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    Meet The Cozy (93 Posts)

  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 1:54 PM
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    Meet The Cozy

    I'm helping these guys out as an adviser with the launch of this new product:

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/radiatorlabs/the-cozy-smartphone-controlled-cover-for-your-radi

    I was skeptical at first but then met with them and was massively impressed by the brain power. I believe this is the answer to those buildings where fixing the whole system never seems to get done because of the investment. I think The Cozy is going to be a huge success.
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  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 2:15 PM
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    TRV

    Hi Dan,
    Why is this a better solution than a simple TRV?
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • EzzyT EzzyT @ 3:04 PM
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    Beet me to the punch

    Chris I was thinking the exact same thing.
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 4:36 PM
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    That was my first thought.

    But then I spent some time with Marshall Cox (posting below), who is one of the smartest people I have ever met. I spent a couple of days with him. One of those days was at the Columbia University Lab, where he did his PhD work (electrical engineering). He showed me things that had my head spinning. The Cozy is a minor part of what Marshall has already accomplished in his young life.

    I smile a lot and am not easily impressed. Marshall won me over with his thoughts and ideas on where this product could go. I suggested at one point that The Cozy might be able to run on an app. He told me that he had already written the app. This guy is ridiculously smart. Spend a day with him, or just talk to him here on The Wall. Keep your mind open and just listen to what he has to say. He's doing something very unusual here. It addresses a situation we all know well, and it solves a problem that is years and years old. 

    I wrote this today for the Kickstarter site. It sums up what I'm thinking.I was skeptical at first but I now believe this product is going to be huge. It should be in your bag of tricks.

    The Sociology of Steam




    I went to college
    when I was all grown up and had already been working in the New York heating
    industry for a decade. I chose Sociology as my major because that’s what steam
    heat is all about. Sure there’s some engineering in there as well and Mother
    Nature’s physics, but it’s mostly about people because we live together in
    these old buildings where your floor is my ceiling and those steel pipes run like
    rusty capillaries throughout the whole place.



    And then there are
    the radiators. They looked so innocent during the summer when you moved in.
    They sat there like old people waiting for a bus. You smiled at them. How
    quaint. How old-timey. They looked back at you and they waited.



    Then that first
    frost arrived and the boiler in the bowels of the basement roared and vomited steam
    surging upward and outward and you rushed to control it but the control valve
    has arthritis and the radiator is now pounding while the heat is making you
    gag. So you open the windows and within days, you’re living on NyQuil and
    DayQuil because of that psychotic radiator and that frigid wind rattling your cracked-open
    windows. Roast or freeze? That’s your choice. And for this you’re paying how
    much per month?



    So sociology: You
    call the landlord, the management company, or a meeting of the coop board and
    they take a survey of the building’s community because that’s what this is – a
    community made up of people who are too hot, people who are too cold, and people
    who are just right. None of these people want their rent or common charges to
    increase. You feel like Goldilocks and if you complain enough, someone in
    charge may hire a consultant to look at the problems and the consultant will
    explain that the solution is going to cost money. So the folks in charge ponder
    this for the rest of the winter and wait for spring to arrive because that will
    stop your complaints. In this way, steam heat is a lot like childbirth. Time makes
    you forget the pain.



    But winter is as
    dependable as dawn and before you know it, the same problems are back and that
    calls for more meetings. The consultant reissues the same report he wrote last
    year and, once again, nothing gets done.



    I’ve been watching
    this happen since I came into the business in 1970. We share these systems but
    can never agree on this thing we call comfort, so we put it off until next
    year. And next year is always coming.



    In 1992, I wrote and
    self-published a book I called, The Lost Art of Steam Heating, which I
    thought would be popular in the town of my birth, NYC. The first printing run
    was for 5,000 copies and we sold all of those within six months. What
    astonished me, though, was that we sold that book in every state
    (including Hawaii). Where there are old buildings, there is steam heat. And
    sociology. That book continues to sell and sell because the problems with steam
    heat are as perennial as winter.







    Which brings me to
    the Cozy from Radiator Labs. Marshall Cox, the brilliant mind behind this
    product, doesn’t know that the proper New York (and every other old city) way
    to get things done is to have annual meetings where nothing is decided, interspersed
    by trips to CVS for the Nyquil and Dayquil. Oh, and lots of stress. Nope,
    Marshall Cox just came up with a product that solves the problem of overheating
    and frigid wind roaring through the open windows in the individual apartment.
    He has empowered us all by giving us the ability to control our own temperature
    in our own spaces, without needing to get permission, without needing to scream
    at meetings, and to fix this problem with just a tiny investment. Sure, the
    community living in your building still shares the big system of steam heat,
    but your Cozy-encased, radiators just got a lot friendlier, and you just got a
    lot more comfortable. So skip the meetings and fix it yourself. The Cozy beats
    Sociology every time. 


    This thing works.
    Get it.
    --------------------

    So that's what I'm thinking. I want to spend my old-man years with people like Marshall. Keeps the blood pumping.



     
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  • vaporvac vaporvac @ 3:14 PM
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    Tenant owns it...cost?

    It's a good thing Dan is on the board to help promote it!
    ChrisJ, The Cozy's website says this about TRVs:
    " Unfortunately, these systems don’t work very well for steam heat, and are also known to fail relatively quickly. It’s very hard to control steam!"

    I think the main reason these would work is because most management isn't interested in getting their system to run properly or don't think it's possible. With the Cozy, the tenant buys them and can take them to their next apartment. I don't know the price point they're considering, but it may be cheaper than a TRV. Plus, no tenant is going to want to pay to install one. For these reasons, it's probably a winner.

    However, I take issue with their presentation of steam which continues to promote the stereo type that it is impossible to control EVER! and is the worst possible heat EVER! Some owners probably think this is the case and so will never even attempt to fix their systems.
    I can't comment on how well one-pipe systems run, but two are the bomb. It's just a shame that the steam system gets the blame rather than the humans maintaing it. Still, if I were in this situation and had no control over fixing things, I wouldn't care. I'd just want to be comfortable. So yeah, I'd be interested.
    This post was edited by an admin on February 9, 2014 3:22 PM.
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 4:44 PM
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    You're seeing what I'm seeing.

    And you know that I love these systems and understand fully how to make them efficient when the folks in the building want to ante up the money, but that often doesn't happen and The Cozy fits into that gap.

    I have no problem with the words they're using to describe Steam as the enemy. They are marketing to people who feel that way and I understand marketing very well. That approach is one of the things that had me sitting up straighter in my chair. These guys are coming at this from a different perspective than the one most of us have. They are acknowledging the reality that most apartment dwellers are confused by, frustrated with, and desperate for a solution. They're selling the solution, and that's why this think is going to be huge.
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  • Patrick_North Patrick_North @ 9:40 AM
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    A bad taste.

    Frankly, I'm put off by the claims they've made about TRV's. Perhaps this product fills a special niche the TRV can't serve, but let's be honest about it. I emailed them a while back in regard to some of their more laughable assertions ("there's no r.o.i. with TRV's because you need to replace them every year") but never heard back. They seem to have refined their marketing message without changing the product.
    Now they say a TRV on steam radiators requires "plumbing?"
    Only in America.

    Patrick
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 9:51 AM
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    Same

    Is this the same company that did that? I thought it looked familiar but wasn't sure.

