New Home Construction

Hi everyone,

I am building a new home. I was planning on using smartthings for the entire build (over 40 motion sensors, all light switches zwave, etc.).

I’ve been “testing” smartthings in my current home and it is great. However, the battery powered motion sensors worry me. Every year or so I will be required to change out 40 motion sensor batteries.

Is there a solution for powered motion sensors (similar to a wired alarm system)? If not, what do people recommend as a home automation setup for new construction?

My budget is about $7000 for all sensors.


AEON multi’s and the original ST multi will run off USB power.
There may be others, those are the ones I know about.

Yup, I know about those ones, but the USB wiring is unsightly if I have them in the traditional spots (corners of rooms, etc.).

Trying to come up with an elegant solution like motion sensors with typical wired alarm systems (like DSC).

With new construction, you are better off using hard wired sensors. They are much cheaper, reliable, and will be compatible with whatever technology people are using in 20 years.

You can use Fibaro universal binary sensors in the control room as an interface. 1 UBS for every 2 unique motion zones. For a large order, you can probably pay $39/ubs. Alternatively, you could build up a smartthings shield based interface for less than $100.

When I remodeled, I put smart outlets in the upper corners of rooms. The primary purpose was to power Sonos speakers. However, they also served as power for a USB DC power transformer for AEON multisensor for motion sensing. And my wife likes to string seasonal decorations between the outlets that we now can program on/off cycles.

Placing the speakers in front of the outlets reduces the relatively “unsightliness” of outlets.

The additional cost of adding outlets in corners is minimal with new construction. Of course Sonos speakers would blow your budget.

Prewire the snot out of it. It’s cheap, you can do it yourself if you want (but have your electrician run 2" or 3" inch EMT between junction points so you can pull new cable if necessary in the future). When I did mine a dozen years ago I didn’t think about fiber. Glad I had those conduits installed as a couple of them go under a slab.

Trust me… a good rule of thumb is to run double what you think you will ever need!

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Which sensors are you testing now? If you’re okay with using either the Aeon Multis or the first-gen Smartthings Motions. I’d just run wire of the appropriate gage to each location. Then, wire up either a USB A receptacle at the end (and use the included USB power cable from the sensor), or just put the appropriate USB connector for the sensor on the end.

Run all of those cables back to a central location, and hook them up to a 5V power supply. Depending on your cable lengths, you might be able to get away with using CAT5e or CAT6 cable, (either of which would give you some future-proofing, and they’re both pretty cheap).

If you’re comfortable with low-voltage wiring and soldering, it should be a pretty simple. If not, any decent electrician or AV company should be able to get it all working.

I don’t see any reason why those connections shouldn’t hide nicely behind a sensor in the corner of a wall.

Good luck… I wish I had done that.

@NorCalLights - I’m testing the Smarthings v1 and v2, Ecolink, Monoprice (no good - no battery level) and Aeon MS.

Thanks for your suggestion. I think I may actually bite the bullet and just go wireless. The USB wired solution will still be unwieldy and likely not pass the wife acceptance factor. I’m going to have 40 motion sensors, so the wiring may start to get ugly.

The Ecolinks have been running for almost 6 months and still showing 99% battery. At this rate they will go a few years.

I’m no expert, but I play one on the internet. Also, I slept at a Holiday Inn last night.

I would say, given the experience I do have, if you have the option of going wired, do it. Run the conduit at minimum. If you’re making the investment in new construction, you might has well build in some factor of future proofing. Running power also allows you to keep expanding the mesh network if you have the option of using the powered sensors. Who knows what kind of tech is going to come out in the next couple of years, but changes are good it’ll need power and I bet with HomeKit on deck, you’ll see more devices using wi-fi. You just never know, right.

But if I was building new, I would include at least some junction boxes and definitely conduit runs back to a central location.

I love the installation in @beckwith’s photo btw. High and tight!

Best of luck!