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The utility installed a 'Power Saver' against my instructions

ArthurPeabody
ArthurPeabody Member Posts: 21
I have a package unit, on the roof. I borrow a ladder from a friend because I only need to go up every few years. When I went to repair the insulation on the access panel, I found screws missing and a bunch of dust inside - it had been clean a month ago, when I replaced the capacitor. Then I noticed a 'Power Saver' unit, a device that lets the utility turn off the condenser when usage is high. When they first installed them, in 2010, I didn't give them permission to install one on mine, I even wrote them a letter telling them not to, but they did anyway.

I figured it out one hot day when my AC blew hot air. Not only had they installed it but it kept on blowing even when the plenum was hot.

They were in the neighborhood few weeks ago, 'repairing' them, so they said. I told them I didn't have one. Not only did they install one, but they must have left the access panel off for a long time, thus the dust, and damaged its insulation. The access panel is hard to install, it fits imperfectly, so they didn't bother putting all the screws back in or doing it correctly.

Comments

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,738
    This sounds more like an issue for your utility commission than for heatinghelp.
    ArthurPeabody
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,150
    Or your friendly State Legislature Odds are very very good that the utility company is required by law to put them on -- we've got to go green, you know.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ArthurPeabody
  • ArthurPeabody
    ArthurPeabody Member Posts: 21
    I mentioned it in HeatingHelp to warn others and to recruit advice from others who have had the same experience. There isn't a law requiring them yet.

    They should install them so the blower stops when the plenum is too hot.

    They shouldn't damage the equipment.

    I turn off the furnace or AC when I leave, turn it off at night. In the summer I put large fans in the windows, front and back, blow cool air through all night. I set the thermostat to 80 in heating season. I'm conserving more by a different method. That also means it gets hot quickly when it stops working. If I have to have a PowerSaver I'll lower the thermostat to a temperature that buffers the room temperature for those times the utility turns it off - and use more electricity.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,955
    All a power saver does is give your utility the capability of shutting your unit down for X number of minuets to lower the demand on the grid. Usually it's only 15 - 30 minuets. With this you get a slightly lower electric rate.

    Contact the utility and request it be removed.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,738

    I mentioned it in HeatingHelp to warn others and to recruit advice from others who have had the same experience. There isn't a law requiring them yet.

    They should install them so the blower stops when the plenum is too hot.

    They shouldn't damage the equipment.

    I turn off the furnace or AC when I leave, turn it off at night. In the summer I put large fans in the windows, front and back, blow cool air through all night. I set the thermostat to 80 in heating season. I'm conserving more by a different method. That also means it gets hot quickly when it stops working. If I have to have a PowerSaver I'll lower the thermostat to a temperature that buffers the room temperature for those times the utility turns it off - and use more electricity.

    It isnt about conserving, it is about reducing peak load so they can use less of the expensive peak load generation.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,334
    edited March 13
    mattmia2 said:


    It isnt about conserving, it is about reducing peak load so they can use less of the expensive peak load generation.

    Agree with @mattmia2, They can cut down on the peak by rolling the off cycle by 15 minutes on all the units programed on channel A, then when A is back on 15 minutes later, channel B is off, then C then D. In any given hour during a given peak load occurrence, at least 25% of the units are off an any given time. (I'm a giving kind of person)

    They are very simple to disable. Usually there are two low voltage wires (they were blue on my unit) that are placed on the yellow wire, (or what ever wire operates the compressor contactor). This essentially stops the compressor and allows the rest of the system circulate cool air for that 15 minutes. and that is often fine when the system is located inside the house.

