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I guess it depends how long a life people expect out of something built in and an integral part of providing essential services for a home. 

 

My view is that anything that's controlling lights or power to any device or appliance has to be at least as reliable and long lived as a standard light switch or power outlet, so 25 to 30 years as a minimum expected life.  It also has to be replaceable within 24 hours by any off-the-shelf product of the same spec, just like a standard light switch or power outlet.

 

My experience with the longevity of operating systems and hardware used in control systems suggests that some may not last that long.  Even the simple remote control box for the roller garage door we had installed 4 years ago is now obsolete.  It has developed a fault with the automatic stop sensor, which disables door operation, and I've been advised that the only option is to replace the whole door as they no longer supply spares for this door.  As it happens, I managed to take the thing apart, discovered it had a pretty standard Somfy motor inside, with a normal 4 core cable, so I've been able to buy a complete new control system for it, with a pair of new remotes, manual push buttons and an infrared safety sensor for a bit under £100 all in, so when the weather warms up I'm going to fit that (right now I can only move the damned door using the manual winder).

 

I agree that big-brand systems like Loxone are likely to be around a fair time, because they've been in the market a long time and use standards that are also used by others, so the chances are that replacement components may well be around for a long time.  I'm not at all convinced that some of the other "internet of things" systems that are springing up all over the place, including some that have been crowd funded as startups, will be around in even 5 years time, let alone 25 to 30 years time.

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Posted (edited)

@jack Loxone was next on my list of things to try (had I not gone with zwave). A really good looking system and they seem more 'open'

 

@Adam2 Home center can go wherever in the house. I ended up with 3 wiring points - 1 does upstairs, 1 does downstairs (front) and another downstairs (back). Standard T&E cable to the lights, ran in 3core+E to the light switch positions to give me options.

 

Perfectly acceptable to use a PIR, If I was doing it again I'd probably go for either PIR or dusk sensing low level lights in the bathrooms. Decent hotels are a good place to see some of this in action / get inspiration.

 

Also be realistic about how much automation you want/need - it's all very snazzy but for me I probably use about 10% of the functionality. Things I like - 

- shouting at Google to turn lights on if hands are full

- Scheduling outside lights on/off based on sunset/sunrise times rather than fixed times

- Randomly turning lights on/off when on holiday

- Automatically turning on 'mood' lighting (table lamps etc) before dusk

- Turning off everything from bed (lazy)

 

In addition to ZWave for lighting I've also gone with Honeywell Evohome for heating, Google Home ("smart" assistant) for shouting at & casual music listening, ROKU sticks attached to dumb TVs for all on-demand & catch up services, Logitech Harmony remotes - all of this aligned with the mantra of making the smart elements modular and easy to swap out.

 

This is the combination that works for us... but try them out, order one product, try it, remember you've got to live with it (and the wife/significant other) and that its a £££ investment so you don't have to get off your backside to switch a light on/off 😁

Edited by MrMagic

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With home automation expanding in terms of capabilities and suppliers that there is bound to be some consolidation and, I would expect, more flexibility in the products/services from the "traditional" suppliers in this space else the will likely be seeing market share drop. So I agree, finding something that is reliable and replaceable is important - my belief is that products that use the standards like ZWave will help with the supplier independence. Cabling for future proofing by taking all back to a hub location is actually what I really wanted to avoid wireless comms issues which also simplifies future replacement of the central control system - though seems a shame to pay presumably a reasonable amount for the wireless comms part and not really benefit from it....still I guess I have a few months before needing to finalise the details so for now will carry on working out the wiring plans. Tempted to buy some kit and install in the current house to see how we like it and then either take with us or sell it on if we don't think it will be suitable.

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Interesting stuff - I was planning on going Loxone but I'm now looking at Fibaro as an alternative solution in a star/radial design.  I guess the downside of that approach is the additional wires used.

 

Will have to do a pros/cons comparison of both systems now...

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Heres an example of a wiring point (this one covers upstairs). It's not pretty so you may want to avert your eyes if you are of a nervous disposition...

 

Essentially you've got power in, a 3C+E from each switch point and then T&E out to each lighting set. This one also does the bathroom fan. I expect @jack can post some pictures of a properly wired Loxone system to show how it should be done.

