Some advice on my planned build (UK)

project_wholehouse

#1

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!


(Robin) #2

Welcome to Smartthings!!!

You’ll get the Fibaro modules working just fine… I have them throughout my home and I have become huge fan!

If you can afford it, swap out the original toggle switches and replace with momentary switches in order to benefit from the full range of dimming and scene features.

I reccomend you avoid ‘The Button’ by Fibaro though (it’s crazy buggy).

Later when I get time I’ll post some links to (what I think) are the best device handlers for the different Fibaro modules.

In regards to knowing when an iron has been left on, you need to be careful with the specs. The Fibaro relay modules get close but they can still only handle 10A / 2500W… In the UK for example we have 13A socket circuits so the modules are not sufficient.

GE do an appliance module that can handle greater loads but I don’t know much about them.

I rarely automate devices plugged into sockets except for some table lamps. For these I use these inline switches:

http://www.vesternet.com/z-wave-swiidinter-cord-switch

I wrote my own DH for these which you can find by searching the forum.

You also need to consider the load with Fibaro’s range of dimmer and switch modules… They can handle up to 250W so you’ll be fine in most situations. However if you have a room with, for example, lots of halogen bulbs on one circuit, you may start exceeding the limit and would have to consider upgrading to LED’s to reduce the load or splitting the circuits.

Another thing to consider is how to connect 3 way switches… This depends entirely on your existing wiring layout. (What country are you in)… If you post a sketch of your existing layout I can advise further.

This community is great and I for one will be more than happy to guide you through your setup… You don’t need to go it alone!!


#3

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


#4

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.)


(Robin) #5

+1

As noted in my post above I wouldnt ever put a Fibaro module behind a socket… They just aren’t man enough for the job. You may plan a small load for that socket today but forget and plug a space heater in tomorrow!!

Fibaro relay / switch modules are only intended for lighting and small loads such as bathroom fans (non speed adjustable) / magnetic locks etc…

The dimmers are only intended for lighting.

SwiidInter Cord Switchs for table lamps are great, Having to fumble about under a table to reach a “pocket socket” wall wart (for manual switching) is never fun :sunglasses:

The wall warts are great for other applications though, especially in kitchens where the sockets tend to be above the worktop within easy reach.

A guiding principle for me is that everything should continue to work manually like a normal home, for the benefit of guests (and often the other half).


#6

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.


(Robin) #7

Exactly what I said, and I noted the GE appliance module as an alternative.

That said, I accept the apology :heart:

Edit: apologies to the OP for taking his first and decent thread off topic… Me and JD can discuss this further in PM’s if neccesary.


#8

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.


(Robin) #9

Yeah… It seems like Currys have a monopoly / sole franchise on selling ST branded stuff in the UK!

Vesternet are great… I have bought nearly every device I own from them… They may not sell ST products but nearly every z wave product they sell is compatible (just search this forum for the DH before buying)

They also have great guidance pages, blogs and compatibility lists which include ST.

We are incredibly limited in the uk when it comes to good devices for lighting control… It really comes down to Fibaro and a few others that don’t seem to have DH on this forum.

The z wave switches all need a neutral so again, for most UK wiring, Fibaro micro modules are the only realistic choice! I don’t mind that though, I love my Fibaro’s!!

For irons, hair straighteners etc there are plenty of wall wart sockets available to us. Fibaro do one (never tried it though) and ST’s own socket outlet is a neat piece of kit.

A bonus with the ST outlet is that it works in Zigbee (a rarity for mains powered devices in the UK) so it can act as a repeater for the ST presence sensors (which I find very reliable, others don’t).

If you have stud walls remember you don’t necessarily have to change all the back boxes… The modules can be put on longer wires and hung down in the cavity behind the boxes (just make sure you terminate the wires neatly to avoid anything touching)


#10

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.


#11

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.


#12

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:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Z-wave_versus_Zigbee


#13

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. @RobinWinbourne 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:


#14

And you might also find the following of interest:


(Robin) #15

I wasn’t sure on this myself so I checked with an electrician before I did it in my own home… We are allowed junctions (and modules) behind the boxes so long as they are accessible for maintenance and live contacts are correctly terminated to avoid any bare wire showing or coming into contact with metal studs etc.

I actually went belt and braces with mine and placed the modules within terminal boxes… But I was told this was not strictly necessary.

Did the same recently in my mums house which she rents out to tenants… It got electrical certification (required for renting in the UK) fairly easily - after the electrician got his head around the setup that is!!

