Planning for New House Build Electrics (Germany) - Overwhelmed!


(Nick Halliwell) #1

Hello!

This is my first post on here after spending a long time reading various topics and gathering ideas. I’m going to start with a brain dump of my thoughts so far. Unfortunately this is going to be a long one so please stay with me till the end!

Myself and my partner are currently in the process of building our own house in Germany and we are getting to the stage where the Electrician will be coming soon to discuss our plans for the electrics. I would like the house to be reasonably smart (more than my partner it seems) with lots of things automated but am starting to get overwhelmed with the possibilities. I have been trying to wrap my ahead around what we need to plan for and I dont want to miss something which will be easy to implement at this point but harder once the house is finished.

Just to give you some background, I have already dabbled with a few smart devices and currently run a small setup in our flat based around the ST v2 UK hub. We have about 4 power adapters which turn lamps on and off and I have just added 2 z-wave door sensors and a siren alarm for home security via ST SHM. All this is cheap chinese stuff made by Coolcam which I bought off Aliexpress but it’s all z-wave and has worked without problems so far. We also have an Amazon Echo which we are using for voice activation. I like the Echo as a way to control the automations so would like to use this in our new house as well and maybe expand with Dots in a few rooms. I have also just bought an RGBW LED strip and a H801 Wifi Controller to play around with following the great guide by erocm1231. If this works out then I plan to use this system to control LED strips built into walls for mood lighting in the new house.

So now onto the new house. I already found a thread on here (new-build-what-should-i-get-uk) which is filled with particularly useful planning information, especially the post by redball listing all the stuff he wished he had done. I was going to just reply on that thread directly with all my questions, but as it is almost 2 years old and possibly outdated I thought it better to start my own thread instead.

So here’s what I have so far:

Power Outlets - Plan for double the amount than we think we will need. Are there any EU outlets with z-wave already integrated or is it better just to fit standard outlets and use z-wave adapters like the ones I have where we want them? Also are integrated USB outlets a good idea? Our electrician already mentioned that he wouldn’t recommend them as the USB requirements for smartphones and tablets are always changing so they might be outdated in a few years.

** Interior Lighting** - I think we will be mainly using spotlights throughout the house with LED strips under kitchen cabinets and in certain walls plus lamps for mood lighting. Maybe just 1 or 2 hanging lights in a few places. Not too bothered about smart bulbs like Hue or whatever as we don’t want coloured lights except maybe the LED strips. Would like smart z-wave dimmer switches everywhere though so all the lighting can be automated as well as overridden manually if needed. I understand I need to ask that each switch location has a neutral wire running to it for dimming is that correct? Also any suggestions for the switches? In another thread I read about GE z-wave smart motion switches which also have motion sensors built in. This seams like a good idea but by the looks of it they are only available for the US market. Are there any EU alternatives?** Also the LED strips run on DC current. Does this mean each strip needs it’'s own DC converter or is it possible to have a central DC power supply which runs to all the LED’s?

Motion Sensors - As above, sensors built into wall switches would be great if possible. Otherwise would idealy like z-wave mains powered sensors as opposed to battery operated ones as to keep having to change batteries would get annoying, even if it is only every few years. So far I have read about the Aeotec Multisensor 6 which can be plugged in and then act as a z-wave repeater as well. Seems a bit overkill and rather expensive to have these all over the house though. Any better options?

Door/Window Sensors - This is an odd one and requires explaination. We have already had all our windows delivered and are in the process of installing them. My partners stepdad is our project manager and is also a window fitter by trade as well as other things. When he ordered the windows he got them with open/close sensors built in which he says are smart home ready. I don’t know much about them but assume they are magnetic contact sensors, they each have 4 wires running from them and are built into the frame of each window/door. I guess they are designed to connnect to an alarm system. Not sure if it’s useful but here is the link to the page on the manufacturers website (door/window sensors). So the question is, can I use them with ST? I have read about the konnected system which is designed to integrate legacy alarm systems with ST. Do you think I could use this with these sensors? If konnected would work then I guess I could also get things like standard wired motion sensors etc and integrate these aswell, this would save money on smart sensors…

Roller Shutters - In Germany it is standard practice to have roller shutters built into the window frames of every window for shade as well as security and this is what we are doing. They will all be motorised and have their own wall switches but I would also like to have them all be controlled and automated from ST. Is it just a case of wiring a Fibaro Roller Shutter 2 relay in behind each switch? Or are there any integrated smart switches for roller shutters? Anything else I need to consider? Also can these also be used to control the garage door?

