Sometimes the best inspiration for building your own home automation system is to have a look at what others have done. The guys over at Vesternet have recently launched their new ‘Case Studies’ section and it’s a great opportunity to go through the keyhole and into some contemporary Smart Homes. Here’s their best install to date (check out the list of equipment used at the bottom). A Z-Wave system in a Plymouth semi in the UK that’s been built up in affordable steps to provide a comprehensive whole-house solution including lighting, heating, AV and security…
Deciding on Z-Wave
Monika had ideas for her system that covered nearly every room. By selecting Z-Wave with it’s mesh network and status reporting she knew that she would have a reliable and flexible system that could also be expanded over time. Finding out that her existing alarm system could also be integrated was an added bonus and allows Monika to use PIRs that were already fitted throughout her home. This saved her money on the initial install costs.
Monica has implemented a really nice system that has many neat features. She is putting Z-Wave devices to great use and has even begun experimenting with more advanced functionality such as occupancy detection.
Selecting a main controller was a crucial stage in the planning that Monika invested her time in. She already knew that she wanted to utilise mainly Fibaro devices so it made sense to pick the Fibaro Home Center 2 System (HC2) above other available options. The HC2 gives the best compatibility with her Fibaro sensors and insert modules. It has advanced functionality such as geo-fencing, SMS notifications and remote access via web page or mobile phone. Monika is able to set scenes to control her lighting and heating from anywhere in the world! Monika feels that the HC2 has one of the best looking web interfaces and the iPhone / iPad app is equally well polished. Both have great features and are incredibly user friendly, they are used by all the family with ease. Her children love to pick different colours for the mood lighting that she has installed using the excellent iPad app!
Installing an Aeon Labs Multisensor in the dining room gives Monika light level, temperature and occupancy data that she is able to use within the HC2 for triggering scenes.
She is able to automatically dim and control the brightness of her pendant lighting using a Fibaro Universal Dimmer. Motion detection and ambient light level triggers let Monika only turn on the light when the room is in use and getting dark. This saves money on her electric bill.
Monika is using a Fibaro Universal Sensor to integrate a PIR from her existing alarm system into the Z-Wave network. This makes it easy to control lighting and appliances dynamically based on whether the room is occupied. For example, she turns on the television automatically in the morning when somebody enters the room using a Fibaro Relay Insert 2 x 1.5KW. A great use of these devices and perfect for ensuring she doesn’t miss BBC Breakfast! When the room has been empty for some time, the television and lighting can be turned off to conserve energy. A Fibaro Universal Door & Window Sensor installed on her patio door tells Monika’s HC2 whether the door has been opened. She is using this type of sensor information as part of her overall security strategy giving her confirmation that all the doors are closed properly before she goes to bed. The central heating is also turned off should the patio door be opened, preventing precious heat from escaping into the garden.
Finally for the living room, Monika has integrated her television and home cinema into her Home Automation system by using a Global Cache iTach Flex Wi-Fi. This is a powerful Wi-Fi connected IR (Infra-Red) gateway that can control pretty much any piece of AV (Audio Visual) equipment. iPhones and iPads now take centre stage for interacting with the TV, “Universal” remote controls are soooooo 2005!
Monika has had garden lighting installed for quite some time, but due to the layout of the living room the switch that controls it was in an inconvenient location. In fact, in recent years it has ended up behind a painting, meaning that the garden lighting was unused. Installing a Fibaro Relay Insert 1 x 3KW has solved that problem and Monica is now able to control the lighting using her iPad. It can also be turned on based on sequences of events such as “If it is dark AND the patio door is open”. In the future Monika could also install a Z-Wave.me Duwi Everlux Wall Controller in a more convenient position should she need to control the lighting locally as well.
For most people the hallway tends to be a neglected area, not so in Monika’s home. Here she has installed a Fibaro RGBW Controller to beautifully control her LED mood lighting that’s fitted alongside her staircase.
An app for smart-phones and tablets allows her to pick the colour of the lighting via a lovely looking tablet and mobile user interface. Monika has configured schedules within her HC2 so that the LED lighting is used as a night light. It automatically comes on at a low level at sunset and goes off at sunrise. This makes walking around at night much safer.
Further thought has been given to Monika’s security strategy here too, a Fibaro Universal Sensor, Fibaro Universal Door & Window Sensor and a Fibaro Relay Insert 1 x 3KW work together to protect the front door, detect motion in the hallway and automate her hallway light. A great example of Z-Wave devices interacting with each other.
Monika uses a Secure Boiler Receiver to intelligently control her central heating. It works in conjunction with the Secure Wall Thermostat and other temperature sensors in her home to strike a fine balance between demand and supply. This saves her money by only heating rooms where the temperature is below an acceptable level. The HC2 heating panel gives an elegant way to control the central heating remotely too!
The kitchen in Monika’s house was always one of the hottest rooms. When the cooker, boiler and radiator were on, a lot of energy was being wasted! Not anymore though, Monika has fitted a Danfoss Living Connect Radiator Thermostat which saves her £££££s by only turning the radiator on when the room is cold.Another Fibaro Universal Door & Window Sensor is used on the kitchen door to tell her HC2 to turn on the outside light at night when the door is opened – great for putting the bins out when it’s dark!Monika has used more LED mood lighting in the kitchen. A Fibaro Relay Insert 1 x 3KW controls a “warm white” LED strip for a subtle effect that really enhances her kitchen units!