    My silent zero energy consuming TRVs have been in use for 3 years now.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
    This post was edited by an admin on February 10, 2014 9:52 AM.
  • Patrick_North Patrick_North @ 9:55 AM
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    Yep.

    The same.
    Patrick
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 11:05 AM
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    Cozy

    Hi Patrick,

    We don't mean to insult TRVs! They're great! All that we're saying is that there are, as you point out, instances where TRVs can't fix the whole problem, and that's where the Cozy comes in.

    I just searched my email and found that you did, indeed, email me a couple of years ago. I didn't respond, and I sincerely apologize for that. I try to respond to every email that I get. Your email was full of really useful information - amazingly informative, and almost certainly was part of the puzzle that lead us to connect with Dan. Thank you for that, and again apologies for the lack of a response.

    Our research has come up with evidence that TRVs actually don't have a compelling payback period in some installations - via a combination of installation error, *user error*, and, yes, reliability issues (steam, or rather, demineralized condensate is just too caustic to interface with reliably for long). There are certainly professional installations where this is not the case!

    We're also targeting those individuals for which a TRV installation is outside of their ability set - where any kind of modification on a plumbing system would constitute "plumbing". The idea that the Cozy can be user installed (or professionally installed in minutes), while still bringing value to a building-wide optimization, is a very important to us.

    We're always trying to make our product better and better - we've gone through dozens of iterations on cover materials, fans systems and electronics, enclosure dimensions and configurations - all to try and make it work better and be easier to control and install. And we're still trying to make it better! We're not trying to denigrate TRVs - but we are trying to get the word out that in some cases the Cozy might be competitive and, sometimes, better.

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • Patrick_North Patrick_North @ 11:37 AM
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    Never mind.

    A valuable skill of the modern age: know when to abandon an
    online argument.


     Good luck with the Cozy.


     Patrick
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 12:11 PM
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    Patrick, I felt the same.

    When he first got in touch I told him he was nuts, but then he asked me how he could get to be not nuts, so we had a couple of days of talks and I told him a lot of stories about the real world and still wasn't convinced. The turning point for me was the Columbia Lab. Seeing what he has already done that goes WAY beyond the Cozy, his willingness to listen, his ability to take advice and learn quickly, his ideas for where the product will go, and his level of enthusiasm (this guy is ridiculously positive) made me see the Cozy in a new way.

    I'm enjoying listening to all the comments, especially the skeptical ones, because they remind me of where I came in on this. Keep 'em coming!
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  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 3:29 PM
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    Cozy vs TRV

    Thanks Dan for posting the link!

    Hi Chris and Ezzy,

    I'm the founder of Radiator Labs - it's a great question that you've asked - let me see if I can put the Cozy in perspective with TRVs:

    The biggest (and most obvious) difference between the Cozy and TRVs is that the Cozy doesn't require plumbing, and doesn't come into contact with steam. It's designed to be extremely easy to install, and is the same Cozy whether you're installing on single pipe or two pipe steam, or even hot water systems (where TRVs do a great job as well).

    But for steam systems, the Cozy has a much easier time controlling room temperatures. For example, a single-pipe system might completely override a TRV for entire boiler cycles (where the TRV doesn't sense a "warm" room until all the air has escaped from the radiator), the Cozy continuously adapts to the room environment with a low-power (and very quiet) fan.

    The critical thing to realize about how the Cozy works: when a room has warmed up to a user-determined set-point, the fans turn off and the inside of the Cozy starts to heat up. When, in a steam system, the inside warms to 212F, additional steam that enters into the radiator thermodynamically cannot condense, and thus continues down the line to another radiator, almost as if we had installed a valve and it had closed. As an added bonus, if the room then cools down after this, even if the boiler's switched off, we have about 30 minutes of heat stored right in the enclosure that we can draw from to keep the room comfortable.

    Please chime in Dan if I missed anything! I'm also very open to any questions the community might have - the level of engagement here is fantastic!

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • Ban Ban @ 4:24 PM
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    Could it make a well-balanced and in tune system off-balance?

    I feel like this system is a great idea for the tenant who lives in a building with a steam system that is poorly managed and over pressure. I wouldn't feel comfortable about this if one of my residents put one of these on the radiators. I suppose in a well managed steam system you wouldn't necessarily have the desire to purchase this in the first place so the point may be moot, however there are individuals who desire absurdly high temperature settings. Currently and in the past we have met these demands as best we can by use of adjustable orifice valves like Maid-o-Mist, allowing the spaces with the larger orifice to be warmer while still making sure that the system as a whole is tune and in balance. I would be concerned this device (especially many of them) would allow spaces with device fitted radiators to become more comfortable while at the same time causing other units without the jacket to become less comfortable. Radiation and convection would no longer be happening naturally with the fitted covers. I suppose it would be fine if all of the radiators in the building had it--possibly.
    Richard Ban


    Detroit, Michigan (Dunham 2-pipe vacuum)
    This post was edited by an admin on February 9, 2014 5:02 PM.
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 4:38 PM
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    I think

    the tenants will talk to each other and follow the success of the ones who are more comfortable and not opening the windows. People are like that. 
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  • Ban Ban @ 4:55 PM
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    Will it throw off the balance or not?

    The buildings are in balance. The buildings are insulated, with insulated windows, and insulation in the attic. Solid masonry walls with a studded air-gap on every exterior wall for more comfort. All of this was thought through very well. The system has all of the proper piping, both near boiler and otherwise with amazing venting and all of it controlled by a tekmar 279 with full use of all temp sensors. We know the building is balanced at a very comfortable and balmy 72 degrees, we worked very hard to get it that way. We want comfort for our residents, we want to reduce our energy use to--no windows are ever open. Tell me this will jacket will keep the system in balance in a functioning system.
    Richard Ban


    Detroit, Michigan (Dunham 2-pipe vacuum)
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 5:16 PM
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    If everything is working that well

    then you have achieved success! Well done. The Cozy is for tenants that want comfort in apartments where management won't do the extensive work that you've done for the whole building. What I like about the product is that it gives individual tenants power in those situations. It also saves fuel and for the reasons Marshall listed below so everyone wins.
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  • HoyteKing HoyteKing @ 8:05 PM
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    If the condo association will not listen

    This sounds like an option where a condo association is run by a cabal that will not listen to logic, but will turn on someone who does like rabid dogs on going after a bone.

    Where there is no talking with people who cannot solve a problem after 9 years of trying, there is a market for the Cozy.
  • Ban Ban @ 5:21 PM
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    I am still thinking this through.

    It is hard to digest new things. We work so hard to make everyone happy. I suppose this device in a sense is doing that. I suppose in a well functioning steam system it wouldn't necessarily affect the efficiency, perhaps just some minor balancing.
    Richard Ban


    Detroit, Michigan (Dunham 2-pipe vacuum)
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 5:25 PM
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    Exactly.

    No matter how much we do, people will each perceive comfort as something unique to themselves. This offers a targeted solution to that. It's simple, yet so tuned into what people are interested in right now. I mean who else offers an app that can control a steam radiator?

