New construction home looking for some help


(Amit) #1

Hi this forum has been super helpful, in the reading I’ve done so far.

I’m looking for help and suggestions things to avoid and or add.
I have a tonne of questions and i’ll probably end up forgetting a few by the time i’m done this post so please bare with me.
The home is just over 7000sqft over three stories, its wide and narrow. Will I need to add Z wave repeaters? Am i better off using lutron caseta or insteon switches?
I am running cat 6 and possibly some fiber optic, currently have budgeted for 3 ubiquiti unifi access points aswell just to make sure I have good wireless connectivity around the home as I also plan on using Amazon Echo Dots to control my lighting tv hvac etc. For my thermostat I’ve chosen to go with ecobee.
im thinking of adding motion sensors in powder rooms and walk in closets (most of these have 2 switches eg one for pot lights and one for ambient LED lighting) will one motion sensor per room control both light switches?
Im planning on keeping my walls as clean as possible and hiding banks of switches in the nearest closet to the area we are lighting. For example my main floor is all open so family (1switch) Dining (2 switches) kitchen ( 2 switches) will all be hidden in a closet and then have one single wall keypad with multiple buttons like Insteons Wall Keypad to control all those lights in the single gang box (if someone doesn’t feel like using their phone or amazon echo). Now I know insteon doesnt work with smartthings it works with amazon echo though, but i also heard the reliability is horrible, so im trying to find another way to do this with z wave switches but haven’t been able to find a keypad type switch where I can just program each button to those hidden switches in the closet (im only wiring power with neutral to the keypad switches) Im trying to eliminate 3 way / 4 way switches and do it via smart controls, is this a bad idea?

thank for all your help in advance guys, im starting to lose sleep over this and i havent barely started lol


(The Viking AKA "Holy Crap You're a Giant!") #2

Questions answered:

Wireless - 3 access points should cover 7000 square feet easily, though you’ll have signal drop-off at the fringes depending on home/wall layout. Not really anything to worry about too much. We run 3 WAPs at work that cover 7500 square feet.

Z-Wave will work fine for you, though I’d install the Z-Wave Plus units that are just coming out. Better range, better mesh, better speed.

Motion sensors will do whatever you tell them to in software. You can set SmartThings routines that will do certain things with certain lights when certain triggers are used. With CoRE, you can easily set pistons (rules) to control certain lights when motion is detected during certain periods of the day or when luminosity is above/at/below a certain amount. Example: Our kitchen cabinet lighting turns on when motion is detected in the kitchen and it’s dark outside. This is to keep from being blinded when the lights kick on. But during the day the overheads kick on as well, when it’s less of a jump from ambient to active lighting and less of a shock on the eyes.

If you plan to live in the home for the rest of your life and never ever move, then switches in the closet is OK as long as the electrical code allows it. My recommendation is to plan for the future when you decide the home may not be for you anymore… You can install some really nice looking switch plates around the Decora style Z-Wave switches without making them look bad. Additionally, how do you intend for guests to use your living space when they visit? A single gang button controller is awesome, but in the event it malfunctions or the automation drops due to internet issues, etc you’ll have problems. My suggestion is to either install control panels for those switches if you still intend to hide them (ActionTiles is perfect for this), or remotes everywhere (EVERYWHERE).
What you are looking for specifically is “Scene” control where one button press controls a bunch of lights/items and sets them to predetermined values.

My full suggestion is: Wire the house as if you were building it for someone else who had no interest in smart homes…

I’m retrofitting my 1958 multi-level and my primary design consideration is: It needs to be accessible to people who don’t know we have a smart home. With the exception of two Hue lights and a H801 LED controller for accent lighting, all of our lights are controllable via physical Z-Wave switches. If we ever sell the house (no plans to), I want to be able to leave everything in place and have it function as if it were a normal house.