    It sounds like your system Is on the roof where the sun can bake the supply and return plenum and/or the equipment cabinet making the cool air... not so cool. In your case I would do two things,

    1. Disconnect the unit by disconnecting the low voltage wires only from the control. Leave the power to the unit so the power company can still send the signal, it just wont shut off your compressor anymore. LOL

    2. Put more insulation on your rooftop unit and any exposed ductwork . That will also save.
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    MikeAmannwmgeorgeArthurPeabody
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 19,150
    I expect we will see more and more "power savers" as time goes on, particularly in generation or grid constrained markets (the southwest and California, particularly, but also some of the denser cities along the eastern seaboard). They are not about saving money -- although usually users who accept them may be entitled to a lower power rate (which, incidentally, makes turning them off makes the user subject to theft of services, but never mind that). What they are about is an effort by the utility to avoid using rolling blackouts instead, which are much more generally harmful -- but considerably less so than the consequences of overloading either the grid or the generation capability, which can result in system wide blackouts which can take days to recover from.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,725
    They also do it with 'free' wifi thermostats.
    steve
    mattmia2reggi
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,955
    They also do it with 'free' wifi thermostats.
    They can Keep that POS 
    NEST!!!
    MikeAmann
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,334
    edited March 13
    pecmsg said:


    They can Keep that POS 
    NEST!!!

    Nest isn't the free one that can duty cycle for peak load, usually it is a generic brand-less thermostat with the power provider logo on it.

    And I agree... they can keep that POS
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • wmgeorge
    wmgeorge Member Posts: 222
    Go solar with batteries and just for your AC.
    Old retired Commercial HVAC/R guy in Iowa. Master electrician.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,738
    Will they be liable when the smart thermostat they provided fails and your pipes freeze up?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,334
    mattmia2 said:

    Will they be liable when the smart thermostat they provided fails and your pipes freeze up?

    Nope... Not my problem... As I said before on another discussion, That's why God made Lawyers
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,725

    mattmia2 said:

    Will they be liable when the smart thermostat they provided fails and your pipes freeze up?

    Nope... Not my problem... As I said before on another discussion, That's why God made Lawyers
    You think 'God' made them?
    steve
    EdTheHeaterManJUGHNEMikeAmannreggi
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,334


    You think 'God' made them?

    My sister does, Her son is a lawyer. LOL

    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    bucksnortethicalpaul
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,955
    mattmia2 said:
    Will they be liable when the smart thermostat they provided fails and your pipes freeze up?
    Doubtful!

    they have many more and higher priced lawyers!
  • ArthurPeabody
    ArthurPeabody Member Posts: 21

    It sounds like your system Is on the roof where the sun can bake the supply and return plenum and/or the equipment cabinet making the cool air... not so cool.

    Yes, it is, as I mentioned in my original post. Why do they bypass the blower's thermostatic switch? I only noticed because the temperature in my home was going up. Had it stopped blowing too I probably wouldn't have noticed. I set the thermostat to 80 in cooling season, the hottest temperature in which I'm comfortable when sitting around; to deal with the way this Power Saver works I'll set it lower to compensate for the periods of shut-off - but all the time. I also always turn it off when I leave home. Since it only happens during the day on weekdays I bet they count on users who leave theirs on all the time, never notice.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 5,738
    For cooling the blower runs off of G or Y from the thermostat, there is no thermostatic control in the roof top unit for cooling. They must have put the interruptible service control in Y, ether only to the compressor contactor or from the t-stat and the t-stat also closes G(which is pretty standard to close G on a cooling call)
    ArthurPeabody
  • ArthurPeabody
    ArthurPeabody Member Posts: 21
    mattmia2 said:

    there is no thermostatic control in the roof top unit for cooling.

    I found 4 wires: 2 low-voltage, that intercept the yellow wire from the thermostat, and 2 high-voltage, that are attached to the relay contacts for the fan motor. I assume the high-voltage wires are just getting power. Oddly the 2 low-voltage wires run through flexible conduit through an access hole, the 2 high-voltage wires run outside the the conduit and through a vent slot, which seems like it's just asking to get cut. The utility hasn't gotten back to me yet, despite promising 24-hour reply.

    Thanks for your help.

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 16,557
    You think 'God' made them?
    My sister does, Her son is a lawyer. LOL
    At a meeting with a German manufacturer years ago. A frustrating afternoon with the language barriers. We had Germans, Italians, and me the only one in the room that spoke English only😗

    At day end a German engineer pointed at me and said, “you know what’s wrong with you Americans”. I hadn’t asked but I was at his plant trying to stay calm and polite.

