New Furnace Day: Drolet Heat Commander

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,154
NE Ohio
Posts like this keep me wondering if the HC could handle our square footage and huge duct runs.
I bet we will see a Max Caddy version of the HC before long...
 

usernametaken

Burning Hunk
Nov 25, 2017
127
Western, MA
I bet we will see a Max Caddy version of the HC before long...
I was hoping so BUT @SBI_Nick didn't seem very positive on a bigger unit being needed or happening when he commented on it earlier in this thread. I would absolutely take advantage of the Tax Credit this year or next if PSG came out with a version that would work in my home. As it stands, PSG's website is still showing no products available so it must be taking them a while to get their new versions to market. If only Nick could give me a hint... ;)
 

JRHAWK9

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2014
1,638
Wisconsin Dells, WI
As it stands, PSG's website is still showing no products available so it must be taking them a while to get their new versions to market.
It's just a wild guess, but I'm thinking they are using the HC as their "guinea pig" to see how things go in the real world for a new product. They will then make any needed changes/revisions/updates and apply them to the Caddy line. I don't think it's smart business practice to release a brand new product under numerous models before they get everything dialed in from real world feedback over time. This is where all you first to buy HC buyers come in. ==c
 

usernametaken

Burning Hunk
Nov 25, 2017
127
Western, MA
It's just a wild guess, but I'm thinking they are using the HC as their "guinea pig" to see how things go in the real world for a new product. They will then make any needed changes/revisions/updates and apply them to the Caddy line. I don't think it's smart business practice to release a brand new product under numerous models before they get everything dialed in from real world feedback over time. This is where all you first to buy HC buyers come in. ==c
I don't think so. They already have the Caddy Advanced and the Caddy Advanced CR on the EPA approval list. I'm guessing they wouldn't got through the trouble of getting it approved if the design wasn't finalized.

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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,154
NE Ohio
Seems to me like leaving the 2500 sq ft and up homeowners just hanging in the wind for SBI wood furnace options would be shortsighted on their part...I dunno, maybe that market isn't as big as I think it is (no pun intended ;lol)
They already have the Caddy Advanced and the Caddy Advanced CR on the EPA approval list. I'm guessing they wouldn't got through the trouble of getting it approved if the design wasn't finalized.
This makes me wonder...how are there software updates being done to the Heat Commanders? It was my understanding that once a given model was tested/approved there could be NO changes made to it...?
 
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trx250r87

Burning Hunk
Nov 30, 2012
159
NE Wisconsin
Seems to me like leaving the 2500 sq ft and up homeowners just hanging in the wind for SBI wood furnace options would be shortsighted on their part...I dunno, maybe that market isn't as big as I think it is (no pun intended ;lol)

This makes me wonder...how are there software updates being done to the Heat Commanders? It was my understanding that once a given model was tested/approved there could be NO changes made to it...?
Updates have been emailed, downloaded to flash drive, then installed via USB port on main circuit board at the rear of the HC.

I don't know if this is/will be the norm after a few minor tweaks have been made early on. I think I recall SBI saying that they couldn't adjust some of the programming algorithms due to EPA certification rules?

Eric
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,655
Downeast Maine
Could the end user make changes? Sounds like an interesting idea. Folks tune automotive ECUs all the time.
 

woodey

Burning Hunk
Feb 8, 2018
201
ST. Lawrence Valley N.Y.
It was my understanding that once a given model was tested/approved there could be NO changes made to it...?
Interesting question, It would be nice to hear the views of manufacturers of wood burning stoves/furnaces who have gone through the EPA certification testing.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,154
NE Ohio
Updates have been emailed, downloaded to flash drive, then installed via USB port on main circuit board at the rear of the HC.

I don't know if this is/will be the norm after a few minor tweaks have been made early on. I think I recall SBI saying that they couldn't adjust some of the programming algorithms due to EPA certification rules?

Eric
Right...but my understanding was there could be NO changes after certification, none, zero...not even on things that have nothing to do with how it burns (which I thought sounded ridiculous)
 

trx250r87

Burning Hunk
Nov 30, 2012
159
NE Wisconsin
While I don't expect the average user to go tweaking programming code it would be nice to see a few user adjustable settings such as dip switches like a normal forced air furnace might have. This way we could select different fan speed presets, cut in/out temperatures, timers....

There are no 2 installs that are the same. The HC does a pretty good job, better than past SBI furnaces at adjusting or adapting.

Eric
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,655
Downeast Maine
I'd pass. These are devices that can burn my house down.
And many folks have modified their stoves. I think it would be hard to burn down the house with a properly installed chimney.
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
805
Central Ohio
While I don't expect the average user to go tweaking programming code it would be nice to see a few user adjustable settings such as dip switches like a normal forced air furnace might have. This way we could select different fan speed presets, cut in/out temperatures, timers....
Oh, you can't set any of that on the HC ? Hmmmm, maybe I will stick with my old school Caddy. :p
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,154
NE Ohio
Oh, you can't set any of that on the HC ? Hmmmm, maybe I will stick with my old school Caddy. :p
Yup , you can still tweak the heck outta those aftermarket controllers! ;) ::-) ;)
 
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sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
805
Central Ohio
And many folks have modified their stoves. I think it would be hard to burn down the house with a properly installed chimney.
Writing PLC code and making physical modifications, adding a speed controller or maybe a simple relay switch are two different things. Writing PLC code is a very specialized field. You just can't hook a off the shelf programmer to your HC and change the settings like you can a car. I write some code for a living and I wouldn't even know where to start at on how to program a PLC.
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
805
Central Ohio
Back on topic.

