Tom

Home automation, errr...

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Right, I'm going to see someone tomorrow local to me who specialises in home automation. Looks like they deal with Lutron products. I know NOTHING about home automation, and tbh am none the wiser really having read the posts in this forum. I can just about cope with a dimmer switch. I'm not sure really what I'm after but hoping I will be convinced of it's worth tomorrow. I guess I want to make sure I put in whatever cabling I need at this stage, to give me good options later. Does anyone have any views on Lutron products? Future proof? Are there any pertinent questions I should ask?

Thanks all

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Like a lamb to the slaughter...

 

I have put in some CAT 5 cabling here and in other developments.  It only gets used by a few purchasers.  I have had a Lutron dimmer switch which was OK.  I have some SONOS stuff for audio but the firm seem quite scammy.  I am never quite sure what I want to automate.

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7 minutes ago, Tom said:

I know NOTHING about home automation,

 

1 minute ago, Mr Punter said:

Like a lamb to the slaughter.

Yep, just give me some cash and I shall tell you what I want to install.

 

Seriously.  You need to decide what you want automated, above and beyond what you can already do.

So if you need to switch lights on when you are away, that can be fitted, if you want to turn your heating down, when you are away, that can be fitted.

But have a real hard think about what is important to you.

 

My personal view is that it is all a nonsense, technology looking for a use.

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7 minutes ago, SteamyTea said:

 

My personal view is that it is all a nonsense, technology looking for a use.

That's an interesting view, but not one that I share as far as heating and lighting go. I think that being able to control lighting and heating remotely is very useful, whereas being able to control your oven or washing machine remotely sounds silly to me.

 

Heating

I know Tado doesn't get a very good rep on this forum, but I have been very happy with my Tado system - let's us control our heating with a lot of accuracy, whether we are at home or away. Also has geofencing so will act intelligently depending on whether we are there or not. All the Tado hardware also has temperature sensors and logs which means you can log the temperature for each zone where you have a Tado thermostat or thermostatic valve. I know a lot of people here like logging temperature, so that gives you some benefits.

 

Lighting

You'd be surprised how much of a burglary deterrent having lighting routines come on whilst you are away are. There are lots of ways to do this and you don't need every bulb in your house to be remotely controlled, 5 or 6 bulbs should be enough. This is better than a timer device in my opinion, as you have far more control and can have more varied routines just in case some clever burglar was watching out for the repetitiveness. 

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1 minute ago, Adsibob said:

Heating

Why would you need to adjust heating when you are not there, who benefits from that?

2 minutes ago, Adsibob said:

Lighting

I got burgled in daylight.

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1 hour ago, SteamyTea said:

I got burgled in daylight.

*insert quip about home automation and daylight robbery here.

 

 

Thanks all. I'll see what they say, would want to make sure I put in whatever cabling I need so if I suddenly get an epiphany and want to switch on the toaster when I'm at the in-laws then I can.

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1 hour ago, SteamyTea said:

My personal view is that it is all a nonsense, technology looking for a use.

I tend to agree and I've work for software companies since the early 90s. All I've done is put in some CAT 6 to mitigate crap wifi. 

 

I'm starting to get annoyed by technology, i'll end up in cabin in the woods, probably with some sort of manifesto.

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Don’t do it😀

 

Just finished a job specified by a lighting designer.

 

still waiting on the info on the scene setting programmed in, info on what do the 12 buttons on the light switch  do.

just grief 

 

only good thing is the last person out switch 

 

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to be fair the lutron system looks sweet as a nut! 

Have done it a few times, but it really depends on what you want to use it all for, if you've got complex lighting set ups etc it is nice just to use lovely looking switches to control it, or if you've got a full run of floor to ceiling glass with blinds etc. 

I'm not convinced on how much people actually use it once it's in, just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily mean you should!

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2 hours ago, Tom said:

Right, I'm going to see someone tomorrow local to me who specialises in home automation. Looks like they deal with Lutron products. I know NOTHING about home automation, and tbh am none the wiser really having read the posts in this forum. I can just about cope with a dimmer switch. I'm not sure really what I'm after but hoping I will be convinced of it's worth tomorrow. I guess I want to make sure I put in whatever cabling I need at this stage, to give me good options later. Does anyone have any views on Lutron products? Future proof? Are there any pertinent questions I should ask?

Thanks all

I have experience with Lutron from entire office complexes to the Grafik Eye and even the little Rania stand alone units. It is good stuff, I always quite fancied a Grafik Eye for lighting control but realistically I have always managed to achieve the same or better for less money. I would also say that really it is not really at home in a domestic setting, apart for the Rania stuff and Grafik eye I suppose but anything more than that is a bit OTT. 

 

I have automated a lot of my house with Shelly, they do a little standalone module and a Pro module which is Din rail mounted, so far it has enough I/O capability to control lighting schedules, garage doors, automatic blinds (not that I have any right enough but the interface is there if I did need it - same as a garage door actually). They cost about £9 for a little standalone unit and about £50 for the din rail mounted options, you have heat and humidity sensors, gas sensors, basically everything. 

