New build smart home

Bpazza

Novice Member
So I am about to start works on a new house which I would like to install the following

Mood lighting to the main rooms
Alarm and CCTV with option to view on iPhone/iPad/TV etc
TV’s all running back to central rack which will incorporate sky tv, Apple TV etc
Ceiling speakers to downstairs, outside and master bedroom

I’d like to wire the lighting so I can always change back to a standard switch if need be in the future, some buyers won’t want all the tech.

My question is, what is the best system to go with that would link all or most of the above? My electrical contractor is recommending rako for the lighting. Any help would be very much appreciated.
 

Chester

Well-known Member
Rako? And back to standard? No, not without the wireless modules.

Are you doing this yourself? If not, you need to talk to a local installer and plan the project thoroughly with them.
 

cmclean

Active Member
Install 3 core and 35mm back boxes at light switch locations.

Use something like Control4 light keypad/switches and then you could always take out if needed and replace with standard light switches is as you say someone else doesn't want all the tech as that type of deployment would still have standard wiring
 

Chester

Well-known Member
Would 35mm be deep enough? I'd probably suggest 45mm because of all of the additional cable that would be coiled up at the back. Some of these 2-gang plates (if not going Control4) can be pretty deep themselves.

Having both twin/tripple+earth and 2x CATx cable to each plate will double cabling costs as well. Covers you for all eventualities though.
 

maf1970

Well-known Member
Given the complexity of your proposal,how much of it have you mapped out on paper ?
Second, armed with your plan, I would speak to the likes of Control4 local installer to see if it would fit your requirements before looking at separate controls for each area.
 

Bpazza

Novice Member
Speaking to my contractor he’s suggesting wiring with WiFi modules in the ceiling. Expensive way but said it’s easy to change back.

What’s everyone’s thoughts on brands? I’ve heard of reliability issues with control4
 

R-CAD

Active Member
I've recently moved in to our "nearly finished" self-build. We've gone with Loxone for the automation and are so far very impressed.

However the items you've listed will generally be different systems with maybe a system like Loxone sitting over the top and co-coordinating them.

The CCTV especially doesn't sit within a home automation system, but rather a stand-alone system that perhaps the automation system piggy-backs on to, say, get the camera feed from the entrance when the door-bell rings.

The video distribution similarly - although the automation can communicate with and bring on the right devices (along with lighting and shading scenes) if you select for a particular event.

Consider what other automation you may find a benefit. Since you are doing a new-build you have the opportunity to automate much of the functions of the house with the same automation system you'll be selecting for the features you've listed.

We have heating and passive cooling split across a number of different systems, ie. ASHP, UFH, MVHR, roof vents, external shading and Loxone sits across the top of them coordinating them all to be doing the same thing and with one set of controls.

Additionally for us Loxone also looks after entrance control, lighting and house alarm, and in the future we plan to expand it to multi-room audio and making best use of Solar PV (controlling when washing machines an driers run, diverting excess PV to immersion etc.)

When I first costed the home automation around 2.5 years ago Loxone came out the best bang for buck for what I was after, but the market is developing so that may have changed since then.

I have deliberately ignored your wish for "standard" wiring for the lighting. I don't see this as an issue as radially wiring the lighting gives you more options for the future. Loxone does also give the option of their propriety Tree wiring for the lighting switches, I didn't personally use this for the reason you state, but I did star/radially wire them.

BTW for the build side, there's a very good forum that supports self-build called BuildHub:
BuildHub.org.uk

There's no cross-over with avforums it's just the construction side with an excellent knowledge base for low-energy homes.
 

Iain42

Well-known Member
Good luck with the build.

We went with Rako as part of our upgrade, and very happy with it. They are based in Kent, and were very helpful on the phone when the electrician called with a couple of questions.
 

R-CAD

Active Member
@R-CAD, how did the build go? What's your impression of Loxone?

The Loxone system has been excellent - robust, easy to adjust configurations and a good interface by either phone app or web browser. Lighting does everything I could want it to, Automated external shading - adjusting blind slat angle to the sun positions is spot on, Security can be configured to do as much or as little as you want - well beyond a "normal" alarm system, Heating/Cooling and ventilation is still a work in progress - not Loxone's fault, and all the basics are working but I want a bit more predictive control and it requires more configuration. I have some gremlins in the Videocom, but I'm over the 100m max range to an entrance gate, so it may be self-inflicted, and "we're" still working on it.

I've already extended the initial system to include some lighting and motion sensors in and around a couple of out buildings, that has proven very simple to add on and configure and with the main system in place, cost effective.
 

al21

Novice Member
HI @R-CAD do you have a post on what you used for all the different components .

Doing a self build our self and looking into UFH and MVHR. Have you got it to play nice with Loxone.
 

mushii

Distinguished Member
I think it would be useful to understand what your budget is for what you want. HA can run from hundreds to tens of thousands depending on your requirements. There are lots of options just on the lighting alone:

Clipsal C-Bus
Rako
Zigbee
Z-wave
Lutron
Crestron
Control 4
Loxone
Lightwave

to name but a few of the more common systems.

All have different benefits and architectures and costs. Very few will allow for retro-fit of conventional lighting without installing double cabling - better to just leave as is.

