New Build. What should i get? (UK)

Hi everyone.

Im at the build stage of my house and in the middle of wiring.
I plan on having a well connected smart home based around a Smartthings hub and Amazon dots placed on the ceiling of selected rooms with the audio outs connected to my multiroom audio system

Here’s my plan so far


Nuvo 6 zone amp with keypads for selecting audio sources, volume etc

Sources will be
Amazon Dots x 3 Bed, Bathroom, Kitchen
Tv in Kitchen
Tv in Master Bedroom
Airplay for using iPhone in any room


Honeywell Evohome system

Any advice on Lighting, sensors or anything else that you would get if you were in my position? even if its mad!


Welcome! It varies a lot, because different people have different needs and different aesthetics. You can get a lot of inspiration from other people’s project reports, though. :sunglasses:

First UK resources

There are two good threads you might want to start with, both specific to the UK.

The following is the UK lighting FAQ. Lighting control for the UK is quite different than for the US because there just aren’t the same number of wall switches available, and because many UK homes do not have a third wire (neutral) at the light switch. But there are still about a dozen different ways to provide lighting control.

Next, here’s a list where UK members discuss what they were doing in their own projects. It might give you some ideas.

Project Reports: The quick browse lists

Next, the community – created wiki has quick browse lists to help you find related threads in these forums.

I definitely suggest you look at the “get started” list in the project reports section. It’s true that many of those will refer to US devices, but they also tend to give more context for a project and that can help you decide if it’s something you might want to do, and then you can start your own thread in the projects section and ask for ideas on what devices available in the UK might accomplish something similar.

There are also threads under get started like “top 10 things to do at home automation” which again are less about devices and more about applications so apply to both regions.

In addition, the “impress your friends” list has some of the more unusual project ideas like a secret bookcase room. Those are just fun to read, although many of them have practical applications as well.

Household Composition

It will be helpful to those giving you specific suggestions about your own setup if you can tell us a little more about your intended goals. For example, if you are the only one in the home, then Projects like “light follows me” make a lot more sense than if, like one of our community members, you have eight kids. :sunglasses:

We also talk a lot about the SAF or xAF factor. SAF stands for “spousal acceptance factor.” It can be quite easy to automate a home in a way that no one else can figure out how to get anything done! There was a scene on a recent television show where a person staying in a Home couldn’t figure out how to get up onto the bed as it was elevated considerably. Then the homeowner walked in and pressed a hidden button on the endframe and stairs came down from both sides of the bed. It was elegant and practical, but SAF was very low because it wasn’t intuitive. Light switches with a double tap or triple tap feature can have the same effect on a much smaller scale if other household members can’t figure out how to get the lights to turn off!

The main point is that home automation often has to satisfy more than just the The person who purchases and installs it. So many community members will have suggestions on how to increase usability for others.

(At my house, we use the term “xAF,” where the X stands for “anyone but me.” I have two housemates and we all have Friends and family who come to visit. I also have home health care workers. Not everyone has a smart phone, nor do I want to give account access to everyone. So my planning has to include thinking about all of the people who move through the home and how the automation features will work for them.)


Also, aesthetics are a major issue for some community members while others are only concerned about the practical aspects. And people do vary in their aesthetics. For some people, a plastic button with glowing LEDs that can change color is very attractive. Others only want conventional looking devices. Still others want the kind of thing one might see at a luxury hotel – it’s fine if it has metal and LEDs, but it needs to look very posh. SAF can be a big factor here as well.


And then there’s budget. In my own case, my budget is about £200 per room, although I might go up to £400 for a room that had a television set up or a thermostat or some other specific use case that required special equipment. I don’t do every room, and I don’t necessarily do every switch even in the rooms that I do automate.

Other people might have a budget considerably higher, or somewhat lower. Or set a whole house budget of £1000 or less.

The point is just that different people will have very different budgets, and that does change the way in which a project might be done, and obviously how many projects might be done in a house.

So if you have any sense of what your own budget will be, that can also help others in giving you advice.

Not restricted to smart stuff, but a bit of a brain dump after going through a large extension project and learning from my ommissions afterward.

At least two runs of Cat6 to each room, in places where you will either make use of it - behind the smart TV’s etc, or if you dont, then to a blanking plate next to a socket etc as you never know what the future holds.

Cat6 to an exterior location for in cae you want it down the garden at a later date etc.

Alarm cable and further Cat6 to every room - you may not want a hard wired sensor in each room, but at least you have the opportunity - make sure they are in the corners you would position alarm sensors in for best effect. The Cat 6 for possible IP cameras for a CCTV system in future. If you arent puttin git in now, just make sure you know where the cables are in the ceiling, because then you know you can break through the plasterboard into the corner and grab it. when the time comes.

Feed all these cat6 to a location that you will either designate as a comms room, or somewhere else appropriate.

Feed all the alarm cables to the location where you will want your alarm main box, and dont forget the runs of cable for the access panels.