Heating - The house will be very well isulated and we have a modern underfloor heating system being installed. We have been told that every room can be individually controlled and the heating system comes with it’s own smart control system which can be controlled via a smart app. I haven’t had a look at this sytem yet so don’t know if it works with ST but I assume not. I don’t know how smart thermostats work but is it likely an ST compatible thermostat would still work with this system? Do they work with all heating systems?

CCTV - TBH haven’t looked at this yet. Any suggestions on where to start with ST compatible systems?

Exterior Lighting - Also haven’t looked at this yet but I assume the same rules apply as the interior i.e z-wave dimmer switches with neutral connections.

Other Stuff:

A/V - Would like multi-room audio but really have not much idea about it. At the moment I have a standard 5.1 setup with a/v reciever and 50" Plasma. Does multi-room need a seperate amp/splitter? I assume we just run sets of speaker cable from our main audio system location to each room where we want speakers right? The new lounge is pretty big so planning a retractable screen and projector on the ceiling and a new Dolby Atmos system. Are there any motorized screens that integrate with ST? Or maybe it’s a better option to get a screen with a standard IR remote and then go the Harmony route for controlling all the AV stuff? I have never used this however. At the moment I have a raspi set up as a network drive and plex media server which I control via chromecast. Would like to keep the media server but is it possible to integrate it with ST and Alexa for automation? Would switching to FireTV help with this?

Networking - run cat6 cable all over the house from a central location with multiple outlets in each room. Does each device need its own outlet or can the outlets be split again between multiple devices? For example, do I need 1 outlet for the ps4, 1 for the tv, 1 for the amp etc?

I think that’s it for now, probably fogot some things but this post is already too long! Hope I didn’t loose everybody!


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

Tagging @heythisisnate for Konnected advice.

Frankly, going wired for as much as possible has huge advantages (no batteries, no RF issues!)… Even for Switches (lookup Loxone… But it’s never mentioned in this Community).


#3

Tagging @RobinWinbourne is in the UK, fully outfitted his own house, and is now working on a new home for his mother, who uses a wheelchair and can benefit greatly from automation. He should have some ideas for you. :sunglasses:

In addition, you might take a look at the project reports on the “whole house” list in the quick browse the list in the community – created wiki. Look down near the bottom of that page for the project reports and you’ll see the list. Most of them are from US members, but there are some from those in Europe or the UK.

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section


(Robin) #4

Yikes… that’s a big post and a tonne of questions lol… you might have been better asking specific questions in relevant parts of the forums, as all in one big chunk kinda scares off a lot of folks as they don’t know where to start!!

I’ll have a stab though :face_with_monocle:

Power Outlets:

As a personal preference, I wouldn’t waste my money on smart sockets.

Most stuff people plug in is best to remain powered. It would be a PIA if the toaster or kettle needed powering at the wall or app each time you wanted to use it.

Other devices loose time settings, TV’s take longer to fire up, hard drives and computers could be damaged.

About the only use for smart sockets I can think of is for table lamps, but then you don’t want to have to reach down to the socket for manual control. For these I like to use the Swiidinter cord switches or just plain old wall warts.

I’ve gone for USB outlets in our new build, but only about 20% of the outlets where we realistically expect to plug in phones and the like i.e. over desks, kitchen counters, bedsides.

Interior Lighting:

The EU frequency market i somewhat limited in regards to wall switches. Most of us here use the in wall micros like Fibaro, Aeon, Everspring, Quibino. I’m a big fan of the fibaro micros, maybe just because that’s what I’m used to but they’ve always worked well for me.

With a micro, they typically go behind a regular (dumb) wall switch, but for multi-gang switches it can be difficult to squeeze enough micros in the small back box.

I went all in and star wired all lights and switches back to 8nr centrally wired hubs

image

But if you are planning the use of smart switches (if you can find any), or just want micros behind the switches, then Neutrals are always a good plan (though not strictly neccessary for the Fibaro Dimmer 2 micros).

