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Thread: Ecobee - Thinking Outside The Box and Other Ideas

  1. #1
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    Ecobee - Thinking Outside The Box and Other Ideas

    New member here, going to try and wake up the Ecobee Forum a bit.

    While not a seasoned HVAC professional, I have been working on my own, family and friends HVAC systems for over 20 years and I have a good friend that is a HVAC professional I can rely on for answers and ideas when needed.

    So I have 2 properties with 6 Ecobee thermostats installed at the moment. Currently I have 20 Remote Room sensors across the 2 properties and 6 thermostats. Some may as why so many Remote Room sensors.

    I have some rooms/areas of one property that are rather large and IMHO require additional sensors in addition to the thermostat to properly detect Occupancy as well as room temperature. On my non primary property I have 4 sensors in unconditioned spaces and 1 sensor in my "Tech Room" which is rather small and has a lot of heat generating equipment. For the unconditioned spaces I disable the Comfort features and I may decide to flip the room sensor case to block the motion detection, but this is still being considered in addition to cutting a circuit trace to disable the motion sensor to extend the battery life of the sensor.

    I have also learned a lot about all of the new generation of "Smart" thermostats that have no relays built into them, they are using FET's (Field Effect Transistors) or some form of semi-conductor switch to control the HVAC equipment. I have seen many of these "Smart" thermostats have failures of the semi-conductor switching as well as actually hang in an "On" condition and either over heat or over cool. Due to this I have started to use external relay buffer boards that are to protect the thermostat from the HVAC equipment. So far this has eben sucessful and I have not lost a thermostat yet. The relay buffer boards also give me some additional options for creative wiring for overflow protection circuits.

    One suggestion for anyone installing a "Smart" thermostat is to NOT wire any overflow protection through the thermostat R/Rc or typically Red power wire. The problem in this situation is of there is a overflow protection device that breaks the power circuit, you loose visibility to the thermostat as well are not Log reports sent to the Ecobee web portal. My suggestion is to wire any overflow protection devices to either shut off the compressor or to shut power off to the outdoor unit, which is essentially the same and wiring the compressor circuit though the overflow protection circuit. The only caveat or issue here would be when a high efficiency Gas/Propane furnace is use and you may have issue with the condensation draining/pumping from the high efficiency furnace. This can be addressed by using the relay buffer board to open the heat control circuit. In this case the thermostat would stay powered up and if you sent low temperature thresold or heat run time alarms, then you should be notified of such via email from the Ecobee web portal.

    Moving on I think it might also be helpful of the "Community" bands together when we need features, changes, additionals to the Ecobee products. I have been sending may requests to Ecobee and usually get the "canned" replies so I have no real idea if there will be any consideration for changes/new features that are requested.

    On one of my systems I recently set up a remotely controlled outlet that is triggered by the Ecobee Dehumidfier option. I wrestled with buying an expensive bypass dehumidifier or just using a stand alone unit that is about 1/4 the price of a bypass system. I actually picked up 2 decent used GE dehumidifiers on my local Craigslist for $170 for both which is less than 1/3 their price new as all dehumidifers often have short lifespans. The dehumidifier that is triggered via the Ecobee has its drain hose running into the condensate pump for the HVAC system so I do not need to be emptying the reservior bucket. I ended up looping the condensate pump overflow circuit through my relay buffer board to "Open" the dehumidifier control from the Ecobee thermostat to combat a problem if the condensate pump fails because for this HVAC system I open the power supply circuit to the outdoor unit, I do not power the thermostat of so I can still have alarms and visibility to the unit.

    Picture of the remote controlled outlet for the external dehumidier that I installed with the "Relay In A Box" that is controlled by 24 VAC.

    When time permits I will post more pictures and include more info on the relay buffer boards I am using.

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    Last edited by JamesO; 02-08-2020 at 06:33 AM. Reason: Try To Rotate Pictures - Unsuccessful

  2. #2
    Junior Member

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    Picture of the relay buffer board I am using, they are available in 4 and 8 relay configurations and are available with 24 VAC control.

    https://bravocontrols.com/shop/mecha...ng-and-4-gang/

    These are available between $9 and $13, however, shipping is EXPENSIVE. Overall the cost per board works about to about $20 each as I recall.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
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    One of the reasons I have remote Room sensors in unconditioned areas of one of my houses is because of water lines running in some of these areas. While this may not easily allow me to counter any low temperatures, if I have the heat set back to 59-60 F when unoccupied then I might be able to raise the interior temperature to protect from freezing.

    I have sensors in attics and garages. I have a water line for humidifiers in the attic, not sure I would have installed water lines in the attic, but it is what I have to deal with. I also have an internal "Tech" room with a lot of heat generating equipment, I have a thermostatic controlled exhaust fan, but if this fails, I need to have a High Temp threshold alarm for this room so I can take appropriate action to cool it off and/or shut equipment down to reduce the temperature.

    I have 2 attics I am monitoring the temperatues in, one is insulated and partially conditioned due to a HVAC system in this area, the other attic is unconditioned, but had 2 high efficiency heat pumps with propane back up, water lines and humidifiers. Again, this was not my doing and I am not comfortable with this set up without some way to be alerted if the temperatures drop to a dangerous low.



    Here is a screen grab of some of my sensors:

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    I also would like to have the ability to trigger a low temperature threshold alarm on individual room sensors rather than just the thermostat. I have put this request into Ecobee, but who knows if they will consider this. I also thought I might be able to use IFTTT but again, it does not appear to be something I can do with IFTTT right now. I may end up trying to use something like MRTG to actually parse the data and then trigger an alarm??

    I am not a real coding kind of person, I know what is available, but do not know how to actually program.

    So any ideas or suggestions would be helpful.
    Last edited by JamesO; 02-09-2020 at 10:14 AM.

  4. #4
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    Thought I had found a solution for Temperature Threshold Alarms for individual Room Sensors, was having some success with Samsung Smarthings, until I found the Min Temp was 45F and the Max Temp 91F. I mean come on 45-91F, while this is helpful, I need to get closer to freezing and would like to trigger over 91F for my Attic sensors as I might have used the trigger to turn on a smart plug??

    I need to understand why Samsung Smartthings has such a limited temperature window. Maybe they were only thinking about an interior temperature in a conditioned space??

    So now to find out if there is anyone that could widen the Samsung Smartthings Temperature window.

    So close.

  5. #5
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    So as I have been digging around for some solutions in order to have individual room sensor threshold alarms, I think I have found a solution for the moment using Wink. I am able to configure upper and lower temperature threashold alarms and have these sent by text message and/or email. Wink can message either a single email receipient or multiple email receipents.

    Samsung Smartthings only appeard to have messages sent via text message.

    So for the moment this appears to work for me without the narrow temperature range that Smartthings has.

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