Actuators in the cold

Hi all,

I have the Aeotec dual nano switches (zwave) installed in my garage from where they control the lights of both garage an garden, but this garage is not heated and almost not isolated so the inside temperature is not much different. It worked flawless for several months, but some week ago we had a period of very cold weather (-10°C) and since that time, they seem unresponsive or even dead.
I have a suspicion the cold weather is the culprit.
I searched for the specs and they mention operating temperatures from 0°C onwards, so okay, they are allowed to disfunction or not function while freezing, but dying??? damn…
I don’t want to hit the same wall again, so asking, does anyone know of a remote controllable switch (Not IR, but zwave, zigbee, hue, wifi, … ) that keeps working (or at least doesn’t die ) in cold temperatures?
It should control LED outdoor lighting around 90W in total.

I’ve contacted aeotec but received no response, and my seller is out of business so cannot be contacted any longer.

Thank you for anything you can share,


You have pretty much ruled out any functional tech except 433 MHz RF or fairy magic.

While manufacturers rarely guarantee operation below 0°C for this kind of domestic gear, you very often can “get away with it”. Mains powered devices will generally self-heat enough to avoid actually getting that cold.

This obviously is less likely with battery devices optimised for low power consumption (AND the cold will kill the batteries too).
I mention that because even a mains-powered zwave device is going to be at heart of its design, optimised for low battery consumption. Not going to self-heat very effectively.

On that basis, a WiFi switch with its wasteful power consumption is looking favourite …

You can improve your chances by physical means. Mount devices away from wind chill. Enclose in sealed weatherproof box for insulation purposes (with a bag of dessicant). Be aware you might now make an overheating problem for the summer.

Serious applications like commercial CCTV or industrial controls will have heated enclosures - it’s not difficult to have a resistor rigged as a 1W heater with thermostat.

It’s unlikely that attempted use while cold will actually have damaged your devices. Perhaps more likely you’re suffering from condensation penetration.

You have pretty much ruled out any functional tech except 433 MHz RF or fairy magic.

Not really, only IR.

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Sorry, I misread that before :coffee: thinking you were ruling the others out too.

For Z-Wave, what world region? Selections vary by region,

Thanks Rossko57,

The devices, I have (or rather had :wink: ) two of them, were inside my garage which is protected by walls and ceiling, and additionnally inside a weatherproof (but not sealed) housing.
If it were condensation, I would have expected to see it upon opening the box, as I believe it’ll be sooner on the walls of that box then inside the actuator which, even if it is LE-rated, still produces more heat than the housing :-).
In this box they already survived a hot summer (40°C).

The only other thing I’m thinking of that could have caused this crash is an unnoticed power failure, while they were simultaneously upgrading, but what is the chance of that?
The ‘update’ is possible but not likely as I don’t believe it will auto-update by itself and not both at the same time.
The cold is something that could explain it since it’s outside the specs but in the end I just don’t know how they died. This question is therefore rather checking how I can prevent this as the possible cause of death in the future.
I did search myself too and I know if they exist, it’s hard to find, since most of these are designed for indoors, where it is mostly around 20°C… I know.

Still and I repeat myself: thanks for you reply!

For Z-Wave, what world region? Selections vary by region,

Hi Bruce, my world region is Central Europe (Belgium).

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I have two z-wave switches outside. A Nexa AN179 mounted in a plastic box, and a Fantem FT116 (Oomi and Qubino) mounted inside a outdoor lamp.
Both where working when we bottomed at -30C.
I also have some Ikea zigbee bulbs as outdoor lightning, worked just fine.
As long as they can keep their self-generated heat…
However, sumertime heat may kill these here as we go above 30C. Time will show :slight_smile:

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Thnx Nils,

I’ll look these up.

Hi Nils,

The nexa website is Swedish only, which makes it hard to read…
That Fantem FT116 looks identical to the aeotec (dual) nano with the exact same housing and same specs. With that similarity, I guess it must be identical underneath as well.
Since you had it running at -30, I guess, mine then must have been struck by solar flares or stardust.
Damn, that is hard to protect against…

Well, the Nexa one I think is a Sunricher (or something like that)
The Fantem can be found under several brands.
It is more at random that I used these, they where simply what I had at hand.
I dont think it will make a big difference what you use.
Since the climate can be on the extreme side here, I expected these switches to not work as they should, but so far they are good :slight_smile:

As an update: I found actuators with operating temperature specifications ranging from -20°C - 70°C.
using zigbee and wifi for communication from sonoff. Should anyone have a need for it.

Thanks again to all those that responded.

Can you link the devices? That’s an incredible temperature range for what are usually very cheap electronic devices…

Probably there is some specmanship going on here :slight_smile:

In general, most devices used in home automation will use the same commercial components, and commercial components generally have a temperature range from 0 to 70 degrees. That’s not to say they won’t operate outside this, but they may not meet spec.

Higher quality devices will use more expensive components and maybe that’s what you have found? These components though are typically rated from -40 to +85.

Here you have a bit of mix - that’s not to say it won’t work - it probably will, as will most devices, but my guess is the components being used in most devices people here are buying for home use are likely the same. You might be lucky, or your might not :slight_smile:

Fact is, if the manufacturer mentions this range as the working specifications, it’s one less argument they can bring on to refuse replacement or refund in case the device shuts dead.
Besides that, well, we never have certainty about anything, right?
Even if they would all use the same device, I’d still rather go with the one that claims it works under those extended conditions.

zigbee: Sonoff | Zigbee | Mini | Zigbee | Modules | Sonoff
wifi: Sonoff | MINI | WIFI | Welkom | Sonoff

Absolutely, and I agree - good support is important, and if the manufacturer makes claims that are not met, then for sure they should stand by this. :+1:

To me, this is a bit strange - you prefer to go with a manufacturer that makes claims that may not be possible :wink: . I’m not familiar with the devices - maybe they are high quality, so no problem - I’m just noting that the reality is that it’s likely to be the same for all, or most devices out there, even if a manufacturer is playing with some specmanship…

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(Comment; be careful not to confuse storage temperature specs in data sheets with operational.)

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Sorry that I try to disturb the party, but according the manual here they state operating temperatures between - 10 and 40 degrees.

lol, sorry but -10°C still suits my needs so as far as I’m concerned, the party is still on ;-).

I think the point that is being made here is that you cannot trust what is written in the docs. It is highly likely that this device is not using higher grade components than other devices on the market and therefore it is likely that this device is really rated to 0 deg - even if the supplier might state -20 or -10 in various parts of their docs.

You might get one that will work fine - that’s quite likely - just as it’s quite likely that other devices will also work well below 0 (I have many here that work just fine). But as you’ve already found, it’s not guaranteed :slight_smile:

It’s fine if you want to take this risk - we all do it and most of the time it will work out, but people should just be aware…