11-03-2016 08:19 PM - edited 11-03-2016 08:24 PM
I have a small 5 person 110 volt "Plug and Play" spa that is outdoors on our back deck. The built in electronics are "dumb" at best - a simple mechanical timer that set how often the pump was on vs off, and a thermostat that controlled the heating element. Neither are coordinated for the most part, although the heating element won't run unless the circulation pump is running. The thermostat also seemed to never work perfectly, sometimes overheating the water, sometimes not turning the heating on at all (despite the pump running) resulting in the water getting too cool before it decided to do it's thing.
In the end, it wasn't a great setup. On a really cold day the pump didn't run enough so we'd sometimes find the spa too cool to enjoy when we went out. On a warm/hot day, it often ran too much, wasting electricy. Yes, I could constantly fiddle with the pump settings but it always seemed like it was running too much (wasteful), or not enough (water too cool). To top it off, sometimes the thermostat itself was simply wonky.
So, I set off to do some automation to make it "always pefect!"
Since Wemo directly has no temperature based options, I used some other temperature sensing hardware - an outdoor probe (and inside internet gateway) from Lacrosse Alerts.
I setup the Lacrosse hardware so that would send me an email when the hot tub went below 39C (102.2F) or above 40C (104F, our "ideal" temp).
Using IFTTT I took those alerts and parsed them based on their included text. When the hot tub reaches the low point of 39C (the "Wemo on" setpoint) my Gmail account would receive an email alert (from Lacrosse) with the text "hot tub water cold".
IFTTT was programmed with a reciple to catch this email (via the Gmail plugin) and subsequently trigger ON the Wemo unit that the hot tub was plugged into via the IFTTT Wemo plugins.
So, at 39C the spa starts up, the pump runs, the heating element comes on (I simply "maxxed out" the heating element thermostat so the element was guaranteed to come on consistently), and the water starts heating.
Likewise, when the spa hits 40C (the high point, where we like it ideally), the Lacrosse Alerts system sends me an email with the text "hot tub water hot". IFTTT then parses it accordingly via the Gmail plugin again, which subsequently then triggers the Wemo unit that the spa is connected to to turn OFF.
The spa then basically "goes to sleep" until the water temp drops to 39c again, and the cycle repeats.
Now, my spa stays perfectly between 39 and 40 celsius, and adjusting the temperature is as easy as adjusting the "trigger points" on the Lacrosse Alerts service, either via my iPhone or via any web browser in the comfort of the house.
Now, my old hot tub that was once cranky and seldom perfect...is perfect!
12-15-2016 09:29 AM
Interesting setup. Can you please add some photos or video (much preferred) of the setup in action?
Looking forward to seeing it!
12-16-2016 11:37 AM - edited 12-16-2016 11:43 AM
Hi Vince - short of some screenshots (Which I guess I can arrange) there's (fortunately!) little to see honestly - the hot tub is a plug and play 115V model so it's basically a standard plug which runs across my deck to a power distribution centre. I have the Wemo plugged in there, and the tub plugs into it.
The rest of the setup is all Gmail filters and IFTTT actions.
I've actually had to temporarily disable it and switch back to some manual Wemo timers instead - this is a result of Lacrosse placing some arbitrary limitations on the number of alerts they were willing to send on a daily basis. As the weather got colder and the spa started to cycle on and off more frequently I suddenly found that it wasn't behaving as expected sometimes which I traced back to alerts from Lacrosse not arriving in a timely fashion - I'm still working on that.
As with many things experimentation, sometimes the first attempt becomes an ongoing experiment.
In the meantime my Wemo Insight is still controlling the spa, just in a more simplistic fashion until I can get the issue resolved with the third party.