    These guys don't know what can't be done, so they just go ahead and do it.
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  • SWEI SWEI @ 5:51 PM
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    Perception of comfort

    is not all about comfort, either.  A good bit of it is psychology, as we learned on a recent hotel project.  Despite a near-perfect ODR curve delivering stable room temps (within 2ºF) there is a certain percentage of customers who simply can't handle the the lack of a thermostat they can adjust.  We're getting the controls finished up and are printing up an info sheet explaining the nature and benefits of radiant heat in order to better manage customer expectations.
    This post was edited by an admin on February 9, 2014 6:04 PM.
  • JUGNE JUGNE @ 6:55 PM
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    I think it will sell

    It is a generational thing, look at all the faces on the site, even Dan looks younger than me now!! lol. They all like things connected to the web/wireless/smart phones etc.  This gives someone control over that part of their lives.  But for instance... "the hissing noise will be muffled"...that steam leak (not proper) used to just raise the humidity level and maybe comfort level but now will condense under the cozy and who knows what may grow??  There is a word for it that escapes me being on the wrong side of 60,,,is "bling". Don't know.
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 7:17 PM
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    It's not a hermetic seal around the radiator

    It's reflective on the inside and it's killing the convection until it's needed. I wish you could all see this in real life. I'm not easily convinced, and I blew this off when I first heard about it, but then I went to see it and I shut up for a while and let them talk. These guys are very, very smart. 
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  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 7:07 PM
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    Moisture

    Moisture escapes steam vents constantly under normal operation even long before the steam gets to the vent.

    Not sure if that is a problem for something like this or not.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 7:14 PM
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    Not a problem,

    They thought that out.
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  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 7:50 PM
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    Balance in full buildings

    Wow - lots of questions and lots of answers from Dan - thanks!

    I think one of the main questions here is how the Cozy affects other spaces in a building. Since the system limits overheating, that excess energy has to go somewhere - usually to near apartments, but the effects would be very similar to those of a well-functioning TRV.

    If installed in a building that is already well balanced, the Cozy shouldn't have much of an effect at all - if the apartment is already comfortable, the Cozy should pull the same amount of energy out of the radiator, so nothing should change. One thing that our system can do that might offset this balance, however, is allow tenants to set different temperatures for different parts of the day - like a night set-back, for example. Again, this will push a bit more energy elsewhere in the building.

    In the extreme of this case, where a significant portion of the building installs Cozy's, a different situation will arise. We're currently running two full-building pilots at Columbia University, and when you get to this level of deployment you really need to tie the system into the building controls so that the boiler doesn't go crazy (short-cycle and/or fight our system).

    In these full building situations, there are some interesting things that we can begin to do. For instance, we now know the temperature in every room and at every radiator. In addition to being able to control where heat goes in the building, we know exactly when and for how long we're going to want the boiler to run. Additionally, we can take into account weather forecasts, and we can even let some people who want there apartments to be hot, stay hot, while still reducing the majority of the temperatures in the building to comfortable levels.

    One of the aspects that I'm particularly excited about is the ability to diagnose building issues. If we find that a few apartments in the building are cooling down faster than others, we can diagnose that they have issues - perhaps bad window casing or other similar problems. Since we have so much data on how the building runs and consumes heat, we can project how much energy/money can be saved by upgrading the envelopes of specific rooms. While we're still in the early days here, it's pretty exciting stuff.

    Looking forward to more questions!
    -Marshall
  • JStar JStar @ 9:01 PM
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    Cozy

    As a businessman, it's a cool concept. It probably will sell quite well.

    As a technician, and steam purist, I see this as a plug-in band aid. Why not spend our focus and funding on the root of the problem: poor management, and lack of resources. This is like an old cartoon joke, where a city is being overrun by rodents, so they import a massive population of snakes to eat the rodents. Pretty soon, they are overrun by snakes. So, in come the hawks! So on and so forth.

    I guess I'm a bit of a leddite to some extent. I don't like cars that can park themselves, or cameras that can recognize faces. Don't get me wrong, I completely embrace technology (typing this from my company's iPad). It's just upsetting that every answer to our problems seems to be geared towards implementing more complexity and less personal accountability.

    What's that saying? No individual snowflake believes that it's a part of the blizzard? And nobody seems to look outside of their own apartment to solve a problem.

    Sorry for ranting completely against your product. I'm sure you've heard all of the negative comments before. I'm looking forward to being convinced otherwise.
    - Joe Starosielec
    732-494-4357
    j.star@thatcherhvac.com
    http://thatcherhvac
    http://facebook.com/thatcherhvac


    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.

    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
    Consultation anywhere.
    (Formerly "ecuacool")
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 10:40 PM
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    Cozy

    Hi Joe,

    No need to apologize! We welcome skepticism - it helps us check our own beliefs and come up with not only compelling evidence but better products.

    In the worst case, the Cozy is just what you describe it as, a plug-in band aid - useful for just those people that you describe, who live in buildings that are poorly run and/or under-resourced.

    But on the flip-side, I think the Cozy can be used to great affect in helping balance buildings while giving flexibility and control to individual tenants. Consider that all the data we collect - such as minute-resolution temperatures on radiators as they warm up and how hot they get - can be used to diagnose faulty air vents both on main risers and individual radiators - data that can be used to help more quickly balance buildings.

    A properly running building is certainly a glorious thing - Dan has certainly instilled that belief in me. But the amount of control that a Cozy can grant even on top of a perfectly running building - temperature control adjustment for day versus night, real-time feedback on system health from room temperature and radiator temperature analytics, alarms that could warn an owner (or landlord!) if temperatures become too high or low, and the ability to adjust heat flow in all kinds of weather. We even have some more advanced research coming out of our lab where we're able to store hours of heat in each Cozy, allowing room temperatures to stay constant (flat line!) while allowing normal boiler operation. I would argue that the Cozy could make steam heat - even in a perfectly run building - even better.

    When you get down to it, we're trying to address a root problem; radiator-level heat control and the lack of "control" that a tenant has. The Cozy provides these functions, all while bringing that critical operational information back out of the apartment to be used for the betterment of the building.

    Thanks, and, as always, please feel free to express any doubts or concerns that you have about the system. The most important people to convince of the Cozy's worth are right here in this community!
    -Marshall
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 6:47 AM
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    Joe, you're making me smile.

    I went at Marshall the same way you just did. My first thought was that he was reinventing the wheel because we have TRVs that will do the same job. He listened to everything I had to say and he never argued with me. Then he asked if I ould come into the city and visit with him. That's when things started to change. You have to meet the man to understand. He doesn't argue. He shows all sorts of respect. He listens like mad and he thinks like a scientist. If someone tells him he's wrong he considers that he might be and then sets out to find out if he is indeed wrong. I don't meet too many people like that.

    So here's what happens next: You visit and he shows you what they're doing and all the science behind it. You make a suggestion and he comes back to you a couple of days later with that suggestion implemented, only with a few other things you hadn't considered. He then asks if that's okay?

    Marshall is talking about future features for the Cozy that make my jaw drop. I'll let him tell about all of that when he's ready, but please believe him when he says the stuff he's saying below.

    Thanks for engaging him. The more you do that, the better Marshall gets.
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  • Eastman Eastman @ 10:17 PM
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    I also think it will sell well.

    Probably will have a bigger impact than the Nest.
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 10:44 PM
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    Nest

    Tell that to Google!
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 11:06 PM
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    Nest

    I used a Nest V2 for a few hours.

