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The traditional Basic Boiler- Radiator system provides hot water and heating in many homes in the UK and Europe.
The system uses a central boiler to heat the water, a pump then circulates this through radiators situated around the house. The overall temperature is regulated by a single wall thermostat that is typically positioned in the coolest part of the house, most often the hall. A timer controls when the boiler and pump are activated, so that you can choose when the heating system is On.
The boiler also produces hot-water to be used for bathing or washing - depending on the type of boiler system you have this can be 'on-demand' or stored in a hot-water cylinder.
This type of Basic system is quite simple, but this simplicity also means that it can be quite inefficient.
There are three main types of heating system in common use, it's best to know which one you have before investigating how to control it with home automation:
Adding home automation to control this type of Basic Boiler-Radiator heating system is quite straightforward. You replicate the basic functionality of the thermostat and boiler control with Z-Wave devices. This enables the system to run in exactly the same way as it always has, but gives you further refinement to save you money. You can have wireless control of the system, so you can easily make adjustments. You can create intelligent 'Scenes' to manage the heating more efficiently, and you can control it whether you are at home or away - so if you're going to be late home, you can delay the heating turning on. These refinements give you a more convenient heating system and will save you money.
The home automation system replaces the functionality of the current timer and thermostat with Z-Wave devices. The Thermostat and Boiler Receiver control your heating based on a schedule 'Scene' running in the Z-Wave Controller which changes the thermostat's set-point temperature at different times of the day. You can also choose a thermostat that has an integrated 7-day timer, so that it runs the heating schedule itself. If you have a Y-plan or S-plan system, the hot-water will be run by a separate schedule 'scene' in the Z-Wave Controller. In this system, the Thermostat and Boiler Receiver are configured to work in Z-Wave Association mode, allowing the thermostat to directly control the receiver without having to communicate via the Z-Wave controller. It also means that the Thermostats's TPI control software is used to efficiently control your heating.
To add home automation control of your radiator-based heating system, you only need to add three components (less if you already have a Z-Wave system). Below we explain the function of each component and our recommended products.
This is a Z-Wave Switch (Relay) that replaces your existing heating controller/timer. It enables the Z-Wave system to control when the boiler is On or Off. If you have a Combi boiler, you will need a single-channel receiver, if you have a Y-plan or S-plan system you will need a 2-channel receiver or switch as you will also need to control the hot-water system.
Communicates directly with the Boiler Receiver or Relay to control the boiler (heating) depending on the room's ambient temperature and the 'set-point' temperature you've selected. This allows the system to run the heating system with the optimum efficiency as the thermostat has in-built heating algorithms (TPI) that optimise the boiler On/Off periods. You can change the thermostat's set-point temperature wirelessly, giving you complete control over your heating system.
The controller enables you to add and configure devices to your Z-Wave system and run 'schedule scenes'. It also acts as a gateway allowing you to control the system from a smartphone even when you are away from home. In the case of heating, the controller will run the schedules to control when the heating is On/Off and at what temperature, it will also run the hot-water times.
For more information take a look at our How to Choose a Z-Wave Controller Guide.
These guides and videos show how these various systems can be integrated with Vesternet's home automation products.