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RS-232 Flow control (stepper motor?) valves?


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#1 Quixote_1

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 11:35 PM

Hi everyone,
I've seen valves that can shut off the water supply of a home in case of emergency and I am familiar with electronic sprinkler valves for irrigation systems, but can anyone one suggest some sort of valves that may be used to electronically control the flow of water to a shower or bath? I would like to be able to partially open or close the valves using RS-232 if possible, or even a variable voltage rather than being stuck with an all or none arrangement. That way I could use temperature sensors and adjust the hot and cold water taps to achieve a certain temperature at the touch of a button.
I've spent a fair amount of time searching, but have come up empty. Any suggestions or leads would be much appreciated. Working on W.A.F. and I think that if I pull this off in the new shower I will be good for a while. :D

#2 Rupp

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 06:44 AM

Hi everyone,
I've seen valves that can shut off the water supply of a home in case of emergency and I am familiar with electronic sprinkler valves for irrigation systems, but can anyone one suggest some sort of valves that may be used to electronically control the flow of water to a shower or bath? I would like to be able to partially open or close the valves using RS-232 if possible, or even a variable voltage rather than being stuck with an all or none arrangement. That way I could use temperature sensors and adjust the hot and cold water taps to achieve a certain temperature at the touch of a button.
I've spent a fair amount of time searching, but have come up empty. Any suggestions or leads would be much appreciated. Working on W.A.F. and I think that if I pull this off in the new shower I will be good for a while. :D

If you get something like this to work you only duplicated the work of Hanse, Moen and other fixture supply companies that have these valves already.
http://www.faucet-wa...electronic/3381
http://www.nextag.co...e/products-html

Edited by Rupp, 19 April 2010 - 06:46 AM.


#3 WayneW

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 06:58 AM

Rupp, Do those valves that you linked to support RS-232? I couldn't see RS-232 in their spec sheets, nor any other way to hack DIY control.

#4 Rupp

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 07:37 AM

"using RS-232 if possible" This would just add to the cost and R&D to develop a working system. He may be able to start with the Moen part and add this though. It would be a good place to start rather than reinvent/re-engineer what exists.

Edited by Rupp, 19 April 2010 - 07:38 AM.


#5 shorn

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 08:14 AM

I think you need to be looking at industrial valves and valve actuators. Try searching Google or Honeywell.com for valve and valve actuators. The one I'm sortof familiar with is a ML6984 valve actuator. Not RS232 controlled; rather controlled by 24VAc or other volts. They may have a product that meets your needs (or could be modified/cobbled) though. But be aware that you're getting into to what I think is serious money.

#6 Steve

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 09:24 AM

I read this 3 times to be fairly sure I have an idea what the OP is after and my conclusion is that Rupp is on the right track. I think the OP is after (and please correct if wrong) a shower valve where you can set your exact temperature and probably as a bonus be pressure compensating so when taking a shower and if the washer, dishwasher or toilet is running, the temperature in the shower doesn't fluctuate. So its about shower comfort, not some emergency or other situation.

So that where Rupp is exactly right - don't try to re-invent the wheel! But of course he didn't mention the original/oldest system to do exactly this and its the Kohler DTV system. If you are looking a cool, high tech shower, this is the system. You have 6 users that are all fully programmable for temperature and fixture (it supports 6 outlets/fixtures). It eliminates all the wall 'warts' for multiple fixtures because separate on/off controls are not needed. Everything is controlled in one nice digital display.

Eug from the chat room was the first to put one in a few years ago and I put one in during my master bath remodel last year and we absolutely love it. This is definitely a case where you would be borderline nuts to try to diy your own even if you have all the experience.

If I am wrong, well sorry, but if I'm right, take a look at the link and feel free to ask more questions about it. I can even tell you 2 places that are reliable and least expensive :D

#7 TXFlatLander

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 11:43 AM

If I am wrong, well sorry, but if I'm right, take a look at the link and feel free to ask more questions about it. I can even tell you 2 places that are reliable and least expensive :D


For curiosity sake, what is the ballpark cost for one of the DTV systems complete for parts, excluding labor? Do you remember how many hours it took to install? Thanks

#8 personalt

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 12:43 PM

That moen valve is cool. I guess the question is do you need to adjust the temp or just set it and forget it?


I have a non-electronic kohler version of that valve. I set the temp to what I want and then use a flow control or volume control valve to turn on the shower head - http://www.us.kohler...mancevalves.jsp.


The thermostatic valve does the job of mixing the hot and cold to keep the temperture constant. As the water temp drops off it pulls more hot water as needed. I wouldnt try an re-invent that wheel with sensors. The thermostatic valves adjust on the fly so you dont get a burst of hot water when the water from the tank replaces the cold water coming up the line.

My opinion would be if you dont need to change the temp, get a thermostatic valve that feeds a on/off valve that you can open and close via automation.


If you needed to set the temp maybe you could rig up an interface to Moen ioDIGITAL Series Thermostatic valve. They make a remote control that you could open up I am sure. - http://www.faucetdir...urce=shz_962352
It appears the remote has 4 presets and on/off. I would hack the remote as that would allow you to bouce between the presets and should allow enough flexibility. On faucet direct they list all the optional parts. http://www.faucetdir...ions/MF3103.pdf



If I am wrong, well sorry, but if I'm right, take a look at the link and feel free to ask more questions about it. I can even tell you 2 places that are reliable and least expensive :D


For curiosity sake, what is the ballpark cost for one of the DTV systems complete for parts, excluding labor? Do you remember how many hours it took to install? Thanks



#9 Steve

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 01:19 PM

If I am wrong, well sorry, but if I'm right, take a look at the link and feel free to ask more questions about it. I can even tell you 2 places that are reliable and least expensive :D


For curiosity sake, what is the ballpark cost for one of the DTV systems complete for parts, excluding labor? Do you remember how many hours it took to install? Thanks

It is around $1500-$1700 for the control panel and valve. The rest of it is whatever fixtures you go with. I used mostly Grohe fixtures. Then of course you need your standard plumbing pieces - pipe, fittings, etc. The DTV will also control music, steam and lights is you get the extra media stuff but mine is just the basics.

