Project Update – November 2012

This short post summarizes a few small projects we tackled over the Thanksgiving holiday – it was a busy week for us, but thoroughly enjoyable, (and productive)!

First, it was the installation of FX Luminaire fixtures on lower-level patios, (south-facing, adjacent to Office and east-facing, below deck, adjacent to Laundry). We opted for flush-mount fixtures from the same series used for up-lighting specific cacti and trees around the site. The fixtures we chose are similar to the FX Luminaire RP-CW series, but without the “brow”. We chose RP-RG fixtures for this purpose because they’re flush-mounted in areas intended for foot traffic and are colored in “camo-bronze” since they needed to blend in with the blue-blackened copper cladding.

This first photograph, (below), captures the location of where the FX Luminaire controller would be installed, (prior to installation). Earlier this year we had an electrician visit the Byrne residence and replace the GFCI-protected outdoor receptacles with new code-compliant enclosures in preparation for the landscaping project. We needed receptacles for the irrigation system controller, as well as the four (4) low-voltage lighting system controllers, and we had all of them replaced and/or installed at the same time. The controllers we used were PX 600 Series units finished in stainless steel.

This photograph, (below), captures one of the original low-voltage lighting fixtures I was replacing. There were four (4) of these, one (1) just outside the Office and three (3) beneath the deck off the Master Bedroom). Bill Byrne had done an excellent job planning for all of these fixtures during construction by burying PVC sleeves in the concrete where the lights were to be placed, as well as PVC conduit connecting these vertical sleeves together so he could route the low voltage cabling between them and back to where the controller was installed.

…and here’s the new “brow-less” fixture in place after being installed – it replaced the original fixture I’d pulled out and laid aside, (shown above).

Then it was off to complete the installation of Nest Learning Thermostats.

This first photograph, (below), is of the Nest device installed with the trim plate installed behind it in the Living Room/Kitchen. Over the course of the 14 years the Byrne residence has been occupied, three different thermostats have been installed in this location, (the Nest is the third), making the use of a trim plate necessary. Happily, I was able to reuse one of the screw holes from the original thermostat installation, (reducing the number of new holes by one)!

First, a photograph, (below), of the previous thermostat with its cover removed – you can see two jumpers were used, (Rh to Rc and Y to W), though these same jumpers aren’t used with the Nest devices, since they manage jumpers in the software itself.

Here’s how simple the wiring is for our particular installation – four wires, neatly inserted into the Nest base plate which is attached to the wall on top of the trim plate, (below). The Nest device simply snaps into the base plate to complete the installation. Did you catch the built-in level? It really helped me when I was leveling the base plate – the Nest logo on the face of each unit is perfectly level, (easily achieved with this clever improvement in the 2nd generation devices)!

February 2013 Update

In my original post back in November 2012, (above, and since edited), I mentioned issues with one of the four Nest thermostats which meant I had to leave one of the original thermostats in place until I could arrange to have an HVAC specialist visit the Byrne residence and diagnose what I thought was – at the time – a simple wiring issue. As it turned out, the issue was a bit, (well OK, much), more involved than that…

When we returned for our December visit, I quickly realized we weren’t facing a single, simple wiring issue, but rather a broader set of challenges related to the HVAC systems, (meaning the combination of the heat pumps and the air handlers and the thermostats), so I immediately engaged Carefree Air, (the HVAC specialist our property manager uses almost exclusively), to diagnose the situation. What I couldn’t have possibly known when I made that first call to Carefree Air in December, but became patently clear over the course of the next several weeks, was how fortunate Martha and I were to have met the owner of Carefree Air, Will Heald.

In short, as a direct result of Will’s extensive research, (and the subsequent efforts of both he and his team in January and February), we’ve restored reliable cooling and heating systems at the Byrne residence! There are new 5 ton, 3 ton, 2 ton and 1.5 ton heat pumps from American Standard, as well as one new air handler from The UNICO System® now in place. …and yes, all four of the Nest Learning Thermostats are functioning flawlessly too!

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