 

N.B - This looks horrible, please please don't copy. If in doubt get a qualified spark in etc etc.

 

IMG_0102.thumb.png.41bfb5ac00f44d52b4bb960e39702948.png

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3 hours ago, JSHarris said:

I think that building in the ability to completely change the control system is essential. 

 

This'll be my approach: all wiring for sensors and outputs back to one or two positions then control from there. So, as @jack says, replacing the control system would be possible without digging up wires but still a major project.

 

2 hours ago, Adam2 said:

- each circuit though goes via a wall switch in case you needed to move away from Fibaro …

 

Personally, I'd regard wall switches as separate sensors and wire them separately back to the central point(s) and interconnect there. Then it's fairly easy to change them so lights are controlled by different switches or whatever. How much does another reel of 1mm² cost?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, MrMagic said:

Heres an example of a wiring point (this one covers upstairs). It's not pretty so you may want to avert your eyes if you are of a nervous disposition...

 

Essentially you've got power in, a 3C+E from each switch point and then T&E out to each lighting set. This one also does the bathroom fan. I expect @jack can post some pictures of a properly wired Loxone system to show how it should be done.

 

N.B - This looks horrible, please please don't copy. If in doubt get a qualified spark in etc etc.

 

IMG_0102.thumb.png.41bfb5ac00f44d52b4bb960e39702948.png

That is nothing remotely like mine!

 

It could be that because I have no ceiling void (single storey) that mine is different.  I have all led a mix of wall lights ceiling downlights, floor uplights, pendants and led tape.  I also have a 5 amp circuit for lamps. All run by dynalite system.  Have wall switches and app control. Have also some lights on pir sensors not on automated system.

 

On outside lighting have it on auto as well as pir so if its off on auto it will come on if sensor activated.

 

This is mine in the plant room.

 

 

71193C39-F458-4CA9-8A19-00F6F3392D03.jpeg

6635B318-2763-4BC3-A5E3-01F824931081.jpeg

Edited by lizzie

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2 hours ago, lizzie said:

That is nothing remotely like mine!

 

It could be that because I have no ceiling void (single storey) that mine is different.  I have all led a mix of wall lights ceiling downlights, floor uplights, pendants and led tape.  I also have a 5 amp circuit for lamps. All run by dynalite system.  Have wall switches and app control. Have also some lights on pir sensors not on automated system.

 

On outside lighting have it on auto as well as pir so if its off on auto it will come on if sensor activated.

 

This is mine in the plant room.

 

 

71193C39-F458-4CA9-8A19-00F6F3392D03.jpeg

6635B318-2763-4BC3-A5E3-01F824931081.jpeg

 

 

Is there a cover over the top of all that exposed wiring?  I hope so, as it looks to me as if there are exposed single insulated conductors to the right hand side of the modules there, and they need to be covered, or be double insulated, in order to comply with wiring regs, unless they are ELV/SELV compliant.

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@JSHarris yes its all safe, certified and compliant. Its a professional installation not only certified by installing electrician and inspected by building control for sign off but in addition installer had his annual professional competence check inspection here.  May be not a good photo for detail.

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Looks like a good photo for detail actually. And I'd tend to agree with @JSHarris there are loads of mains flexes but few mains installation cables,  only single insulation over much and bare PCBs also.

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I'm at the stage of telling my contractor what wiring I want put in. I had been looking at Loxone, but my neighbour's Loxone install is costing him £18K and that's too much for me. Ideally I would just future proof and put off the decision by putting lots of cable in, but other than lots of CAT5/6 I'm not really sure what wiring to put in. 

 

Current thoughts as follows:

 

Security

The easiest answer is something like a Pyronix wireless system. I would however also love to take the opportunity to run wire to each of the doors and windows for sensors as I seem to spend a lot of time running around checking everything is closed before I go out, but haven't decided on this yet. You could obviously do this wirelessly with a Zwave sensor or similar, but wired would be better and probably cheaper.

 

Lighting

At this stage, I'm focusing on enabling me to use a wireless technology for lighting in certain places. This entails getting deep back boxes put in behind light switches and making sure neutral wires are available, to simplify putting things behind light switches in future (e.g. fibaro). I have been trialling LightwaveRF in the existing house. Works pretty well although the instructions are rubbish, it's quite expensive and it concerns me that they are a relatively small company and the technology is closed. I think Zwave is likely to be a better bet as you can use it with various home automation systems.

