Hi Everyone. I made an article a while back and got a lot of valuable feedback from this community. Electrician is in the house this week and I wanted to be sure I’m not forgetting anything. So last chance to help me out! Really looking to make sure I don’t have any compatability issues. I believe everything I’ve listed will integrate.
Home Details: About 3,500 sq ft of living space on the first 2 floors. Everything getting wired or “home runned” into the basement in a rack along with hubs, cable boxes, speaker amps, camera NVR, etc. But I am running Cat 6 & RG6 to various spots in the house as WIFI access points and almost every room will have ethernet/Cat 6 jacks for hardwire connections as needed. Also, going to run extra conduit from basement to attic so it’s easier to pull wire later.
Brands I’m Looking to Buy:
Google Home (I’m a google person)
Alexa (yes I may get both)
Logitech Harmony Hub
Ring Pro Doorbell
Yale or Schlage Smartlocks
GE Z-Wave Outlets
GE Z-Wave On/Off Light Switches
GE Z-Wave Dimmers
Haiku Fans & wall switches
Nest Smoke/CO Detector
LIFX Smart Bulbs for recessed lighting
LIFX LED Strips for under cabinet lighting
Liftmaster Garage Door Openers
Opted to not have an alarm company come out and hardwire sensors. It would have voided the warranty on my new windows. So, down the road, will pick up some battery ones.
I am going to have a Lorex camera system, POE, inside and outside the house to a NVR in my rack in the basement. Also, going to run a few indoor Nest cameras for 2-way audio and likely will run a Nest outdoor camera on all exterior doors for 2-way audio.
Will have flood lights with motion sensors, and connected to a GE smart switch as well for added security.
Every room is getting wired for speakers. Going to run amps with SONOS in the rack so I can have 6-8 different zones. Considered getting a 16 input amp with 6-8 chromecasts as it’s a lot cheaper than SONOS, but both would work.
Any reactions or thoughts you all have I would really appreciate. Thank you so much!
Everything you listed looks potentially compatible except the haiku fans – – those are not compatible with SmartThings. Some of the other devices will require custom code from the community, there’s no official integration, but I assume you’ve already looked into that.
As far as wiring, etc., my recommendations on that are the same as they’ve been since 2015 so if you run any of the other “whole house” topics you’ve probably already seen everything I had to say. But I will recommend again, as I do every time the topic comes up, that you make sure your light switches have deep switch boxes, at least 48 mm and potentially even up to 60 mm. This just gives you a lot more choices about future devices.
Also, I always recommend people consider putting some outlets high up along the ceiling line in some rooms. This is helpful in kitchens and dressing areas for above cabinet lighting and in other rooms for cameras and sensors. But again, you’ve probably already heard me say that.
Good luck – – it sounds like a very exciting project!
And for anyone finding this topic at the beginning of their research, I’d also suggest looking at the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki in the project reports for the “whole House” list. Lots of discussions there about whole house projects.
In some cities this is now code but make sure a neutral is ran to every switch. They will have to run 3-wire (plus ground) in all cases. My brother, who is an electrician, said this is now code in St. Louis because of these Smart switches.
If you have 3-ways, run 4-wire. It is rare but it has black, white, red and yellow plus ground or run 2 sets of 2-wire. Neutral and power to every switch plus a traveler between them all and then a load. Sometimes you can just run 3-wire between the switches (black is hot, white is neutral, and red is the traveler) and then run 2-wire to the load, tying the neutral in the main switch’s box and then hot from the load termina.
The other thing I noticed is that so far all of your repeaters are Z wave.
You mentioned battery-powered sensors: whether you use them for things like opened windows or for motion triggered lighting or other straight home automation stuff, at this point you’d need to choose Z wave sensors. If you want to use zigbee sensors, you’ll need to add some zigbee repeaters into the mix as well.
use GE zwave fan switches. theyll match everything else. also, get yourself a mix of ge zwave and zigbee switches and/or dimmers. all your in wall switches (switch, dim, fan aux; zwave, zigbee) all will match and your mesh if you space the zigbee ones properly apart will be rock solid
GE fan switches are for use with dumb fans. There’s no point in paying the price for the haiku fans if you’re not going to use their smart capabilities. Or were you suggesting the GE fan switches with dumb fans instead of the haiku fans?