What’s funny is that when you watch the Fibaro tutorial videos they often show the wires stripped right back and left exposed protruding from the terminals… Very poor practice!!


(Robin) #16

Switches

Ohh… I like the look of that switch… Nice find!! (I really need to get a life :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

Not a very easy website to search though… Do they have 2, 3 or 4 gang versions (gang = number of switches in one faceplate).

I went for these… Bit annoyed having just looked up the link as they were twice the cost when I got them!!

http://www.ashdownhomestore.co.uk/mechanical-rocker-onoff-light-switches-plain-glass-353-c.asp

There are 1, 2 and 3 gang retractable options. Bit fiddly to get the glass faceplate off once clicked into place but I like the look and feel of the big rockers. I also like the fact that there is no gap between the rockers in the multi-gang versions, so you can turn twin circuits off together with just one finger in the middle.

I initially experimented with the MK grid system range, but I found the MK retractable modules a bit heavy to press + they made an annoyingly loud click!!

If you have pull cords in your wet room(s) then the only retractable option I could find was to use an elderly / disabled persons panic cord switch… They come with a red cord but it’s simple to just swap your original white cord onto the new switch:

http://uk.rs-online.com/web/p/lighting-ceiling-pull-cord-switches/5000465/

Retractable switches are nearly always 2 way. This means they have both ‘normally open’ (NO) and ‘normally closed’ (NC) terminals in addition to the common.

For the Fibaro modules you will only need to use the Common and ‘NO’ terminals.

An important point to note is that though the Fibaro dimmers can only control one lighting circuit each, they have the ability to connect to two switches (S1 & S2). S1 is used for the primary light control. S2 is optional and can be used to send scene ID’s to the hub which can in turn be used to trigger anything you want.

For example I have a 2 gang retractable switch in my living room connected to one Fibaro dimmer module. S1 controls the main lights in the ceiling. S2 is programmed, via the hub, to toggle the lamp in the corner (which uses the Swidd switch I mentioned earlier). An easy way to achieve the same result as those old fashioned 5A lighting circuits.

Different scene ID’s are sent for different actions (singe, double and tipple clicks + hold and release) so you can setup all sorts of shortcuts to scenes, routines and rules depending on your needs:

When planning the number of gangs required at each switch location, the above should be taken into account if you want to take advantage of S2.

I originally just went for the same number of gangs as the existing (dumb) setup, but I have recently had to replace a whole load of switches to take advantage of the S2 functions. If you can, save yourself the cost and the hassle by getting it right first time.

2 Way circuits

A bit of confusion here that @JDRoberts may be able to clarify… Here in the UK, a lighting circuit with 2 switches is known as ‘2-way’ but I’m fairly sure it’s called ‘3-way’ in the US? I think the same applies to the switch type naming? Always helps to know the terminology for when you need to search this forum!

Anyway, before I try to explain how to wire Fibaro dimmers into a UK 2-way lighting circuit, can you confirm if the following diagram matches your existing setup (this is the standard setup for the UK):

If it does, you will only need one dimmer module to control both switches (technically unlimited switched actually) and I will then explain further.

Oh, and don’t worry about the retractable switches being 1 or 2 way, you only need 1 of the ways anyway. 2 way switches are only really relevant to traditional toggle types unless you are doing something particularly specialist with a retractable.


Where do i start?
Fibaro 212 problems
Hive with ST (UK)
#17

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:


(Robin) #18

I currently work as the group H&S Manger for a large Construction Logistics Contractor, primarily visiting new build projects throughout the UK, but I used to be a Site Manager.

New homes normally tend to come with 10 year NHBC Buildmark warranties… I would hate to kill your ambitions but you may want to check how your HA plans could effect this.

Probably not going to be an issue as it will mainly cover structural aspects but worth checking with the developer.

Also, (good) developers typically re-visit homes 6-12 months after completion to carry out “snagging” such as making good settlment cracks and the like. You may loose out on this service if they see you have replaced every single switch in the home, as you will likely crack up the paint around each switch.

Personally, neither of the above would bother me too much… Electrical standards are so high in the UK that you’ll be very unlikely to need that part of the Warranty. Not getting some small cracks filled and painted would also not bother me in the grander scheme of things.

Just thought I would throw it in the mix so you were aware.

In regards to LED’s… Don’t forget to get the Dimmable types and my recommendation is that you don’t skimp on the wattage… Get the brightest the fitting can handle, you wont regret it!


#19

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 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57ixU9YAQ0U

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).


(John Crighton) #20

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).