New whole-house installation in Malta - suggestions welcome

project_wholehouse

#1

Hi All,

In the next year I’ll be taking on the renovation of an old house - I will be putting in new wiring, conduits etc. - so we can consider this a blank slate.

I live in Malta - houses here are mostly built out of a combination of limestone and cement bricks, and all electrical systems are UK standard. This particular residence consists of a 3 story building covering about 100 square meters of the land, and another 400 square meters garden, pool, and external dining area.

Not by professions, but I’m experienced when it comes to electricity, home automation using z-wave, x10 and hue.

So - I’ve been thinking this over and I’m currently considering a setup where all the desired automation appliance circuits would be driven by din based contractors, which in turn are driven by zwave micro-switches. ST hub would live in the same electrical services room. This would cover appliances like water pumps, heating, irrigation etc.

I would also require zwave dimmers for light control, as well as a number of physical switches to control lights. This is where I’m a bit confused mostly due to the distance certain lights would be (especially the external ones). I could run the wiring to the same central location (so ST hub would be in range) but it seems like a wiring nightmare, plus I’m not sure that would solve the physical switches issue as those would need to be located in a sensible/relevant location.

Should I just relax and rely on zwave-plus mesh capabilities? Am i over thinking this? What are my options for wall-switches to trigger zwave applicances/lights?

Any feedback would be appreciated :slight_smile:

Cheers!


#2

Sounds like a very exciting project!

I would first check to see what platforms other people are using locally. The cement block construction is likely to block or at least degrade most RF signals, including zwave. :disappointed_relieved: This often means you have to use a lot more devices in the mesh, and bounce signal out into the hallways to get into the next room instead of going directly through the wall.

Since zwave is limited to a maximum of 4 hops per message, you can run out of coverage too soon in this type of configuration. So many people in cement homes will use zigbee instead, which allows for 15 hops into the hub and 15 out again. That means even though the hops are shorter, the total coverage is wider.

Your idea of using micros in the same room the hub is in is a good one, but then you don’t have repeaters in the rest of the house, so it will be very difficult to use battery operated zwave devices like locks or sensors.

You can start adding other device classes that are also repeaters, like plug in pocket sockets, but then we’re back to the same hop limitation issue.

So first I would just check around to see what other people in your geographic area are using.


#3

Hi - thank you for your reply.

As you said exciting - and expensive too :smiley: - but hey let’s focus on the excitement!

My current house has a similar internal size (limestone as well) - no large garden thou’ only a small yard. I’m using an ST v2 UK hub, a HUE v1 hub, a number of z-wave devices and hue bulbs. The only extra caution I had taken was to install a single Aeotec Range Extender.

I had also purchased a Smartthings Outlet but I’ve had bad results with this - my zwave outlets are FAR more reliable at a distance. I concluded this could be due to the lower frequencies in use by zwave which go thru’ masonry easier than zigbee based standards - but I might be wrong. Then again HUE works perfectly fine!

A relatively common home automation system in use here is the Bticino MyHome_up - I saw a demo of this system and it’s quite a nice product. If i understood correctly it requires the use of bus wiring to each switch from a central control unit. What worries me about this solution is:

  • the overall price as it uses dedicated bticino switch gear
  • compatibility with other home automation systems - from what I’ve seen it’s a relatively closed system with limited community support
  • app & software support
  • a quick google search found nothing related to google assistant support, IFTTT, etc.

Stupid question time - just in case i get no range on a couple of micro-switches, would I be able to run a dedicated wire to physically ‘join’ their antennas? Not sure this was ever attempted (or even makes sense!).

What are my options when it comes to multi-way wall switches - are there any micro-switches which I can use to trigger other zwave devices? I believe this could be done with some programming correct?