Active Room Control


New Member
I saw the press release of Lagotek's products and got excited by what the company president calls Active Room Control for HVAC. I have been looking into it for a while.

I have a house built in 1988 without dampers for AC so no zones. Thermostat is in the central living area with bedrooms on either side (master and baby's room). The Lagotek system claims to be able to adjust temp based on room people are in with temperature averaging done at night for the master and baby room. You can even refine the control further by zoning and putting in dampers. We do have a significant temp difference between bedrooms and central living area.

I don't plan to spend the money on dampers right now.

I like their system but at $1700 for each wall display (it is cool that it can replace a double wall switch) of which I would likely need 3 plus their $1500 wireless controller and $350 software, is there a cheaper solution than $7K?

I am happiest if I can do wireless (z-wave) but haven't been able to find a wireless temperature sensor (they all seemed to be wired). I would like to avoid running temp sensors in the walls if I could.

Also would like to have the media streaming capability as well.
Suggestions appreciated. I would be happy to invest in HomeSeer, Elk, etc.

If you have a single HVAC source and no dampers what do you expect to use to cause the temperature to change between rooms?

Measuring the temperature is not hard with the RFXCOM wireless sensors. Controlling something is also not hard with WiFi or ZWave.
Various options exist for the brains to implement control logic.

All I see at the Lagotek site is a UI that communicates wirelessly, but what it communicates to still needs to exist so a control can be achieved.

"what do you expect to use to cause the temperature to change between rooms?"

The temp in the bedrooms are always lower (colder) than the temp in the central living. So at night, I want the system to just adjust temeperature based on the bedrooms and not central living. The thermostat is unfortunately in the central living space so we are adjusting up nightly. Also, we are constantly adjusting the temp depending on time of year, etc in the bedrooms at night so it is not easy to just tell the thermostat that at 10PM set this temperature and at 6AM set this temperature because of the variability. This is where individual room temp sensors would help.

Lagotek has their software control that runs off a pcbox (I assume) and the HIP-200 that connects to the pc for wireless interface. The HIP-100 units have temp sensors built in (amongst other coool features). From what I read they operate off of Windows CE and do some of the "thinking" themselves.
So you want the central living area temperature to increase sufficiently so the bedrooms become a more comfortable temperature.

I am familiar with thermostats that have an automation interface and there is a Zwave one available in the ballpark of $200. There are also ones that are serial or IP which can be interfaced using WiFi.

Ideally you would like a thermostat where the sensed temperature is from a remote sensor rather than built directly into the thermostat. You would then feed it the temperature from the room that you would like control to be based. I'm not aware of any of these, but a DIY solution is to monitor the temperature delta between the central living area and the occupied bedroom and adjust the setpoint up by the delta so the control will in essence be based upon the desired bedroom temperature.

In this scenario you would use a PC to command the thermostat's setpoint and receive the bedroom temperature(s) from a RFXCOM temperature sensor. You would use the thermostat to define the desired temperature as you do now and as the source of the living area temperature. These values will be communicated back to the PC as part of the thermostat's bidirectional control interface.

The logic for this is simple, but will need to be implemented via scripting logic since it is custom. I do not think the ELK can deal with the RFXCOM sensors, but they can be handled with the central logic engine in Homeseer or distributed ones in xAP or xPL. There are likely others that could do it as well.

I suspect the simpliest logic in the PC would base the temperature source on the time of day otherwise you would need some form of occupant identification (e.g. RFID, bedpost weight sensor).

This approach is a DIY one, that would cost in the neighborhood of $500+ depending upon approach and what resources you already have. It comes with frustration associated with engineering development followed by a sense of accomplishment.
Frank, Michael:

I did the research and pulled the trigger.

I purchased Homeseer 2 and Z-troller last night (pretty good deal as a package I think).

Going to purchase RCS TZ40 Z-wave thermostat.

Going to purchase RFXCOM Receiver, 3 wireless temp sensors and 1 wireless temp/humidity sensor for outside.

That should get the temp project rolling.

I will likely add MediaLobby when I have the time to get fancy.

