I picked one up from a local hardware store (strosniders). It seems to
work. It's nothing fancy. The grill is metal (painted white enamel) but
the vanes and frame for them is plastic. It's got a control unit that snaps
into the front of the register. The control is about the size of a light
switch assembly. It has a clock you set in it, along with the current day of
the week. There are two cycles in two sets you can program. M-F and S+S
each with two on/off cycles. I've got this one setup in the bedroom to
close in the morning to shut off while the main thermostat starts warming
the rest of the house for wakeup. It remains closed most of the day to
reopen around the typical come home from work time, closing again after
typical bed time. Seemed to work well enough last night. There is a small
bit of motor and gear noise but it's less than a second in duration. I'm
guessing it'll be one of those 'get used to it' sort of sounds. It didn't
wake me last night but then I sleep like a corpse.
What's interesting is it appears to just use two contacts and reverses DC
voltage (from two AA batteries) to toggle the grate. Could be an
interesting unit to hack for external control...
The instruction manual is in TINY print. Which wouldn't bother me except
for the beginning of "the arm's not long enough" vision issues...
Programming it is pretty straightforward, typical digital watch style steps.
It even has a backlight to make it easier to read when programming it. It
responds to holding down one button for open, another for close to manually
trigger the motorized action. There is a typical register slider you can
use to do it manually. The manual states when you change the batteries you
lose the programming. But for anyone's that has Hawkeye sensors this is
nothing new, so make a mental note how you've got it programmed.
It comes in a variety of sizes, the one I installed is 6" x 12". There
doesn't seem to be any sort of company website online anywhere. There's an
800 number listed in the instructions it suggests you call if you want to
At $39 it seems just over the threshold of a being a bit more expensive than
it seems like it ought to be. But if it's durable and keeps the wife happy
about the state of the heat in the room them it'll probably be worth it.
The one thing I'm keeping in mind is to avoid screwing up the existing HVAC
setup. I could well imagine someone doing something stupid like putting one
of these on every grate and having it end up putting too much pressure on
the main fan. Fiddling with your HVAC system's air handling pattern isn't
something to do without really giving it some thinking. When we renovate
the lower level next year I plan on having the whole setup redesigned. To
regain lost headroom below mainly, but also to improve the circulation
patterns. But between now and then this unit should help solve one thing
the wife complains about.
That and since it has it's own controller built-in I don't have to worry
about any other PC or controller.