Smart home - lighting, CCTV, heating etc?

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Hi all

I've been away from the home automation world for a few years since I got divorced and went into rented. Almost 4 years on I'm finally buying a house again, and I'm due to complete in the next couple of weeks. One of the things I'm doing immediately is changing the lighting in the upstairs bedrooms (I'm boarding the loft above so it makes sense to get any lighting now so as not to ruin the boards when I come to do this).

It's got me thinking about the whole automation/smart home piece, and I'm wondering what my options are. I know I won't get something completely integrated without spending big bucks, but I want to ensure a good experience.

In my old house, I had Rako throughout the house to handle lighting (lots of different scenes as I love lighting) and Hive for heating, but my Rako keypads wore badly and it was expensive, although I loved the flexibility. Hive worked great too, although in my new house I have a combi boiler so no need for hot water control.

The other thing I'd really like now is multi room music. My ex had a Sonos system with in-ceiling speakers everywhere, which worked really well, but there's a part of me which wonders if Alexa's everywhere will do the job just as well and for a much lower cost? (Echo, Echo Studio etc)...in-ceiling speakers are never the last word in fidelity after all.

I also want to look at security with CCTV, and Ring looks like an obvious choice. Any thoughts on their cameras etc?

My immediate challenge is around lighting, as I have an electrician meeting me onsite on Saturday morning to give me a quote. I'm installing spots and pendant lights in several rooms, so.....what are my options?

I looked again at Lightwave, like the switches (nice switches are good!), but it looks relatively expensive, although not as expensive as Rako (there again I don't know how easy it is to set up scenes with different circuits etc).

Any thoughts?

Thanks
Matt
 

Seb Briggs

Distinguished Member
I try and avoid installing devices where the smart element is built in individual light fittings or bulbs , as if they still have a light switch then turning the circuit off at the switch isolates the fitting.


The main system i use is Fibaro which consists of a module that attaches to a light circuit either behind the light switch or elsewhere on the circuit . This allows you to use off the shelf standard light switches in conjunction with smart features . The switch connects to the module as well so the circuit doesnt get isolated.

The Fibaro system uses a controller (Home Centre 3) which also supports 3rd party devices (such as sonos)

A lower cost option of the above is the Shelly system that is for more budget conscious installs is also excellent and doesnt require a controller as all run from the App.

Both systems can be controlled by Alexa

For multi room audio i use Sonos and Heos but recently i have been using Arylic Amplifiers which work in a similar way to Sonos and Heos but substantially cheaper.

Heating i recommend Nest or depending on the heating required and HA system use Fibaro.

CCTV, i avoid the closed systems such as Ring as they cant easily be integrated with other elements of the system. I use Aspect system from Videcon who are based in the UK or at a pinch HikVision
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
HI Matt. Rather than focusing on specific technology, maybe look at infrastructure instead, Ask your spark how difficult it will be for him to drop you Triple and Earth to each switch location, so that you have a Neutral at each switch. This will open up your world of choice for smart lighting solutions at the switch. It may require a bit of chasing down from the ceiling and some deeper back boxes at the switch themselves (35mm back boxes) but this will ultimately save you a lot of money and allow you to choose almost any conventional brand of switch to match your decor and make them smart. By going down this route you will have the choice of Zigbee, ZWave or Wifi modules to control your smart lighting, You will also be able to test a variety of products without affecting manual operation of your lights. This would be the way that I would go.
 
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D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
I 100% agree with Seb he pipped me to the post.
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Ok, getting my head around this stuff again...can you clarify what the issue is with smart technology being built into each unit? You mean if you have a conventional switch you have to have them turned on all the time (at the switch) in order for the smart tech to work?
That makes sense if I’ve understood correctly...but is there an issue with leaving them switched on all the time? I guess it just means you control everything with voice, and just use the switches if your wi fi goes down?
What am I missing?
 

Seb Briggs

Distinguished Member
Yes that the issue

it’s the granny factor (!) if someone forgets not to use the light switch suddenly that smart light is incredibly dumb .

also my believe is that smart should never take away from operability and make you have to consider what you can and can’t do .

with an operational switch built into the system you can use voice, physical switch , scenes or timers when and however you want .
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
You insert a smart module behind each switch that makes the switch smart, It still operates as a 'dumb' switch in that you can use the switch to turn off the lights etc. But the module then allows you to use an app / Alexa / Google Chrome or a hub to control or automate the lighting. The module. The modules range in price, depending on vendor and technology from between £10 - £50 each.

They can be powered without a Neutral but it limits which devices you can use. If you have a Neutral to the Switch, then you can have permanent power to the module (they pull a few mA) and you get a much wider and more reliable choice.

For example in my Kitchen I have Scolmore Define Flat Plate switches, with Fibaro ZWave smart modules behind them. They can be controlled by:

1. The light switch as a simple switch
2. By Alexa voice command
3. Homeseer - my Home Automation platform
4. By an app on my phone.
 

