Save Energy Costs with the VICKI LoRaWAN® Radiator Thermostat – Part 1

Featured image blog post Save Energy Costs with the VICKI LoRaWAN® Radiator Thermostat – Part 1
- 📖🕓 ≈  8 min -

The use of smart radiator thermostats is a simple way to optimize the heating of buildings and thus save up to over 30% heating energy*. This not only reduces costs, but also makes an important contribution to a healthier climate. In a small series of articles, we show you how easily this can be implemented in practice using the example of the MClimate LoRaWAN radiator thermostat VICKI.

In this first part we will address the following points:

*Source: Case study, Institut für Technologie und Management im Baubetrieb (TMB), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

Advantages of a LoRaWAN® Radiator Thermostat

Before we get to the MClimate VICKY thermostat itself, we would like to briefly point out the advantages of a LoRaWAN® based radiator thermostat. In principle, it is always suitable for use when the heating in buildings needs to be controlled efficiently via a LoRaWAN® network. The main advantages are:

  • Remote monitoring/control through data transmission over long distances
  • More reliable data transmission than technologies such as WLAN or Bluetooth due to very good building penetration and high interference immunity
  • Very low energy requirement/consumption = low maintenance, long-lasting, cost-effective and ideally suited for measuring points/locations that are otherwise difficult to access

Simple and quick integration into existing LoRaWAN® networks/infrastructures

MClimate VICKI in Short Profile

The MClimate VICKI is, in short, a smart thermostatic radiator valve that can be used to remotely monitor and regulate the temperature and humidity in heated rooms.

MClimate VICKI Heizkörperthermostat: Verschiedene Ansichten
MClimate VICKI radiator thermostat: Different views

What’s special: The thermostat works both with and without LoRaWAN®, so that uninterrupted operation is guaranteed even if the connection is lost. Even if you can find the complete description including the technical specifications in the manual or data sheet, some key data are summarized here for you:

Areas of Application:

The MClimate VICKY is particularly suitable for the following commercial and private indoor applications:

  • Smart Building
  • Smart school
  • Smart office
  • Smart home

Core Features and Specifications

  • Monitoring of temperature (+/- 0.20 °C) and humidity (+/- 2 % RH)
  • Manual and automatic temperature control via algorithm with external temperature measurement
  • Automatic detection of open doors/windows
  • Configuration/control of the target temperature via App or Downlinks
  • Manual valve opening control
  • 2-digit display to show temperature, low battery and more
  • Parental controls
  • Over the Air (OTAA) activation
  • Powered by 2x AA 1.5 VDC lithium batteries
  • Battery life of up to 10 years (depending on configuration and environmental conditions)
  • Standard valve connection M30 x 1.5
  • Available adapter types: RA, RAV, RAVL, ORAS, Oventrop (others on request)
  • Open protocol without vendor lock-in for seamless integration into numerous third-party systems

Transmission Behavior

In the factory standard configuration, the thermostat sends a data packet every 10 minutes with an existing LoRaWAN® connection. This contains, among other things, the following information:

  • Stored target temperature
  • Actual temperature
  • Relative Humidity
  • Radiator valve motor position
  • Battery voltage
  • Window open (yes/no)
  • Sensor defective (yes/no)
  • Parental control status (active/inactive)

You can find a complete list of all parameters in the data sheet or at https://mclimate.eu/pages/payload-helper.

We will show to what extent you can change this standard configuration in another article.

Assembly and Commissioning in ZENNER Connect LoRaWAN® Network

The commissioning of the thermostat is shown here using the example of the IoT platform B.One Middleware and the MClimate Home App.

Step 1: Integration of the VICKI into the LoRaWAN® Network

Before the actual assembly and commissioning, you have to integrate the VICKI into the LoRaWAN® network. In this example, this is done by adding it to the B.One Middleware in our ZENNER Connect LoRaWAN® network. The prerequisite for this is the use of a ZENNER IoT GatewayPLUS. If this requirement is met and you order the VICKI in the ZENNERShop with the additional option “ZENNER IoT PLUG&PLAY”, then you can skip this step. Otherwise, in the Quick Guide – B.One Middleware is described how you can add new devices there yourself.

Step 2: Link B.One Middleware with MClimate App

With the MClimate Home App you can, on the one hand, check whether you have installed your VICKI correctly and, on the other hand, it offers you a convenient way to monitor and control the thermostat. If you use an IoT platform like the B.One Middleware as a basis, you must first link your B.One Middleware tenant to the MClimate App. To do this, simply proceed as follows:

  1. Install the MClimate Home App for Android or iOS on your smartphone or tablet and, if you don’t have one yet, create a new account.
MClimate Home App: Account erstellen
MClimate Home App: Create account

2. At https://enterprise.mclimate.eu/integrations, after logging in with the access data you just created, create a so-called M-Token for sending uplinks from the B.One Middleware to the MClimate App, copy it to the clipboard and save it in a safe place.

Verknüpfung B.One Middleware mit MClimate: M-Token für Uplinks erstellen 1
Link B.One Middleware with MClimate: Create M-Token for Uplinks 1
Verknüpfung B.One Middleware mit MClimate: M-Token für Uplinks erstellen 2
Link B.One Middleware with MClimate: Create M-Token for Uplinks 2

3. Log in at https://developers.mclimate.eu/ with your MClimate account credentials and then at https://developers.mclimate.eu/b-one-token create a second token for sending downlinks from the MClimate App to the B.One Middleware. To do this, you will then need the access data for your B.One Middleware tenant. It’s best to copy also this token to the clipboard and save it in a safe place.

