Category: Heating and Cooling

Qarnot to use edge computing to heat your shower or swimming-pool water

Articles

Yarra's Edge apartment blocks

Qarnot will be satisfying the hot-water needs of residents in buildings like these for free

AMD’s Ryzen Pro is doing double duty as a processor and house heater | PC Gamer

Asperitas and Qarnot Collaborate in Liquid Cooling | Inside HPC

Deal puts cloud computing in boilers and heaters across Europe | EE News Europe

From the horse’s mouth

Qarnot

1500 AMD Ryzen PRO will heat homes and offices next year in Bordeaux, France (Blog post)

Asperitas

Green edge computing partnership (Press Release)

My Comments

Qarnot Q.Rad press image courtesy of Qarnot

using the same kind of technology as the Q.Rad heater

The high-performance computing industry places importance on keeping the processors cool and one way this has happened is to use liquids which works in a similar manner to how the engine is kept cool in most vehicles. This is where a loop of liquid coolant is passed between the engine block and the radiator and heater core to shift the waste heat away from the engine and, in the typical passenger car or commercial vehicle, keep the passenger cabin to a comfortable temperature when it’s cold outside.

In the computing context, it is implemented in some of the most advanced and tricked-out gaming rigs through the use of a water loop and cooling blocks attached to each processor chip along with a radiator that disperses this heat. Qarnot and Asperitas are implementing it as a way of heating water for free using the distributed-computing “micro data center” concept that Qarnot is known for with the Q.Rad data-processing room heater.

This is also in conjunction with Qarnot implementing AMD Ryzen CPUs in the next generation of the Q.Rad because these workstation processors implement perform better than the previously-used Intel CPUs yet yield the same heat output. This is important due to the fact that Qarnot’s distributed-processing market is focused on 3D rendering and visual effects for the movie and TV industry or risk-analysis in the financial industry.

Gaming rig

and the same kind of liquid-based cooling technology used in some of these gaming rigs

But the Qarnot / Asperitas approach to harvesting the processor heat for water heating is focused primarily around providing domestic hot water for the building’s occupants or to heat the water in a swimming pool or spa installed in that building. It would be seen as having a similar environmental and running-cost advantage to a solar hot-water installation used for the same purposes. Let’s not forget that a larger number of the “edge-computing” servers that dissipate their heat in to the building’s hot-water infrastructure using this approach can provide the right amount of heated water that a building needs.

It also yields an advantage for Qarnot either during the summer season or in areas that have warmer climates because they can maintain the distributed processing concept in these areas due to their need to heat water for our year-round hot-water needs.

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Frigidaire offers a window-mount room air-conditioner that connects to your home network

Article

Google Home welcomes 12 new partners in big smart home update | CNET

Frigidaire Cool Connect uses app-linked smarts to chill hot homes | CNet

Dreading summer already? Frigidaire’s smart window air conditioner lets you cool on demand | Digital Trends

From the horse’s mouth

Frigidaire USA

Frigidaire Smart Room Air Conditioner with Wifi Control

Product Page (8000 BTU model / 10000 BTU model / 12000 BTU model )

My Comments

Typically, the traditional single-piece room air-conditioner that was installed through a window or a wall cut-out was never seen as anything special by their manufacturers. These noisy boxes that kept your room cool (or warm in the case of reverse-cycle units) didn’t come with anything special as far as their features were concerned.

Recently-issued models started to come with remote control abilities but could be controlled using your home network thanks to a Tado or similar “virtual-remote-control” kit. But Frigidaire raised the ante for this class of air-conditioner by offering a model that can directly work with your home network.

The Frigidaire Cool Connect air-conditioner can be installed in a window like the rest of these beasts but this is where the similarity stops. Here, it looks very similar to one of the advanced network-capable multiroom speakers thanks to a mesh-like grille that covers the bottom half of the unit. The top edge of the unit has the output vents that blow the air upwards and may limit its installation to somewhere up to halfway up the wall.

As well, the essential controls such as to turn it off and on or adjust the comfort level are simply touch-buttons on the top edge towards the front while the temperature is shown through the front of the unit. There is also a card remote control that you use for managing the essential functions from afar.

