New project - house refurb


(Mayur) #1

Hi All

So I have been keeping an eye on the home automation front and I will be shortly embarking on a refurbishment of my house. All I’m looking to do is have the ability to remotely control my lights and maybe my heating. The re-wiring of the house was done about 10 years ago but I know that most HA lighting systems require a neutral wire which mine doesn’t have. So the plan is to leave the wiring in place but install a system that is wired with newer deeper back boxes to accommodate either the modules or newer switches. Some switches might have to be 2 way as the landing lights are wired like that.

Any ideas which product would suit my needs? Echo integration would be nice if possible!

Thanks


(Bob) #2

There are a lot of ways regarding light automation.
Some prefer one method, others go down a different route.
This is the way I have gone.
In no way am I saying this is the best way, just my preference.
I used to use smart bulbs that would turn on with motion but found that there is always someone who woild turn the switch off.
I decided to install light switches that can work with motion or the old fashioned way. The finger method.
In the UK we are a bit limited.
There is Energenie but they currently do not support a slave switch, so this limits their use to single switch lights, and you will need to integrate using their hub.
I plumped for Lightwaverf switches. Again you will also have to purchase their hub.
These do support slave switches and come in one through to four gang switches.
These can be integrated with smartthings but as it is cloud to cloud can be a bit laggy ir using motion to trigger them.
You can also integrate the Lightwave switches into a Raspberry Pi.
So, motion is detected.
Smartthings then signals to the Pi and as the Lightwave hub is on the same lan as the Pi, the Pi to lightwaverf signalling is instant.
So in affect its like ST talking direct to the Lightwave switch.
All of the switches can be fully integrated into ST so you can control them easily however you wish.

Pros.
As they are switches it doesnt matter if people turn them on or off.
If you move you just leave them or replace the switches with normal ones.
Quick to respond via ST using a Pi.
Nice looking switches in 4 different styles.

Cons.
You end up with 3 hubs in affect.

BTW both Energenie and lightwaverf are connected to IFTTT so this is also an option but can be laggy.

Oh, both switches fit into the normal light switch box and do not require a neutral.
Hav fun. :slight_smile:


(codersaur) #3

When it comes to lighting automation, you have three basic options to chose from:

  • Smart bulbs (e.g. Philips Hue)
  • Smart switches/dimmers.
  • In-wall smart switches/dimmers (e.g. Fibaro Dimmer 2)

Smart bulbs are ok where you typically have only one bulb and switch per circuit/room. However, if you have multiple bulbs per circuit then it makes economic sense to look at smart switches or in-wall modules. If you have multiple switches in a room, then in-wall devices are almost certainly the way to go.

Personally, if you can physically install them, then I would recommend an in-wall device every time. You get the added advantage of separating the automation technology from the physical switch technology, which means you have the largest range of aesthetic options. Most smart switches are pretty naff-looking!

Specifically, the Fibaro Dimmer 2 works very well and supports pretty much any type of switch, and any type of light. It also support 2-wire installs, and integrates very well with SmartThings, giving you maximum flexibility for future automation (including Echo integration).


(Robin) #4

I’ll second @zcapr17 recommendation for the Fibaro Dimmer 2 modules.

They are basically the only viable option for U.K. 2 wire installs, but by no means the best of a bad bunch. They work flawlessly for me in several different wiring scenarios, my whole house is rigged with them and personally I wouldn’t consider anything else.

Features such as secondary switches (connected to the same module as the main switch) for scene control, make them superior over the competition.


(Mayur) #5

Thank you all for your replies, very informative and greatly appreciated.

So if I did go down the fibaro route, would I need to use their own hub? Seems rather expensive and it does tie me down to only using their modules. Is there anything on the market that would work with say home assistant, somebody I know has been playing around with this and it seems very interesting.


(Bob) #6

Without wishing to get into an argument, that comment is not strictly true.
As said above you can use Energenie or Lightwave.
Fibaro dimmers will not fit into any of my existing light switches as they are not deep enough. I also have some ceiling roses where they will not fit into.

What i like about changing light switches is they are a direct replacement and are as easy to install as changing a light switch.
If you are doing a refurb then I would suggest you install deep boxes and then you have the choice of either.

As said above, I’m not trying to get into an argument about the subject but to make your choice you should have the facts.


(Robin) #7

Sorry, yes, very true. No argument required (just debate lol)

Was thinking more along the lines of direct integration without the need for secondary bridge devices + ability to tackle all light types / configurations.

Fibaro state a requirement for 60mm deep back boxes (which can’t even be purchased in the U.K.) but I have several in 35mm deep boxes with no issue. Problems tend to arise when you have double+ gang switches and need more than one module behind the switch.

