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Smart-Steam-Radiator "Alexa, TURN ON THE STEAM!"

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

System: One-pipe steam radiator
Goal: A steam radiator controlled by Alexa/Google home, but I'll settle for bluetooth/pre-programed scheduling.


Looking to install a radiator with a Danfoss 013G0140 (Figure 1) Thermostatic Radiator valve. For the air-vent, I’ll likely place a Gorton No. 4, 1/8" (Figure 2), but I am open to suggestions.

The tricky part comes with the “actuator”, Danfoss only sells manually regulated operators for one-pipe steam (Figure 3).

People who actually live in the 21rst century, have all sorts of fancy devices available such as Danfoss ECO (Figure 4).

Unfortunately the Danfoss ECO is not compatible with the 1 pipe-steam according to Danfoss reps. After calling Danfoss, a helpful rep suggested that he has seen customers use the ABRA 24V Thermo-Hydraulic Actuator,(Figure 5) but that would require a separate power supply/controller (such as an arduino). I’m looking for something a little more “user friendly”/packaged.

Does anyone know of a product that might be compatible with the RA 2000 valve (Figure 6). Or is there already a “smart vent valve” on the market? Maybe Danfoss is the wrong candidate?


I’m looking forward to saying “Alexa, turn on the heat” in my studio. 😊

Thank you and have a Happy Thanksgiving!



Side Note: I live in a 960 unit pre-war co-op. Each apartment has a minimum of 1 radiator, most having 2 or 3. A guestimate of 2500 radiators in the complex, and most complain about overheating. I would be proud if I could introduce Danfoss to the complex and raise our NYC Building Energy Efficiency rating, before fines catch up to us.



FIGURE 1
FIGURE 2
FIGURE 3
FIGURE 4
FIGURE 5
FIGURE 6

Comments

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,510
    edited November 2020
    The only way to improve this Condo system efficiency Is to treat the whole system to some overdue maintenance.
    The control system, main venting, and pressure regulation is likely out of whack.
    You could say, “Alexa, call one of the contractors from Heatinghelp to come over and fix this system!”
    To see how effective the TRV might be, turn the radiator air vent upside down, (shutting it off). I suspect it will still heat as the pressure compresses the trapped air inside the rad.—NBC
    SuperTech
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,840
    I love tech and gadgets as much as the next guy, but I think you are barking up the wrong tree.

    If there is condo wide overheating, you have a system problem and no amount of fancy vents and such will fix it.

    As was said, deferred maintenance, pressure too high, oversized boiler, incorrect controls, incorrect settings on the controls.  Many issues that even with your proposal will still be there burning up the fuel.  Those vents won’t stop the boiler from firing.

    I along with some others feel TRV vents only work after everything else is as balanced s it can be, then the TRV can help.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    SuperTech
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,111
    As has been said above, basic maintenance and adjustment on the system is the key. Without that, nothing will help much. Further, without a good understanding of how things work, efforts to change them usually make things worse.

    As has been noted, a TRV is useful only if the underlying system is working properly. Clearly, yours isn't. So... start there. Being a co-op, I have grave doubts that you'll get very far -- co-ops are notorious for skimping on maintenance -- but it's worth a try.

    It is quite likely that you will be able to find some combination of the RA 2000 with an actuator which will at least respond to Alexa, if not do what you want.

    And may I humbly point out that those who live in the 21st century, with their fancy gadgets, are totally dependent on those who actually have their feet on the ground and the wrenches in their hands? There aren't that many of them, but... without them, Alexa is just a figment of your imagination.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    SuperTech
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,844
    @Plant_Tender_Hubert , where are you located? We might know someone who can help.............
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Plant_Tender_Hubert
    Plant_Tender_Hubert Member Posts: 4
    edited November 2020
    @nicholas bonham-carter Thanks for the input, will bring a test gauge and reducer coupling to see my building steam pressure. I don't have a radiator at the moment, so can't test the compression with the vent valve/plug. A lot of residents have old valves that don't fully close with HUGE steam radiators. (15000-20000 BTU per bedroom). Workers have been cutting out old valves and installing new ones. But some residents don't know this is even an option.

    I cut my valve out and threw out the 22 section radiator. Placed an 1 1/4 valve and cap.




    @KC_Jones If radiators are not emitting BTU's as often, wouldn't the steam pressure drop slower, causing the boiler to fire less often?
    I am not even thinking about talking to the co-op yet, just trying to get alexa to turn off my radiator for now. Mostly for my own entertainment/satisfaction.

    @Jamie Hall I'm hoping that most of the residents with heating issues have oversized radiators. Going to test the pressure of the steam tomorrow. For now I don't have access to the boiler.

    Hoping that I bump into someone who knows a compatible fit for the RA 2000!

    Yes, the fancy gadgets are great, only as long as they work.




    @Steamhead Woodside, Queens. Not sure how approachable my property manager is haha.


    Will be updating this post as I put the pieces together!
    Thank you.

  • Don’t forget to turn the radiator vent upside down to close it, and watch the radiator behavior for a couple of days.
    Overheating wastes fuel-would the property manager be interested in correcting that?—NBC
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,840
    Roughly speaking, everything you said is approaching the problem incorrectly.  I suspect you have someone working on the building that doesn’t know what they are doing, which is common.