    I have no idea what Google was after, but it wasn't that thermostat.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • Eastman Eastman @ 11:36 PM
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    Tony Fadell

    I think they really wanted Fadell and his team. He headed the iPod team while at Apple. The success of Nest establishes their track record in the electronic product consumer design sphere. Google hasn't had much luck with real hardware.
    This post was edited by an admin on February 9, 2014 11:42 PM.
  • Joe V Joe V @ 10:15 AM
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    The band aid issue aside,

    What kind of aesthetic changes are you going to make to make it appealing to the eye (sorry, I have a wife of 25 years and I know without asking what she would say-she would love to lower the temps in a couple rooms with oversized radiators but not at the expense of decor.  Form over function, you know.)
    And, what do you anticipate selling these for?  
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 11:28 AM
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    Cozy aesthetics and pricing

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the message - we know that aesthetics are super important. For that reason, we've brought on a pretty amazing designer who's going to make it look great.

    Here's a rendering of what we're envisioning:
    http://radiatorlabs.com/?page_id=9

    You can see our early thoughts at pricing on our Kickstarter page (~$299 - this is the price of the unit as we get started. Down the road, hopefully, we'll make enough so that the price comes down).
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/radiatorlabs/the-cozy-smartphone-controlled-cover-for-your-radi

    Kickstarter is a site that allows companies to ask people if they want to buy into an idea. In our case, that idea is the Cozy.

    I hope that answered your questions!

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 11:36 AM
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    size

    Is there a size limitation?
    For example, would it work with a 20 section radiator rated for upwards of 12,000 btu/h?
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  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 3:20 PM
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    Cozy Size

    Hi Chris,

    Good question.

    There is no technical limitation for how large of a radiator can be fitted with a Cozy - the only question is how powerful the fan, or fans, must be to push the correct amount of heat to the room.

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • Greybeard Greybeard @ 11:40 AM
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    Rube Goldberg

    Assuming this Rube Goldberg device is not part of an engineering school satire, I have some questions and concerns.

    When there is a call for heat and the fans are running full speed, to what extent is the amount of heat transferred to the room affected by the Cozy?  In steam terms, does a 20 EDR radiator act like a 10, or what? This question is related to the balance issued raised by another poster.   Conversely, how much heat is transferred when the room is hot and the fans are off?  

    You say the fans are very quiet.  How many decibels at one meter?  Right now I'm being driven crazy by a computer fan that used to be nearly silent, and for which no exact replacement can be found. (Thanks Dell.)

    Dan assures us that the moisture released by  air vent is not a problem.  I wouldn't be so sanguine.  Since the Cozy was designed for poorly maintained systems I would want the design to be able to deal with sputtering air vents as well as dripping shut-off valves.   I have holes clear through the hardwood floors under shut-off valves that dripped for decades.
  • BoBoBoB BoBoBoB @ 12:05 PM
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    More elegant than RG

    It's not really a Rube Goldberg device. It's a radiator cover with a thermostat instead of a cover that you have to manually open. Dan talks about using radiator covers to adjust the effective EDR in his books. This just takes that idea to its logical conclusion.

    Regarding EDR, it will obviously depend on the setpoint. I'd love to see Marshall show some data on the extreme case: what happens if you have the fan always on or always off? In the always-on case, does the fan cause more convection than would occur naturally, allowing you to hit a setpoint higher than in the absence of the cover completely?

    I still don't get why TRVs are technically inferior, at least in terms of preventing overheating. Yeah, I guess you need need to adjust the setpoint when the outside temperature changes a lot, but otherwise don't they get the job done? Is the lifetime of 2-4 years that you're throwing out really accurate? What is the failure mode? I can see the user interface here being an improvement, but similar interfaces are available for European TRVs.

    This is a clever solution to trying to solve a problem that comes from the tangled incentives present in a landlord-tenant relationship. Tenants are the ones that want temp control, but they don't want to coordinate with the landlord to get equipment installed. TRVs are probably cheaper than the $300 Cozy (even including labor), but the tenant needs to coordinate with landlords, supers, plumbers, etc. Not to mention most tenants probably have no idea that TRVs even exist.

    The Cozy solves this problem. You have have to convince the tenant that spending $300 for a radiator cover to fix a problem that's not even their problem to begin with is worth their time/money.
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 12:10 PM
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    Digital TRV

    I've also seen the digital operator Danfoss sells for their TRVs. It's even programmable.
    I assume we don't have it here because no one will pay for it.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • BoBoBoB BoBoBoB @ 12:18 PM
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    Digital TRV

    Well the wireless Danfoss ZWave-compatible actuators are about 50GBP. That doesn't include the valve itself, and it's hot water only (natch), but it's only a small premium over the dumb dial/sensors sold here.
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 12:17 PM
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    TRVs

    Love them and have been working with them since my old boss took on Danfoss in 1972. The challenge, though, is many landlords don't want to install TRVs because of the piping involved and the possibility of breaking pipes. I've head that soooo many times. And we've all seen TRVs installed improperly, with sensors sitting on hot pipes, or heads getting broken off the valves. What I like about the Cozy is the ease of it. I thihk that's what's going to make this thing big.
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  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 12:19 PM
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    Fair enough

    One last question before Dan smacks me. :)

    If I'm a tenant in a fairly pricey building why would I want to spend $300 to fix something the landlord should pay to fix in the first place?
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • BoBoBoB BoBoBoB @ 12:33 PM
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    I suspect

    Because if you want to be comfortable and don't want to spend your time fighting the management to fix the problem, it's your only solution.

    I think there's also a very NYC mindset that comes into play here too. Definitely a je ne sais quoi thing though.
  • BoBoBoB BoBoBoB @ 12:27 PM
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    Tell Cozy/Marshall that!

    See, *that* answer makes sense--lot's more sense than the wishy-washy "TRVs don't work" nonsense that pops up on their official material.

    I'm not sure that changing from TRV to Cozy fixes dumb temp sensor placement though...
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 1:31 PM
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    Cozy

    Hi Bobobob,

    Great question - the amount of heat we can throw out to a room is very dependent on our fan power, the insulation values of our covers, and delta T.

    Currently our fans push about 50CFM at top speed - this is what we estimate a moderately-sized radiator will convect. Our enclosures themselves, very much like oven mitts, are warm to the touch and are designed to conduct enough heat to warm an apartment during a warm winters day. Also - in response to a previous question - our fans right now produce about 20dB at one meter - and just in case, we turn them on and off very slowly, over the course of about 2 minutes, so that it's barely noticeable.

    As we develop the product more, we'll be integrating more control and more rigorous testing as to what CFM is required for different sized rooms and radiators. The system is designed to be swappable so more or less fan power can be easily added or removed. We're also planning on developing the integration of a louver near the top to control passive heat loss from the device, with fan to boost the flow during greater need.

    I've attached a graph showing the temperature of one Cozy system over the course of two days - it's not a world of data, but it shows what we can do. The circles are put at 6am for both days (which are consecutive). The set-point is 74F with a 1F deadband. This happens to be my apartment, and the temperature this winter has been perfect. My apartment is a testing ground for all of our new systems, so we change parameters all the time, thus the short data set.

    A primary failure mode for TRVs, as I've gathered, is degredation from de-ionized water. Any water that evaporates leaves behind all the minerals that it used to have. Because of diffusion kinetics, when this water condenses and is very pure, it will leach material from anything that it comes in contact with. This includes the TRV, and eventually causes the enough harm that it ceases function properly.

