It was last December that I purchased a smart water heater controller, the Sinopé Calypso RM3500ZB. The goal was to prevent my electric water heater from starting during the Hydro-Québec peak demand events as part of their dynamic pricing winter credit option.
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Dynamic pricing – winter credit option
For those who are not familiar with the dynamic pricing winter credit option, it’s a program by Hydro-Québec that offers generous credits to participants if they manage to reduce their consumption (measured in curtailed kWh) during designated peak periods, known as peak demand events, annonced the day before the event. It’s worth mentioning that participants in this program don’t face any risk of increased bills. All of this is to say that substantial savings can be achieved if one successfully cuts down on their consumption during these peak demand events, as each curtailed kWh earns $0.53 (a kWh consumed during off-peak hours at Rate D in winter costs around 0.10$).
Click here to learn all the details about these two Hydro-Québec dynamic pricing programs.
One of the many factors contributing to savings is to refrain from using hot water during these peak events, which take place in the morning from 6 AM to 9 AM and in the evening from 4 PM to 8 PM (if it’s part of one’s regular routine). As a reference point, last year saw 18 peak events.
So, is it absolutely necessary to avoid starting the dishwasher, taking a shower, or giving children a bath during peak events? No, thanks to the features of the Sinopé Calypso RM3500ZB intelligent water heater controller, integrated into the Éco Sinopé module of the Neviweb application.
How is it working?
How does it work? I can delve into the details of how Éco Sinopé functions in an upcoming article, but essentially, you just need to inform the Éco Sinopé module that you’re subscribed to one of Hydro-Québec’s two dynamic pricing programs. This allows you to configure the behavior of your Sinopé devices during peak events (Note: a GT130 communication gateway is required). As Éco Sinopé is aware of the peak events from these two programs, it can then apply these new instructions when the time comes. For instance, it can raise the room temperature a few degrees a couple of hours before the peak event and then deactivate heating and water heating at the start of the same peak event.
This way, for instance, it’s possible to take a shower or bathe young children while avoiding the water heater’s start. The water heater will automatically restart after the peak event or when the water temperature in the tank reaches the minimum temperature set to prevent any risk of Legionellosis.
Note: I have since unsubscribed from the dynamic pricing winter credit program for reasons I will explain in an upcoming article, in order to switch to the Rate Flex D dynamic pricing program.
Among other interesting features of the Sinopé Calypso water heater controller, it’s worth noting the ability to integrate the water heater into automations or scenes. For instance, the power to the water heater can automatically turn off when you move away from the cottage and reactivate when you approach, using the geolocation function. Alternatively, you can double-click on a switch (such as the SW2500ZB) to turn off all the lights in the cottage and also switch off the water heater when leaving.
Lastly, you can also track the electrical consumption of your water heater over a 48-hour, 30-day, and 24-month period directly within the Neviweb application, along with the current water temperature in the water heater. This feature can come in handy to find out if your teenagers have left you any hot water 🙂
The Sinopé Calypso RM3500ZB intelligent water heater controller is compatible with all 240V electric water heaters that do not require more than 20.8A of power.
As a result, it is compatible with water heaters with a capacity of up to 60 gallons, typically equipped with 2 electric elements each with a power of 4500W (18.75A) operating alternately, or with 3 elements whose combined running power never exceeds 3800W in the case of water heaters equipped with Ecopeak technology. It’s advisable to consult with an electrician to ensure the compatibility of your water heater model before purchasing the controller.
Installation and connection
While the installation procedure is relatively straightforward, as it involves electrical work, it should be carried out by an electrician. Essentially, the process involves redirecting the electrical current that is normally directly routed to the water heater to the Calypso controller, which is then connected to the water heater. It functions as a simple switch that either allows or blocks the current to the water heater. For instance, it can’t adjust the water heater’s set temperature.
Regarding the installation of the temperature probe, it simply needs to be adhered to the thermostat controlling the upper electric element of the water heater, where the hottest water in the tank is located (stratification process).
It’s also possible to connect a water leak detection cable that can cut off the water heater’s electrical supply in case of a detected leak on the floor.
The Sinopé Calypso RM3500ZB intelligent water heater controller is a simple and effective solution that allows for savings without disrupting one’s hot water consumption routine by preventing the water heater from starting during peak period events.
In my opinion, it’s an excellent investment if you want to maximize your savings as part of participating in one of Hydro-Québec’s dynamic pricing programs. Otherwise, unless you own a cottage or a secondary residence, the usefulness of this controller is less apparent.
Especially considering that, for those who might be unaware, a water heater that isn’t actively in use consumes very little electricity to maintain its water at the set temperature, with heat losses being minimal. Therefore, there’s no benefit in turning off a water heater for short periods of time.
Here’s an example of a day when I wasn’t at home. My water heater started twice during the day and consumed 1.21 kWh, resulting in a total cost of 0.12$ to maintain its temperature at the set point.
In conclusion, I am personally very satisfied with my Sinopé Calypso RM3500ZB water heater load controller, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to participants of Hydro-Québec’s dynamic pricing programs. Like all other Sinopé devices I own, it is easy to install and configure within the Neviweb application. Moreover, it is affordable, retailing at 104.99$, to which the mounting hardware cost (19.99$) needs to be added.