Monika installed a Secure Wall Thermostat with LCD display in the study. Combined with the HC2, Monika can remotely control her central heating when she’s not at home! Perfect for warming the house when she leaves work or protecting the water pipes from low temperatures when she is away on holiday.
The HC2 heating panel lets her easily and conveniently set up schedules for any day of the week. This is much more user friendly than a conventional programmable thermostat.The lighting in her study is also under control of her HC2. A Fibaro Universal Sensor integrates her existing PIR and a Fibary Relay Insert 1 x 3KW turns the light on depending on whether the room is occupied or not.Monika is also experimenting with Smartglass at the moment. This is an amazing new technology that allows a piece of glass to go from being completely clear to opaque at the flick of a switch. It was straightforward to control the Smartglass from her HC2 via a Fibaro Relay Insert 1 x 3KW and she is able to integrate it with all the other aspects of her Home Automation system too. With her testing nearly complete, Monika is planning on installing Smartglass as a partition between her kitchen and living room. This will be a great feature to split up her current open-plan living on demand!
You wouldn’t have thought there’d be much to automate in a toilet, but you’d be wrong! Monika has further increased her energy saving by using a Fibaro Relay Insert 2 x 1.5KW to control both her toilet light and extractor fan. This is a good choice when there are two loads to be controlled within close proximity as it saves on buying separate devices.A Fibaro Universal Door & Window Sensor and logic in her HC2 allow Monika to turn them on automagically when the toilet door is opened and then off again when the door is closed. The HC2 is leveraged further by checking to make sure the light and fan are off after a period of time, just in case somebody forgets to close the door.
Monika has made good use of more Fibaro devices in her master bedroom. A Fibaro Wall Plug allows her to turn a European lamp on and off from her bed and monitors the power it is using as an added bonus.
Another Aeon Labs Multisensor provides occupancy detection and environmental data which is used by her HC2 to control the lighting via a Fibaro Universal Dimmer. The HC2 also takes input from a further Fibaro Universal door & Window Sensor in order to moderate the heating in Monika’s bedroom. This is a simple matter of logic for her HC2 which commands a Danfoss Living Connect Radiator Thermostat to stop the flow of water to the radiator. Monika loves the fact that her bedroom is now kept at a perfect temperature.Finally in this room, Monika installed a pair of Fibaro Relay Insert 2 x 1.5KW into double power sockets and she is using these to turn off phone chargers, electronic toothbrush chargers, TV and music dock. This stops those devices from consuming energy while they are in “standby” and saves more money off Monika’s electric bill!
Children and Guest Bedrooms
Additional Danfoss Living Connect Radiator Thermostats are being used in the remaining bedrooms to control the temperature of the rooms to a comfortable level. Monica has also installed some more Fibaro Relay Insert 1 * 3KW to automate the lighting. This is excellent for making sure that her kids go to sleep at night and don’t sit up reading for too long!
It’s the simple things that Monika has implemented that often give the most satisfaction. She has installed a further Fibaro Universal Sensor into an existing PIR and Fibaro Relay Insert 1 x 3KW into the landing light fitting. Her HC2 is now able to use motion detection to sense occupancy and only turn the landing light on when needed. HC2 turns the light off again after a few minutes. This is a fantastic way to save money, especially in a house with children who often forget to turn off the lights!
Motion triggered lighting and control of the extractor fan were crossed off the to-do list in the master bathroom. Monika uses an Aeon Labs Multisensor to provide presence detection and the humidity level to her HC2. The extractor fan is then intelligently managed to ensure it is only on when the humidity level is high. A Danfoss Living Connect Radiator Thermostat is used to prevent her towel rail from getting too hot. By only using appliances such as these for the minimum amount of time, Monica is conserving energy and saving even more money.
Monika has one of the most fully featured Home Automation systems we’ve ever seen. It is a testament to her planning and foresight as to how well it all integrates. Her use of the HC2 to bring all the components together give her and her family an incredible amount of comfort and convenience.With her experiments in Smartglass and more improvements planned in the future, she continues to grow her system to cover more of her home. One of the benefits of taking a modular approach when building such a system is that often features can be added along the way taking advantage of existing equipment. For example, Monika already had occupancy detection available in some rooms through using the Aeon Labs Multisensors so it was trivial to add logic to the HC2 to offer finer grained control of her lighting.
If you like the look of Monika’s system, here are the products and their current costs:
- Fibaro Home Center 2 System: £497.00
- Aeon Labs Multisensor (3x): £45.00 each
- Fibaro Universal Dimmer (3x): £48.00 each
- Fibaro Universal Sensor (4x): £36.00
- Fibaro Relay Insert 2 * 1.5KW (5x): £48.00 each
- Fibaro Relay Insert 1 * 3KW (7x): £48.00 each
- Fibaro Universal Door & Window Sensor (5x): £40.00 each
- Fibaro RGBW Controller (1x): £48.00 each
- Fibaro Wall Plug (1x): £55.00 each
- Global Cache iTach Flex Wi-Fi (1x): £119.00 each
- Danfoss Living Connect Radiator Thermostat (5x): £52.00 each
- Secure Wall Thermostat & Receiver (1x): £99.00
- Total Cost: £2277.00