Some advice on my planned build (UK)

Hey all, hope I’m posting in the right section. Long time lurker.

I’m planning to jump into HA in my new home. Devices I already have:

  1. Amazon Echo (2 full-size, two dots)
  2. Sonos (2 Play1s, possibly will expand to include more in future)
  3. Nest thermostat
  4. Nest protect
  5. Ring smart doorbell

I’m planning to add a SmartThings hub plus a series of Fibaro Double Switch and Dimmer modules so I can control all of my LED lighting.

Functionality I’m looking for:

  1. Voice control of all devices and lighting with Amazon Echo or iPhone
  2. Monitor energy usage
  3. Status acknowledgement (e.g. so I know if an iron has been left on)
  4. Potential to expand system to include more devices in future (e.g. security cams, alarm system etc.)

SmartThings seems to tick all the boxes, and I imagine opinions will lean one way given where I’m asking the question, but am I on the right track?

I’ve come across some threads on here already referencing the tweaks that will need to be made to get full support for Fibaro modules, but is there anything I need to be aware of?

Thanks in advance!

Are you in the US or the U.K. or? Device selection is somewhat different in different regions. :sunglasses:

1 Like

Also, note that the Fibaro modules are really only intended to control lighting. There are many brands which make devices which work just fine with small appliances, including irons. The brand selection is somewhat different in the US and UK, but there are choices in both. For example, both the swiindter switch and the GE appliance module are good devices, but the swiindter is only available in the EU and the GE is only available in the US.

The Fibaro modules are very small modules that go inside the wall, but many people use the plug-in “pocket sockets” which are available from many brands to control things that plug-in, whether they are irons or table lamps. :sunglasses:

(BTW, I’ve moved your thread to the project section of the forum so that you can get individual responses based on your own particular requirements.)

Agreed, that’s a very nice device – – it’s just not available in the US. Fibaro is available in both regions.

I see no problem with people shouting about the devices they love… Personal recommendations based around hands on experience can be invaluable information.

I agree absolutely. And my apologies if you felt in some way criticised, that was certainly not my intent.

But whether in the US or the UK, the Fibaro in wall module is rarely someone’s first choice for an iron. So it can be helpful to mention the other kinds of devices that are designed for appliance control.

My apologies again if my post made you uncomfortable. I obviously worded it poorly.

Hey guys - I can tell this is going to be a lot of fun. The guys at Vesternet have been incredibly helpful, but don’t sell/support SmartThings. I’ve decided to go with it anyway since the community seems to be really strong.

I’m based in the UK, and have already started swapping my switch backboxes for 47mm options, though that makes it sound a lot easier than the hammer and chisel reality!

I’m pretty much settled on Fibaro in-socket modules, but any appliance control recommendations for things like irons, hair straighteners etc. are massively appreciated.

It’s for a new home, so all light fittings, switches, sockets will be new, and I’m planning on having LED bulbs for the lot.

1 Like

Vesternet is always very helpful. They are an excellent resource.

As far as appliance control in the UK, you can definitely use pocket sockets (just check the specs to make sure it will handle what you’re going to plug into it) or Aeon Labs makes a “heavy duty” in wall micro which can handle higher loads.

But if you don’t mind the aesthetics of the pocket sockets, they’re certainly easier.

I’m not familiar with safety codes in the U.K., but I’d be rather surprised if you’re allowed to hang the micro down into the wall cavity rather than fitting it into the back box, that would be considered a fire hazard in the US. But perhaps. @John_Crighton might know.

Brilliant - thanks!

I’ve come across this retractive switch, which is fine, though a little expensive. The issue I’m going to face is that I have several 2-way switches throughout the house, and I don’t think they make 2-way retractive switches.

I like the idea of the Aeotec switch, but in a 3 storey house the repeater function of the SmartThings power outlet feels like a good thing.

It’s a good thing if you have other zigbee devices paired to the SmartThings hub.

Zwave repeats only for zwave, zigbee repeats only for Zigbee. So What repeaters you will need where depends on what specific devices you are trying to reach.

Almost all mains-powered devices act as repeaters, but only for their own protocol. (battery powered devices do not repeat as it would use up too much battery power.).

The SmartThings branded devices are all zigbee. Aeotec and fibaro devices are all Z wave. The pocket sockets from all three brands act as repeaters, but again only for their own protocol.

In the UK, most home automation is Z wave.

Both protocols are good, and each has pluses and minuses. Some people will choose all Z wave devices, some will choose all Zigbee, many people have some of both just depending on each specific use case.

