Automated Home 2.0 – #13 Here’s What We’re Planning for Our Loxone Smart Home

Loxone Modules

Over the last few months we’ve been working away on the Loxone plans for the new house.

Loxone is a BMS (Building Management System) built around their Miniserver, the brains of the entire operation. Here are some of the Loxone features that we are considering for the Automated Home 2.0…

Lighting

Lighting is probably the most popular place to start making your home ‘smart’ in the UK.

We talked to a couple of lighting design companies and whilst we’d love to have had their input it was just another one of those figures in our spreadsheet that ultimately didn’t make the cut.

On the up side we’ve found that our Loxone partner has lots of useful lighting experience we can use instead.

The system can switch and dim nearly any type of light but Loxone manufacture their own fittings too. We’d like to use these where possible and we especially love their ‘LED Pendulum Slim’ lamps…

It would be great to have some Scene Lighting in the Kitchen / Dining / Living room to help zone things and use Loxone’s RGBW Pendant lights, LED tape and down lighters to set different moods. We had some round pin 5 Amp sockets in the old place for table lamps which we’re considering again too.

It seems simple, but one of the features we enjoyed most during our visit to the Loxone Show Home was automated Lighting. Movement sensors (PIRs) mounted in the ceilings that turned on lights as we entered a room. The relative new ‘Ceiling Light Tree’ actually has one built in to the centre of the unit so you can light and detect movement in a room all from a single unit.

Door sensors are also an option we are considering for smaller rooms like the Pantry, so the light would be on the instant the door starts to open.

Loxone RGBW Ceiling Light with built-in PIR

It’s unlikely our budget will stretch to much in the way of outdoor lighting at this point, but we’re definitely planning to reserve a few circuits for it. We’ll be adding some cable runs for other future things like drive lights / gates / and an intercom there too.

Security & Access

Because of those movement and door sensors we mentioned above, Loxone basically has all the elements of a burglar alarm already built-in. So the addition of the Loxone Alarm Siren seems like a sensible choice. Personally I think that sirens aren’t always that useful, especially in the countryside. However with Loxone the system can phone and text me when there’s an alarm condition which is much more useful than a bell ringing in a field somewhere.

Driving a car that uses your smartphone as the key is fantastic and it would be great to add motorised locks to the house to remove the need to carry a key for it too. Each one of Loxone’s NFC Code Touch keypads can operate multiple doors and they can also allow limited or one time access to your home. So you could for example give a cleaner access on Tuesdays between 9am and noon or create a PIN to let a delivery driver leave a parcel in your garage.

Loxone NFC Code Touch

Instead of typing in your own PIN each time you get home, you can use a little NFC Key Fob like in the photo above. But I’d really prefer not to have to carry anything but my phone, just like with my car. Apple (being Apple) have refused to open up NFC to 3rd party developers, years after adding the feature to their phones. Fear not though non-Android users, as Loxone also provides these Encrypted NFC Smart Tags (stickers) which can be placed on the back of your iPhone instead (but really Apple, we shouldn’t have to do this).

Loxone Encrypted NFC Smart Tags

We’re installing electric roller Garage Doors and we’d like to interface to them too (look out for a separate post on the garage door setup in the future).

We’re planning to install multiple IP CCTV security cameras and Loxone has the ability to display CCTV images in their app.

Finally the entire Loxone system can be brought together to mimic presence in the house. Operating lights, blinds and playing music for example while you are away on holidays, which should be enough to convince the casual observer that the house is still occupied.

Shading / Windows / Blinds

We’re fitting Keylite roof windows in the KDL room and study. Each of these 7 units are electrically operated and we’d like the Loxone system to be able to open them automatically, before the house starts to over heat in the summer for example.

While data from an Internet Weather Service is useful, it would be great to have Loxone’s dedicated weather station on site to accurately detected local wind and rain conditions. Using this device the system could then close those roof windows automatically in wet and or windy conditions too.

The weather station can also play a part in the heating strategy for the house, acting like a weather compensator.

