CHEAP Thermostat Remote Control


Active Member
I've been asked to come up with a way to control a thermostat from a telephone or possibly a PC from a distance. The scenario is that some friends of mine have a cabin "up North" in Michigan and they want to turn up the heat some hours before they get there.

I've been scanning the board a bit looking for a solution, but haven't found a solution that seems easy and cheap enough. They have an old Mac laptop that could be used as the controller, so I thought about coupling that with a z-wave thermostat, but I'm clueless about Mac software. I'd also need something for telephone voice control. The other option is for them to get a cheap PC.

Does anyone else have thoughts or suggestions on this?

Memories of a past project (Dirt cheap, too):

Years back, when X10 was still new, thermostats were mechanical, with bi-metal springs to sense temperature and little mercury-filled bulbs to turn the furnace on. Am I showing my age yet?

You could wire those thermostats in parallel, and if either of them were on, the furnace would go on. If you wired one of them in series with an X10 Universal module, it could over-ride the other thermostat when the module was ON. If you had an X10 phone transmitter, you could turn up the heat from work just before you left for home.

You can still wire thermostats in parallel and there are now UPB and Insteon modules that can act as the Universal Module did (I don't know about ZWave). I'm not sure what to do about the phone part anymore. X10 still has it, but I'm not sure anyone is willing to entrust their heating bill to X10.