I have been “dreaming” about this myself, at some point I would love to build my own house and have been collecting ideas for it for a while, let us know how it goes and any lessons learned!
My 2 cents:
I think the Aeotec micro switch is a much more versatile solution than putting GE Switches, I have several at my home and they have been very reliable and you can put any regular switch in front of them, which gives you a chance to use any decor or style you want. I actually have them with the Aeon Labs AL001-W-US Panel in front, which I really like in terms of looks and functionality. The new versions of the switch come with power consumption report capabilities as well and they have both dimming and regular
Regarding the FAN as pointed out by JD already the Haiku are not compatible and in my case again I would prefer to pair a dumb FAN to a Z_wave controller (in this case the Micro switch will not work, but you can use the GE), just make sure the FAN is not wired with its own remote but actually controlled by the wall switch (or alternatively and with better aesthetics put the GE switch in the fan/ceiling tucked away)
Sensors: I know you said your not planning on installing an Alarm system but I would consider doing the wiring (not sure why that voids your window warranty), yes you can always add the battery operated sensors to the window/doors, but most of them are big ugly pieces of cheap plastic or have you drill the door to hide them, if you hard wire small reed sensors to your windows and doors (like most alarm systems use) and have the cables terminate in your basement you can put the sensors there (I actually have my sensors connected to the “profesional” Alarm system panel and have both ST and the Alarm company system armed this way
Finally in terms of Speakers not sure I follow your setup of Amps with SONOS in the rack, if your using SONOS you can have speakers in every room and you do not need any amps or anything centralized. SONOS is very good but an expensive solution if you want manny rooms and you also want stereo, if you are planing on hard wiring every room you could also just have passive speakers in every room connected to a central multi-room receiver/amplifier, Denon even has some wired and wireless solutions with Heos you can mix. I just posted my own setup wich is actually several Echo’s connected to Edifier powered speakers and works great for me, if your getting Amazon/Google Home devices for most rooms that is a way to do it and save you some money.
One additional though: I suggest you dont plan on putting the hub in a rack in the basement but in a central location in the home to avoid any potential connection problems to your devices.
Thoughts on Aeon vs GE switches: I have both, and yes, the aeon relays are far more reliable than the GE switches… but if something does not work, you just have to pull the air-gap on the GE-switch vs opening the wall box to access the aeon device. Also, My family does like the little blue lights in the dark for manual operation if needed.
Good point on the GE air-gap. In the case of the little blue light thats why I like the Aeon Panel it has a blue square dimly lit all the time and looks smart , they also pop out easily if you need to access the hard button on the switch, although to be honest sometimes it pops off to easily and its also cheap plastic anyway LOL
LOL, I know, every time I spend some time in the forum I end up buying more stuff or with new projects to try!
When you get it make sure it locks to the Wall plate, its kind of tricky at first and if the wall plate is screwed to deep the Plate will keep on popping out, I had to tweak it until it was just right.
Video: If your planning to have centralized video equipment transmitting to every room you could go with Ethernet if its IP based (but then you need a transcoder and its complicated with DRM protected channels) or buy baluns to use with the Cat6 cables but that has its cost as well, Its probably much cheaper to do at least one Coaxial cable run to each room as well as the Cat6
Few things I was hoping to hear back on. And I’m laughing because just when I think I have my plan figured out, I come to this forum and confuse myself again or change my mind.
We are doing the deeper switch boxes, so no worries there!
All Boxes will have the neutral wire ran, so no worries there!
