Control wall outlet with a wireless wall thermostat? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 10-29-2012, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys...

I have a room heated by two standard electric space heaters (1500 watt, 120v), plugged into standard electric wall outlets. Instead of using their built-in thermostats, I would like to have a wall-mounted thermostat which would send on/off commands to the wall receptacles into which the heaters are plugged in, based on temperature.

I have "chatted" with Smarthome, and directly with X10, and both said no, that product does not exist (I guess it's some kind of liability issue, as it sure seems like a useful product).

I find it hard to believe that no one makes a system/gizmo where an "appliance module", wall outlet, etc, can be controlled wirelessly by thermostat.

Am I missing something? Thanks so much.

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post #2 of 24 Old 11-08-2012, 07:35 AM
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Controlling 1500 watt fire starters is something I'm guessing all automation vendors would want to steer clear of supporting. It's just a phenomenally horrible idea. You're putting the safety of the house at the mercy of a separate, wireless control system? Can you say REALLY BAD IDEA? Let's hope you're at least being smart enough to not bypass or otherwise disable the thermostats on the heaters themselves.

If anything you'd be better served getting a properly installed heater setup. Talk with a local heating company as see what they consider practical in your area. The money spent here will seem trivial compared to the horrific risk of death and loss from a fire.
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post #3 of 24 Old 11-08-2012, 07:46 AM - Thread Starter
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How is controlling a heater by thermostat any different than turning it on with a switch, or with it's OWN thermostat? These units are ALREADY thermostatically operated. And in fact, using a wall/wireless thermostat will not add ANY extra risk, as the heaters own built-in thermostat would still be in use.

These heaters are designed/built to be turned on and then left alone to heat a room...many many people use these as their sole source of heat, turning them on in October, and off in April...if the heaters tip over (and many of them are extremely tip resistant. like, say, baseboard units), they are designed to turn off.

Millions and millions and millions of electric heaters are operated this way.

If electric heaters were a fire risk to the degree you are saying, the feds would have banned them and/or no manufacturer would be making them due to liability issues.

Oh, and thanks for making your first post in this thread full of insults...nice.
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post #4 of 24 Old 11-08-2012, 12:39 PM
 
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Millions and millions and millions of electric heaters are operated this way.

Not with remote controlled outlets.

He has a very good point. I doubt many insurance companies would like this set up either.
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Oh, and thanks for making your first post in this thread full of insults...nice.

there are no insults in his post.
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post #5 of 24 Old 11-08-2012, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by SAM64 View Post

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Millions and millions and millions of electric heaters are operated this way.

Not with remote controlled outlets.

He has a very good point. I doubt many insurance companies would like this set up either.
Agreed... Those heaters are designed and extensively tested using their built-in thermostats and safety controls. They are not tested in an environment where they are controlled by remote controlled outlets. I think it would probably be "ok" as long as the heaters were not modified to lock out any of their built-in safety controls and the remote controlled socket used is sufficient to handle the load, but it would still not be a "recommended" solution.

Can I ask why you want to use a separate thermostat on the wall instead of their built-in ones? It seems on the surface a fairly trivial difference, so there must be more going on than we know.
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Oh, and thanks for making your first post in this thread full of insults...nice.

there are no insults in his post.
Agreed again.
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post #6 of 24 Old 11-08-2012, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by wsalopek View Post

Am I missing something?
Connect an X10 Powerflash module to the contacts of a standard thermostat and you can control the power to your heater through an appliance module.
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post #7 of 24 Old 11-09-2012, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsalopek View Post

How is controlling a heater by thermostat any different than turning it on with a switch, or with it's OWN thermostat? These units are ALREADY thermostatically operated. And in fact, using a wall/wireless thermostat will not add ANY extra risk, as the heaters own built-in thermostat would still be in use.
These heaters are designed/built to be turned on and then left alone to heat a room...many many people use these as their sole source of heat, turning them on in October, and off in April...if the heaters tip over (and many of them are extremely tip resistant. like, say, baseboard units), they are designed to turn off.
Millions and millions and millions of electric heaters are operated this way.
If electric heaters were a fire risk to the degree you are saying, the feds would have banned them and/or no manufacturer would be making them due to liability issues.
Oh, and thanks for making your first post in this thread full of insults...nice.

If I wanted to insult YOU then I would have done that, I didn't and I don't. Don't make me want to.

That someone vehemently disagrees with something you posted and considers it a phenomenally bad idea is NOT an insult. It's an opinion and you're free to demand a refund for the price you paid for it.

I didn't push further into the realm of insurance claim problems. I figured that would be pushing the 'stupid idea' button too hard. I thank the other posters for making that point.

