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I wrote in December about the failure of my thermostatic radiator valves (trvs) and posted the note on several web sites. I got some replies, mainly advising me to pick the brains of local plumbers, but being a little pig headed I decided to heed my own counsel and I bought some bits and pieces from Housetech Intelligent Solutions despite being warned by a lady on Muswell Hill Sustainability that Haringey had chosen them.
After sort of making the decision I rang the company and after some discussion and a bit of haggling with David Mylam I agreed to buy 13 Valve Motors, 3 Thermostats, and 1 Boiler Box.
I've got these set up in my three storey house so that:
1) The kitchen and bottom landing are controlled by a single thermostat and the radiators come on for breakfast and dinner
2) The main floor with a TV room and another sitting room come on for the evening
3) The 4 bedrooms are all controlled by a single thermostat and come on for getting up and going to bed
I have yet to install the boiler box (a device which switches the boiler off if all the thermostats are off) and I still have three trvs to deploy.
This leaves me with two questions:
1) was it worth it?
2) what to do with the remaining bits?
was it worth it? Well I think it might have been. My bedrooms are no longer like saunas - they maintain a comfortable temperature all the time someone is using them. The sitting rooms are OK too, and it feels as though I must be saving money by not heating them in the morning and daytime, when either all the activity is elsewhere in the house or everyone is out. The kitchen on the bottom floor is an important source of heat for the whole house - it has two big radiators and is open to the stairwell - so this substantial use of energy now stops all evening while we are cosied up in our sitting room.
I think all this leads me to believe that regardless of money saving I am much more in control of what is going on with the heating, and that the heat follows us about as we undertake our activities. The controls are pretty simple too, so if we find ourselves needing to heat up an 'off' area it just take a push of a button.
Have I saved any money - I think I won't know about the reduction in the amount of gas used maybe until next year when temperature fluctuations even themselves out a bit, but I hope a bit less has been burned.
what to do with the remaining bits? Clearly having paid for a boiler box I'd be sill to leave it unpacked, so that's a no brainer, I just need to get busy with a couple of circuit diagrams and a hacksaw. Leaving three motorised trvs in the cellophane wrappers also seems a bit silly, but:
a) I don't think I can simply add them to existing 'zones' - the big radiator in the hall for instance needs to be on more often than the sitting rooms (first thing in the morning) and probably needs to be on after the kitchen goes off in the evening. Because it provides a level of heat for the whole house it needs to be on a lot. Also, just at this very moment, with what is going on in the rest of the house the old fashioned non-motorised trv has this radiator switched off.
b) I'm not sure I want to add more thermostats to the system, if only because this would mean spending more money on yet more kit. If I were to follow this route then I could perhaps see buying two more thermostats and having the hall radiator in a zone of its own, and then creating a 'rarely used rooms' zone - there are a couple of rooms we use less often - these could be set to a consistently low temperature.
This last point does identify a shortcoming of the kit - generally I'd say that it is very easy to use and does exactly what I'd expect. I programmed all the zones very easily and I've learned how to do the over ride with no trouble at all. So the kit is good kit.
Two things I've had a problem with:
1) getting the 'holiday' setting to switch on - just can't make sense of the instructions and none of my attempts have achieved this setting - this is a minor and rare requirement though
2) there is a setting to have some valves delivering more or less hot water to a radiator than others in a zone. I have the apre bedrooms set to -50% but I'm damned if can detect any difference in the temperatures of the radiators.