Haiku - thinking about this now, I may not get it. I honestly don’t like the design and they are super expensive. I was only getting for the smart connectivity with the Ecobee, however the home will be super efficient anyway.
If I want to control a normal fan light separate from the fan speed, do I need to wire 2 switches now? I am not a fan expert by any means!
Alarm sensors - would love to slow down and have someone come out and hard wire, but any drilling in windows or doors voids the warranty, and candidly, I don’t have time at this point.
Hub location - wiring various Cat 6 connections in house so can really put the hub anywhere.
POE cameras - all video cameras are POE, so running Cat 6 to those locations.
Aeotec - I wasn’t even aware these existed. Do they effectively work the same as GE? What if I have like a 3 or 4 switch wall plate? I assume I can’t run the AL001-W-US Panel? Because I really like how it looks haha.
Why can’t I use these with a fan?
Also, the LED strip for undercabinet lighting, are any of you savvy enough with electrical work to know the answer to this? If I wanted to just hardwire them into an on/off switch vs needing to plug them in, can I do that?
Also, any opinions on LIFX LED vs the AEON LED? LIFX has the app, so may be easier to control honestly.
Z-wave/Zigbee repeaters. The AEON sensors are Z-wave I believe, so I would probably be ok with them. Even if I went with GE switches at the end of the day.
There are several different brands of in wall micros. some models are dimmers and some are just on/off switches. The three most popular brands are probably AEotec, Fibaro, and Qubino, plus vision as a budget brand.
With any of these, the micro goes inside the wall and you can use any of a variety of switches with them. Typically the most intuitive are “momentary” or “refractive” switches where are you press once for on, Press again for off, or press and hold for dim.
Aeotec makes a faceplate with a momentary capacitive button, which is the one we’ve just been discussing. But there are a lot of other choices as well.
You will need a cable with 4 wires (usually ground=blank, line=black, neutral=white, traveler=red). Then you can use the black wire for the fan (with fan control switch) and the red wire for the light (with on/off or dimmer switch).
I find relays are usually bit more of a pain to install, because the openings for cables on the relay itself are a little small and they are little boxes that dont attach nicely in the wall box, rather than GE switches that you can screw nicely into the wall box, especially if you have multiple relays in a wall box. I only like to use them when I cant use a GE switch.
I switched to wireless sensors about 3 years ago and have not regretted it since. Batteries usual last more than a year if not longer I also use the temperature capability in the sensor to balance heating across a floor. Since the latest hub update about a month ago connection has been lightning fast using smartsense multis to turn on GE switches when I open a door using the smart lighting app.
You may want to also consider these sensor types: http://www.sensative.com/strips.html
Thanks, all. I’ll take a look at that device class thread after work today.
In regards to my earlier question on the LIFX LED strips, does anyone happen to know if there is a way to hard wire these to a on/off GE switch, as opposed to having to plug them in? Given the breaks in the cabinets, would prefer to have them all on 1 switch.
I’ll probably stick with GE over Aeotec at this point. I did a bunch of research on them a long time ago, and still like them overall. Worst case, I can always swap out later.
I’ll ask the electrician tomorrow about the fan wiring. Hopefully he hasn’t already ran everything.
They work just like other Z-Wave Switches except you provide the actual rocker or push switch and that allows you to choose from many styles (I personally don’t like the looks of the GE Switches, to old style ) like @pizzinini points out they are a little more of a hassle to install but the latest version come pre-wired with pigtails, since you have the deeper boxes with neutral you should have no problem at all installing, there is even a micro switch that can handle to loads and 2 switches. The Aeon Panel won’t fit side to side in a 3 wall plate, you would have to do some customization there, but @JDRoberts already posted some great alternative options, to me thats the big advantage to these micro switches (besides them being reliable)
I have the SYLVANIA A19 rgbw and they work well for me, LIFX and Aeon are probably better but you can find the Sylvania bulbs for $30 compared to $55 for the other two and I did not see that much of a difference (YMMV), the bulbs are also Zigbee repeaters.