Given what you want I would suggest you may wish to engage a Custom integrator to give you a better idea of scope.
 

mushii

Distinguished Member
Speaking to my contractor he’s suggesting wiring with WiFi modules in the ceiling. Expensive way but said it’s easy to change back.

What’s everyone’s thoughts on brands? I’ve heard of reliability issues with control4
Control4 is OK if you have an open wallet and don’t want to do anything yourself. Even the addition of smart bulbs such as Hue will require the purchase of the Extra Vegetables plug in and the mandatory C4 installer call out and programming fee. Kiss another £400 goodbye. I worked with a C4 integrator for a while. It’s license to print money. I stopped in the end as it upset too many of my clients, continually paying for functionality that is available in domestic appliances at 1/5 of the price.
 

R-CAD

Active Member
HI @R-CAD do you have a post on what you used for all the different components .

Doing a self build our self and looking into UFH and MVHR. Have you got it to play nice with Loxone.

I've not made a post on the full install, but happy to answer any questions.

I've used Loxone Actuators on someone elses UFH manifolds, and have Loxone Touch Tree switches in most rooms that give a temp and humidity reading, as well as Loxone motion sensors in most areas/rooms that provide a brightness reading as well as detecting motion.

From the ASHP I have heating and cooling*** (delivered via UFH & MVHR), and I have around 20 configurable zones that you set your desired temperature to, which could be different temps at different times of the day, and Loxone learns how long it takes for a given zone to heat or cool and then tells the ASHP what to do and opens up the necessary actuators to delivery the temps to the schedule.

***it can only deliver heating or cooling at a time, ie. it can't heat one zone and cool another at the same time - this is a restriction in the ASHP rather than Loxone.

In truth, while the system is configured to be able to do this, I have all beds set to one temp and all living areas set to another, and they are at the same temp 24 hours a day since my house requires very little heat input.

But I do have quite a lot of glazing on my South-East and South-West elevations and use Loxone to control the solar gain. ie. leave the external blinds open until the house is just over target and then angle the slats to cut out any further solar gain.

If the house starts to overheat in spring/summer/autumn, due to solar gain, then Loxone uses passive measures first: blinds down, roof vents open (if not raining), MVHR to summer bypass and if external temp is lower than internal temp puts the MVHR on to boost to dump heat (very effective at night). If with these measure in place the temp is still increasing then it goes to active measures and uses the ASHP to cool the floor and chill the air coming in through the MVHR. (The MVHR doesn't shift enough air to make a big difference in temp, but can be used to trim the temp. It can deliver around 2.5kW of heat or cool to the house)

The ASHP, UFH, MVHR, Blinds, Roof vents are all from different 3rd party companies, with different communication requirements and Loxone controls them all and keeps them in sequence. Without Loxone each would have it's own controllers and sensors and none of them would be talking to each other.

The communication with the ASHP (Mod Bus) and the MVHR (IP) was beyond my technical knowledge, so I did use a professional installer to configure the communication. But once the communication is set up I've been able to reconfigure it myself when needed. But changing temps and timings is simply for anyone in the family to do via the App/Browser/touchscreen.

I'm not sure that could be said for any other building management system. My understanding is they all require bespoke programming, and you need to get the programmers back in to reconfigure anything. A friend of a friend has a Crestron and Lutron system and his programming costs are eye watering.
 

mushii

Distinguished Member
@R-CAD do you have an indication of costs for your loxone install. Last time I priced it, just looking at a very basic setup without any Lights was close on £1000 then between £100 to £200 per light fitting depending on what you want.
 

R-CAD

Active Member
Without a full specification the price of my install is pretty meaningless. Give or take a couple of £K it was around £15K. You could spend much less, under £1000, or you could spend much, much more.

When considering the costs you need also to consider the savings you may make elsewhere.

For me, the minimum cost for the controller I would have needed for controlling the ASHP & UFH for heating and cooling and was £1500 + 22 actuators, another £1100. For the external blinds, incl. wind speed sensor, £450. For the roof vents incl. rain sensor, £290. For MVHR £260. Each separate system would have required its own temp sensors.

If I'd had Loxone do nothing else but climate control, the cost would have been around the same or lower than the sum of all the separate controllers and sensors.

Adding the motion sensors and door and window contacts, then adds a very comprehensive alarm system for roughly the same (or a little less) as an equivalent stand alone alarm system. The one caveat is that you can't connect the Loxone alarm to Police and Fire Services, but you could a stand alone system - so it's not absolutely like-for-like.

The Loxone Touch Tree switches do appear expensive, but when you consider the value of the integrated temp and humidity sensors, plus they are 5 gang switches, all wired by a single length of CAT 7, again the cost is a similar value to achieving the same functionality by other means. If you don't need all the functionality in a particular room, then fit a 3rd party retractive switch. Although I did this in a few rooms and now regret it, wish I'd fitted the Loxone Touch switches even where I didn't need temp, humidity and multi-gang.

The Loxone lighting options are limited, I've mostly used 230v 3rd party fittings. But, if you crunch the numbers and want dimming and/or RGBW lighting in a few rooms then including a 24v Loxone power circuit, DMX extension and Loxone 24v light fittings and tape is quite cost effective.
 
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