 

Audio

Sticking with Sonos. I had ceiling speakers previously and didn't use them. Also, a leak in the room above trashed one of the them.

 

Wifi

Will be wiring Cat 5/6 with Power over Ethernet for 3 or 4 Ubiquiti access points. 

 

CCTV

Will be wiring Cat5/6 for PoE back from 4 or 5 points externally to somewhere central to use with a Network Video recorder or Blue Iris software on a pc. There seem to be a number of decent camera brands out there for reasonable prices, e.g. Hikvision.

 

AV wiring

I will have two main TV points in rooms at opposite ends of the house. I was intending to duplicate and centralise all the AV gear under the stairs or in the Utility Room and run HDMI cables to the TVs, but am beginning to think it is more trouble than it's worth, particularly if you want 4K picture quality and decent sound. Normal HDMI cables max out for 4K at around 8m and after that you're looking at fancy stuff like fibre optic hybrid HDMI which will cost you a couple of hundred quid. You're also running speaker cable for 5.1 or 7.1,  plus phono lead for the subwoofer, plus CAT6, plus optic audio as back up, etc etc. I think I'm going to put speaker wire in to both locations to allow for surround sound with a local amplifier, but will probably only have full surround sound in one location and use a soundbar in the other. I suspect I will have to live with having some boxes near the tvs.

 

Pete

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, JSHarris said:

Is there a cover over the top of all that exposed wiring?  I hope so, as it looks to me as if there are exposed single insulated conductors to the right hand side of the modules there, and they need to be covered, or be double insulated, in order to comply with wiring regs, unless they are ELV/SELV compliant. 

 

I think it's OK. The top boxes in each pair seem to be these:

 

https://power.sager.com/hlg-150h-48a-2525351.html

 

Mains to 48 V DC power supplies. Presumably SELV though all the spec says is UL approved for wet applications. This datasheet  does say: “ISOLATION RESISTANCE: I/P-O/P, I/P-FG, O/P-FG:100M Ohms / 500VDC / 25 / 70% RH”.

 

The lower boxes seem to be quad dc-dc DMX drivers so won't have mains voltages though the iDrive name seems to be used for multiple boxes none of which look exactly like this. Presumably the DIP switches on the left set the DMX address. Or maybe they're some other protocol than DMX but something similar. Whatever, they presumably feed off the 48 V input.

 

So the only voltage above approx 48 V will be the flex from the switched connection units to the power supplies which will, of course, be double insulated.

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Posted (edited)

3B519471-540E-4684-A771-73DA308DCB00.thumb.jpeg.5f945e28d6d0d0dc165fe03f76cdd9c6.jpeg@Ed Davies think you have understood set up properly thats what is is.  Closer pic...plus pic of conventional installation for non automated install in bedrooms which I think may be more the type if thing @JSHarris is mentioning.

 

 

7F3CBE02-4E98-4E3E-A320-227BD9E761B3.jpeg

Edited by lizzie

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Posted (edited)

@lizzie Looks neat, thanks for sharing the pics. Will be different to mine as two different systems (Dynalite vs ZWave/Fibaro) plus mine normally has a lid on it - not much fun just looking at a grey box 😁.  Similar 'star' wired setup, all control elements in a central location for easier swap out of failed components / switching systems if needed. 

 

@PeteTheSwede For CCTV I use Hikvision, cameras + NVR, it 'just works'. For the AV side of things I agree with your thought process - I went through a similar plan to centralise all AV kit in a shiney rack but in the end it seemed to cost more and was more hassle than having a stack under each TV. For me each TV gets the same Freesat box + Roku combo. Add on a soundbar if it's in the lounge.

Edited by MrMagic
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12 hours ago, PeteTheSwede said:

Pyronix wireless system

Pyronix is now owned by hikvision so there should be easy integration with a hikvision cctv system which just work as @MrMagic states.  I am planning on both in my house with the alarm system being hardwired and wireless expansion if necessary.

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@MrMagic am I right in saying that you are running Home assistant on a Pi with a Z-stick plugged in?