To be continued…


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #5

If you’re going to centally wire, then why not go with something like Loxone (though, to be honest, I have no idea what it costs)…

https://www.loxone.com/enus/products/overview/


(Robin) #6

Motion Sensors:

Konnected is the best way to go , use regular alarm PIR’s with Konnected acting as your bridge.

On our house we don’t particularly want sensors everywhere due to cats, and positioning is going to need to be very precise, so we are just using the odd battery Fibaro sensor, with field of vision restricted with masking tape through trial and error.

Door / window Sensors:

As above, your wires exiting the new windows will integrate nicely via Konnected.

Roller Shutters:

Assuming you select a roller shutter / garage door with 3 control wires (Common, up and down) then the Fibaro roller shutter micro modules will work nicely.

They can go behind the switch or wire back to a central hub as we are doing:

image

Heating:

More info needed here, you need to get full specs of heating system. Personally I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting the builder specify something like this on their own.

Worst case scenario though, you might get an IFTTT integration, or even worse, use Sharp Tools and Tasker running on an old android phone to simulate button presses in the app.

CCTV:

Exterior Lighting:

Yup, same principal, though if you want exterior switches you’ll definately be using micros.

AV:

I use Harmony to control my TV and other AV equipment, but beyond that I’m not gonna be much help.

networking:

I would run at least 2 CAT 6 to each point, one for your home network and the other for telephones.

Also, add another 2 CAT 6 between each TV point for HDMI.

And 1 CAT 6 to each CCTV camera, using a POE injector at the hub.

Where you have multiple devices at one location, you can indeed use a switch to split one CAT 6 into many, with little to no performance issues… certainly saves on wire.


(Robin) #7

Coz I’m building this for my mother and need to be able to provide tech support, ST I know like the back of my hand, other systems not so much. And I like the power of webCoRE, ActionTiles etc. etc.


#8

Loxone is more similar to Control4, with an expected cost of around 5% of the property cost, that is, in the tens of thousands (at least). Very different market niche than the €99 SmartThings hub with €40 micros. :sunglasses:


(Robin) #9

We received a Control4 quote which was £12k… on a £450k build cost that’s 2.6% but we still opted for ST as I can do it for less than half that price on a system I know.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #10

Both familiarity and cost control are great reasons to use SmartThings.

I’m still impressed with your centralized lighting arrangement @RobinWinbourne!

This is why Samsung SmartThings should start a certified dealer - integrator program. Well thought out installation and configuration significantly improves the customer experience.


(Robin) #11

Having built 8 of these hubs now, I do wonder what mark up I could charge for supplying them to 3rd parties along with a design service.

But not being a certified electrician / inability to obtain the correct insurances are a huge barrier to that ever becoming a business for me!

My electrician is treating the hubs as wired in appliances, bypassing various rules and regs :zipper_mouth_face:


(Robin) #12

I would have an LED driver for each strip, rated for the correct load… there’s theoretically no reason why several circuits couldn’t share a single driver but you’re getting into some fairly large industrial kit at that point.

You’ll notice in the lighting hub picture I posted above, the bottom micro module is a Fibaro RGBW controller, and there is a 24v driver in the box.

All the modules, including the RGBW one, will be connected to momentary wall switches for manual control… the larger block of blue/grey/black terminals are the incoming switch wires, with black being a spare wire in each circuit for future scene control switches.

All wiring diagrams, individual module schematics (lights, fans, RGBW, blinds) and overall hub diagrams are here:


(Nick Halliwell) #13

Thanks for all the replies so far it helps a lot.

Yes this is exactly what I was thinking. I had a look into Loxone, tbh I had never come across it before but it seems quite well supported here in Germany, there are a couple of certified installers near me. It looks like a nice integrated system, the only problems I see are that it would need to be professionally installed rather than with ST which I can implement and build up myself (with the great support of this community of course). Also cost is a main factor, 5% of our total build price would be around 20K which is way more than our budget allows for smart home stuff. On the other hand I like the idea that it’s fully integrated, would be more reliable than ST and there would always be professional support available if we had problems with the system. I’ll research further, it sounds like I could get a free consultation with them which might be a good idea just to get an idea of the costs for what we would like to have.


(Nick Halliwell) #14

I know right :smile: TBH I just wanted to get all my thoughts so far written down somewhere and this community seemed a good place for it. If I don’t get the responses i’m hoping for then i’ll start breaking it up and posting in seperate sections of the forum like you suggest.