Quite a lot of the time when you hear about deaths and property damage from heaters it's because of half-assed stuff like this and worse. All done instead of just checking what a local licensed electrician or HVAC company would install. Quite a lot of the time it's really not that expensive. And it's ALWAYS cheaper than the costs (life and money) from a fire.

"Many, many people" are stupid. Do you really want to proudly proclaim membership to that club? The market gladly sells products that idiots insist on misusing. The product isn't the problem, it's the misuse or assumptions about what is or isn't 'safe'.

There's a reason the market isn't selling a solution here, because it's just a BAD IDEA.

If you want better control of heat then do a smart thing and ask a local HVAC contractor to come give you some ideas on what they could install. Being SAFE and warm has got to be worth at least checking this first.
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post #8 of 24 Old 11-10-2012, 10:03 PM
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I've seen air conditioners where the temperature sensor is in the wireless remote so it can be placed elsewhere in the room. I guess there are not heaters with this feature available?

Potential reasons for remote sensor:

Heater turns off before whole room reaches desired temp because local temp at heater is higher.
Heater doesn't turn on when part of room drops below desired temp because local temp at heater is still higher.

Possible alternative solutions:

Improve air circulation in room.
Increase setpoints to compensate.

Reasons why putting a relay in front of the heater may be undesirable:

Prevents internal circuitry for soft-start, soft-shutdown of heating coils from working properly (if present), decreasing life of coils.
Prevents other components from operating after heating coils are switched off such as cooling fans, etc.
Prevents safety devices from working properly (if designed poorly). For example if a heater is knocked over while relay is off then relay switches on & safety features are poorly designed then maybe they don't work properly and something bad happens.


But if everything is taken into proper consideration there is no reason why it couldn't be done with a simple thermostat w/ contact closure, I/O module, and remote relay(s). But if the air circulation in the room is not improved this may not have any different effect than simply bumping up the setpoints on the heaters.
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post #9 of 24 Old 11-11-2012, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by az1324 View Post

I've seen air conditioners where the temperature sensor is in the wireless remote so it can be placed elsewhere in the room. I guess there are not heaters with this feature available?
Sure, when a system is designed for something quite a lot of things are possible. But as you point out with startup/shutdown issues with the coils, a control system would likely want to design around things that would put the integrity of the equipment at risk. Doing this from the start with high wattage heaters is certainly "possible" But retrofitting this into a couple of portable use, wall-plugged heaters is unlikely to work reliably enough to be safe. It's more likely a properly evaluated and installed setup would end up being less expensive in the long run.

Don't forget, he's posted using TWO of these high-wattage heaters. What's the likelihood these are both running off the same 15a circuit? The wiring is likely already at risk.
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post #10 of 24 Old 11-11-2012, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

The wiring is likely already at risk.
He is already running them and has not mentioned anything about breakers tripping, so it sounds like the wiring is adequate. In any case, the wiring is not at risk because the breaker will trip long before the ampacity of the wiring is exceeded.
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post #11 of 24 Old 01-21-2013, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

Controlling 1500 watt fire starters is something I'm guessing all automation vendors would want to steer clear of supporting. It's just a phenomenally horrible idea. ...Can you say REALLY BAD IDEA? Let's hope you're at least being smart enough to not bypass or otherwise disable the thermostats on the heaters themselves.

Bill...perhaps we got off to a bad start...but to me, even if "insult" was not the right word to use, it certainly sounded like you were jumping right down my throat and calling me stupid.

Anyway, with the possible exception of the idea that the heaters might get tipped over during a time period when the outlet was OFF (as in, the wall outlet turned off by the possible wall thermostat), and then that the heater's own safety switch would not reactivate when the wall thermostat turns the outlet back on, I still don't see the fire risk here.

1) The type of heater I am using is an "oil/radiator" type...they get hot to the touch, but I don't see them being able to ignite anything...in real life installations, these things must get pushed against couches and drapes and such all the time, and I never hear about any of them starting a fire.

2) The room I am using these heaters in has a tile floor...so even IF the heaters fell over, and even IF the heater's own safety systems didn't work, the tile is not going to catch fire.

3) Homes with electric baseboard heat are ALREADY controlled by wall thermostats...how is my wanting to control a portable oil/radiator electric heater (or portable baseboard electric heater) with a wall thermostat any different than that?

The reason I want to use a wall thermostat instead of the heater's own thermostat is:

1) The heater's own thermostat is simply marked 1 thru 7...no actual temp display.

2) There are TWO heaters, so trying to coordinate two heater dials, each reading 1 thru 7, to a desired room temperature, is not easy (I want this setup to be easy enough to use so that ANYONE can come into the room and set the temp, not someone who must otherwise be intimately familiar with the heaters).