    Thanks again for the questions! I'll try and keep up with them - and will try to answer each and every one,
    -Marshall
  • BoBoBoB BoBoBoB @ 2:46 PM
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    Color me skeptical

    So, not that I expect you to be a TRV expert, but I find that explanation suspect. Most mentions by pros here indicate that TRV failures are usually due to abuse, and otherwise due to debris. Most reports seem to indicate decades of use. Personally, I can't imagine that the tiny tiny tiny amount of water that contacts the TRV is sufficient to somehow substantially degrade the materials. The debris thing is a bit of a mystery too, though maybe what happens is little bits of rust from the pipe get blown into the valve. I also get the sense that the actuator fails too,

    As Dan pointed out, TRVs aren't perfect. But short of tenants breaking them, their failure seems to be much less frequent than you imply and building managers that post here seem to love them.

    I would consider rewriting your TRV FAQ. The difference is that your system comes in a box that a renter can install in 10 minutes, whereas a TRV needs pro installation, landlord approval, etc. Additionally, yours is (I think) the only programmable and wifi-accessible thermostatic radiator control option available for steam in the US. Those two selling points are what you should rely on to differential yourself from TRVs, not something wishy-washy like anecdotal reliability. (IHMO, of course).
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 3:08 PM
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    Shade of skepticism

    Hi Bobobob,

    I'm certainly no expert on TRVs!

    Our position on TRVs is mostly from speaking to people in the industry, with a lot of input from Columbia University, who doesn't install TRVs anymore due to a variety of issues (they're the largest residential real-estate owner in New York City, after the City and the Catholic Church).

    In any case, I think you make a good point that we're being too tough on TRVs - so I've changed our FAQ to be a little less draconian in our evaluation of them. Thanks for the input - I really appreciate it!
    -Marshall
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 4:39 PM
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    I'm with you on that last thought.

    I don't see TRVs as the competition to this. I think this is totally unique at this point.

    I did see something a few weeks ago that really got my attention. I was visiting the Arsenal in NYC's Central Park. This is a landmark building and was the original Museum of Natural History. It's in the zoo, across from the seal tank. I was there with some friends from the Parks Department. Someone had installed Danfoss TRVs years ago but never bought the operators so the valves were nothing more than wide open valve bodies. The valves all had the original caps to protect the stems. I removed some of the caps and the stems were completely corroded. Some were leaking steam into the caps. These valves had never moved in all those years, which may be part of the problem, but they got me thinking, and what Marshall wrote has me thinking even more. 
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  • Pumpguy Pumpguy @ 1:43 PM
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    Just curious

    Seeing as how pumps are my thing and I don't get involved in boilers, radiators, and such, I am curious about one thing though.  Often, the radiators I see are surrounded by cabinetry, permanent covers, grills etc.  How would the Cozy be used in these situations?
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  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 1:57 PM
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    Cozy + Aesthetic covers

    Hi Pumpguy,

    That's a really good question.

    Quick answer: it will work fine - but the enclosure *may* need a small modification.

    The Cozy we're developing is designed to be a semi-rigid enclosure - that can stand on it's own and provide all of the features of an aesthetic cover.

    But it also has removable inserts that give it this structure. So if you wanted to put it on the inside of your own Aesthetic cover, you could remove this rigidity to do so easily. The only thing you need to make sure of in this case - is that our fan unit, which sits outside the enclosure, can get its air-duct into the enclosure. The duct we're going to use will be about 1-2" in diameter, so in the worst case would require a hole drilled into the side of the aesthetic cover.

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • MarkS MarkS @ 8:13 PM
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    Some questions

    Hi Marshall,

    The before and after charts of room temperature regulation are pretty impressive, and I'm sure this thing works as well as is claimed. What I'm not clear on, and Ban touched on earlier, is the impact to the performance of the boiler once a complement of Cozies is installed. I'm sure you guys have a lot more study data than you've published on either Kickstarter or your web site. I'd be interested to know:

    1. Did you evaluate the steam systems before the Cozies were installed? Things like near boiler piping, main venting, boiler rating vs EDR of the connected load. Think "WWDD" - What Would Dan Do?
    2. Did you/are you monitoring boiler factors such as run time and pressure, both before and after the Cozies were installed in the test buildings?
    3. If all the Cozy's on a system are shut off, is the boiler prone to short-cycling?
    4. What happens to the boiler firing rate/pattern when a Cozy is installed in in the apartment or dorm room that contains the common building thermostat?
    5. How much power does the Cozy draw? Any fuel savings claimed would need to be offset by this.

    Thanks,
    Mark
    Homeowner, Royersford PA | 1890 one-pipe steam system | 3009 sf | 3 floors | 14 radiators | Utica SFE5200S boiler
    Midco LNB-250 Modulating Gas Burner | EcoSteam modulating controls | 70 to 300 MBH |
    607 sf EDR connected load | Operating pressure: 0.5 oz/in2
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    This post was edited by an admin on February 10, 2014 8:13 PM.
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 6:22 PM
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    Questions

    Hi MarkS,

    I'm sorry I missed this post earlier - these are really excellent questions.

    You're absolutely right about the Cozy effecting the boiler burn dynamics. I don't have any good data for you right now, but the two buildings that we're piloting in are being monitored in every which way you could imagine, including run-time, pressure, stack temperature, radiator temperature and room temperature, both before our retrofit and afterwards. There are absolutely some interesting dynamics involved - we'll have a lot more data at the end of the heating system, nicely packaged! I'll be happy to share it once we have it.

    If the Cozy is installed in an apartment with a boiler temperature sensor, and the setpoint of the cozy is below that of the building, than that boiler temperature sensor will continuously call for heat. There is the potential for an issue here, but it shouldn't be any more of an issue than if you had an overactive tenant who micro-managed his radiator valve, or a well-tuned TRV.

    The power draw of our system, in it's current state, is about 10 Watts when the fans are on, and about 0.5 Watts when the fans are off. We design our systems so that the fans only have to be on during cold weather - so the average draw is going to be somewhere in the middle there - about $2 a year in electricity, if our calculations are accurate.

    Thanks!
    -Marshall
  • PMJ PMJ @ 8:15 PM
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    2 Questions

    First, would it be correct to say that the Cozy approach turns my radiator into a forced air convector only - there is no more radiant heat. Some of us do really like that part.
    And second, can the fan CFM be big enough to actually condense more steam in a radiator than was possible before the Cozy - that is effectively raise its EDR value significantly above the chart value. I am not a landlord but if the only problem in my building was needing to slow down radiators that were too hot then the Cozy would be doing me a big favor. However, if this device gave tenants the power to pull more heat into their apartments than was possible before and dump the excess out the windows I might not be so happy. Any experience I have with unlocked thermostats on heating devices in public places is that they end up on full blast - always. Could the total EDR of the building system be raised significantly if the fans are big enough?
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 8:18 PM
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    Radiant

    PMJ, you feel greatly reducing the radiant output is a bonus?
    To me that is by far the biggest negative.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • PMJ PMJ @ 8:34 PM
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    Didn't mean to suggest that at all.

    I love the radiant part. Not sure where you got that I felt reducing it was a positive.

    In the second part I was suggesting only that if the Cozy ended up primarily reducing the total output of radiators in my building that I was supplying too much steam to then it would be saving me money -  that is all. I found myself wondering about the reverse - could the Cozy actually increase the total output of a radiator - all through convection.
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 8:36 PM
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    ah

    I'm sorry my mistake, I read it as "some of us really like the part about no radiant heat".
    If output can be increased, another theoretical problem would be water hammer due to water not being able to leave the radiator fast enough.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
    This post was edited by an admin on February 10, 2014 8:39 PM.
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 8:57 PM
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    Cozy

    Hi PMJ,

    Excellent question.