Ok this makes sense to me. I think having integrated smart sockets everywhere would just be overkill as we wouldn’t be using most of them. This would mean I can get the electrician to install normal sockets and just use smart adapters where we really need them. I think having USB ports at least next to the bed would be useful as this is where we usually charge our phones etc overnight. And maybe a couple in the lounge. What are Swiidinter chord switches? Haven’t heard of these.

If we use a combination of standard wall dimmer switches with micros in the back box, would this mean the switch would still work as normal in the event that ST goes down for whetever reason? This is something we are trying to plan for. We would like that everthing is still able to be controlled manually in the event that ST stops working, at least as much as possible anyway. Also when using dimmers with micros, do I need to get a certain kind of switch? And how deep would the switch casings need to be to accomodate micros behind?

I appreciate your patience!


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #15

Yes … The industry really needs a midpoint between low-end DIY ($69 for a SmartThings Hub!?) and the “dealer-only luxury brands”.

There are plenty of small businesses trying to be dealer-integrators using SmartThings; but since SmartThings doesn’t have a dealer support program, this is risky area for these small businesses.

Point products are getting better at providing “pro” products, installation training certifications, and so on (e.g., Nest Pro, August Pro); and big companies like Amazon are providing installation & configuration services too.

The advantage of professionally certified dealer-installer programs is that they gain the experience to know which products are best - at a range of price points; and which configuration details are critical for an optimal customer experience.

Of course, most / many of us around here enjoy tinkering and iterative improvement to our homes; but the hours of research, debugging, replacing, etc., … really do add up to $1000’s of effort. Time is money.


(Robin) #16

Cut of old cord switch, wire in this one, lamp is now smart but with manual switch in the usual place… these are great as it prevents people hard switching the item to the off position, which would render a smart outlet usless.

Micros don’t work with regular dimmer switches (rotary or digital), instead they are intended to work with regular toggle (on / off) and retractive (push to make / momentary / on, spring back to off) switches.

When used with retractive switches, dimming is possible at the switch through push and hold, double and triple clicks are also possible for triggering scenes etc.

For both toggle and retractive switches, they work regardless of hub failure, internet failure etc., as they are hard wired to the module.


(Robin) #17

We have different switch boxes in the UK, but they need to be at least 32mm deep for a single module, you can just about squeeze two modules side by side into a single UK 46mm deep box, but not recommended.

Hence why I went centrally wired, as many of our switches would have required 3 modules in single boxes.

I went for 8 separate wiring hubs instead of one central location to improve the zwave signal mesh throughout the home. (and to save wire / spaghetti junctions in the hub!!)


(Nick Halliwell) #18

This is really the thing. We are trying to keep the cost of the build as low as possible and doing as much as we can ourselves. I am a tech junkie anyway so like the idea of planning and implementing the technology myself rather than hiring somebody to do it for me and ST seems like the perfect platform for this. However as you rightly say it can really be a time sink, especially when trying to plan an entire house with some level of futureproofing. At least there is also the option that if I forget something at this stage, it can most likely be implemented later using z-wave / zigbee without requiring rewiring.


(Nick Halliwell) #19

Thanks for the tip. These look like a better alternative to wall plugs where we want to automate lamps as it doesn’t matter then if somebody uses the switch to turn the lamp off manually. Will deffinately be using these.

Perfect. Sounds like the way to go then.

Your hubs look like great work. I just can’t imagine having 8 junction boxes dotted all over the house tho, don’t think my partner would be too happy. Have you hidden them all in cupboards or something? I think I would prefere to have the relays wired behind each switch really. Like you say though the problem would be space, especially for multi-gang switch boxes. I guess the only solution would be to split any multi-gang situations into individual switch plates and have more plates on the wall then? Just not sure how nice this would look either.


(Robin) #20

yes, all hidden away.

The design of our house had to have a mansard roof due to height restrictions and neighbours right to light. This results in triangular eves cupboards along both side elevations upstairs… loads of room in there for plant, hubs etc etc.

4 boxes spread across eves.

Downstairs has two bedrooms with deep built in cupboards, so a box in each of those, high level over the shelves.

Unfortunately one box had to go in the back of a kitchen wall unit.

Last box is in a built in hallway cupboard allong with the CAT6 switching panels.

If we didn’t have the eves cupboards upstairs we would have just placed the hubs in the loft space though.