 

I automate the lighting in the house, mainly external and some internal circuits mainly for security and convenience, such as knowing the main living spaces will all be lit when we need them and go off when we are off to bed, external lighting is a collection of semi-automated and sensor driven lighting which is all connected so at the flip of a switch I can light all round the house and the external lighting on the remote garage. I can control the heating, other circuits if I need and the system can be scaled and programmed by just about anyone. Lutron... try a commissioning engineer at £800 a day - £1500 is Lutron send them.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, TonyT said:

Don’t do it😀

 

Just finished a job specified by a lighting designer.

 

still waiting on the info on the scene setting programmed in, info on what do the 12 buttons on the light switch  do.

just grief 

 

only good thing is the last person out switch 

 

This is the LD's fault, they ought to have written a commissioning schedule with the clients input, then attended site with the commissioning engineer to set it all up with a final sign off hour or so with the client also present to confirm. 


Get that right and Lutron system are in fairness easy enough for each party involved.

 

It is like trying to launch a rocket without the rocket command crew and no one to authorise it. 

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Posted (edited)

You can spend a lot of spondulies on this stuff and then have SWMBO ask, with a quizzical look if it was all worth it.   And in most cases the more you've spent the harder that justification goes.

 

Being able to turn on the heating when you are an hour or so away from home is one good and justifiable use case - unless you live in a well insulated almost passivHaus house in which case it's nonsense.  In our current house it's a good thing to have, in the new build not so good.  In an old house it's easy and relatively cheap to achieve with for example a Honeywell Evohome system - there are other suppliers.

 

When you are away, having lights come on as if you are home is also useful. Again easy to achieve with some plug in wifi sockets and table or standard lamps - we have some sonos jobbies and use a 'scene' in Google home to turn them on at dusk and off at 10:30.  Again simple and easy and cheap to do.

 

In the new build though...... 

 

Actually, we're really struggling to find good solutions where we use normal wiring and can have both at the wall switch control as well as some programmed stuff.  And we also will have to manage rooflights and outdoor blinds....

 

The main thing is it has to be usable from a simple wall panel or it gets too faffy. 

 

Hmmm need to turn the angle of the blinds a bit - 'shit, where's my phone...'    'can someone call me, I can't find my phone?'    5 minutes later and the cloud has moved on...

 

Simon

Edited by Bramco

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2 hours ago, SteamyTea said:

Why would you need to adjust heating when you are not there, who benefits from that?

I got burgled in daylight.

Plenty of examples i can think of::

  • you're out with the family for the day, but for whatever reasons we need to come home early unexpectedly. Rather than get home to a cold house, you can remotely switch on theheating or modify the schedule so that it reaches the required temperature just as you get home.
  • Teenager at home alone. Teenager told to turn the heating off when she leaves. Teenager forgets. Tado's geolocation will turn it off as soon as the Teenager leaves.
  • You leave the house in a rush and can't remember if you turned the heating off. No worries, you can check the Tado app and control it from there.

Bad luck about being burgled.

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1 minute ago, Adsibob said:

Plenty of examples i can think of::

  • you're out with the family for the day, but for whatever reasons we need to come home early unexpectedly. Rather than get home to a cold house, you can remotely switch on theheating or modify the schedule so that it reaches the required temperature just as you get home.
  • Teenager at home alone. Teenager told to turn the heating off when she leaves. Teenager forgets. Tado's geolocation will turn it off as soon as the Teenager leaves.
  • You leave the house in a rush and can't remember if you turned the heating off. No worries, you can check the Tado app and control it from there.

Bad luck about being burgled.

 

My boiler has broken down in the winter before and it was 2 days before anyone noticed.  In a modern house it takes a very long time before you feel cold.

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11 minutes ago, Mr Punter said:

 

My boiler has broken down in the winter before and it was 2 days before anyone noticed.  In a modern house it takes a very long time before you feel cold.

That's nice, but my house is 90 years old. Only so much some 40mm EWI and insulated plasterboard on the wall and 100mm PIR under the screed ground floor can do. Before our renovation, we spent a fortune on heating. I'm hoping these measures will significantly reduce that cost, but I doubt we'd get anywhere close to 2 days before noticing a breakdown in the depths of winter.

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I have a Loxone system that mainly controls lighting, blinds and heating.


Things I like:

  • Programming the same switch to do different things depending on the time of day or night, and/or the day of the week. For example, after dusk, hitting the light switch in our bedroom turns on the bedside lights rather than the downlights. Hitting the light switch in the living room after dusk turns on a different scene than during the day. The system knows when dusk is, so adjusts all of this automatically over the year.
  • Automatic blind control: all blinds come down at dusk. Some open automatically in the morning (different behaviour in some cases depending on whether it's a weekday or weekend). Some open in tilt mode rather than all the way. I have an "all blinds up" and "all blinds down" button on the app (I rarely use the app, incidentally). You can program automatic blind tilting to adjust for the sun angle and based on individual room temperatures, but I don't need that.
  • Flexible button programming: There's an "all downstairs lights off" button in the middle of the upstairs landing, an "all upstairs lights off" button by the bottom of the stairs, and if you double-click the light switch by either bedside in our bedroom, all lights in the house are turned off. This feature alone is utterly amazing. I also have a "living room dark mode", which is the only app-based function I use on a daily basis. It turns off all the lights in the house, brings down the blinds in the living room, and adjusts the living room lighting for TV watching (pendant and wall-lights off, downlights on very low).
  • There are garage sensors that give me a status of the garage door on the app. Nice for when you're lying in bed wondering whether you closed the garage, which I do often! I can also close the garage door from the app rather than getting out of bed and schlepping downstairs to do it.
  • Clicking a "holiday mode" button on the app and knowing it will take care of everything from heating to turning lights on and off based on our historical evening habits.