    Right now we are blocking radiant heat - just like an aesthetic cover will. We've been looking at more transparent IR materials, but that would be down the road.

    As for heating up cold apartments - there's a way of doing this that we're experimenting with, but is not ready for a commercial product. The idea is coupling a large thermal mass to the radiator, essentially storing a lot of thermal energy inside of our Cozy, and then pulling from that reservoir over time, increasing the net heat transfer to the room. The basis is that air isn't that great of a thermal conductor, but if you put another big piece of thermal mass in contact with a radiator, it will allow faster condensation than would otherwise occur. We haven't yet seen any issues with water hammer, as ChrisJ points out, and I think that's because the process averages out over the entire boiler on cycle.

    So' the quick answer is yes - with an experimental addition to the Cozy (that we may make available next year) we can heat up cold rooms - but it's still experimental.

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • BoBoBoB BoBoBoB @ 9:39 AM
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    Raises an interesting point

    Another test for your docket: Can you measure the temperature of the output air as a function of the CFM setting? That should tell you the point at which you're limited by the radiator --> air heat transfer rate, and should give you an idea as to the maximum EDR of a fan/radiator combo.

    This is fun to think about.

    Oh, and to address the radiative component, your baseline should be an IR thermometer aimed at your cover and the bare radiator. I wonder if switch to black from the white/silver of the radiator overcomes the difference in surface temperature...

    Some back of the envelope math: the radiative power of a body scale with T^4. Assuming a surface temp of 80C for a bare radiator and 50C for the Cozy, the bare radiator would emit about 40% more power. Considering the emissivity of the Cozy will be close to 1, but the emissivity of metallic paints can be as low as 0.4 or so, the Cozy may actually have little net effect on the effective radiative power.
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 12:41 PM
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    Emissivity

    Hi Bobobob,

    That's a great point. We've been playing around with using slightly different materials on different portions of the cover - IR reflective on the back and top, and a high-emissivity (or IR transparent, which is more difficult) on the front. We haven't yet done the power transfer calculation though - great thinking! We would want to keep the front surface at a safe temperature (for children et cetera) - 50C might be a little warm but with the right level of insulation we could dial it right in that neighborhood and do exactly what you're saying. Very interesting!

    Thanks again,
    -Marshall
  • ttekushan ttekushan @ 7:47 PM
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    In the real world it's a good idea.

    Those of us who have balanced large steam systems know that the trash talk about steam heat's inherent wastefulness and unevenness is pure BS and ignorance.

    Having said that, the potential to correct balance problems doesn't matter in many if not most situations where the tenant is powerless to change The Way The System Works. (You can take "System" to mean anything you want!)

    In reality, when one actually encounters the owner or operator of a large, wasteful and inefficient steam system, they have that certain shrug with a "that's just the way steam heat is" attitude and look at you like you're a delusional thief if you suggest remedies. You learn (as the steam person or a hapless tenant) it's just one of their truths that they live by, and you don't want to upset that world of theirs. Sometimes it's just futile. Self fulfilling prophesy? Yes. They're in control of the heating system and you're not? Yes.

    The $300 is worth not having that entanglement. Besides, you could sell it to the next tenant.

    And while a TRV should have been provided by the landlord for units that overheat due to solar gain, at least you don't have to worry about snapping that poor bulky thing off at its 1/8" fitting while moving furniture. Or dancing at a wild party.

    There's something attractive about a totally non-invasive approach to remedying temperature control issues. And that it is controllable by the user at any time whether they're there or not, just makes sense in this day and age.

    Even though the idea of a cozy is not new, of course. nor is the idea of baffling the heat source and controlling air flow given all the thermostatically controlled cabinet heaters and convectors with dampers, a slip-on remote and thermostatically operated retrofit makes inherent sense to me. If the radiator's kept hot with a big muff, then it condenses less steam. It's that simple.

    I think it'll fly. The reality of what people truly experience says so. BTW, people in these buildings should have noticed that opening a window to cool down an apartment or dorm room doesn't really help when the system's running. It's the corollary to the above statement. The cold air will cause the radiator to condense more steam, increasing it's output. It simply wastes more energy than covering the radiator. The Cozy solves this problem too.

    I'm looking forward to the details on the thermal storage technique that can increase the temperature of a room whose radiator is inadequate for the heat loss. Anything that can sink the heat from the radiator will condense more steam in a given period of time. Sounds intriguing.

    Good luck!
    terry
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 8:22 PM
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    Thanks, Terry.

    You're seeing what I'm seeing. A few days ago, Tom Friedman in the NY Times wrote a column about this book: http://www.amazon.com/Second-Machine-Age-Prosperity-Technologies/dp/0393239357/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392167716&sr=1-1&keywords=the+new+machine+age

    So I read it, which is what I do because I have time on my hands and am forever looking to learn. The book is an eye-opener, especially in the way it explains the problem with measuring a country's progress by looking at GNP and not the effects of the Second Machine Age, which often involves taking old ideas and combining them with new ones. And that's what Marshall Cox is doing with this product.

    I'm sitting up straighter and paying serious attention here, and for all the reasons you stated. And more. Thanks.
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  • HoyteKing HoyteKing @ 9:08 PM
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    technology is our future - really?

    Are we replacing religion with technology as a faith?

    http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-religion-of-progress.html

    Is what we are measuring based upon false premises?

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/eroi-charles-hall-will-fossil-fuels-maintain-economic-growth/

    What is our future in a world where limits are being reached?

    http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/02/06/limits-to-growth-at-our-doorstep-but-not-recognized/#more-38795
  • Joe V Joe V @ 8:02 PM
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    RadiatorLabs

    I think you are ready for your appearance on Shark Tank!
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 9:52 PM
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    Short and Sweet

    Seems like a good product, that I was completely turned off to, by the soliciting of donations.Donate your money to a homeless shelter, so they might be able to put oil in the tank. Sorry, trying to keep it real.
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 12:10 AM
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    Crowdfunding

    Hi Paul48,

    There is a lot of confusion surrounding crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo! There is, truth be told, an aspect of donation, where people feel so passionately about a product or idea that they donate money towards it without reward, but the vast majority of the pledges at Kickstarter, where we're running a campaign (and where this thread links to), are in exchange for the product itself.

    In essence, Kickstarter is a place where companies like Radiator Labs go to try and sell an idea. If enough people sign up for that idea, by saying that they're willing to "buy" the idea, then the funding goes through, the company develops their product, and that product is delivered to the customer - just as if it were sold to them in a store. However, if the project is not funded to the amount specified, no money is exchanged at all, and the project is cancelled.

    We're certainly not trying to solicit donations. We're trying to build, and sell at a fair price, a product that we think can make a difference. I completely agree - if you're looking to donate money give it to someone or something that is truly in need.

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • RDSTEAM RDSTEAM @ 8:52 PM
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    ..

