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Control blinds or shutters in VERA based on environmental conditions

This guide shows how to control your blinds, shutters, curtains or awnings based on environmental conditions such as the position of the sun and the ambient temperature.

We will be using a VERA Lite or VERA 3 Z-Wave Controller with the RFXtrx433E USB 433.92 MHz transceiver with antenna connected to provide control of a Somfy RTS blind as the basis for the guide, but the principles can be applied to other motor control devices.

We will also be installing a number of "plugins" on VERA to control the logic to suit our requirements.

Prerequisites


Before beginning, it is assumed that you have a fully functioning device controlling your blinds, shutters, curtains or awnings!

VERA Blind control deviceVERA Blind control device


For more details on controlling Somfy Blinds, please see our previous Application Notes:


For the ambient temperature input side of the logic, you could use an Aeon Labs Multisensor or a Fibaro Universal Door & Window Sensor with the optional DS18B20 Digital Thermometer for example.

Here we are using an Oregon Scientific 433MHz RF temperature densor, one of the many devices supported by the RFXtrx433E:

Oregon Scientific temperature sensorOregon Scientific temperature sensor

Install Plugins


We will be using three plugins for this guide - the "Heliotrope", "Day Or Night" and "Combination Switch" plugins

Let's install these now:

  • In the VERA UI go to the "APPS" tab and click "Install Apps".
  • Search for "Heliotrope":

VERA - Install Heliotrope pluginVERA - Install Heliotrope plugin

  • Click "Install" and allow VERA to reload:

VERA - Install Heliotrope pluginVERA - Install Heliotrope plugin

  • Carry out a "Hard Refresh" in your Web Browser to refresh the VERA UI ("Ctrl-F5" or "CMD-F5").
  • Return to the "Devices" and you will see the newly installed device:

VERA - Install Heliotrope pluginVERA - Install Heliotrope plugin

  • In the VERA UI go to the "APPS" tab and click "Install Apps".
  • Search for "Combination Switch":

VERA - Install Combination Switch pluginVERA - Install Combination Switch plugin

  • Click "Install" and allow VERA to reload:

VERA - Install Combination Switch pluginVERA - Install Combination Switch plugin

  • Carry out a "Hard Refresh" in your Web Browser to refresh the VERA UI ("Ctrl-F5" or "CMD-F5").
  • Return to the "Devices" and you will see the newly installed device:

VERA - Install Combination Switch pluginVERA - Install Combination Switch plugin

  • In the VERA UI go to the "APPS" tab and click "Install Apps".
  • Search for "Day Or Night":

VERA - Install Day Or Night pluginVERA - Install Day Or Night plugin

  • Click "Install" and allow VERA to reload:

VERA - Install Day Or Night pluginVERA - Install Day Or Night plugin

  • Carry out a "Hard Refresh" in your Web Browser to refresh the VERA UI ("Ctrl-F5" or "CMD-F5").
  • Return to the "Devices" and you will see the newly installed device:

VERA - Install Day Or Night pluginVERA - Install Day Or Night plugin

Gather Data


At this point it's worth deciding the following for the control logic:

  • What temperature you wish to trigger on - we monitored the garden temperature sensor for a few days to see the correlation between outside temperature and the effect on the inside temperature from the sun shining through the window.
  • What altitude of the sun you wish to trigger on - Over a period of a week or so we noted down the altitude that the Heliotrope plugin was reporting when the sun was shining through the window as it moved across the sky.

Configure Logic


Having decided on the trigger point data, we know need to configure the "Combination Switch" plugin appropriately:

  • Click the "Spanner" icon on the Combination Switch device in the VERA UI.
  • On the "Advanced" tab, give the device an appropriate name:

VERA - Add Sun Position to Combination SwitchVERA - Add Sun Position to Combination Switch

  • On the "Advanced" tab, select a "Sun Position" condition from the drop down list:

VERA - Add Sun Position to Combination SwitchVERA - Add Sun Position to Combination Switch

  • Configure it to match the trigger point you decided on previously:

VERA - Add Sun Position to Combination SwitchVERA - Add Sun Position to Combination Switch

  • Next, select a "Temperature" condition from the drop down list:

VERA - Add Temperature to Combination SwitchVERA - Add Temperature to Combination Switch

  • Configure it to match the trigger point you decided on previously:

VERA - Add Temperature to Combination SwitchVERA - Add Temperature to Combination Switch

  • Finally, select a "Day Or Night" condition from the drop down list:

VERA - Add Day Or Night to Combination SwitchVERA - Add Day Or Night to Combination Switch

  • Set this condition to "Day":

VERA - Add Day Or Night to Combination SwitchVERA - Add Day Or Night to Combination Switch

  • Make sure you enter "3" in the "Switch is on when X or more watched items are true." box. This ensures that the Combination Switch will only turn on when all three of our conditions are met. If one or more conditions are false, or become false, the Combination Switch will be off.
  • Close the Combination Switch device and follow the prompt in the VERA UI to "Save"
  • Once the VERA UI reloads, the Combination Switch device should look similar to the below:

VERA - Combination SwitchVERA - Combination Switch

Create Scenes


Next we need to create our Scenes to control the blind - one Scene will control the blind opening and one Scene will control the blind closing. We'll use the Combination Switch to "Trigger" the relevent Scene based on whether it is "On" or "Off".

Closing Scene

  • Click on the "AUTOMATION" tab in the VERA UI and then on "New scene".
  • Enter a descriptive name for the Scene, then on the "DEVICES" tab, click on the device that controls your blind to activate it and then click the "Close". button:

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind closingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind closing

  • Next click on the "TRIGGERS" tab in the VERA UI and then on "Add Trigger":

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind closingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind closing

  • Select the Combination Switch device from the drop down list:

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind closingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind closing

  • Fill in the fields to match the below image - you want the trigger to be the Combination Switch turning "ON":

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind closingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind closing

  • When finished, click on "Back to triggers". Your trigger should now be complete:

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind closingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind closing

  • Click the green "Confirm changes" button, followed by the red "Save" button to save your changes. Your first Scene is now complete!

Opening Scene

  • Click on the "AUTOMATION" tab in the VERA UI and then on "New scene".
  • Enter a descriptive name for the Scene, then on the "DEVICES" tab, click on the device that controls your blind to activate it and then click the "Open". button:

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind openingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind opening

  • Next click on the "TRIGGERS" tab in the VERA UI and then on "Add Trigger":

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind openingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind opening

  • Select the Combination Switch device from the drop down list:

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind openingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind opening

  • Fill in the fields to match the below image - you want the trigger to be the Combination Switch turning "OFF":

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind openingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind opening

  • When finished, click on "Back to triggers". Your trigger should now be complete:

VERA - Create a Scene to control blind openingVERA - Create a Scene to control blind opening

  • Click the green "Confirm changes" button, followed by the red "Save" button to save your changes. Your second Scene is now complete!

If everything works as expected, your blind should now open and close automatically based on the position of the sun and the ambient temperature :-)

Final Thoughts


In this guide we have pulled together a powerful combination of plugins to manage and control the logic that was required.

There are of course many of ways of achieving our objectives - we could have implemented some raw LUA code for example.

The beauty of the Combination Switch plugin is that it can be used to build both "AND" and "OR" logic - you can even use one Combination Switch as an input to another Combination Switch to create really complex logic!

VERA - Somfy RTS Blind ControlVERA - Somfy RTS Blind Control


We hope that you've found this application note useful!

Related Information


 

Copyright Vesternet 2014

Updated: 24/06/14

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