So when you plan your network layout, it’s typically easiest to just plan ZIgbee and Z wave separately. That way you’ll have the right repeaters in the right spots. :sunglasses:

The following Topic in the community – created wiki goes into more detail:

As far as the switches, if you are using the Fibaro light modules, you can use retractive switches at both points of a two-way set up. @anon36505037 can say more about this, as he’s previously mentioned having two ways of this type. :sunglasses:

There’s also more discussion in the UK lighting control FAQ:

And you might also find the following of interest:

1 Like

Exactly right – – wiring terminology in the US and UK does vary a bit.

UK “two way” = two switches controlling the same fitting. (UK terminology refers to the number of switches)

US “three-way” = two switches controlling the same fitting. (US terminology refers to the number of circuit branches)

So a UK “three-way” is a US “four way.”

As to how many wall switches you’ll need, that varies from household to household and the exact set up for each light.

The two most common places to have a UK two-way are at opposite ends of a long corridor and when there is a staircase so that there is one switch at the top of the stairs and another at the bottom. In both cases, this is just for convenience.

Once you get into home automation there are typically many different ways to control the same fitting. These might include:

  1. physical wall switch

Two) voice control such as with the Amazon echo

Three) mobile app

Four) by time schedule, such as coming on 15 minutes before sunset

  1. triggered by another device, such as a motion sensor for a hallway or a contact sensor on a closet door

Some people find that they need fewer physical switches once they have created the other control methods. Others find that they still want the same number of wall switches as they had before, either because that will be intuitive for guests, or for those convenience situations like the opposite ends of the corridor.

Choice is good. :sunglasses:

Really nice switches, and reasonably priced too - thanks for sharing. Great tips on wiring as well, will come in very handy. I also came across this -

Very true. Now I think about it, I might want to add a motion sensor for the passage and two landings in future and not need the switches at all. Would still keep the switches since they’re intuitive for anyone wanting to control manually.

You’re right, and sorry ‘new home’ is a bit misleading. It’s new to me, but it’s actually almost 10 years old and therefore NHBC no longer applies in any case!

Yup, I’ve always gone for the brightest bulbs I can find, and dimmable ‘just in case’. LEDHut had some a good black friday sale where I picked up a load of LED filament bulbs for the decorative fittings. Just need to find some good E14 dimmable clear bulbs (wife doesn’t like opaque ones).

1 Like

They certainly do, although you need to make them up with their grid system. You can buy single retractive modules, and fit them in to a double face plate. In fact, I recently found out that buying retractive modules and a single face plate is cheaper than buying the retractive switch as a whole, and it looks identical.

I have a quadruple schneider screwless retractive switch in my kitchen/diner, and several doubles around the house (all retractive).

1 Like

Excuse the fingerprints!

1 Like

The Schneider range look like a good option, and R&B Star (wtf is that name about, ha) definitely are the cheapest around for them.

Issue is, with all the switches and sockets I need, the total cost will be more than £1600! :scream::sweat:

The other thing with them is that they only have sockets in polished chrome, but modular switches in mirror steel, two noticeably different finishes. There’s no unified chrome that covers everything. May need to go with Stainless (my preference anyway as I don’t want to be polishing everything every 5 minutes).

Look forward to starting to pull everything together!

Little update with some progress. I’m now the proud owner of a ST Hub - great xmas present :slight_smile:

All done switching out backboxes to accommodate the fibaro dimmer module, and almost ready to order them, plus a few TKB TZ69E wall plugs for controlling some appliances and lamps. The guys at Vesternet have been amazing.

Was finding it pretty tough to justify paying nearly £2000 just for switches and sockets, and have fortunately come across Scolmore’s Definity and Minigrid system which will let me kit the house out with all the same switches and sockets (even slightly better, as they do a 3-way retractive switch module which will allow me to dim up and down), for less than half the cost!

Check them out here:
And best prices online I’ve found here:

Will head over to my nearest stockist later today to check out what the quality is like :thumbsup:

So today’s the big day, finally trying to start installing everything. Already learned today (though sounds stupidly obvious now) - I can’t use retractive switches for some of the lights that won’t have a Fibaro Dimmer in the circuit.

We’ve wired in one of the Fibaro dimmers and the retractive switch now can turn the light off and on with a single press (not reverting to off when in the 0 position). Trouble is my smartthings app isn’t detecting it… Any ideas? All the instructions I’ve found start with 'Pair the device’s but I can’t even get that far.

Thanks for the speedy reply. I’ve tried that, no joy. Would it make a difference that it’s a 3 way retractive switch?

There we go. Thanks! And now I guess I use rmbhatia’s instructions?

Ok we’re in business. Thank you!

Another question - for switches that have eg a bedroom and en suite switch, will I be able to control both individually using a single dimmer module? Or do we need to fit two in the same backbox?