I haven't spent a lot of time looking at the manual for the HC. Is it a black box / plug and play type unit that you can't change any settings on ?
 

usernametaken

Burning Hunk
Nov 25, 2017
127
Western, MA
It's amazing what can be done when the right folks start investigating the code. I'm a mod over on a Ford truck forum. One of our most popular threads is about a free program called Forscan. With it you can turn on an off all kinds of options in your truck. However, it's not like a tuner where you can blow up the motor if you're not careful by altering fueling parameters, etc. . It's more like the example above where you can flip the digital version of a dip switch. For example, for legal reasons, you can't have your high beams and fog lights on at the same time so Ford has this blocked. It can be unblocked with Forscan. Same goes with entering a destination into your navigation system while the vehicle is in motion. Blocked in the US for legal reasons but legal in other countries so you make the change with Forscan and you simply put the truck in UK mode where it's legal. Auto roll down windows are ok but auto roll up... yup, litigation waiting to happen so blocked from the factory but unblocked with Forscan. It's as simple as changing a single character in the HEX. The list goes on and on but you get the idea. I'm guessing there are things like this in a computerized furnace controller that can be changed without burning one's house down but who's going to get in there and figure it out?

PS: If anyone is curious about Forscan, be sure to spell it correctly when Googling... ;)
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,154
NE Ohio

trx250r87

Burning Hunk
Nov 30, 2012
159
NE Wisconsin
It's amazing what can be done when the right folks start investigating the code. I'm a mod over on a Ford truck forum. One of our most popular threads is about a free program called Forscan. With it you can turn on an off all kinds of options in your truck. However, it's not like a tuner where you can blow up the motor if you're not careful by altering fueling parameters, etc. . It's more like the example above where you can flip the digital version of a dip switch. For example, for legal reasons, you can't have your high beams and fog lights on at the same time so Ford has this blocked. It can be unblocked with Forscan. Same goes with entering a destination into your navigation system while the vehicle is in motion. Blocked in the US for legal reasons but legal in other countries so you make the change with Forscan and you simply put the truck in UK mode where it's legal. Auto roll down windows are ok but auto roll up... yup, litigation waiting to happen so blocked from the factory but unblocked with Forscan. It's as simple as changing a single character in the HEX. The list goes on and on but you get the idea. I'm guessing there are things like this in a computerized furnace controller that can be changed without burning one's house down but who's going to get in there and figure it out?

PS: If anyone is curious about Forscan, be sure to spell it correctly when Googling... ;)
I'm also on one of those Ford forums, I have Forscan and have tweaked numerous settings on my f150.

I'm sure someone could reverse engineer SBI's code and come up with a way to modify it, however, comparing Forscan and the number of Ford vehicles produced vs "programmable" wood stoves isn't exactly apples to apples in comparison!

I don't think your average wood burning fanatic is going to start tweaking wood furnace code any time soon. There are a few pretty smart individuals on this site for sure though!

Eric
 
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usernametaken

Burning Hunk
Nov 25, 2017
127
Western, MA
I'm sure someone could reverse engineer SBI's code and come up with a way to modify it, however, comparing Forscan and the number of Ford vehicles produced vs "programmable" wood stoves isn't exactly apples to apples in comparison!

I don't think your average wood burning fanatic is going to start tweaking wood furnace code any time soon. There are a few pretty smart individuals on this site for sure though!

Eric
That was exactly the point of my post Eric... It can be done but likely won't....
 
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Boilers

Member
Mar 19, 2018
67
Indiana
Writing PLC code and making physical modifications, adding a speed controller or maybe a simple relay switch are two different things. Writing PLC code is a very specialized field. You just can't hook a off the shelf programmer to your HC and change the settings like you can a car. I write some code for a living and I wouldn't even know where to start at on how to program a PLC.
Would you look at that! An old PLC 5 controlling my damper based on a thermocouple... complete with push buttons to initiate cold and hot start sequences. Sad thats really all this thing is doing right now! Plenty of built-in failsafes also. I have the analog cards to put the fan on a VFD also, but haven’t gotten around to it. I’ve also thought about a continuously variable damper control, but haven’t gotten to that either. I really want to put an HMI on here and start logging some data... burn times, temperatures, house temps, propane furnace run times, etc. endless possibilities really. Could network it to an SQL database.... ok I’m done. My inner geek almost came out. And yeah this stuff is all off the shelf, but the software/licensing alone might cost you $5k.

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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
5,655
Downeast Maine
I just don't see why it would be such a big deal to modify the code. You wouldn't have to rewrite the whole thing. It also wouldn't be hard to install an interface between the processor and the peripherals and make changes downstream rather than tweak the code. Perhaps to some of the forum members it's a big task that nobody would ever attempt, but I see all kinds of normal people of all ages writing code for arduinos, Rasberry Pi, entire programs, etc. Maybe it's not often that programmers own wood stoves, but nobody expected a pandemic to come either. Plenty of smart people have plenty of free time now. I'm also not sure why it is off topic to discuss the hardware and software this computer controlled wood burning furnace uses.