But the difference with this room air-conditioner compared to the others out there is that can connects to your home network via Wi-Fi and be controlled using an iOS or Android app. Here, you can control the essential functions or set the 24-hour timer for pre-emptive scheduled cooling such as to have your place cool before you arrive. Here, these functions can be managed over the Internet, which can be good for starting the Frigidaire Cool Connect air-conditioner to get the home cool well before you arrive as a way of dodging that heat-wave.

A feature that impressed me about the Frigidaire Cool Connect air-conditioner is that you can have a cluster of these units controlled as a group. This can be of use with larger areas where a single unit isn’t enough to cool a room or premises down. Or you have individual units installed in particular rooms like a bedroom and the living room but want to manage them both at once for actions like dropping that heat-wave temperature down or turning them off when it’s cold enough.

Let’s not forget that you can use a device that supports the Google Home or Amazon Alexa voice-driven home assistants to control the Frigidaire Cool Connect air-conditioner. Here, you could issue commands for the essential functions like turning the system on or off or increasing or decreasing the comfort level.

What has been shown here is that Frigidaire, now a part of the Electrolux appliance behemoth, is raising the bar for an appliance class often overlooked by many other appliance manufacturers. Here, they have offered a single-piece window-mount room air-conditioner that can be part of the connected home.

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Finnish building-management systems cop the brunt of cyberattacks

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There needs to be a level of cyber-security awareness regarding the design and maintenance of building-automation systems

There needs to be a level of cyber-security awareness regarding the design and maintenance of building-automation systems

Finns chilling as DDoS knocks out building control system | The Register

My Comments

Two apartment buildings in Finland became victims of distributed denial-of-service attacks which nobbled their building-management systems. This caused the buildings’ central heating and domestic hot water systems to enter a “safety shutdown” mode because the remote management systems were in an endless loop of rebooting and both these systems couldn’t communicate to each other. The residents ended up living in cold apartments and having cold showers because of this failure.

What is being realised is that, as part of the Internet Of Things, building-management equipment is being seen to be vulnerable, due to factors like the poor software maintenance and an attitude against hardening these systems against cyber-attacks. Then there is the issue of what level of degraded-but-safe functionality should exist for these systems if they don’t communicate to a remote management computer. This also includes the ability for the systems themselves to pass alarm information to whoever is in charge.

This situation has called out data-security issues with design and implementation of dedicated-purpose “backbone devices” connected to the Internet; along with the data-security and service-continuity risks associated with cloud-based computing. It is also an issue that is often raised with essential services like electricity, gas and water services or road-traffic management being managed by Internet-connected computers with these computers being vulnerable to cyberattack.

One of the issues raised included the use of firewalls that run up-to-date software and configurations to protect these systems from cyberattack.

I would also look at a level of fail-safe operation for building management systems that can be implemented if the Internet link to remote management computers dies; along with the ability to use cellular-telephony SMS or similar technology to send alarm messages to building management during a link-fail condition. The fail-safe mode could be set up for a goal of “safe, secure, comfortable” quasi-normal operation if the building-local system identifies itself as operating in a safe manner.

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Qarnot uses computers to provide free room heat for buildings

Qarnot Q.Rad press image courtesy of Qarnot

Qarnot Q.rad heater is actually a computer

One of the common ways of using electricity to provide room heat in a building is to use a panel or column heater that has a material like oil heated by an electric element.A variant that existed in the UK and, to some extent, Australia was a “storage heater” or “heat bank” that used a heavier material like bricks that stored more heat and was heated during overnight when the power was cheaper. Then this material diffuses this heat in to the room. These kind of heaters are able to provide this diffused heat to take the chill off a room but were expensive to run.

But Qarnot, a French cloud-computing firm, have looked at the issue of using the waste heat from a computer integrated in this heater to heat a room or building. Here, they have designed the Q.Rad which connects to your home network and electrical power and works as a data-server for their distributed-computing effort while using the waste heat to heat a room.