As for music streaming, I was thinking of using NetRemote and Girder to run Itunes to Airport Express or alternatively buy the Sirocco Wireless Audio Bridge with JRivers. I like the instant playlist feature of NetRemote.

This should be fun! Time consuming, but fun.

Thanks for the assist and any further feedback is most welcome.

The TZ40 appears to have the multi-sensor input that you desire for your project, but I suspect that it expects these sensors to be hard wired. It should be investigated since use of this feature would be the easiest way to realize your project goals.

You should also pop over to the Homeseer Message Board since you have selected Homeseer as your core element. The support community over there is excellent as well.

I think you are right about the TZ40 wanting hard wired sensors. I was making the assumption that Homeseer could take data (temps) from the RFXCOM units as well as the TZ40, implement the logic you discussed earlier with scripting and adjust the TZ40 accordingly. Is that a wrong assumption? That is how I plan on getting around the hard wired requirement on the TZ40.

The approach I outlined before is still valid where HS logic changes the setpoint. It would be cleaner if the thermostat could accept an external temperature so all you would need to do is feed that temperature from Homeseer rather than implementing control logic to change the setpoint.

If the thermostat happens to accept a Z-wave temperature input just as it accepts a Z-wave temperature setpoint then control the temperature input rather than the setpoint and let the thermostat manage the lower level control loop. All Homeseer would have to do then would be determine which room's temperature it will feed to the thermostat based upon time-of-day or whatever other creative switching logic you wish to employ.
CoolBean said:
The temp in the bedrooms are always lower (colder) than the temp in the central living.
your system needs to be balanced . . by this I mean you need to adjust air flow to the different spaces to achieve uniform temp through out . .

you should have manual dampers on the branch duct runs (hard duct or flex to each individual outlet), usually a small handle locked with a wing nut . . if not, get a local hvac contractor to install them . . then with a couple (3-4) instant read thermometers (one in each room) make adjustments until all rooms are cooling evenly . .

make take a little time and effort to get it right, but will do wonders for your comfort level . .

Pete C
Black Magic said:
Eventually I'll install dampers and then each room will become an isolated zone.
be careful here . . you'll increase static pressure in the duct, causing shortened equipment life, excessive noise, excessive leaking (thru the duct seams/joints), and it's possible you'll blow off a flex run (they're usually only held on by an oversized tie-wrap) . . at most you want to reduce flow by 20% or so (unless your system is designed for it)

I am sometimes a bit perplexed by all the over controlling people want to do with HVAC . . the more you zone your system, the greater the temp difference between spaces . . this causes more heat transfer (from hot to cold), only adding to any inefficiencies. . most residential equipement has been designed to heat/cool the house it's installed in . .

unless your in a mansion (like usm), in which case you need multiple systems (or commercial stuff), or have put on an addition, or have an atypical house (most contractors use rules of thumb (that vary by locality), if your house is not typical, there rules don't work right) . . you should let your system work as designed . .

just balance your system (as noted previously, NO residential contractors ever do this, but alot of commercial jobs require it be done by a independent contractor) and change your filters : )

Pete C
Man Pete, talk about letting the wind out of a guys sails. Just kidding. You have some pretty sound advice and I think balancing the room temps is reasonable. I have heard what you said about dampers before, but when I ask so called experts they deny it.

I still want to mess around with the Z-wave thermostats though.

CoolBean said:
Man Pete, talk about letting the wind out of a guys sails. Just kidding.
(never take me too seriously, I don't, my wife doesn't, there's no reason you need to :lol: )

I'm not against getting the most comfort per dollar out of your equipment, and sometimes this involves additional controls. I also know there are some not-so-well designed systems out there that might benefit from some tweaking . .

just that you should be sure your getting the best performance out of your existing set-up before trying to over engineer it.

Pete C
Just wondering, did you ever get the TS40 to work as you wanted? I have exactly the same problem, where the upstairs is much warmer than downstairs, and want to control the cooling from upstairs temp sensors at night only. I can;t set dampers, since my basement ceiling is finished.

Anyhow, I was looking at exactly the same solution, but don;t know if I can get that level of control over the thermostat.