In drywall (hollow plasterboard) I often mount the modules in electrical boxes behind the back box (in the void).

In ceilings you can normally poke a bigger hole in the plasterboard behind the ceiling rose and tuck the module in there.


(codersaur) #8

No, the point of Z-Wave is that it’s an industry standard. You can use SmartThings (or Vera/Zipato/openHAB/etc.). Fibaro devices are pretty popular, I think you would struggle to find a z-wave controller that didn’t support them. That being said, one or two Fibaro devices do have some proprietary functionality (e.g. the Fibaro RGBW Controller allows colour routines to be upload to the device), which currently can only be performed using the Fibaro Hub.

With regards to SmartThings specifically, there are a choice of community device handlers for nearly all Fibaro devices. I’ve written device handlers myself for both the Fibaro Dimmer 2 and the Fibaro RGBW Controller, these cover all basic functionality plus the more-advanced functionality like creating associations, child-protection settings etc.


(Mayur) #9

@zcapr17 so are you saying that I could use say a raspberry pi with OpenHAB installed to say control the Fibaro dimmer? I guess what I’m saying is that an “open” solution where I’m not tied to a hub is something I would prefer.

@bobbles is fitting the module in the ceiling straight forward? the only lights I’m thinking of setting up are the living room which will be say 6-8 gu10 spots maybe on a dimmer and the landing lights which again spots but on a 2 way circuit.

Thanks


(codersaur) #10

Yes, you could. You would need a Z-Wave transceiver HAT for the RasPi. Best to discuss the OpenHAB community forums as I can’t offer any first-hand experience myself.

FYI, when I looked at HA controllers, about 18 months ago now, I compared Fibaro/Vero/Zipato/SmartThings/OpenHAB and a couple of other platforms. I decided to pick SmartThings because it seems to have the best of both worlds. I.e. It’s supported by a big company and has many officially supported ‘big-name’ integrations (Hue/Nest/Alexa etc), yet it’s still a relatively open system with a huge community of developers meaning you can integrate pretty much anything (just look around this forum).


(Robin) #11

Yes, you can put a Fibaro Dimmer 2 (or Fibaro switch module if you don’t need dimming) in the ceiling.

The old live and switched live wires become low voltage switch wires.

Switched live then comes straight off the dimmer in the ceiling.

If you have spots it’s nice and easy to access the ceiling void + in the ceiling you get the optional bonus of using the Neutral wire, making it less likely you’ll need the dimmer bypass unit.

Ceiling install works for 2 and 3 way switching.


(codersaur) #12

Yeah, I have LED downlights everywhere and I put the dimmers in these little round junction boxes from Screwfix. They fit back through the holes with no fuss.

Also, in case you’re interested, I use Legrand Arteor modular switches. You can get single/double/triple momentary switches in a 1-gang UK fitting. They come in dozens of colours and have a really nice feel. (I found them after seeing them in the hotel in the Shard):


(Robin) #13

For reference, here’s some useful info I wrote regarding momentary switch options / scene control.

I like the switches from Shangri La noted by @zcapr17, + nice bit of showing off about staying in a posh hotel lol!

(BTW I worked as the safety manager on the construction of the Shard and didn’t notice them going in, nice find!!)

Note that if you want to use the S2 terminal (to connect a second switch for scene control) you’ll have to install behind the switch, as there won’t be enough wires between ceiling and switch otherwise (unless you use the earth which is not recommended - the switch wires are low voltage but faults can still occur)


(Mayur) #14

@zcapr17 nice pictures and switches! BTW, where did you buy the switches from as I really like them.

So I’m leaning towards the Fibaro dimmer module in the ceiling option but still unsure about the hub. If I went down raspberry pi route, what module would I need to buy to communicate with the fibaro dimmer? I’m assuming I need a z-wave dongle or something?


(Robin) #15

This is a Smartthings forum… you should use a Smartthings hub lol!


(Mayur) #16

oh yeah …lol!


(Bob) #17

You do not need an additional module for the pi.
There is s thread which tells you how to set it up.
If I can follow it then it must be straightforward. :wink:
I will find it and attach it.

EDIT: Bit of a long thread but it does cover everything.


(codersaur) #18

For some reason Legrand products are not common in normal retail electrical stores.I just went to my local electrical wholesaler and they ordered in the parts in for me (Legrand have a list of re-sellers on their site, so you should be able to find one close to you). I also got some of the button modules in bulk off eBay. They worked out ~£10-15 per complete unit, which I thought was pretty good.


#19

Just to add - I have a 6 gang switch with 4 Fibaro devices in a 35mm deep back box. It’s tight - but do-able.


(Wayne) #20

WOW 4!!, how on earth did you manage that with the switch gear for the physical switches?!