It also implements an integrated power meter so that you can be reimbursed for the power that it uses as part of the cloud-computing network, effectively providing “free heat”. But a question that can be raised for implementation in markets like Australia, New Zealand or, increasingly, the USA is the requirement to calculate transferred data and establish a mechanism to refund users’ bandwidth charges for this data. This is because of the practice where ISPs are either charging for data transferred or throttling users’ bandwidth if they transfer more than an allotted amount of data.

Qarnot Q.Rad exploded view press image courtesy of Qarnot

Processing power inside this heater – the waste heat from that goes to keeping you warm

The data that Qarnot processes using these heaters is typically for the likes of research labs, banks and animation studios where they “offload” calculations in to this cloud-computing array. They also have the ability to seek out distributed-computing research projects of the SETI or Folding@Home kind to keep the network alive and generating heat where needed. For data security, these heaters don’t implement any storage for the distributed-computing client’s data while implementing end-to-end encryption for this data,

Qarnot will implement an “upgrade and replace” program so that higher-speed processors are used in the Q.Rad computing heaters and there is the ability to deal with failed equipment quickly and easily to assure high availability.

Householders are still able to adjust the heater to their preferred comfort level and make it reflect their lifestyle by using a smartphone app or the controls on the heater. This kind of thermostatic control is achieved by deflecting some of the workload away from the heater that is not needed when there isn’t the need for heat output.

They rate the output of a single unit to around 500 watts which would cover a 150-300 foot area in an insulated building. Qarnot are also pitching these heaters as part of the smart-building concept by having them able to be equipped with sensors and being programmable for any IoT / building-automation application. Similarly, Qarnot have added functionality like USB or Qi wireless charging to these heaters so users can charge mobile devices on them.

At the moment, these heaters are being issued to large buildings in Europe and the USA where 20 units or more need to be deployed. But in 2017, Qarnot wants to release these heaters to individuals who want to take advantage of this heating concept. For householders, this may be seen as being advantageous for “always-needed low-output” heating applications such as kitchens, downstairs areas in split-level houses and similar areas.

In some cases, Qarnot could make it feasible to have the Q.Rad heaters provide services to a network, whether as a router, NAS, home-automation hub or something similar. This could be achieved through the use of extra hardware or software to fulfil these tasks.

What Qarnot has done is to harvest waste heat from computing processes and use this for heating rooms in buildings with little cost to the building owner.

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Tado’s smart air-conditioner control now on the scene

Article

Tado Smart Air-Conditioner Control press picture courtesy of Tado

Tado Smart Air-Conditioner Control in action

Tado Makes Your Dumb AC Smart | Tom’s Guide

Video

Previous Coverage

Tado Cooling brings the smart thermostat concept to the typical air conditioner

From the horse’s mouth

Tado

Smart AIr Conditioner Control

Product Page

To Buy

My Comments

Tado previously initiated a Kickstarter campaign to get the idea of a smart air-conditioner control device up and off the ground. Now this idea has successfully come to fruition and is available for regular sale.

Air-conditioner remote control

The Tado Smart air-conditioner controller works with air-conditioners controlled by these devices

The device works like the newer smart thermostats but controls air-conditioners that are typically controlled by an infra-red remote control and adds network-based remote control along with the extras associated with it to these systems.

It answers a reality where there is a large number of these air-conditioners; whether in an integrated unit that installs through a wall or window, a portable unit or the more common ductless-split units; that are in service for a long time. Like with anything that is about maintaining comfort in the home, there is a resistance by most of us to substitute the existing unit unless it has broken down beyond repair or too uneconomical to use.

The Tado Smart Air-Conditioner controller is a white box with a white-LED dot-matrix display that serves as the user display. This has to be installed in line-of-sight of the air-conditioner unit because it substitutes the role of that remote control that the A/C depends on. As well, it connects to your home network (and Internet) via Wi-Fi wireless and also supports Bluetooth Smart for proximity detection.

As well, you install an app in your smartphone to turn it in to a control surface for this controller. But it is not just about setting your air-conditioner’s temperature, fan-speed and operating mode from your smartphone’s display but also about functionality like geo-fencing and IFTTT or HomeKit connectivity.