Inked

Distinguished Member
Of course, not all of us find the “granny factor” an issue at all and have had many years of successful use out of smart bulbs for lighting and other off the shelf, plug and play smart home items rather than smart switches / modules needing wiring in, or the need for professional installation.
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Great info, thanks guys. But how much are we talking for these systems?

For example, how much would a room with 2 lighting circuits cost? (1 switch)
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
So I literally need a Shelly1 and a normal switch/dimmer on the wall? Nothing else?
OK - Shelly 1 is just ON/ OFF control. If you want dimming you will need a Shelly Dimmer 2 (£20) and you either need a normal or a retractable switches NOT a dimmer. The module is a digital dimming / switching module
 

Seb Briggs

Distinguished Member
Retractive 2 way centre off switch is what I use , readily available from a few manufacturers . However this is only if you want to dim at the switch otherwise just a normal toggle switch .

If you have two circuits you would need two modules
If you are seeing your electrician this weekend I’ll post a wiring diagram later today
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
Thanks guys - this is all new to me again! Do the shelly modules go in the switch back-boxes? And do I use a Shelly app, or something else? I saw @mushii mention Homeseer on another thread?

I need to do some googling!
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
TBH I get where @Seb Briggs and @mushi are coming from, I'm not an installer but I was an electrician and I've had various Lightwave, Rako and other devices, I then added a few Hue smart bulbs just for a bit of colour and haven't looked back since. Individual control of every single bulb for brightness. White temperature or even a splash of colour is just a game changer for me.

Previously in my kitchen I had 13 GU10 downlights split into 3 zones which was pretty flexible and well thought out but bring able to control each spot individually, most of the downlights are colour temperature adjustable but 4 of them are also colour.

I'd agree the switches can be a problem but I made my own covers with a wireless hue dimmer so the switches are now smart as well.

For me Hue has easily been the most reliable system I've used, it just works, even when my router power supply failed taking down my while network the Hue all still worked fine via the switches and motion sensors.
 

Seb Briggs

Distinguished Member
The normal location is in the backbox behind the switch but they can go anywhere

you can just use the Shelly app initially but if you want more control and add 3rd party devices then homeseer or other controller can be useful
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
Yes Shelly has a very nice App that you can use. But you can also use any one of Smart Home Hubs to add more complex functionality with other smart home products. Homeseer happens to be my Home Automation platform of choice. The advantage with a HA Platform is that it doesnt care what the technology or brands are. It can make them all interact with one another based on your own rules set.

To expand on this - my internal lighting modules are all fibaro running on ZWave; my garden lights all use shelly running on wifi; my internal standard lamps are all Philips Hue (Zigbee); my cinema room GU10s are Philips Hue (Zigbee); my under counter lights are Fibaro RGBW (Zwave). I have various Phiips Hue (Zigbee) switches that operate both Zigbee and Zwave lights. Some of my lights are on timers (controlled by Homeseer) and some of them will react to various inputs from other systems. So if my Ajax a alarm goes off and its after sunset, all of my smart lighting in my house will all come on 100%. If I say to Alexa 'Emergency' all of my Lights come on 100%. Some of my lighting will automatically switch off or dim at midnight, unless I say to Alexa 'Goodnight' then she turns off all of my downstairs lighting, except for my hallway Philips lights, which dim to 20% until Dawn, then turn off. If I say Alexa 'Party Mode' she over-rides all of my indoor and outdoor timers for 24 hours to stop certain lights going off at midnight. This why I run a Home Automation hub, because it allows me to create complex rules, controlling different technologies seamlessly. It is really the next step for many home automators.

There are other platforms out there such as Homey, HASS, Homecentre, Hubitat, SmartThings, Mi Casa Verde (Vera), to name but a few. Starting from free to use to hundreds of pounds.
 
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Seb Briggs

Distinguished Member
Diagrams as promised

1622126205791.png



1622126254449.png
 

Smurfin

Distinguished Member
TBH I get where @Seb Briggs and @mushi are coming from, I'm not an installer but I was an electrician and I've had various Lightwave, Rako and other devices, I then added a few Hue smart bulbs just for a bit of colour and haven't looked back since. Individual control of every single bulb for brightness. White temperature or even a splash of colour is just a game changer for me.

Previously in my kitchen I had 13 GU10 downlights split into 3 zones which was pretty flexible and well thought out but bring able to control each spot individually, most of the downlights are colour temperature adjustable but 4 of them are also colour.

I'd agree the switches can be a problem but I made my own covers with a wireless hue dimmer so the switches are now smart as well.

For me Hue has easily been the most reliable system I've used, it just works, even when my router power supply failed taking down my while network the Hue all still worked fine via the switches and motion sensors.

Yes but when you look at the cost of the Philips Hue bulbs, it's more expensive than going down the proper HA route?

I will have GU10s everywhere, @ £50 a go that's expensive, especially as some of them will fail?
 

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