    He told me America graduates 35 attorneys for every one engineer. So instead of engineering great products anymore we just sue each other when things don’t work as expected.

    Not sure about the numbers, but I got the point😚

    Thinking about this, aren’t many/ most if our lawmakers attorneys?  So their motivation is???

    Ever been on a train in Germany or Switzerland?
    Ever taken the “”L” from the airport to  downtown?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • MikeAmann
    MikeAmann Member Posts: 434
    I agree with the German. :)
    EdTheHeaterManPC7060
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,356
    The wiring connections on those devices rattle lose all the time if you know what I mean ;)
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    mattmia2MikeAmann
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 3,334
    edited March 18

    It sounds like your system Is on the roof where the sun can bake the supply and return plenum and/or the equipment cabinet making the cool air... not so cool.

    Yes, it is, as I mentioned in my original post. Why do they bypass the blower's thermostatic switch? I only noticed because the temperature in my home was going up. Had it stopped blowing too I probably wouldn't have noticed. I set the thermostat to 80 in cooling season, the hottest temperature in which I'm comfortable when sitting around; to deal with the way this Power Saver works I'll set it lower to compensate for the periods of shut-off - but all the time. I also always turn it off when I leave home. Since it only happens during the day on weekdays I bet they count on users who leave theirs on all the time, never notice.
    I'm not sure they Bypass anything (as you state). The system thermostat turns on the compressor with the circuit associates with the Y contact on the thermostat and the blower circuit associated with the G contact on the thermostat. The energy saver is breaking the Y circuit only and the G circuit is still operating the fan while the compressor is off. If your air handler was in the basement, as many are, the Sun would not heat up that plenum as it does on your system. However, this does indicate that you may benefit from more insulation over your A/C unit and any exposed sheet metal ductwork that you have exposed the the sun on your roof.

    Mr.Ed
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
    ArthurPeabody
  • ArthurPeabody
    ArthurPeabody Member Posts: 21

    I'm not sure they Bypass anything (as you state).

    They don't. I made a mistake. When heating, the blower turns on only when the plenum gets hot enough, off only after it cools off, not at the same time the gas ignites. I assumed the AC (it's a package unit) works the same way. If it did, then the blower wouldn't keep on blowing after the plenum heated up. @mattmia2 wised me up and I meant to thank him for it in my previous post.

    this does indicate that you may benefit from more insulation over your A/C unit and any exposed sheet metal ductwork that you have exposed the the sun on your roof.

    That'd be nice. It's on a flat roof. I put an extra layer of insulation on the ducts years ago. How do I insulate the box? The top is almost completely filled by the fan, the sides have vent slots.
  • jhewings
    jhewings Member Posts: 86
    I don't think Ed suggests you insulate the condenser. That unit needs free flow of air around it. If your furnace or air handler is on the roof try to insulate that and the ducts.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,074
    edited March 20
    I installed my duct work in my attic and even with R8 and silver reflective foil vapor barrier the duct work would get very warm fast when surrounded by 130f+ attic air if the system wasn't running.

    There's only so much insulation can do with that large of a temperature difference.

    I guess you could try to do thicker than 3" but things get very big and make sure you do not have more than one vapor barrier.



    Edit_---------


    Actually after thinking about it maybe that's not entirely correct.  If the blower is running there's air being pulled through the ductwork so it's not just sitting there warming up.  Maybe it shouldn't really be that noticeable after 10 minutes or so.  I dunno.

      But my biggest dislike with this is humidity being brought back into the space from the wet evaporator.

    That is an issue at least where I live.
    Maybe I need to get some tamper resistant screws for my condenser.
    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
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,955
    The R value is Resistance to heat transfer not blocking the transfer. 
  • ch4man
    ch4man Member Posts: 262
    chrisj has it right. this is my argument against utility curtailment as "they" call it. I do not see how leaving a fan on after the compressor is made to shut off will save energy in green grass climates. at that moment the evaporator is no longer a heat absorber but now a wet humidifier water panel rehumidifying the air. where I live that's the point of an air conditioner, to cool and dehumidify