So....

Again...I don't see where turning two wall outlets on/off with a wall thermostat will add ANY extra fire risk...the heater's own switches/thermostats/safety equipment will still be in place....I can't see how the heater cares whether, say, a human plugs it into the wall (and sends power to the heater), or a wall thermostat energizes the wall outlet based on temperature, and sends power to the heater.

I have found products that can control a wall outlet based on temperature (Lux WIN100 Heating & Cooling Programmable Outlet Thermostat), but what I haven't found is a WALL (or handheld/whatever) thermostat that can WIRELESSLY send a signal to the wall outlet to turn off/on.

Thanks guys for all your input.
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post #12 of 24 Old 01-22-2013, 12:04 AM
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Well if you can't find a complete solution you are going to have to break the problem down into smaller problems:

thermostat with output === connects to === controller with input === wirelessly connects to === 2 switched outlets

You could probably hack some cheap stuff together for around $50 but it wouldn't be very reliable. Otherwise you're probably going to spend around $200.

This seems a relatively complete solution:
Quote:
you can use INSTEON Wireless Thermostat as a standalone controller, activating scenes to turn on heaters and fans based on the room's temperature and/or humidity status.

So that plus two appliancelincs and an access point would be $190.

winter's almost over though
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post #13 of 24 Old 01-22-2013, 06:57 PM
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If you insist on heating with electricity and you want wall mounted thermostats, ditch the free standing units and install some electric baseboard with line voltage thermostats. Play it safe.

Current owner of the last/best AmPro on the planet. The mighty 4600HD, and it's still running...better than Barco's, especially southern ones.
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post #14 of 24 Old 01-28-2013, 09:47 AM
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Hi
Reading through the above posts it amazes me that people don't actually read the original post before making statements based on incorrect assumptions?.

For example I saw no suggestion about modifying the heaters . Generally these are designed to cut out in the event of overheating or in the case of oil-filled, the surface temperature stays relatively low anyway.

In this case oil filled radiators or convector heaters may be turned on and off in complete safely - they have no complications like soft start or cooling fans. If you were to buy in the UK these systems are available off the shelf, both built in to panel heaters and with switching outlet adaptors for freestanding units with wireless- mains bourne- signalling from a central controller thermostat-programmer... The heaters all have the original internal manually set thermostats which you set to the highest temp you would want. then if there was a problem- worst case that the system would demand 100% on, the situation would be no worse than leaving them on to operate from their own built in thermostats which will still operate.
Dimplex in the UK make a sytem and something similar should be available in USA etc

There is not much point in suggesting he shouldn't use electricity for heating- you dont know the circumstances - and alternatives are often unavailable.

I have been asked to install just this type of system to update an all electric flat(condo) in London
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post #15 of 24 Old 01-28-2013, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Stephenson View Post

Dimplex in the UK

http://www.baseboardheaterstore.com/DPCRWS-CONNEX-Single-Zone-Controller-by-Dimplex_p_437.html