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13 hours ago, lizzie said:

3B519471-540E-4684-A771-73DA308DCB00.thumb.jpeg.5f945e28d6d0d0dc165fe03f76cdd9c6.jpeg

 

plus pic of conventional installation for non automated install in bedrooms which I think may be more the type if thing @JSHarris is mentioning.

 

 

That's the one that had me concerned, as it shows LV colour coded single insulated cable, with no second insulation layer, as required for any LV cabling.  From what's been written above this isn't LV wiring, but is either ELV or SELV, with the wrong colours.  As such, if it's really ELV/SELV then it doesn't need double insulation.  However, it shouldn't really be using LV colour coding, as the chances are others will look at it and jump to the same conclusion I did.

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Just realised I've been guilty of the over-use of acronyms...

 

LV = Low Voltage, which in this specific context means 230 VAC nominal, i.e. normal mains voltage, where the line conductor is identified by being brown and the neutral conductor by being blue.  The full LV voltage range is over 50 VAC up to 1000 VAC, over 120 VDC up to 1500 VDC.

 

ELV =  Extra Low Voltage, not greater than 50 VAC or 120 VDC, although the EU LV Directive applies to anything over 75 VDC

 

SELV = Separated (or Safety) Extra Low Voltage, as for ELV but with isolation from any Protective Earth (PE).

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Posted (edited)

My understanding of ELV wiring colours:

 

Brown - polarity not connected to earth (usually positive).

Blue - other polarity which is connected to earth (so ELV but not SELV).

Grey - other polarity also not connected to earth (so SELV).

 

Any corrections to that?

 

So if they earthed those blue cables elsewhere (making it PELV or FELV rather than SELV) that'd be OK, but I suspect they don't. But this is all getting pretty picky, frankly. Power over Ethernet would, I imagine, typically be SELV but uses blue and brown (and blue/white and brown/white) - I doubt building control is ever going to tell people to rip that out as non-compliant.

 

Edit to add: in summary, my understanding is that ELV colours are the same as LV, first power voltage not referenced to earth  is brown (like line or phase 1) then the next is grey and presumably black if there's a third one, but they'd need labelling by that point, whereas a power voltage referenced to earth (like neutral) is blue.

Edited by Ed Davies
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Can I just say my lighting was professionally designed and then installed by a specialist electrician.  There were reams of technical drawings and the installation was inspected by the design company, certified by the installing electrician, passed by his professional competence inspector (our install was used for his annual site inspection check) and signed off by building control.

 

I cannot conceive that all those professionals would have closed their eyes to something that did not meet regulations.

 

My lighting and electrics are one of the few areas on this build that have lived up to expectations of the comptence of so called professional trades.

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7 minutes ago, lizzie said:

Can I just say my lighting was professionally designed and then installed by a specialist electrician.  There were reams of technical drawings and the installation was inspected by the design company, certified by the installing electrician, passed by his professional competence inspector (our install was used for his annual site inspection check) and signed off by building control.

 

I cannot conceive that all those professionals would have closed their eyes to something that did not meet regulations.

 

My lighting and electrics are one of the few areas on this build that have lived up to expectations of the comptence of so called professional trades.

 

I wasn't for a moment suggesting otherwise.

 

The confusion comes from seeing what to all intents and purposes in a photo appeared to be LV wiring that wasn't double insulated, that's all.  Without being able to read what was on the boxes (assuming that they are labelled to indicate that the voltage on those wires is really ELV/SELV) then the only safe assumption anyone could make would be to assume they were LV; i.e. at mains potential.

 

FWIW, I used to teach electrician apprentices years ago, and the golden rule was never, ever assume that anything is safe until you have positively identified and tested it to be so, and to always assume the worst case until you have proven beyond doubt otherwise.

 

 

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Check out indigo running on a Mac .

Best home automation I have found . Supports most things ; though I prefer z wave .

Regarding audio per room ; forget Sonos etc . Raspberry pi with amp header board and squeeze box software ( running on same Mac as indigo ) . IPeng to control audio via phone or some cheap iPads wall mounted 

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Re Cctv .

indigo supports access via another app for that . Or try Mangocam.com for cloud based . Using it to monitor one of my rentals - so far seems great !

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Re heating 

In my 3 rentals I use geniushub which is z wave based .

works a treat !

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