Holiday Rental Controls

A problem facing manReny holiday property owners is guests overusing the air conditioning. If no controls are in place, then guests tend to leave the air conditioning running all the time, even when not required. There are a few ways to prevent this.

Coin Operated Meter

By far the most popular method to limit control is by the use of coin timers/meters. Guests will be much more likely to limit their use of the air conditioning units if they are paying for the privilege. The coin meters work by only allowing the air conditioning to run whilst there is available credit in the meter. The coin meters charge credit by either time or power consumption. A time based system sets the rate by time, so for example 1€ gives 1 hours use. The problem with this method is that whether the guests are using 10 units flat-out or 1 unit carefully the charge will be the same. Charging by power consumption (like the utility companies do) is a much fairer system. This way the guests pay for what they use and rewards guests who use the air conditioning more efficiently.

Single Button Control

A cheap and easy option is a single button system. This can be used in conjunction with the original air conditioning remote control, or independently. If used with the original remote control, then a timer can be set which will allow the air conditioning to operate for that amount of time once a button has been pressed. During that time period, the user can operate the air conditioning as normal. Once the time has elapsed, then the air conditioning stops and the button needs to pressed again to use the air conditioning. If used independently then most air conditioning units can be programmed to auto-restart with the last settings set on the remote control. The air conditioning unit is pre-set to an appropriate temperature, fan speed and mode. The guests can only switch the unit on or off and have no control over temperature control. This option can prevent people setting the units down 16ºC cooling or 30ºC heating, which will use more power to achieve. By limiting the temperature, the unit will not run as long, hence consumes less power. A timer can still be set, but the air conditioning will not consume electric the whole time, as they reach their temperature set point much quicker, reducing running costs

Infra-red Sensors

We have tried infra-red sensors on a few installations and found them to be hit and miss. The principle is the same as a burglar alarm and allows the air conditioning to operate whilst there is movement in the room. The problems we found are that there needs to be additional control circuitry to keep the air conditioning operating in between detections of movement, otherwise the air conditioning unit will be constantly starting and stopping, which will damage it. The second thing is the sensors do not always detect someone who is sleeping. If the room is large or an irregular shape then there can be blind spots on the sensor and it can miss people in the room. Generally, we have found that this system only really works reliably, when the room is small and is a high activity zone, like a lounge or games room, even then we would not recommend this method.

Door Contacts

A simple system consists of magnetic contacts fitted to doors and windows (the same type as burglar alarm systems) and linked to a control system. If any door or window is open then the air conditioning will not operate. It is important that is linked to the control system to add a delay between when a door or window is opened and when the air conditioning is switched off. If a suitable delay is not used, then the air conditioning could be constantly turning on and off, which puts a lot of stress on it and will eventually damage it.

Our Solution

A final option is a system we have been developing ourselves. The problem with all the above solutions is they all control the air conditioning by cutting off the power to the system. This is not ideal and it is better to switch the system off first before cutting the power. Our solution resolves this by interfacing directly with the air conditioning system. It has several levels of control which cannot be overridden by the user. A timer can be set so the air conditioning will operate for a set amount of time before switching off. This stops people leaving the air conditioning on all the time. A minimum and maximum temperature can be set, so the guests cannot set the air conditioning too low or too high. This reduces power consumption. It can also force additional features, such as Daikin’s Intelligent eye feature to be on all the time, again reducing power consumption. Currently this system only works with Daikin units, but we are working on compatibility with other systems. This is the cheapest option out of the above solutions.

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