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Month: May 2013

A Temperature Controlled Whole House Fan with MisterHouse

A Temperature Controlled Whole House Fan with MisterHouse

MisterHouse Web Interface for a Temperature Controlled Whole House FanThe main feature of MisterHouse that sets it apart from other home automation systems is the ability to customize practically every aspect of the system.  The following example is a perfect demonstration of this.

I recently purchased a whole house fan, basically a giant fan that sucks hot air out from the highest point in my house. They are great if you live in a climate with cool nights.

The controls for my fan were very basic, an on/off switch and a two-speed setting.

With Misterhouse, I created an “auto” mode which will only turn on the fan if both the indoor temperature is above a defined threshold and the outdoor temperature is 5 degrees below the indoor temperature.

This is how I did it.

Starting Materials
– A Whole House Fan
– 2 IOLincs, (1 for on/off, 1 for fan speed)
– A MisterHouse enabled indoor temperature sensor (I used my Insteon Thermostat)
– A MisterHouse enabled outdoor temperature sensor (I used data from a neighbor’s weather station through weatherunderground)

I created the following items in my mht file:

GENERIC, house_fan, HVAC|WHF_Group
GENERIC, house_fan_temp, HVAC|WHF_Group
GENERIC, house_fan_setpoint, HVAC|WHF_Group
GENERIC, house_fan_ambient, HVAC|WHF_Group

I also had the following items already setup:

$upstairs_thermo_temp #the temperature upstairs
$w_temp #the outside temperature

First, I set the available states for my generic objects:

$house_fan->set_states('on', 'off', 'auto');
$house_fan_speed->set_states('high', 'low');
$house_fan_temp->set_states('cooler', 'warmer');

Then I tied my generic items to my Insteon Devices:

$house_fan->tie_event('$whf_main->set("on")', "on");
$house_fan->tie_event('$whf_main->set("off")', "off");
$house_fan_speed->tie_event('$whf_speed->set("on")', "high");
$house_fan_speed->tie_event('$whf_speed->set("off")', "low");

Then I tied my Generic temp item to my Generic setpoint item, and inserted some custom code:

sub house_fan_temp_change {
	my ($state) = @_;
	if ($state eq "warmer"){
		$house_fan_setpoint->set(int($house_fan_setpoint->state) + 1);
	} elsif ($state eq "cooler") {
		$house_fan_setpoint->set(int($house_fan_setpoint->state) - 1);

By doing this, I can have a nice cooler and warmer button in the web panel.

Finally, every minute I check to see if the device is in “auto” mode and whether or not it should turn on:

if ($New_Minute){ 
	if($house_fan->state eq 'auto') {
		if (int($upstairs_thermo_temp->state) > int($house_fan_setpoint->state) &&
		(int($upstairs_thermo_temp->state) - 5) > int($w_temp->state)) {
			if ($whf_main->state eq 'off') {
				::print_log("[] Auto: Turning on fan");
		} else {
			if ($whf_main->state eq 'on'){
				::print_log("[] Auto: Turning off fan");

The result, is a temperature controlled whole house fan.  The image above is a screen shot from my web interface.

Insteon RemoteLinc 2 Lacks the Heartbeat Feature?

Insteon RemoteLinc 2 Lacks the Heartbeat Feature?

A heartbeat is a simple broadcast packet sent at a predetermined interval.  The purpose of the packet is to announce to everyone that the device “is still alive.”

The Insteon RemoteLinc 2 is a battery powered insteon remote, that remains in a sleep state when it is not sending messages.  In this state the remote does not listen or respond to any packets sent to it.

As a battery operated device, the remotelinc will eventually need to be recharged, and it would be nice to know when a recharge is needed rather than finding out when the device doesn’t work.  The remotelinc has a command to query the battery level, but this query won’t work if the device is asleep.

This is where a heartbeat message would be nice.  It would automatically wake up the device at a periodic interval, allowing a battery level request to be sent to the device.

Best I can tell, the Remotelinc heartbeat function has been disabled or not included.  The following settings are supposed to control the hearbeat function:

Awake Interval Sets the amount of time the Remotelinc remains awake with no activity. This is editable
Sleep Interval Sets the amount of time the Remotelinc remains asleep, before waking up to send a heartbeat message. The device ACKs my changes, but the settings on the device don’t change.
Broadcast Number Sets the number of heartbeat messages that should be sent every time the sleep interval expires. The device ACKs my changes, but the settings on the device don’t change.
NoIAmAwake Bit A single bit to disable sending heart beat messages, presumably overrides all of the other settings. The device ACKs my changes, but the settings on the device don’t change.

Other users have reported similar problems over at the Indigo support forum.

As a work around, Misterhouse will send a battery level request immediately after receiving a message from the RemoteLinc.  The RemoteLinc will stay awake after sending a message for the amount of time specified in Awake Interval, I set mine to 10 seconds. Battery level requests will only be sent if the amount of time since the last battery level response has exceeded a defined threshold.

All of this works well, except for rarely used devices.  It is possible that such a remotelinc could die without there being a chance to query its battery level.