#10 twilo123

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 02:19 PM

BathOMatic

#11 Quixote_1

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 10:20 PM

Incredible! I've never seen any of these products. Thanks for all of the excellent suggestions.
Those of you that cautioned me against reinventing the wheel make perfect sense and I was only trying to put this system together because I had no idea where to find these things. Definitely more expensive than I had in mind, but perfection comes at a price I guess.

The Kohler looks awesome, but a little bit out of my budget. I would be tempted to spend $15000 on a new shower. Still, I think I am in love. Better start saving. Posted Image

Steve - all you need to start is the control panel and the valve? I was under the impression that you needed the "media server" as well for an addition $2k-something -- or is that just for the music, steam and lighting? Shame you can't just point the control panel to an address on your network and have it play MP3s from that directory.

Edited by Quixote_1, 19 April 2010 - 10:25 PM.


#12 Steve

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 08:30 AM

Steve - all you need to start is the control panel and the valve? I was under the impression that you needed the "media server" as well for an addition $2k-something -- or is that just for the music, steam and lighting? Shame you can't just point the control panel to an address on your network and have it play MP3s from that directory.

No, you don't need the media if you don't want it. I have Nuvo for music albeit I can't control it from inside the shower, but that's not an issue for me. And I could live without the color changing therapy lights. For me it was about just a great showering experience and that's what it delivers. Some of these other devices are new to the scene, like the Moen. But Kohler is already working on its 3rd generation so they've got some history. A good quality pressure compensating thermostatic valve will cost you a few hundred, so in reality this valve is say $500 more. Then on the control panel - well, if you are only going to have a basic 1 or 2 head shower then the DTV is not really for you anyway, but if you plan multiple heads, rain head, body sprays, etc then you have to look at the extra expense of all those separate volume controls and the cost to install them all and there again you will find its marginally more for the one digital control panel. Plus is clean, sleek modern and just plain cool and it keeps all the clutter off of the shower walls.

A 'typical' shower session goes like...

Me or wife presses 1 or 2 on the panel (supports 6 users) and close shower door
We have autopurge on so it then turns on all non handheld outlets to purge water quickly and get to desired temp (each user has their own pre-programmed temp)
When the water reaches preset temp, all outlets but the one setup turns off (each user can choose what outlets are their default, like I have one on one side and wife has hers on other side)
Step into shower and enjoy...
During the show you can turn individual outlets on/off, change the temp or run some massage type programs. The newer (current) model even has some green features like timed off (like for kids - you get 10 minutes to show and that's it).
When you are all done you press the off button and all outlets turn off

If you watch and wait you can usually get 5% or 10% off coupon for faucetdirect or faucets.com and they will match each other. Also if you are doing a remodel and buying other stuff like the shower heads, toilets, sinks, faucets, etc and buy it all from the same place you can call them and they will usually give you an additional discount.

So yea, around $1600 can get you all the DTV bits you need.

#13 Quixote_1

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 10:43 AM

Sweet.

... but if you plan multiple heads, rain head, body sprays, etc then you have to look at the extra expense of all those separate volume controls ...


Are you refering to the cost of the shower-heads, or is there another "volume control" piece of hardware that you need to buy for each water outlet?

During the show you can turn individual outlets on/off, change the temp or run some massage type programs. The newer (current) model even has some green features like timed off (like for kids - you get 10 minutes to show and that's it) ...


Sounds really nice. Do you program all of these options from the control on the shower wall? Can you write your own programs? For example, would it be possible to create a Finnish spa program that would use hot water and then suddenly blast you with ice-cold water? :)

#14 Steve

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 02:56 PM

... but if you plan multiple heads, rain head, body sprays, etc then you have to look at the extra expense of all those separate volume controls ...

Are you refering to the cost of the shower-heads, or is there another "volume control" piece of hardware that you need to buy for each water outlet?

In a 'typical' design with multiple outlets you have the main valve then lines run to each outlet. Each outlet typically needs an on/off or volume control, thats how you turn individual outlets on or off. In that manual system there is extra cost associated with buying all those controls and plumbing them in. With the DTV, both hot and cold inlet as well as 6 outlets are all in the 1 valve body. You simply run from each of the 6 outlet lines to the fixture. There are solenoids in the valve that control on/off so there is no need for the separate ones. Take a look at this for some design theory...

During the shower you can turn individual outlets on/off, change the temp or run some massage type programs. The newer (current) model even has some green features like timed off (like for kids - you get 10 minutes to show and that's it) ...

Sounds really nice. Do you program all of these options from the control on the shower wall? Can you write your own programs? For example, would it be possible to create a Finnish spa program that would use hot water and then suddenly blast you with ice-cold water? :)


All of the programs and controls are built in and accessed from the display pad. There is no real custom programming or control per se. I was referring to some built in programs. Take a look at the manual (ignore all the light and media stuff) for all the settings and options...

Edited by Steve, 20 April 2010 - 02:57 PM.


#15 mdonovan

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Posted 20 April 2010 - 07:29 PM

BathOMatic


Now that's cool. If it had an API for programmers it would be great. I didn't see where it said what it costs, but I think the old saying probably holds true... If you have to ask, you can't afford it. :)

Matt




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