    I don’t know for sure, but typically on systems such as yours the boiler controls are some type of outdoor reset system that will fire the boiler X amount of time for a given outdoor temp.

    The pressure you speak of is a correct assessment of what a pressure safety will do, but should not be used as an operating control, again that’s a safety not an operating control.

    If residents and contractors do too much wrong over time you could get to a point that it can’t be fixed, or will cost a ridiculous amount to be fixed.

    All valves should be 100% open all the time on one pipe systems.  I’m of the opinion that replacing valves is flushing money down the drain.  That money could be used to actually fix the system.  Closing a valve due to overheating is a band aid and can cause more issues than it fixes.

    On top of all this, the system, as it sounds like it’s running, is costing the residence money.  @Steamhead can tell you stories of fixing these systems and saving residence 30% on the fuel bills.  Your Alexa idea will not do this, no way.

    If this is for fun, have at it, but it won’t fix any of the problems you mention.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,840
    Forgot to add, removing radiators is one of those things that can actually make the overall system worse as you are effectively making the boiler bigger and bigger, which can make the remaining rads overheat worse, causing more rads to be turned off or randomly removed, causing more of the same.

    This is precisely how these large systems can get messed up.  Removed rads create imbalance, that in large part, won’t be able to return.  So then one ends up with your idea, which, in the long term will cost significantly more money to the residents.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,111
    A few minor thoughts here, @Plant_Tender_Hubert . First, steam pressure -- within the normal range of up to a few psi -- has almost no effect on how much heat a radiator will put out. And, by the same bit of physics, the size of the radiator is what determines how much heat it puts out -- and how much steam it will take from the system.

    Provided the steam is there and the air can get out, in the case of one pipe steam with vents, the radiator will heat.

    The real problem with TRVs on the vents -- and why some of us regard them as a last ditch effort to control things -- is that once the radiator has steam in it, it will continue to get steam -- and heat -- until the boiler shuts off. Further, just because the vent is open doesn't mean you will get heat -- you won't, until the boiler starts up again. Very limited control, unless the boiler itself is controlled properly.

    Which brings us to some of @KC_Jones 's comments. Too high pressure is very common -- and very wasteful. It often happens as a misguided attempt on someone's part to correct other, unrelated problems -- which it won't. The only thing it does do, reliably, is waste fuel and damage components -- particularly vents. Boiler controls for a large system such as yours is are not at all the same (except pressure) for a small system. The boiler is usually controlled by a combination of timers and sensors which ensure that steam is available when needed, but that it isn't there from time to time, so as to allow vents to operate. Not an area I'm more than casually familiar with -- there are others here on the Wall who are much more familiar and capable at it.

    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,342
    Sorry but all the fancy controls in the world will never fix bad design / workmanship.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,978
    edited November 2020
    I agree with most of what's been said here except @Jamie Hall s comment.  "And may I humbly point out that those who live in the 21st century, with their fancy gadgets, are totally dependent on those who actually have their feet on the ground and the wrenches in their hands? There aren't that many of them, but... without them, Alexa is just a figment of your imagination."

    Plenty of us use modern things, aren't boomers and yet also pick up wrenches and have our feet planted firmly on the ground.......  


    that being said, it's kind of hard for one person to fix the system in a building when they're just a tenant.  Just ask @JohnNY.   If they don't want your opinion, and won't change anything I guess you just throw your hands up and do nothing?

    Would be interesting to see an electronic inlet valve for single pipe steam that waits until the pressure drops to zero before opening or closing fully........ Would go by room temp and or an app.  You click off and it waits until the cycle ends and then closes etc.    It won't modulate like an air vent trv can, but it may fix a lot of problems for tenants who can't get things fixed and the pressure is kept too high for a trv to fully do the job.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,111
    "Would be interesting to see an electronic inlet valve for single pipe steam that waits until the pressure drops to zero before opening or closing fully........ Would go by room temp and or an app. You click off and it waits until the cycle ends and then closes etc. It won't modulate like an air vent trv can, but it may fix a lot of problems for tenants who can't get things fixed and the pressure is kept too high for a trv to fully do the job."

    Excellent idea, @ChrisJ . And, with modern valves (I'm not opposed to modern -- I just wish people would recognise that it takes hands on work to get them to work at all) such a thing could overcome the usual problem with one pipe of a closed valve leaking steam and causing problems. While it wouldn't modulate, it would serve the function of effectively turning the radiator off when it got warm enough. The trapped condensate would return when it opened at the end of the cycle.

    Takers? Danfoss? Caleffi?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 683
    @ChrisJ I think what @Jamie Hall was getting at was there are far fewer people getting into the trades now days. I learned everything from carpentry, plumbing, electrical ect. from working with my father as a child, he wasn't in the trades either but learned it from his father and grandfather. This isn't happening anymore because most of the baby boomers seemed to have missed this hand down and now we don't teach shop in schools anymore. We need to turn the around because Alexa can't turn a wrench. I am in my late 40's and find I am one of the few in my age group that know the difference between a phillips and flat blade screwdriver.