The heating system being developed at the castle was, until a few days ago, controlled by a small off-the-shelf heating controller. This had small fiddly controls; required multiple presses of buttons to switch between incomprehensible modes; and generally confused operators, including myself, to the point of mis-operation.
I used to fantasise to my friend Andrew about big knobs with decisive clicks, large multi-coloured lights to indicate status, and Internet control so the heating system could be operated off-site.
It was obvious with such a large building that we would eventually have to move to a zoned-heating system i.e. it would be insane to try to heat the whole building at any one time even if we had a boiler that was capable of it. A few manual pipe valves were installed to bring different areas online/offline, but it was clear this was just a short term solution and that ultimately fool-proof electronic control was required.
In short, the existing controller was no longer adequate, and a bespoke upgrade was required. I asked my friend Andrew to get on the case. My only specification, aside from function, was that the new unit should look like a prop from a low budget 1970's Sci-Fi film. A brief that Andrew was delighted, and just a little too keen :-), to comply with.
The marvellous result, shown below, was installed last Wednesday. All 4 switches (3 heating zones and hot water) are under Internet control. There are not quite 3 zones as yet but the controller is ready and waiting! Andrew and I looked into the Internet controllers out there. I would have expected units with 32 switches, but the typical numbers of switches were 1, 2 and 4, so we went for a unit with 4.
Working in IT, I am aware that systems must still work when there is total IT failure, and Andrew is very thorough by nature. There is full manual override, and full mechanical timers - in addition to the software timers available in the App.
At some stage, the castle may need more boilers and more controllers, but the current system is now balanced, easy to control, and running 3 zones would take the boiler to roughly maximum capacity in any case.
|70's Sci-Fi Heating Controller|
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