Things I like less:

  • It was expensive, and required the use of more expensive dimmers for the lights than I might have gone for. It did avoid the need for proprietary blind controllers though.
  • I like mucking about with it but my wife doesn't have a clue. If you aren't interesting in learning how it all works, you'll end up paying a consultant to make any significant changes (some you can do easily enough via the app). I don't know how much getting a consultant involved will cost you.

I haven't done half of what you can do with a system like this, and certainly if I were doing it again I'd make some different choices (on light drivers and dimming in particular). But overall, I think it's been a clear net benefit to my life despite the costs.

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Similar to @jack I have a Loxone system (indeed I think his posts here convinced me to preserve with DIY install of it) and here's my list of automations my wife and I like in it, in approximate order of usefulness

 

Automated skylight windows to cool down the house overnight

Automatic lights entering any room (mood based on time of day and house hold mode)
Single button to control many light fittings/moods in any given room
General heating & HW controls (tied to presence and energy prices)
Solar PV monitoring and boosting devices when cheap electricity available
Turn off appliances when room/building is empty
Automatic blinds based on overheating risk, sun brightness and time of day to keep sun out of my eyes when working
Mute / unmute speakers in each room and outdoors based on presence
Automatic lighting, towel rads, MVHR boost on running the shower
Burglar and fire alarm alerting
Shut off water mains when house is unoccupied
Automatic lighting scene and music selection when running a bath. 
 
 
 

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I cope well with a light switch at the door controlling centre light and 2a sockets for table lights.

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Do it on the cheap and have all the hassle / scripting yourself 😁

 

Homeseer , z wave , nas  etc etc 

 

All good fun ( when it works ) 

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2 hours ago, Mr Punter said:

 

My boiler has broken down in the winter before and it was 2 days before anyone noticed.  In a modern house it takes a very long time before you feel cold.

SWMBO should notice in under 2 minutes !! 

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Loxone for me also. I think it's an excellent system, very robust, very flexible and good value compared to other centralised, whole building automation systems.

 

Similar to others, it looks after heating, cooling, hot water, mvhr, blinds, roof vents, internal & external lighting, alarm, fire, videocom, and entrance gate.

 

I think HA is at its best when you don't have to interface with it (too much).

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The following video was created by a home automation enthusiast, he ranks the HA technology in his house and is honest enough to declare where he wasted money. This video does have an American bias e.g. he feature pool automation and the Yanks like their outdoor lighting.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0dfuj60aaI

 

My plan at the moment in descending order of priority is:

  1. Robot vacuum. The current generation with lidar are a distinct improvement over the previous generation. Selfbuilders with MVHR report lower dust levels and I hope mvhr plus a robot vacuum will result in a cleaner house.
  2. I want to control energy usage which in a non passiv house means fine tuning room temps and anticipating weather a day ahead. I liked the features of the Drayton Wiser system but as I get further into my HA plans I think I could do better i.e. feed room temps into an HA hub and control radiators and ufh heat loops from central manifolds. Keeping an eye on electricity consumption at the primary points of consumption interests me, hence clamps on dedicated circuits to power hungry appliances like a tumble dryer is something I want but I cannot find off the shelve solutions for this.
  3. Visitor screening is another, which means starting with a smart door bell with video and two way audio, then moving onto driveway video camera with AI interpretation. The icing on the cake would be a number plate recognition cam to provide audio notifications in-house such as "Hermes courier or paper lady on drive". This might seem odd to those in a standard urban setting but our rural plot means we will not see visitors on the drive for a minute or two.
  4. I like the idea of multi room Alexa and music as I listen to audio books and podcasts.
  5. Finally security just makes it into my HA list. We live in a low density rural location with very little external illumination during the winter. If I was away working I think Swmbo would feel more comfortable being able to check all is well on security cameras when things go bump at night.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, epsilonGreedy said:

Visitor screening is another

Do you really think anyone will visit you.

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1 hour ago, Mr Blobby said:

Why Loxone over KNX ?

 

I largely chose Loxone based on flexibility and price. I think it's more user-friendly for interested amateurs than KNX.

 

I seem to recall that KNX was generally more expensive as well. Due to the way it distributes intelligence, for example, you end up with quite expensive light switches.

 

I actually use KNX dimmers in one part of my installation - the older version of the Loxone hardware included basic KNX functionality.

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