The geo-fencing, IFTTT and HomeKit functionality allow you to have the air-conditioner turned off when you actually leave or switch it on just before you get home so it is comfortable by the time you are there. As well, the Wi-Fi functionality that the Tado Smart A/C controller provides will also be a godsend to those of you who manage your holiday home or shopfront so you can get these places warm or cool by the time you arrive.

Tado are intending to release a multiple-AC function to this controller soon so as to to allow you to manage the growing reality of places with more than one air-conditioner. This will obviously handle the common situation where there is one unit per room but I would like to know whether this multiple-AC function can handle larger rooms heated or cooled by multiple air-conditioners.

What this shows is a Kickstarter project that satisfies a genuine need as is actually put to market in a real continual way. It is also about gaining more value out of existing equipment by enabling it for today’s expectations.

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The Nest thermostat receives a major firmware update

Article

Nest Learning Thermostat courtesy of Nest Labs

The Nest thermostat now on new firmware

Google’s Nest thermostat becomes a faster learner with major software update | PC World

From the horse’s mouth

Nest.com

Software update product page

My Comments

As the Internet Of Things starts to evolve slowly, there has been news about a home-automation device being “refreshed” with new firmware with the ability for equipment in current use to benefit from the software update.

Here, the Nest thermostat will benefit from a large software update which improves its learning abilities and preemptive operation functionality. Rather than having the user spend a lot of time adjusting the system to suit their lifestyle, this thermostat can learn your requirements more quickly. As well, Google published an API so it can interact with other devices and become part of the “Internet Of Things”.

Google tweaked the operation algorithm using a continual “opt-in” feedback loop involving existing users and this could be seen as a way to further fin-tune any machine-learning or “preemptive operation” algorithms. There is also other functions like time and outdoor temperature / humidity display abilities as well as a “system check” function to help you troubleshoot your central heating or air-conditioning, especially before a season change.

The Nest thermostat will receive the updates by itself as long as it is connected to your home network and the Internet. This allows for a hands-off update process and is an example of what should be done to allow for reliable and secure operation of equipment that is part of the “Internet Of Everything”.

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Another company links the existing air conditioner to the home network

Articles

Beat the summer heat with the Monolyth smart AC unit | Digital Trends

Crowdfunding-Kampagne für selbstlernenden Klimaanlagen-Regler | Gizmodo.de (German language / Deutsche Sprache)

From the horse’s mouth

Monolyth

Product Page

Indiegogo crowdfunding page

Previous coverage

Tado Cooling brings the smart thermostat concept to the typical air conditioner

My Comments

Monolyth air-conditioner controller controlling a window air-conditioner - press image courtesy of Monolyth

This is how the typical room air-conditioner will be controlled

Another company has followed Tado’s lead in providing “smart-thermostat” and home-network capabilities to the existing room air conditioner. Here, we control a lot of the recently-installed, usually “split-system”, air conditioners using an infra-red remote control and this device, along with Tado’s device mimics the remote controls we use for these units.

Monolyth, who are seeking funding through the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform are providing this device which is a black obelisk box that links to your home network’s Wi-Fi segment to enable control from your mobile device or to benefit from various cloud services that it has. Here, you use your iOS or Android mobile device with the platform-specific app to control your air-conditioner and can use the mobile device’s GPS facility to have the AC unit off when you are away to save power or have it come on just before you arrive to get your premises comfortable by the time you are there.

Air-conditioner remote control

The Monolyth air-conditioner controller works with air-conditioners controlled by these devices

Compared to its peers like the Tado, the Monolyth implements extra sensors to determine the comfort level such as barometric pressure, humidity and air-quality sensors. This also works along with learning weather-forecast data to optimise your air-conditioner’s behaviour to the prevailing weather situation.

Monolyth also promotes the concept of using the one app to manage systems on many properties as well as multiple air-conditioners on the one property as is becoming the typical case for most installations.

What I value of these devices is that manufacturers are adding a level of network-enabled smart-thermostat functionality to the existing installed base of air conditioners, thus allowing us to see the equipment serve us for a longer time. It also satisfies the reality that we don’t “dump” heating or air-conditioning equipment unless it totally fails or becomes hopelessly inefficient and would rather add functionality to the existing equipment using add-on kits.

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