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Z-wave 3-Speed AC Ceiling Fan Control using 0-10V Relays

Posted by LiveHouse Automation on

In this project we look at how to control a Ceiling Fan that allows for standard rotary switch control and doesn't require an automation controller to coordinate multiple Z-wave switches through scenes.

One of the principles I apply to any project is that your device should continue to be operable in an intuitive way that doesn't require a smartphone. In other words the automation should enhance, not replace, familiar control schemes that can be used by visitors, kids or the people you eventually sell your house to.

For ceiling fans, this means being able to use the common rotary switch interface that sits on the wall. This project provides a means of maintaining fan operation independent of the automation controller, while still giving full automation control over the fan. 

Disclaimer - this project involves mains electricity. All 240V wiring must be performed by a licensed electrician. The wiring diagrams and setup apply to most ceiling fans, but it is the responsibility of the installer to validate and confirm the wiring required for the particular fan involved.

Solution Features

  • Fan can be operated via wall control using a 4 position 360 degree rotary switch or Potentiometer which translates to 3 speeds.  
  • Support for OFF-HIGH-MED-LOW and OFF-LOW-MED-HIGH control schemes for fans which require high startup current.
  • Wall control works even if the automation controller is offline.
  • Hardware based Digital Relay control ensures correct non-crossover 240V switching with configurable delay for smooth, motor friendly operation.
  • Uses the existing Fan speed capacitor to maintain existing speeds with no motor hum.
  • Interface on controller as a standard dimmer or using a Vera Plugin which provides a Fan interface, configures the Z-wave Module and updates fan status if activated from the wall control. (First release of this supports OFF-HIGH-MED-LOW control scheme).

Switch Compatibility 

The initial version of this fan controller requires a rotary switch that turns full 360 degrees continuously. That is because the OFF position effectively becomes the HIGH speed, and HIGH is effectively OFF. This means that rotating the switch mechanism 90 degrees to the knob makes the existing speed markers line up. 

This won't be possible if you have a switch that only goes from left to right positions and not full turns. We are currently working on a small control circuit which will provide compatibility for these non-rotating switches making the OFF position function as intended.

Alternately, you can use a potentiometer to provide the speed control. It will still translate to OFF and 3 speeds via the relays, but obviously lacks the tactile "click" the rotary switches have. Some position markers behind the knob are a good idea. My Potentiometer based wall control came out rather nicely and is simply the potentiometer mounted in an HPM blanking plate with a brushed aluminium knob. The momentary switch controls the room (or fan) lights.

 

 

Of course there's no obligation to have a wall switch to work with this setup. If you don't have an existing wall switch, don't want to wire one up and want to use a Z-wave remote, or voice control by Amazon Alexa that's not a problem either.  

 

Parts List

You can purchase these parts individually or contact us for either a DIY kit or pre-built setup. To implement this you'll need:

Operation

In this video we demonstrate how the fan switching works in practice from the wall control and how it appears on the Vera Controller using the LiveHouse Fan Plugin.

Physical Installation

This will depend greatly on your home and where the fan is. For this particular project we used a plastic electronics enclosure with some holes for airflow and mounted the box in the roof near to the ceiling fan. In this installation a temperature probe was connected to the GOAP module to monitor the temperature in the roof space.

The small PCB that mounts the Z-wave module and provides connections to the other parts is a prototype at this stage, if there's sufficient interest we may manufacture these in bulk (along with the enhanced version that supports rotary switches that can't fully rotate). It does make the wiring significantly simpler.

FAQ

  • Can I control a DC Fan?

    The relays are dry contact (no voltage) so if your DC fan has a simple switch control then yes or depending on your fan you can run the DC voltage required through the relays.

  • Can I control a 6 speed Fan?

    Yes, if you connect 3 speeds. If you really need 4,5 or 6 speed control we can get Digital Relay Modules that have extra relays.

  • Can I control multiple fans from one controller? 

    Depends. The relays are rated for 12A at 250V so provided your current draw is within limits and each fan is connected to its own capacitor then it should be possible. Consult your electrician. 

  • Will this work on Z-wave Controllers other than Vera?

    Yes, the GOAP Module shows as a standard dimmer. You won't be able to use our plugin, but that doesn't stop you controlling the dimmer directly via scenes.

  • Do you have a kit or can you build me one? 

    Yes we have some kits available and we can do pre-assembly. Final wiring to the fan will need to be done onsite by an electrician.

Wrapping it up

As you can see, this is a very flexible solution that can be adapted to almost any AC Ceiling Fan. You may also note that the relay modules support other operating patterns such as Heat/Cool or cumulative Sequence which makes them suitable for controlling AC, Electric Heaters and other appliances with different switching patterns.

Happy Automating!


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