(Chris) #3

I agree 100%. Home automation is not ready to be implemented without manual control available, for two reasons… First being reliability, and second being familiarity. It’s not reliable enough yet, and most people aren’t familiar enough or comfortable enough using it. I think it would be very short sighted to build a house without switches in the standard places.


(Amit) #4

First of thanks fellas for the replying and the recommendations, this is exactly the kinda insight and help I was looking for so I can avoid mistakes. I’m a builder so i’m using my own home as a guinea pig to implement more of this home automation in all my homes to come.

Z-Wave will work fine for you, though I’d install the Z-Wave Plus units that are just coming out. Better range, better mesh, better speed.

This is great i will definitely go this way - can you recommend a reliable dimmer and regular switch (now that I know I’ll still be leaving switches in the common spaces i’ll also need 3 way and 4 way options too)

Motion sensors will do whatever you tell them to in software. You can set SmartThings routines that will do certain things with certain lights when certain triggers are used. With CoRE, you can easily set pistons (rules) to control certain lights when motion is detected during certain periods of the day or when luminosity is above/at/below a certain amount. Example: Our kitchen cabinet lighting turns on when motion is detected in the kitchen and it’s dark outside. This is to keep from being blinded when the lights kick on. But during the day the overheads kick on as well, when it’s less of a jump from ambient to active lighting and less of a shock on the eyes.

I’ll look further into CoRE and how to set this up, very intelligent lighting setup you have there, very cool.

If you plan to live in the home for the rest of your life and never ever move, then switches in the closet is OK as long as the electrical code allows it. My recommendation is to plan for the future when you decide the home may not be for you anymore… You can install some really nice looking switch plates around the Decora style Z-Wave switches without making them look bad. Additionally, how do you intend for guests to use your living space when they visit? A single gang button controller is awesome, but in the event it malfunctions or the automation drops due to internet issues, etc you’ll have problems. My suggestion is to either install control panels for those switches if you still intend to hide them (ActionTiles is perfect for this), or remotes everywhere (EVERYWHERE).
What you are looking for specifically is “Scene” control where one button press controls a bunch of lights/items and sets them to predetermined values.

It’ll be my show home for the near future but as with all builders and their properties, everything is for sale lol. So I’ll keep this in mind as we wire and stick to more traditional light switch locations for troubleshooting and difficult times.
Does smartthings hub and z wave devices still work together if the internet is down. I’m planning to use alexa for voice control i’d expect that would be down but wasn’t sure about other devices and controlling them through smartthings when/if i lose internet. I did see ActionTiles they looked awesome, I need to do some further digging into this.

I agree 100%. Home automation is not ready to be implemented without manual control available, for two reasons… First being reliability, and second being familiarity. It’s not reliable enough yet, and most people aren’t familiar enough or comfortable enough using it. I think it would be very short sighted to build a house without switches in the standard places.

I can completely see where your both coming from, and its definitely steered me to do things differently than I had planned to do, before I had registered and posted on this forum so thank you guys.

If you could help me out and recommend me z wave plus switches (dimmers and regular) for LED pot lights that work the most reliably with smartthings and alexa that would be awesome

thanks again
Amit


(The Viking AKA "Holy Crap You're a Giant!") #5

GE Z-Wave units are rolling out now, and those are the only ones I have practical experience with, but I have twenty or so of the non Plus versions and have never had a problem with them.

Re: 3/4 way switching, GE has an auxiliary switch that works for up to 5 way I believe. They use a tracer wire and a neutral (and ground). Each of your switch positions will require a neutral, whether or not it’s an active Z-Wave module or an auxiliary module.

SmartThings Hub v2 (current retail model) is capable of handling things “locally”, even if the internet drops… The caveat to this is that the devices involved with the action you want all have to be natively supported by SmartThings, and also enabled within the firmware of the Hub. I don’t have the list of these items readily available and don’t really do a lot of local processing. ActionTiles/Alexa/Google Home will obviously not work if the internet drops at your home…