When purchasing windows for Quadomated I did a whole lot of searching for the most energy-efficient window that I could automate with some sort of electric motor or actuator. Initially I was completely overtaken by the significant energy efficiency increase of the Canadian built triple pane fiberglass framed windows, but had no luck finding a manufacturer that provided an electric window operator option, or would provide me with the detailed engineering specs of their crank operator so that I could come up with one on my own. With accessibility/being able to operate this stuff being my primary concern I started looking closer at the major window manufacturers and finally settled on Anderson 400 Series casement windows due to their long-standing reputation/reliability and because they make an awning skylight with an electric motor that uses almost identical operating hardware to their casement windows.
So we chose the Anderson 400 Series casement windows and installed 19 of them throughout the house. Of those windows we wired nine with 18/2 wire for future electric motor installation and automation. This summer we wired and installed one electric motor as a proof of concept to make sure it would all work and I’ve been putting it through its paces ever since and plan to install several more next summer if everything continues to work as it has.
The installation wasn’t exactly straightforward as we had anticipated. From my phone calls with the local building supply store and Anderson Windows technical support I found out the electric window operators they supply are designed for an older series Anderson awning that has a slightly different operator. Both operators use the same 13-spline metal gear that the hand and electric operator plugs into, but the older style Anderson operators have the gear in the middle of the operator mechanism whereas the newer windows have it offset to one side. This meant we had to grind off a piece of the mounting bracket before it would sit flush on the operator gear. You can see how it looks installed in the pictures below.
The Anderson Electric Window Operator comes as a package with a power supply and command center that can operate up to 4 windows shown below:
We thought about using their system out-of-the-box, but the power supply and command center was expensive, would be difficult for me to use with my limited dexterity, and not allow the integration into the home automation system that I wanted/needed. We instead decided to purchase the power operator only and then got to work figuring out how to make it spin.
I made a few more phone calls to Anderson technical support and finally after having a handful of people tell me that this isn’t something they support found an engineer sympathetic to my story who told me two of the diagonal pins on the 4 pin connector needed 18-24 VDC to run the motor. EXCELLENT! We grabbed a 12 VDC battery, made a few jumper wires and quickly got the motor turning. Put 12 VDC across the motor and the window opens, swap the polarity and the window closes. EASY STUFF!
Next thing to figure out was how to integrate this in with my HAI OmniPro 2 home automation panel. I knew I needed to use a couple outputs to fire Form C relays, but how did I need to set it all up? Basically what I needed my controller/logic to do were three things:
- Put no voltage across the motor and it would DO NOTHING
- Put 24 VDC on PIN 1, 0 VDC on PIN 3 and have the window OPEN
- Put 0 VDC on PIN 1, and 24 VDC on PIN 3 and have the window CLOSE
I thought about this for a little while, and came up with a pretty straightforward solution using two relays. The way it is wired is with 24 VDC on the NO contact of each relay, 0 VDC on the NC contact of each relay, and one side of the motor wired to the COM of Relay 1 and the other side of the motor to the C of Relay 2. The coil of each relay is fired by the respective output of the HAI.
You can get a good idea of how this is wired in real life if you look at the picture of my window operator relays below:
If you look at the pictures closely above, you’ll see that everything is wired exactly in the schematic. From right to left, each relay has 3 terminals: NO wired to 24 VDC, C wired to the window motor, NC wired to 0 VDC.
Further Details – Safety First!
What I’ve mentioned above is the bare minimum to get the motor turning in both directions and for the window to open/close. It has no logic to know whether the window is open/closed or where it is in its travel. This is just a set of dumb relays that will drive the window open/closed with no regard to anything else. This is very important to keep in mind and why significant logic and overload safeties must be put in place to keep the window from driving past it’s all the way open/all the way closed endpoints. I plan to monitor the state of the window security sensor to tell me if the window is open or closed and write some rather elaborate rules dictating safe operation of the window motor. On top of that, each window operator power source will be fused to break power if the operator hits a solid endpoint. This along with the screen interlock will provide some level of safety to stop the operator if something gets in the way or the window operator pushes too far into it’s endpoints.
To further demonstrate the benefits of integrating the electric window directly into the HAI OmniPro controller let me show you my relay banks I have available for future automation use.
Below that is a Samlex Step 7 12 VDC to 24 VDC Step up Converter and a Referred Power fused power distribution board.
As you can see, this allows me a whole world more of opportunities then using the Anderson Command Center. Why limit myself to only 4 windows when I can easily automate 12 with relays that cost a fraction of the amount. Add to that the fact that I can now control these windows using my cell phone, computer, voice recognition and you’ll quickly see the benefit to integrating this all into my primary home automation system.
One last thing… This post has been provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide instruction on how to install a system of this type only to show what I did in mine. I am by no means liable for anyone that attempts a similar installation.