5 Replies Latest reply on Dec 30, 2018 2:12 PM by beacon_dave

    smart thermostat


      Hi everyone I have a question that hopefully you guys can answer. My dad and I recently installed a propane heater in his work shop. The heater came with a thermostat but it takes a minute for it to heat up. I am hoping to surprise him with something he can use to turn it on and preheat the garage. I have no clue where to start and I thought to make a switch you could text or something that would allow the required power to power on the thermostat and allow the heater to turn on. I have both a raspberry pi and arduino and am open to all ideas thank you for reading my post.


      -Christian Tuchtenhagen

        • Re: smart thermostat

          Hi CJ,


          Sending a text message to switch it on usually requires a mobile SIM, so might not be as practical. If it is within wireless range, then that could be used instead.

          But possibly the biggest issue could be safety related. I don't know anything about propane heaters, but doesn't the bottle/can of gas require switching off at source, if it is unused? Or attended operation?

          I think it could be risky trying to automate that.

          5 of 5 people found this helpful
          • Re: smart thermostat

            You'd probably need to give us a little more info on the thermostat and exactly what you want to achieve. However it might not be the safest thing to do. Any bug in your code or defect in the hardware could cause a fire. Maybe experiment with something that's not safety critical instead.

            4 of 4 people found this helpful
            • Re: smart thermostat

              Defiantly you need to consider fail safe operation,  dont know what is built into the heater already but you would not want to be remotely turning it on and not have it light but release the propane into the atmo, that would be bad,


              A suggestion would be to simply control the temperature remotely, reducing it below the natural ambient will to all intent turn it off, having a monitor to watch a pilot (If there is one) would be a good addition.


              As soon as you start thinking about adding a solenoid to turn on and off the actual propane , you open up a whole bunch of safety concerns.


              You probably wont need anything more complex than an arduino for this but you still need to get connected to it, therefor I would suggest you look at ESP8266 devices, just as easy to program but built in WIFI and very easy to hook into a home automation system

              4 of 4 people found this helpful
              • Re: smart thermostat

                Hey thanks everyone I totally forgot the propane tank had to be on before anything. and I'd rather not be responsible for a fire or worse.   

                  • Re: smart thermostat

                    You may be interested in Tom Igoe's book "Making Things Talk" as it introduces technology in this area.


                    The third edition covers cellular communications similar to what you describe.


                    However as others have already commented, the safety aspects need to be considered first.


                    You however may be interested in one of the author's other projects, which is an alarm system for monitoring gas leakage and connects to a cymbal monkey (alarm bell) via a Digi XBee wireless link. I suspect you could adapt this to use an explosive gas sensor and have it text a mobile device if it detects a leakage. You could also remotely monitor temperature, activity, lights etc. as well.