ive added a link to the bottom of the blog post so people can add them self.

      Thanks again

      Chris

  16. ROB WELLWOOD says:

    I’m also very interested. Ours is a large house over 3 levels and we have a separate Daikin ducted inverter unit for each leavel (7.1, 12 and 18 kW). Scheduling and remote control (via app) are my priorites, but Nest’s learning algortihms would be a bonus. Daikin SkyFi (discontinued) seems to have left a lot of frustrated users in its wake, and the other aftermarket control options don’t quite seem to fit the bill. Please add me to your mailing list.

    • admin says:

      HiRob,

      the nest coupled with our interface will be the answer to your frustration.

      Ive added you to the mailing list for updates

      thanks for expressing your interest

  17. Sean says:

    Been trying to find an installer in Sydney to sell and install a split system (ideal ducked) that works with Nest. We are only a few hour drive from Canberra 😉

    • admin says:

      Hi Sean,

      Good to see more people keen to utilise these smart thermostats,

      We’d love to help you Get integrated but unfortunately sydney is out our region for A/C installs, however I’m more then happy to assist your installation techs install a nest to your system when the time comes.

      Thanks
      Chris

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