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Hard wired lighting control - How popular?

pucbaldwin

Standard Member
Hi

As part of a full house refurb, I'm thinking about star wiring my lighting circuits back to relays or dimmers in a central cupboard, and star wiring the switches separately, back to the same place and then controlling everything with a raspberry pi or some other hub.

Are there other people who have successfully taken this approach? I don't see that much discussion of it, other than in the context of things like Loxone.

I would love to use Loxone but suspect it is outside my budget, so am trying to replicate the approach with lower cost components. I know it could be done, but given it's my lighting, it does need to be reliable and can't just be hacked together.

Any thoughts gratefully received.

Peter
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
Star wiring is pretty common for most lighting systems, Crestron, Loxone, C-Bus to name a few that use it. I think that my concern would be that I would want something that was CE Marked to provide power / dimming to each lighting circuit for safety and reliability. This is unlikely to be cheap. Quality tends to have a threshold that when you go below it, you are in danger of not meeting the quality / safety required for a permanent installation.

Based on experience (this is my experience) anything below around £40 per lighting circuit (a circuit been whatever one switch is controlling) as a lighting pack/dimmer is likely to be questionable. Assume that a standard 3 bed, with an upstairs bathroom, downstairs loo, kitchen, dining room, lounge and hall would require a minimum of 10 lighting circuits. So the controllers (if you can get them at £40 a circuit) would be £400. Then you would need a power feed to each one in some sort of enclosure £100. Some form of basic control system to control these lighting packs £150. Electricians time to commission and issue a minor works cert or Part P - £300.
You will need a LOT of cable as each light circuit and switch will need wiring back to a central node - £300, switches and light fittings (assuming very basic plastic wall switches and pendants) £100. Ancillaries and unexpected £200.

As a DIY you may be able to deliver something for maybe £1500. These figures are best guess assuming that you can find some form of lighting control packs at £40 per circuit.
 

pucbaldwin

Standard Member
Thanks for that. That was a very useful response.

I'm prepared to pay proper money for the relays/dimmers, I agree it's not a place to skimp. What I could really do with is some direction as to what other people have used for relays and dimmers when doing something similar, and what hub they have integrated it with.

Thanks

Pete
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
I don't think many people would go down the 'heath-robinson' route. Its complicated and is unlikley to yield satisfactory results from a reliability point of view. Are you going to use din mounted relays or contactors? Then what will actually control all 10 circuits as you will need more than a RPi. How will this controller be interfaced? Are you going to write an app from scratch? How will this interface with other HA equipment? Honestly, I applaud your enthusiasm but you can buy off-the-shelf products that will work with your existing wiring and provide far better flexibility than what you intend for half of the price.
If you want Star wiring then a CBUS set-up would only cost you around £2k for equivalent sized house.
 

pucbaldwin

Standard Member
Thanks. The point of this is not so much to be deliberately all DIY about it but rather to find a way to do this (ideally in a wired fashion) in a way which is cheaper than using something like Loxone. I'm waiting for a quote from a Loxone installer, but expect it to be too much for my budget, so am considering alternatives. I have considered putting in Fibaro dimmers and that might well work, but hope to be able to take advantage of the opportunity to put wiring in to avoid going wireless, and its usual disadvantages.

I would be quite happy to buy a decent hub/PLC with quality components for real money, as long as it costs less than Loxone. Depending on the cost I would want to integrate it with other things as well (e.g. PIR sensors in rooms).
 

cmclean

Established Member
I would suggest that you don’t want to get tied into a proprietary wiring system as that could obviously cause many challenges later on

If you wire 3 core to each light switch/keypad position then you have a live and neutral which is vital for being able to control low voltage loads such as LED bulbs and 35mm back boxes rather than 15/25mm as that will give you the ability to have all the lighting load control in the backbox

A number of lighting control solutions allow for this nowadays

This means that you will wire standard electrical wiring and don’t even need to do every light load in one go

Hope that helps
 

R-CAD

Established Member
If you are game you could DIY a Loxone install, it may be cheaper than you think.

Put yourself through Modules 1 & 2 of their training and you'll come away with a MiniServer and a bunch of other components that you will use in your install (better check that this is still the case) - the training almost ends up free.

Smart Home Expert Training - Loxone

It's worth pricing up the cost of doing the lighting control/automation with Loxone. You don't need to use their switches, anybody's retractive switches will do. If you want 5 way touch switching with temperature and humidity sensing then their switches are a good option, but a little expensive if you don't need all the functions.

If you want lots of dimming and/or RGBW the the lowest cost way of doing the lighting via Loxone would be to go 24v, with central 24v power supply. For the 24v fittings I would then go with the Loxone fittings to save a lot of hassle. I found 3rd party 24v lighting very sensitive to what power supplies they were running off and no one offers support unless you are using the drivers they supply.
 

pucbaldwin

Standard Member
CMClean

Are you suggesting I wire the lighting circuits in the traditional way and just make sure I have a neutral available in the switch backbox for wireless dimmers or such?

Or do you mean I should star wire the lighting circuits back to a hub and wire the switches separately with 3 core back to the central hub. That way I suspect I could wire the lighting circuit and the switch circuit together at the hub if I didn't want automation, but then could wire them to a controller/relay in the future? The 3 core to the switches could be repurposed for low voltage for switches that just fed into the hub rather than directly switching the power to the lights?
 

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