As we approach the end of the renovation project on our house, we now find ourselves with three heating zones, vs. the two we had before. (The 3rd zone is kind of ridiculous; that’s a different story.)
Having 3 zones pretty well dashes my hopes of outfitting the house with Nest thermostats; yes, we could have the main zone on a Nest, and the others not, but that offends my sense of order. And three thermostats for $750? Sorry, no.
But this got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be cool if thermostats on multiple zones could communicate in order to coordinate boiler/furnace firings, to reduce short-cycling and firing losses? If the zones have a swing of, say, two degrees, one could opportunistically turn on even if it’s within one degree of its setpoint if another zone is firing, thereby maximizing the current boiler firing cycle.
Or conversely, if one zone has low mass fin tube radiators, and another zone has high mass cast iron, perhaps it would make more sense to try to fire those zones separately, and coordinate that with thermostat communication as well.
I had thought about trying to flesh these ideas out into a patent, but realized I don’t have the money or the lawyers to do so. There’s probably already a patent out there, anyway. But if not, here’s prior art & public disclosure. :)
Nest finally has developed an API, as the Radio Thermostat (RTCA) folks did long ago [pdf]. But I’m not sure those are flexible enough to do this kind of coordination very well; it’d work better if it were in the firmware, I think.
Hey Nest? If you like this idea, and you implement it, feel free to send me a thermostat. Or three. :)