automated vent registers?

automated vent registers?

Post by Bill Kearn » Sat, 10 Feb 2007 23:20:57

Anyone tried or seen these: %3A3737581%2Cp_4%3ASPRINGFIELD%20PRECISION%20INSTRUME

I saw some sold under the "Vent Miser" label at a local hardware store. But
I've not been able to find more information or manuals for them online
anywhere. Before I go shell out that much for a gizmo I'd like to hear if
anyone else has had any luck with them.

Then of course the next question is where can they be had for a good price?
It'd be interesting to see if they're hackable to be controlled externally.

And how did these vents come to be named "registers" anyway?

-Bill Kearney

automated vent registers?

Post by Robert Gre » Sun, 11 Feb 2007 03:02:55

<stuff snipped>

"The use of "register" in the heating sense seems to be related to the pipe
organ mechanism, since both involve regulating the flow of air, and first
appeared in this sense in the mid-19th century."


automated vent registers?

Post by Bill Kearn » Fri, 16 Feb 2007 23:57:42 %3A3737581%2Cp_4%3ASPRINGFIELD%20PRECISION%20INSTRUME

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
buy more.

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.

-Bill Kearney

automated vent registers?

Post by Marc_F_Hul » Sat, 17 Feb 2007 11:41:17

On Thu, 15 Feb 2007 09:57:42 -0500, "Bill Kearney" <wkearney-99@hot-mail-com>



Good find!

1) I read you to write that 3 vdc to the motor opens the vent, and 3 vdc with
opposite polarity closes.

2) What's your reckoning as to how long these might last? My application
would be primarily to shut rooms ON or OFF for days at a time rather than
multiple open-close daily to regulate temperature relative to other rooms
(within the constraints of bypass, loading etc.). But I would want it to last
for years -- no fuss no muss. So overly thin metal parts like small coil
springs that can weaken with corrosion over time and the motor itself owing
to thickened lubricants and dirt might be the limiting factors rather than
rocker/bearing surfaces.

3) Any obvious reason why they wouldn't be paintable with *** paint?

TIA ... Marc

automated vent registers?

Post by Bill Kearn » Sat, 17 Feb 2007 21:11:38

> Good find!

Thanks, I just stumbled across that at a display in at Strosnider's, a local
'old school' hardware store. Gotta love the folks that keep these places
going, and who shop there.


I haven't measured the voltage but given it's based on a pair of AAA
batteries that's a reasonable assumption.


I can't speak for their predicted lifespan but, for being plastic, they
appear to be reasonably well designed. The gear action when you move them
manually seems to move smoothly, better than how a typical plastic 'toy'
might feel. I'll have to double check but I don't recall seeing an easy way
to crack one open to get a look-see at the innards.

I don't know how you'd deal with closing them for 'days at a time', at least
not with the programming modules they come with. The programming is such
that you can program them in just one OR two cycles for M-F and Sat-Sun.
That is, for each set of days, you can set either a single or a pair of
open/close cycles. I don't see a way to not set any cycle at all. I guess
you could set it to open one minute and close the next. But then you'd have
to re-program them manually to start working on a more regular schedule. I
guess it would depend on the application, but you could just pull the module
and leave them out for the extended times.

I don't see why not. It might not hurt to give them a light sanding to help
the paint bond. But I've painted regular registers with a similar surface
and it held up fine. So yeah, paint away. I'd imagine, however, that it
would be very important to avoid binding up the manual activation slide on
the front. That slider does move when the motor activates. So binding that
up with paint would be a 'bad idea'. This is true of regular registers too
but obviously a bit more important here.