    What happened to rad covers? I'm assuming this would be marketed to single pipe systems considering two pipe is adjustable. Most apartment building are two pipe and considering its not the tenants money to waste, most people would probably rather crack the window and waste the fuel than purchase a radiator snuggy. Good luck though, it does look pretty neat.
  • gcp13 gcp13 @ 2:01 AM
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    easy way out

    i could see building management companies catching on and offering this
    and neglect their heating system even more!
    i constantly see overheated buildings
    open windows and management companies that do not keep up with
    their systems, but this would just add to it.
    good for tenant bad for contractor
    the best way we can fix the systems is by tenants communicating
    and pushing the owners to maintaining the heat
    if they all have cozys no one will speak up
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 9:20 AM
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    Easy way to get the data out

    Hi GCP13,

    That's one of the nice things about the Cozy - we're constantly keeping track of the temperatures that our systems see and when we see indications of infrastructureal problems we can and will share that information. We can share it with building owners and even contractors, taking the tenant, who may not even know that their apartment is operating inefficiently, out of the equation.

    The Cozy allows people to take active control over the temperature in their apartments, making them feel empowered and comfortable, and gets that critical, actionable, operational data into the hands of people who can act, in an infrastructural sense, on it.

    I think it will be great for contractors!

    Re: the last comment (which for some reason I can't respond to.. I keep getting an error)
    While it is unquestionably true that many people would rather crack their window than buy a Cozy, I know that there are many more that would rather just be able to directly control it. I created the first prototype in my house for this exact reason. But I certainly get your point!

    And I love that some people call it a radiator snuggy!

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 9:46 AM
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    Longevity

    Have you had issues with heat and electronics? How are you not burning up fan motors? Are components field servicable, and reasonably priced? Does it pass the "Mom" test? Could my mother, easily replace any component?
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 10:15 AM
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    Fans

    Assuming the fans they are using are like the double ballbearing 120mm+ fans I use on PCs and assuming they are using them to pull cool air I wouldn't think longevity would be an issue. Quality fans in this size last a long, long time. I think a few of the 120mm fans in my pc are over 10 years old now.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 10:39 AM
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    ChrisJ

    Think they live in, and pull heated air. You're pulling cooler air to cool the PC components. Different application. I think.
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 10:41 AM
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    Air

    My assumption was they were intake fans and blow air into the cozy. Would make more sense to me than subjecting them to 180-200F air.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 10:52 AM
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    Agreed

    It makes more sense. I can't tell from the pictures where they reside though. And what about when they room is not calling for heat(no fan)?
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 11:51 AM
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    Temperature resistance

    Great questions.

    Our fans are rated for 13 years at 80C - but we do push cold air into the enclosure to keep our electronics cool. You're absolutely right though- high temperatures are bad for these components and, while we haven't had any problems yet on any of our prototypes, it is cause for concern.

    Primarily for this reason, and for replacement / servicing reasons pointed out in an earlier post, our next generation system is going to completely separate the electronics/fan housing from the enclosure. In addition to keeping things cool for longevity, this allows for much greater installation flexibility, and we can design the systems to be more easily retrofitted - potentially so that they could even pass the "mom" test (though that is a high bar indeed!).

    Excellent questions - this community has really identified some of our most important and challenging design questions in an amazingly short amount of time!

    Thanks again - and keep the questions coming!
    -Marshall
  • Paul48 Paul48 @ 2:18 PM
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    Marshall

    Have you ever taken apart a really old mechanism, and been amazed at how "beautifully simple" the design was? That's what you're striving for. I know it's not always possible, but you want people to look at your work, and say,"why didn't I think of that"?
  • gcp13 gcp13 @ 3:19 PM
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    Temp. Monitoring

    I like the idea of monitoring all the units
    Temp. And relaying the info to the management
    Hoping they fix issues with the heat, but if fixed doesn't that
    Kill the need for your product?
    Good intensions but in the real world your cozy lives for the disfunctional
    Heating system. The more you help to repair the system the less useful your cozy is

    Seems like you should also make easy remote sensors for all units
    With a program the building can use to help find trouble spots
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 3:48 PM
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    Temp control

    Hi GCP,

    I don't think that it makes the product any less useful - while temp reporting is a great benefit in the beginning that, with proper follow-through declines in value with a building-wide balance, all of the other benefits of the Cozy remain. Just the knowledge for a tenant that they can set their own temperature is worth a ton, in addition to being able to change night setbacks, alarms, et cetera.

    Great suggestion! We are planning on having smaller sensing units available that can tie into our larger network. Thanks!
    -Marshall
  • PMJ PMJ @ 7:33 PM
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    Tenant Control

    It would seem that the condition the Cozy helps the most with is one where a tenant's radiator(s) currently are putting too much heat into their apartment. In its current form it would do a great job of reducing that amount of heat and would allow them to reduce the temp on a schedule of their choice. To do this with the current proposed product the tenant must spend an amount per radiator yet to be determined and must give up whatever enjoyment he gets from the radiant heat (currently about 40% of the total) and settle for all forced air convection. If he in fact does spend this money and actually stops opening windows to get rid of this excess heat the landlord paying the gas bill would benefit too. The basis for this happiness all around would be only if the current condition is excess heat. If, in fact the most common problem is too much heat this could be quite a deal for the landlord - that is if a significant number of his tenants used Cozys and actually condensed significantly less steam in their apartments than they were before and actually didn't dump any heat out the windows anymore. And, the tenants would be putting up all the money that produced the savings - and, by the way, pick up all the downstream maintenance of that equipment too.
    But all the above assumes that currently the landlord is providing significantly more steam in total than is required to heat his building.
    If, however, the significant problem in a building is balance due mostly to lack of maintenance I'm not sure the Cozy helps anyone but the hot tenants. If I close a supply valve on a radiator with a broken trap where steam is not needed it is available elsewhere on the supply line. If I cover that same radiator then doesn't even more steam go into the return past the broken trap than before? Steam not going where it is desired has more to do with drooping supply lines and broken traps and clogged vents than lack of supply. The Cozy only limits consumption in some areas. It cannot be assumed that steam saved (not condensed) in a radiator covered with a Cozy where the available heat was not needed will necessarily be available to help tenants that are too cold.
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 11:09 PM
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    Steam Traps

    Hi PMJ,

    That's a great point that you make, and something that we should watch out for. In single-pipe systems, I think that in most cases our effect is just like closing the valve on a radiator, but in those two-pipe systems where there are broken traps, we will be letting more through a blown trap than if the valve was closed.
    This just makes it all the more important for our system to be proactive about informing the powers that be to try and keep a building well maintained. One of our test buildings right now incorporates a steam trap monitor - we're measuring temperature before and after the steam trap to see if we can identify blown traps. Our hope is that with this system we'll be able to diagnose blown traps in real-time, and ideally to be able to actively combat the very problem that you identify. Something to watch out for!

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • PMJ PMJ @ 9:44 AM
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    Real Time Data etc.

    Marshall,
    I agree about the one pipe result. Do you or does anyone else have an idea about the percentages of 1 vs 2 pipe systems in apartment buildings overall? I think we can agree that the over all impact of installation of a lot of your product on 2 pipe systems might have significant and unknown impact on the system overall.


    With regard to real time feed back that too might have interesting results. Fundamentally, the main driver of interest in your product is an existing dysfunctional system so any feedback that actually results in system improvement works against you long term. But then long term it would appear that steam is dead anyway if the government continues to outlaw it with its incentive programs and the knowledge base and number of skilled contractors who could possibly fix these systems declines anyway. I suppose it will take a lot of years to replace all these buildings or systems with something else if incentives don't change which they probably will. It would seem that you would have an ample supply of dysfunctional systems for many years to come.