This actually looks pretty nice but I don't see any switched outlet controls it can pair with. It seems to only be for their heater products.
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post #16 of 24 Old 01-28-2013, 09:34 PM
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Not sure if it's smart or not, but I am sure it works. I've used a similar setup to heat my "office" (Finished 8 X 20 garden shed) for the last 4 years or so. I have a 12vdc wall wart wired through the heating terminals of an old school bi-metal thermostat connected to a 20A solid state relay that in turn switches 120vac to a standard outlet. I have an oil filled convection heater and a small fan plugged in to the outlet. The temperature swing is probably a little wider than normal (I'm guessing it's because the fan circulates cool air while the heater warms up each cycle) but it's been trouble free since I installed it. (Please note - I'm not responsible for any damage or failed attempts anyone may have at this. I'm just saying that if done using a little caution and common sense it will work.)
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post #17 of 24 Old 04-16-2013, 05:03 PM
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I have been using an electric socket which is controlled by a remote battery operated thermostat for about 4 years now. I purchased it in Germany from a company called Conrad. Because of the of the North American plug I had to adapted it. It works great and keeps our sunroom at and even temperature all winter and turns the temperature down at night to save energy. It was interesting to read the various replies and concerns about safety and potential fire hazard. I gues the Europeans don't have the same concerns. Thank God! -- The reason the person wanted such a device was the same as I did. The thermastats in the heaters are next door to useless in controlling temperature and have no way of lowering and rasing the temperature to save energy..
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post #18 of 24 Old 10-23-2013, 07:25 AM
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Just came across this thread as I'm in the same boat. I'm trying to use an oil filled heater to warm an interior room at night, but with the dropping outside temperature plus the furnace runs lower at night, it's hard to control with the knob on the unit. I found two possible solutions. The more difficult one is to buy something like the Honeywell E-connect thermostat, which is designed as an aftermarket attachment for baseboard heaters. Essentially you open the heater, pull out the built in thermostat, and replace it with the honeywell part plus a small external antenna. Then there's a standard thermostat that mounts on the wall. It'll operate multiple heaters from one thermostat. You can pick this up on Amazon for about $150. Downside is that you may have to modify the heater to install this, as it's designed for easy installation on a baseboard heater. Other option is to just replace the two existing heaters with new ones that have the built in digital thermostat control. They would still run separately, and might not be 100% accurate, but better than what you have now and easier that a separate thermostat. Good luck!
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post #19 of 24 Old 11-29-2013, 10:20 AM
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Here are 2 more methods. 1st is building on Dto99's idea of using a commercial thermostat and switch that is designed for hard wire into a base board heater.  Instead of modifying a portable space heater, put the switch module in a 4x4 electrical box from the hardware store.  Get a 12gage extension cord, cut it in the middle and wire it into your electrical box. Use CGBs for strain relief.  Plug it into the wall and pulg the portable heater into the recepticle.  The advantage of this method over modifying the space heater is it avoids the risk of modifying the space heater.  You can't know what air flow or internal temperature zones were designed into the protable heater, so it's best not to fiddle with it.  As BWcan2 said, it seems like someone would sell this product in the USA.  But I can't find one.  The Conrad product BWcan2 referred to is exactly what is needed, but their web site says they won't ship it to USA or Canada due to product liability concerns.  The 2nd idea is to use a digital thermostat that plugs into the wall.  I recommend the Lux Products WIN100 5-2 Day Programmable Outlet Thermostat.  $38 from Amazon.  Just plug the portable heater into this unit.  I have 2 of these and they hold the temperature in a much tighter range than the bimetal thermostats built into the heaters.

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post #20 of 24 Old 12-26-2013, 05:31 PM
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I do something similar in my outdoor workshop. 

 

I have a ZWave Thermostat. In turn I use two LFM-20 appliance modules inside a deep 2g outlet boxes, with standard 20a outlet. This is done due to most Zwave outlets not being able to handle a large continuous load. 

 

Outlet 1: Controls a space heater such as what you talk about. 

Outlet 2: Controls an exhaust fan. 

 

If the temp is too warm, the scene is set in my ZWave Controller to turn on the exhaust fan. 

If the temp is too cold, the scene is set in my ZWave Controller to turn on the space heater. 

 

Also as far as previous posters, and there opinions related to the dangerous of doing, I'm a licensed Master Electrician in multiple States. The OP never mentioned anything about alterations to UL listed heaters, nor doing anything that violated electrical code. As another poster pointed out these space heaters go through rigorous testing to obtain a UL stamp. They have overloads switches, and thermal limiters built in. In my professional opinion, using a automation based system to control said appliances is no more dangerous than plugging it into a outlet and using a outlet based thermostat. I due have heavy concerns about standard X10/UPB/Zwave..etc "smart" outlets in this setup. Most are not rated for a 1500W continuous load, hence using the 20A appliance modules.

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post #21 of 24 Old 02-10-2014, 01:54 AM
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post #22 of 24 Old 10-06-2014, 06:03 AM
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There is nothing risky about what he is asking for, as long as the device can support the maximum wattage of the heater. Definitely don't plug (2) 1500W heaters into any 120V/15A circuit. You simply set the heater for max heat or set the built in thermostat for the highest position, then set the wall outlet thermostat for the desired temperature. The heater will shut off if it reaches some thermal shutdown or if it's own thermostat limit is reached. No difference from plugging it into the outlet directly. I'm doing this in my RV with a Lux WIN100. It's not wireless, but still allows me to get the heater about 6' from the thermostat.
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post #23 of 24 Old 10-06-2014, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by az1324 View Post
Quote:Originally Posted by John Stephenson 

Dimplex in the UK


http://www.baseboardheaterstore.com/...lex_p_437.html

This actually looks pretty nice but I don't see any switched outlet controls it can pair with. It seems to only be for their heater products.
Yep...that's the perfect item...if it could work with the heaters I have.

Thanks...
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post #24 of 24 Old 10-06-2014, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by carhopper View Post
There is nothing risky about what he is asking for, as long as the device can support the maximum wattage of the heater.
Thanks carhopper...
--

Bill

Last edited by wsalopek; 10-06-2014 at 08:24 AM.
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