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Ecotect Tutorial : Add An Appliance


An appliance object represents a piece of equipment within a zone. As such it can be set to emit heat and use resources such as fuels, electricity and water.

This tutorial explains how to add an appliance to your ECOTECT model, assign materials and configure settings, set activation times and assign an operational profile.


You will need about 20 minutes to complete this tutorial.

Training and Accreditation

Successfully completing this tutorial fulfills one of the practical skills required for completing Level 3 of the Thermal Analysis training module.

Resources Required

To complete this tutorial, open a new ECOTECT file. You may also wish to have a look at the Operational Profiles tutorial.


Placing an appliance

  1. First select the Appliance button from the Modelling toolbar. Then, in the 3D Editor, position your cursor over the canvas in the required location for the new appliance.
  2. Click the Left mouse button to accept the chosen position, and then drag the direction arrow to specify the direction the appliance faces.
    Use the mouse to specify the direction the appliance faces.
    Use the mouse to specify the direction the appliance faces.
    Alternatively, if you press the Esc at this time, the direction of the appliance will default to the positive X axis. If you locate a point and click with the Left mouse button, a vector will be drawn to indicate the selected direction, and the placement of the appliance is now complete.
    The inserted appliance.
    The inserted appliance.

Assigning appliance materials

  1. As with all other Ecotect elements, you can assign a material to an appliance to define its characteristics. Select the newly created appliance, and then go to the Selection Information panel.
  2. Under the Object No heading, you will see fields for Primary Material and Secondary Material. Let's start with the Primary Material - select this field and then click on the button, and then click on Select Material. A dialogue box appears, showing a list of available appliances. Choose one, and then click Ok.
    Select an appliance to use.
    Select an appliance to use.
  3. For the Secondary Material field, make this the same as Primary Material. This is generally the case for appliances, and it's important to do this as it will have an effect when configuring activation times (see Tips section).

The different appliance materials cover common equipment, and includes information such as dimensions, greenhouse gas emissions and electricity consumption. Of course, you can also create your own appliances if you don't find one that suits.

Configuring appliance dimensions and other settings

  1. Select the appliance, and under the Selection Information panel, select the Primary Material field and then click on the button. This time, click on Properties.
  2. This opens the Element Library Editor dialogue box, and displays the current settings for the selected appliance material. Here, there are a number of settings that can be configured for an appliance. For example, use the Length X, Width Y and Height Z fields to set the appliance dimensions. Other important settings include Electricity and Water usage, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
    Select an appliance to use.
    Select an appliance to use.
  3. If you wish to make your changes apply to the current appliance material, click the Apply Changes, and you will then be returned to the 3D Editor. If you wish to save your changes as a new appliance, give the appliance a new name, and then click the Add New Element button. You can then click the Close button to return to the 3D Editor (however, you then need to reassign the newly created material to your appliance via the Selection Information panel).
    The appliance will resize based on the dimensions you have specified.
    The appliance will resize based on the dimensions you have specified.

If you can't see the overall shape of the appliance in the 3D Editor, go to the Display»Show Element Detail menu, and check that this is set to either Partial or Full.

Assigning an activation schedule

  1. Appliances can also be assigned an activation schedule, that tells the appliance when it is either on or off. Select the appliance, and then go to the Selection Information panel.
    Set activation times.
    Set activation times.
  2. Under the Activation heading, you will see two fields Time On and Time Off. Using a 24 hour clock, you can specify the times for which the appliance operates.
  3. When On, the object is 100% activated, when Off it is 0%. For an object to be always Off, use a Time On of 0:00 and a Time Off of 0:00. For always On, use an on value of 0:00 and an off value of 24:00. If the ON time is after the OFF time, then the object is simply active overnight.

The activation times work well for simple appliances with only two operational states. However, some appliances may have different operating and power-saving modes in addition to this. For these, you will need to use an operational profile (see next).

Assigning an Operational Profile

  1. If you require a more complex pattern of activation times, or for appliances that have different power usage levels, an operational profile is your answer. Select the appliance, and then go to the Selection Information panel.
  2. Under the Activation heading, click on the Schedule field, followed by the arrow button. In the context menu, click on the Select Schedule option. A dialogue box appears, from where you can select an operational profile to apply to the appliance (assuming you have created one previously). To learn more about how to create an operational profile, click here.


  • The direction vector of an appliance is simply to allow the object to be rotated and manipulated within each space - the emissions from an APPLIANCE are assumes to be omni-directional.
  • To position the appliance at a height above the ground plane (ie. Z = 0) hold the Ctrl key down while moving the cursor in the 3D Editor canvas - this restricts the movement of the cursor to the Z-axis only. Release the Ctrl key at the Z-height you wish to insert the appliance at - you can use the Zone/Cursor palette to specify the Z-height value.
  • The use of activation times is affected by what primary and secondary materials have been assigned to an appliance. When an appliance is activated, the alternate material becomes active. The exception to this is when the primary and alternate materials are the same. In this instance, the appliance uses and produces in accordance with the material properties when activated, but has zero output when turned off.
  • The dimensions of an appliance do not affect its operational or output, and is used only for space planning purposes.
Ecotect Tutorial : Creating and Editing POINT objects


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