    But back to a question I was interested in earlier. In its current form can your unit pull more heat into my apartment than I have now even if I currently have enough? That is if I really am at 70 now average and am basically happy can I get myself even higher by something - even a couple degrees with a Cozy? Can I take off my sweater and go to tee shirts and shorts if I want to? I am guessing that a big enough fan would do this. What I am getting at is that if landlords really can see actual temps in tenants apartments and learn that they are at temps higher than they think they really need to provide what then? I am just thinking that all this information would change the dynamics of the situation with unknown results. This is not really your concern and I don't bring it up as a reason not to market your product. I'm just saying things might get interesting. Now I curious what I landlord would need to pay for this information. Also, would the tenants who buy the product have a choice as to whether to give you their information or not?

    Peter
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 4:03 PM
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    RTD

    Hi Peter,

    That's a great question - I've looked very hard to try and find an answer.

    This doesn't get us to an answer, but it's a start: My understanding is that pretty much the majority of buildings over 7 stories are 2-pipe (because the pipe-sizing required for ~8 floor steam is too big to be human-tightened). There are obviously 2-pipe systems in shorter buildings - but I just don't know how prevalent they are. The US Housing Survey states that about 20% of the buildings in NYC are greater than 7 floors. So we're a tiny bit closer to an answer, for what it's worth. If anyone has a better idea I would really love to know!

    Agreed that there might be some effects of the Cozy on two-pipe with broken valves that we'll have to watch out for. This is definitely something that we'll pay very close attention to in our two-pipe full-building pilot. I really do appreciate you pointing out the potential for system conflict there!

    In terms of pulling out more heat than otherwise - in our current prototype as well as the system we're going to build for the Kickstarter (the commercial Cozy), our system is not designed to extract more energy from the radiator than usual. That being said, we plan on integrating an augmentation down the road that will allow this - but there's a limit to how far you can take it (limited by the thermal coupling between the thermal mass and the radiator). It's possible to really grab a lot more heat out - so I think that you're right - there is potential for abuse here.

    But - when you get down to it, depending on who 'owns' the system (landlord versus tenant) we can enable limitations in setpoint, and there will always be a limit to how far you can go in augmented heating and cooling.

    I completely agree - there is a lot that can happen when you start recording information like this. As long as the information is handled responsible I think we can do some very exciting things.

    Really intriguing thoughts!
    -Marshall
  • PMJ PMJ @ 5:59 PM
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    RTD etc.

    Marshall,
    Thanks much for the responses. I would think with the millions of tenants out there you will find a lot of interest in your product.
    As we just observed, there is the potential here to alter the dynamics of the tenant-landlord relationship. I doubt anyone could accurately predict all of the fallout once this was set in motion. I do think I would have the lawyers take a look at what kinds of outcomes you might possibly get accused of being responsible for.  Or at least they could write a bunch of stuff for you to put on the label that says you aren't. But then I am guessing you have all that covered already.
    Good luck with it all. It looks to me like it could be quite a ride.

    Peter
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 7:18 PM
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    ETC

    Peter,

    Absolutely - it's certainly going to be interesting! Thanks again for the great insights!
    -Marshall
  • MarkS MarkS @ 10:26 PM
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    Outdoor reset?

    Hi Marshall,

    Do any of the steam boilers on your test systems use any sort of outdoor reset control like a Tekmar 269 or a Heat-Timer? Overshooting setpoint is a pretty common problem if they're just controlled by a thermostat.
    Homeowner, Royersford PA | 1890 one-pipe steam system | 3009 sf | 3 floors | 14 radiators | Utica SFE5200S boiler
    Midco LNB-250 Modulating Gas Burner | EcoSteam modulating controls | 70 to 300 MBH |
    607 sf EDR connected load | Operating pressure: 0.5 oz/in2
    Four main runs (insulated) totaling 135 ft in length | All Gorton vents on mains & rads |
    A Steam Odyssey | Odyssey 2 | Odyssey 2014 | A Steam Enthusiast's Outdoor Reset Control
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 11:14 PM
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    Outdoor Reset

    Hi MarkS,

    Absolutely - we're only piloting right now in two full-buildings, but they both have outdoor reset. We will certainly start running into many different kinds of boiler controllers with different levels of complexity as we deploy in more sites.

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • SWEI SWEI @ 1:05 AM
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    Why not include ODR

    into your onboard controls?  Once they're 'net connected, they could easily be configured to query a nearby station or PWS in order to anticipate demand. 
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 10:17 AM
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    ODR & PWS

    Hi Swei,

    Absolutely - great suggestion! As we develop our whole-building system we'll be integrating more advanced controls and interfaces/inputs like ODR and PWS. We'll be able to learn how buildings cool down and heat up, and can integrate weather forecasting exactly like you mention to anticipate demand. Right now we're working on a good basic system, and these kind of improvements will be added as we get comfortable with our core product.

    Thanks!
    -Marshall
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 12:37 PM
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    Questions!

    Hi All,

    You've been asking such great questions about the system - thanks for that!

    I'm also happy to answer any other kinds of questions that you have as well- they don't have to be technical.

    So please keep them coming!

    Thanks,
    -Marshall
  • Steve Steve @ 3:33 PM
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    Power option

    Could you incorporate a thermoelectric generator to power the fans?

    http://www.biolitestove.com/campstove/camp-overview/features/
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 4:47 PM
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    Thermoelectric

    Hi Steve,

    Absolutely! We do have a design written up that incorporates a Thermoelectric generator, but it doesn't use fans (Thermoelectric generators don't have a sufficient power budget for fans). What we CAN run off of a thermoelectric generator, however, is a louver system that opens and closes based on heating need. That, coupled with some of the newer lower powered communications systems, would result in a system very similar to the existing Cozy, but without having to plug in!

    One issue for this route for us, at this point, is that it's a very significant development process. Not only do we need to make sure that all of our electronics are behaving and that the louver system works as intended, but we need to make sure that the cold side if the thermoelectric element is properly heat synced (or the system will rapidly lose efficiency). But this is definitely overcome-able. Great point!

    -Marshall
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 7:53 PM
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    Nice progress at Kickstarter

    It's fun to watch. I hope the project gets funded. Such great potential here.
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    Hug your kids.
  • RadiatorLabs RadiatorLabs @ 4:29 PM
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    Cozy: Next Steps

    Hi All,

    I just wanted to update you on the status of our development with the Cozy.

    Our Kickstarter campaign has ended - without meeting our goals, unfortunately, but this certainly doesn't mean the end of the Cozy! We've raised the requisite funding on our own for development, so we'll still be producing a next-generation system by the fall. We've learned a ton through the campaign, both through trying to reach a broader audience through the kickstarter, and in large part because of this forum! I'm really amazed by all the great questions that came out of this discussion.

    So, going forward, we're going to be working on a pretty tight deadline to make sure to deliver systems by this fall (pre-orders are available on our website www.radiatorlabs.com for those interested), but I wanted to extend the invitation to anyone here that's interested to check out what we have and PLEASE feel free to let us know what you think of the new design.

    We would love to hear what you think we're doing right, and CRITICALLY interested in hearing what you think we're doing wrong. We want to make the best product we can, and input from this community is one of the best quality checks that I can think of.

    So thanks again, I hope to keep the conversation going, and please let me know what you think!
    -Marshall
    www.radiatorlabs.com
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