New project with central hub problem

project_wholehouse

(Saeed Al Jneibi) #1

I got a company to wire my house to prepare it to be smart and their method was to get everything connected to 1 centralized room where all the magic happen (lights, thermostats, electrical wiring, etc…). However, mid-building I found smartthings and how cheaper it would be to install that instead. The company I hired is using HDL system which will connect everything via daisy-chain (nothing is wireless).
They have already done phase one which is arranging the pipes to go to the central room. However no additional work has been done because the house is still under construction. Now I can’t change that because we will need to destroy a lot to re-arrange the cables to go other way.

Now here are my concerns: We have about 4 rooms that we want to connect to smartthings. I’m planning to install ecobee3 units throughout the whole house but since all thermostats cabling is going to the center room then I thought I can put all 4 units there. As for the lights, I won’t use smart bulbs, instead I want to use smart switches and connect them all in the center room but I’m not sure how good this will work out.

In the end I will use a tablet in every room with smarttiles to control the lights/AC in that correspondent room. Other than that I will use “Enerwave ZWN-SC7 Z-Wave Scene Controller 7-Button Switch” to control the lights in the dressing room and toilets.

How would that sound like?


(Eric) #2

I’m having trouble understanding exactly what you want to do. If you want to use SmartThings (ST) it is all generally wireless. Make sure: (some of these suggestions sound crazy, some likely are)

  1. All of you lights have switch legs not switch loops. I believe new code requires legs, but double check. This will allow you to use smart switches / dimmers.

  2. Either prewire ethernet jacks where you will be installing wifi access points or plan to use some of the newer wireless mesh systems like Eero or or AMPLifi. This will ensure you have good coverage for wifi devices like LIFX bulbs.

  3. Make sure the vents yo would want to control with Keen Smart Vents are their standard sizes.

  4. Don’t plan on just using ST in 4 rooms. When you start, you won’t be able to stop.

I don’t understand the concept of pulling everything to a single room (thermostats, lights, …) I do understand doing this with ethernet and coax. Lights I get if your electrical panel is in that room.


#3

Neither the tablet nor the enerwave SC7 control the current load to a light fitting. Or any other device. So that means each individual device has to have its own network radio. That way the tablet or the SC7 talk to the hub and the hub talks wirelessly to the end device.

This would be easy with smart bulbs like Phillips hue (connected to a hue bridge which then talks to the SmartThings hub). But for other devices, you have to look at each one to see specifically how you will get communication to it from the hub.


(Andrea Bianco) #4

Did you overlook (or decide against for some reason) voice automation? A TOUCH device in every room? I can’t imagine. If you are for a high scale smart home, what about Nucleus ? I highly recommend smart switch’s if you are in the wiring phase - “smart” move there. I have Ecobee 3 and use remote sensors as well, good choice. You will not be able to stop as other post mentions… get ready. Dont forget the garage door opener and locks. Have fun.


(Saeed Al Jneibi) #5

we’re not doing smart bulbs because with our design we are having spot-lights in every room, a lot! it would cost a lot to change all spot lights with Philips hue spot lights. So I was thinking to install smart relay switches on every circuit instead. I was thinking about the AOETIC switch to control the circuits in the electrical box room. How does that sound like?


#6

Yes, the Aeotec microswitches would give you a lot of options. Then you could definitely combine those with tablets or the Enerwave SC7.

The one thing to consider is what happens if the Internet is down. SmartThings is a cloud-based architecture. There are a few things that can run locally right now, basically a few light switches and sensors. But neither the tablets nor the SC7 will work unless the SmartThings cloud is available over the Internet. I’m not sure, but I don’t think the Aeotec micro switches work with SmartThings without the Internet either. Even the official app on your phone requires that the SmartThings cloud be available in order for it to talk to the hub.

Also, the tablets require some reading skills, and may not be easily usable by young children. I like dashboard control tablets, and we have one on each side of the house, but at our house they are a parallel means to control to other methods.

So if you remove all of your conventional means of control, what happens if the Internet is not available? Or if the SmartThings cloud is not available? How will they work for visitors, including children and those who might need reading glasses?

Even if everything is working perfectly with SmartThings, they do push out maintenance updates from time to time. These will take your hub off-line for anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, and they cannot be postponed or refused. We usually get a few days notice, but no way to keep the outage from happening. So it is important to consider what people in your house will do during this type of outage.

All of which is to say I think the Aeotec devices sounds like a good choice in your set up, but if it were my house I would keep at least one light in each room that would work even if the SmartThings hub were off-line.


#7

@slagle do the Aeotec micro switches work locally if the Internet is not available?


(Jimmy) #8

Whew, this sounds…ambitious. If you choose to use Smart Things I wouldn’t worry about centralizing your 120v electrical hardware. Just make sure you have a neutral at every switch box and go with smart decora style light switches. This way if the internet drops you still have manual control. You can always mount a tablet over the switches on a swivel mount, but I would 100% keep switches in the rooms. Centralizing your coax and Ethernet would be great, though.


(Saeed Al Jneibi) #9

We’re running @ 240v here in Abu Dhabi. I found the EU version of the AOETIC switch which runs at 240v so I guess I can use that.
The house construction will be done in less than 2 months, I’m excited to start working on it…
I would appreciate more ideas, was first time hearing about the Nucleus intercom and the decora switches.


#10

SmartThings is a multiprotocol platform intended for DIY projects with very small budgets. It wouldn’t normally be chosen for a high-end home as it just doesn’t have the reliability and the reliance on the cloud adds additional points of vulnerability.

Anyway, SmartThings supports the zigbee home automation profile (ZHA 1.2), but will not usually work with devices using other zigbee profiles. Zigbee is the same frequency everywhere in the world, but different devices use different profiles and they are not interchangeable.

SmartThings is also certified as a Zwave controller. The SmartThings hub comes in two models, one using the US frequency of Zwave and one using the EU frequency of Zwave. The frequency cannot be changed after manufacture. Every zwave device you want to use on your network must match the frequency of the hub exactly.

Aeotech is one of the largest manufacturers of Z wave devices in the world, and makes many of their devices in multiple models, one for the US frequency, one for the EU frequency, one for Japanese frequency, etc. however, many other manufacturers will only manufacture devices on one region’s frequency.

You can look up all certified zwave products by frequency on the official Z wave alliance site:

http://products.z-wavealliance.org

We should note that in some countries it is illegal to use Z wave on a different frequency than the one assigned to that region, because they can sometimes overlap with emergency services communication channels. For example, it is illegal to use devices on the US Z wave frequency in New Zealand.

So it is important to check your local restrictions to find out which, if either of the two SmartThings hub models is legal where you live.

The following FAQ lists the different zwave frequencies for each region and also discusses some of the options if you’re going to use the US Z wave frequency but with 240 V power.

Fortunately the UAE uses the same Z wave frequency as the EU, so as long as you stick with EU models of everything, you should be fine (assuming the plug configuration is a match for plug in devices).

Vesternet carries EU frequency zwave devices and ships to UAE. Their support department is usually very helpful and can probably discuss any specific installation configurations.

http://www.vesternet.com/knowledgebase/customer-service/kbcs-3


(Tim Slagle) #11

I don’t believe so.


(Ray) #12

Strangely enough, my Aeon energy meter is qualified for local control.

As for new construction and controlling devices on ST with tablets. I wouldn’t go with SmartThings at this moment. You are not in North America so it’s hard enough just to find devices with 220v. Finding them to work locally is going to be a real challenge. I would pay the extra money for a better system or run wires to every room. You are not just saving money in the long run but also your marriage.