Find the best position for your smartthings hub in the house, and make sure you have both power and cat6 to that point. The best position for mine is right in the middle of an upstairs landing, I have power, but no network so has to use a homeplug setup.

More light fittings/curcuits than you need. You can always lose them in the ceiling if you dont want them in future, but putting them in at the build stage is a LOT cheaper than getting them in afterward.

Handy ones we went for in terms of lighting were:

light switches near both sides of the bed connected to floor lamp sockets, so we can put on dim/side lighting in the bedroom for if you need to get up in the night, and you can turn the lights off from the bed. You can also turn them off near the door as per usual.

Individual security flood lights around the home, but they can also be manually overidden by a set of switches in the bedroom and also the kitchen, so if we hear a noise at night outside we can flick the switch and turn on all the front or rear floodlights. Hand for future automation and linking to an alarm, burgalrs dont like light.

decent speaker cable to above all rooms upstairs, Im putting this in now after the event and its a royal pain in the backside. Dont fall for the guff about “quality speaker cable”, Im using 4 core 2.5mm flexible mains cable. Its made of copper - and an awful lot of speaker cable is copper clad aluminium, which wont be nice for your amp. Its also 2.5mm so resistance is minimal (though Ive got some very long distances to run), and its about a third or less of the cost of similar quality cable marketed as speaker cable.

Ceiling speakers for the bathroom - great for keeping kids happy for bathtime, if of course you have kids or are planning any.

Depending on the size of the house and building materials you may want to plan for wifi boosters either in the rooms, or above in the loft. Modern building materials including foil backed insulation and even foil backed plasterboard do not play well with wifi signals.

Deep back boxes (useful for fibaro modules)

Neutral to the light switches (again useful for fibaro dimmers etc)

There are probably a lot of other things Ive forgot to mention, if I think of any Ill pop some more down, if it helps anyone avoid some of the issues or “it would have been nice if we’d thought of that” moments, then I hope its ok.

Good points!

There’s also a quick browse list for “whole house projects” that might be of interest.

Definitely if you’re adding wiring you want a third wire at each light switch box as that will give you the most choices of devices. You also want deep backboxes, preferably 45 mm, as that makes room for adding networked devices into the box as @redball mentioned.

I also suggest putting some outlets high on the wall about 20 cm below the ceiling line. This will allow you to easily mount mains-powered cameras, speakers, or sensors and can be very useful. This is the sort of thing which is much less expensive to do while the walls are going up than later.

Outdoor devices

Finally, it’s worth considering where you might need outlets on the exterior of the house, and in the yard as well if you have outbuildings.

Z wave and zigbee are low cost in terms of both devices and the energy used, but that also means the range is somewhat limited compared to Wi-Fi. We typically estimate 12 to 15 m for one zigbee hop and about 20 for one zwave hop.

Both of these are mesh topologies, which means messages can be passed along from one device to another as a relay, but only the mains power devices can repeat for others. So a sensor might give its message to the nearest light switch, which then passes it to an in wall receptacle, etc.

Z wave is limited to four hops and zigbee to 15.

And exterior walls are often the most difficult to get signal through. They may be brick or have additional insulation or even wire lathing inside the wall.

Anyway, the point is that if you do you have outbuildings that you will want to get signal to, it’s quite common to find that it would be very nice to have a mains powered receptacle about halfway across the yard on the way to the outbuilding. So again planning for these at the outset can significantly reduce the cost.

All i can say as a UK user who has just done a full refurb renovation on a property with the intention to make smart when complete . . . WIRE FOR NEUTRALS AT THE SWITCH (every switch) it gives you soooooo much more choice for lighting :slight_smile:

Things to also consider wiring for before final fixes etc:

  • Ethernets to all tv locations

  • speaker cables for any surround sound rooms

  • power to near windows if you want automated window shades / blinds

  • power to a smart thermostat like nest etc in a central decent location

I find it always helps to have a central hub (cupboard) and wire out from there to each room what is needed . . . Then all your hubs and systems are in one location.

If ur new building and are wanting to use harmony also think about hiding IR buds for media stuff and to tvs etc (will they need taking through walls etc)

Final bits id consider:

  • power to door for smart lock and smart doorbell etc

  • external lights ? Do you want to link these in, allow a spot to add in a module or switch etc

  • power sockets, i always use the sockets with usb sockets in aswell, small thing but now i use them more than the actual sockets.

If i think of anything else i have done people may forget ill add it on :slight_smile:

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Central location of the hub will definitely help, and it should be central both horizontally and vertically if you have multiple floors.

Your system will be the most efficient if you place the SmartThings hub at least 3 m from your Wi-Fi router. Preferably in clear air as anything you put it in, even a wooden cabinet, will block some signal.

But the most important thing is the distance between the SmartThings hub and the Wi-Fi router. You probably don’t want to place those in the same cabinet. Wi-Fi can drown out zigbee signals unless there’s some space between them.

I never knew that my hub and router were next to each other in my old setup, never had many issues in regards to it but will defo account for that this time :slight_smile:

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