Verknüpfung B.One Middleware mit MClimate: Zweiten Token für Downlinks erstellen 1
Link B.One Middleware with MClimate: Create second token for Downlinks 1
Verknüpfung B.One Middleware mit MClimate: Zweiten Token für Downlinks erstellen 2
Link B.One Middleware with MClimate: Create second token for Downlinks 2

4. Add a new forwarding rule in the B.One Middleware with the two tokens created under Management >> Forwarding:

Link B.One Middleware with MClimate: Create forwarding rule
Link B.One Middleware with MClimate: Create forwarding rule

5. Now you have to assign the forwarding rule you created to your VICKI. This can be done very easily by calling up your VICKI via the device list in the B.One Middleware and clicking on the plus icon on the right in the “ Device details” in the “Forwarding” tab.

Link B.One Middleware with MClimate: Assign forwarding rule to device
Link B.One Middleware with MClimate: Assign forwarding rule to device

Step 3: Add VICKI in the MClimate App

To add your VICKI in the MClimate App, simply follow the wizard provided there. Here is a short screencast of it:

And here the whole thing again in pictures:

MClimate Home App: Neues VICKI hinzufügen Schritt 1-4
MClimate Home App: Add New VICKI Step 1-4
MClimate Home App: Neues VICKI hinzufügen Schritt 5-8
MClimate Home App: Add New VICKI Step 5-8

Note: At this point, the added VICKI is still displayed as offline because the actual commissioning has not yet taken place. So don’t let that confuse you.

Step 4: Installation on the Radiator and Commissioning

Now we come to the actual installation on the radiator and the commissioning. Basically, you can easily install the VICKI thermostat yourself if you proceed as described and follow the correct order. But ATTENTION: If your heating does not yet have a (conventional) thermostatic valve, it is better to leave the installation to a specialist, as water may leak out.

1. Insert Batteries

Normally the VICKI is delivered with the batteries already inserted. If this is the case, all you need to do is remove the protective film in the battery compartment. If the batteries are not yet installed, first remove the back plate of the VICKI and then carefully open the metal cover of the battery compartment with two fingers. If the batteries are inserted correctly and the cover is closed again, a “Hi” will appear on the display.

MClimate VICKI Heizkörperthermostat: Batterien einlegen
MClimate VICKI radiator thermostat: Insert batteries

2. Mounting on the Radiator

To install the thermostat on the radiator, simply proceed as described in the instructions:

  1. Turn the old thermostat valve to the highest setting, e.g. 5
  2. Unscrew the locking ring and remove the thermostat
  3. Place the back plate of the VICKI on the thermostatic valve and screw the locking ring tight (simply by hand, no special tools required, DO NOT overtighten!)
  4. Place VICKI on the back plate and turn clockwise with moderate pressure on the display to fix the thermostat

Here’s the whole thing in a short video from the manufacturer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z_WnS4CDCY .

If additional adapters are required for connection, the following sequence must be complied with:

MClimate VICKI radiator thermostat: Installation with additional adapters
MClimate VICKI radiator thermostat: Installation with additional adapters

As can be seen in the video above, after successful installation, the display first shows an animation of the calibration and then the currently set target temperature when the VICKI is turned.

Here is another example of a fully assembled thermostat:

Beispiel eines fertig montierten MClimate VICKI Heizkörperthermostats
Example of a fully assembled MClimate VICKI radiator thermostat

During calibration, the device also automatically starts the “join” process, in which it connects to the LoRaWAN® network. Unfortunately, whether the whole thing was successful is not shown directly on the display. You can recognize this because your VICKI is now displayed in the app as online and by clicking on it you can access further detailed views including the slider for changing the target temperature. In addition, in the B.One Middleware in the detailed view of the device under “Joining” you should now see a “Join Request” on the left and a “Join Accept” on the right. See also “Howto: Install LoRaWAN® Sensors correctly and avoid missing Data”.

“Lessons Learned” from Customer Projects

At this point we would like to pass on a few “Lessons Learned” regarding assembly from realized customer projects:

  • In some cases, so-called valve adapters are required for installation. It has been shown here that metal adapters (as you can see above) are more durable and also more stable in system operation.
  • Preparation for work is everything: Before installation – especially for larger quantities – it should be clarified which radiators are located where in the building. It is advisable to use unique identification numbers here.
  • When installing, you should proceed like you would when changing a meter and always move clockwise through the building, rooms and areas.
  • The assembly order is crucial: the adapter and the back plate must always be assembled first (see above). Only then can the thermostat be screwed on!
  • For larger quantities, it is recommended to use a field service / workforce management tool to digitize assembly orders and documentation. It may also be worth looking at a solution like ZENNER BuildingLink.

Outlook for Part 2

You have now learned more about the intelligent radiator thermostat MClimate VICKI and seen how you can integrate it into a LoRaWAN® network using an IoT platform such as the B.One Middleware and link it to the MClimate Home App. In the second part we will go into more detail about controlling the VICKI via downlinks or the MClimate Home App.

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in B.One Middleware, Buildings, Gastronomy, Operating Aids, Sensors, Use Cases

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