Updated: May 23
A heat trace system can be a terrific ally in the winter, keeping the snow from piling onto your roof and gutters and protecting your indoor plumbing from sudden deep-freezes. With technology controlling everything in our home from lighting to the thermostat, is it a good idea to put the control of your heat trace system on a Wi-Fi network as well? “Alexa, ask our readers what they think.”
Daniel Walsh is a home automation enthusiast with a technology background and Editor at Smart Home Perfected.
Peace of Mind While You’re Away
1. Remote Activation Residential heat cables/heat trace systems typically have a built-in thermostat to automatically activate when the temperature drops below a certain level. The systems are usually always powered on, while from an efficiency perspective, they only warm up when needed for freeze protection.
If you manually turn off your system during the summer, then an advantage of a Wi-Fi switch would be the ability to remotely turn it on, if bad unseasonal weather is forecast and you are away on vacation.
2. Monitoring A key advantage of having your heat trace system on a Wi-Fi smart switch is monitoring. Some smart switches have built-in energy monitoring, so you can see the real-time draw of electricity.
By monitoring the kilowatt-per-hour draw you can work out the running cost of your system.
3. Tripped Breakers Having your system always powered on can sometimes give you a false sense of security. As the heat trace system runs on a grounded circuit, if the breaker trips, you may not realize until it's too late.
With a Wi-Fi smart switch, you will be notified in the app, if the switch is offline. This gives you time to investigate and resolve the issue before any damage is done.
Brings Down Your Heating Bill
Heat trace systems are invaluable during the winter. They can not only make your home much more comfortable but can also be energy-efficient during a time when it's very easy to spend a small fortune on your heating bill.
Despite this, the costs of running a heat trace full-time can get very expensive very fast. Most people only run them during set times of the day, but it's easy to forget they're on and let them run. Not only does this balloon your energy bill, but it can also be dangerous if you leave the house while the system is on. Wi-Fi-enabled smart controls for heat trace systems allow you to remotely control the heating of your home so that you can monitor energy use and temperature and turn the trace off once you no longer need it.
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Remote Control Over the System
The best advantage of using a Wi-Fi smart switch to control and manage the heat trace system is that it allows you to control the system and manage the temperature of the pipes remotely. You’ll be able to regulate the temperature as needed because the water in the pipes is not always frozen or very cold. A Wi-Fi smart switch can be controlled from your mobile phone and you'll be able to control the temperature of the water in your property from anywhere.
Not just limited to that, with a few smart add-ons, the switch can send you alerts in case of malfunction and can provide you temperate logs so you can adjust the heat accordingly. Modern devices can also provide you the amount of electricity consumed by the heat trace system.
Wi-Fi Smart System Provides Safeguard
When used as intended, heat trace systems and heat tape are very safe and energy-efficient. Unfortunately, people are neglectful or absent-minded, and forget to give their tape enough space and to not insulate it. Some will even double up on tape which is definitely not the intended method of use. Because of this, heat tracing systems are responsible for around 2,000 fires a year.
A Wi-Fi smart system wouldn't eliminate the need for vigilance. People still won't pay attention and will use the tape in ways other than directed. But the system will provide a safeguard. It will allow homeowners to cut the signal and stop the application of heat. It will also warn them when a line is getting too hot.
Saves Money and Helps the Environment
We have recently rebuilt the heat trace system in our office and added the Wi-Fi smart switch control. It is probably the best thing we could invest in.
Before the change, we had always turned the heating on. Now it is mostly off and we turn it on while on the way to work. We just downloaded a simple app that controls it remotely. It can be also installed and used on several devices so everyone from the company can turn the heating system on and off.
We also programmed the remote control app so it turns off automatically every day after 7pm. This way we save some money and it definitely helps the environment. You can also check when it is on and off, so you can make a summary of when you heat the most and who uses it the most. With this simple gadget for 'a couple of dollars,' you can save a lot of money and improve the efficiency of your company or home.
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