Loxone Weather Station
Loxone Weather Station

In addition to opening and closing the windows, the blinds on the roof lites will be electrically operated too. We plan to add motorised rollers on the sliders too, with Loxone controlling them all to provide automated shading in the summer.

Heating / HVAC / Energy

Loxone Modbus Extension

The Loxone system includes Valve Actuators that can be used on a manifold for example to control under floor heating (which we’ll have on both floors of the AH2).

Each area can have its own temperature sensor, as these are conveniently built into the Loxone wall switches. The system can take the average of several sensors to more accurately determine the room’s temperature.

Loxone’s Modbus extension could talk to our heating system as well as providing energy monitoring duties. Ideally I’d like to measure how much power any future EV charger or solar PV system we install consumes and generates.

Something I need to look into more is smart appliances with timers for using off-peak electricity. Something that would allow us to run the dishwasher and washing machine at night using lower price energy for example.

Audio

We’ve had a Sonos system since 2005 and it’s always been a superb multi-room audio system. And while it can be integrated, Loxone provide their own multizone audio system, so this is something we’re considering too.

It can also be used to play announcements around the house using its text to speech engine for things like the status of alarm (set/unset), playing a custom doorbell sound, smoke detector warnings etc all through the Loxone Speakers.

We don’t want any speakers sitting around the floor, although that means it’s going to be hard to get the great sound we enjoyed in the last house unless we can find another speaker solution. Sound bars are probably our best option for the TVs.

Loxone Music Server
Loxone Music Server

Video

Loxone aren’t known for their media controls, but that’s fine by me.

I think things are changing rapidly here (it seems like IR and Universal Remotes are going the way of the Dodo), so it’s hard to even get a handle on what exactly our needs are at this point.

Catchup services are so good now that we’ve easily lived without any TV recordings for the last 12 months in our temporary accommodation. So while Sky Q was excellent in the old place (and is always an option to add to our network later on if we change our minds), I’ve currently no plans for any DVR at all.

In fact I probably watch more YouTube than anything these days, so with that, Netflix and the rest of the streaming services, I really can’t see myself installing anything other than a few smart TVs with a good old hardwired Ethernet connection to each one, plus a Coax for Freeview.

Other Considerations

In regards to integration, Loxone has an open API and can also interface with http, udp, RS-232, RS-485, DALI, DMX, EnOcean, Modbus and 1-wire amongst others. Add that to the normal array of digital and analogue I/O’s and there’s not much I can think of that cannot be integrated.

It would be great to have air quality monitoring figures feeding into the system too from our Foobot or AirThings Wave Plus.

On the advice of our installer Scott, we plan to use an Airbase extension along with a few Air modules here and there. This means the house will already have a good Loxone mesh network so any future wireless additions (Christmas tree lights in a Smart Socket Air for example) should ‘just work’.

Loxone make their own Smoke Detector Air, but as it’s not mains powered it cannot be fitted to a new build. Alternatively we could integrate with some third party ones with the appropriate contacts.

My better half liked the Touch Nightlight Air in the show home so we might put one of those in the master bedroom. Not sure that we’d get much use out of the Touch & Grill Air BBQ accessory in ‘sunny’ Northern Ireland though 🙂

Loxone Touch Nightlight Air

I’ve always wondered if it’s worth investing in water leak detection, but it’s another option to consider.

We’ve got a couple of outside sockets on the wish list too, one for the pressure washer at the rear and another at the front for an outside LED Patio lamp like this.

Our LAN and Wi-Fi setup will be a separate consideration (and posts) but at this point I’m hoping to use as much PoE for Wireless Access points and CCTV Cameras as I can.

Controls

One of the things people usually learn quickly when setting up a modern smart home is that it’s really no fun at all having to get your phone out every five minutes to control stuff.

This is where true automation comes into play, with the house controlling lights, blinds, heating, access, music etc all automatically based on things like your movements and the time of day. We certainly don’t plan to do away with wall switches either, and I really liked the scheme in the Loxone Show Home that meant each switch used an identical setup for music, lights, blinds etc, making it much easier to remember.

I’d love one central on-wall master panel for the system too, so an iPad setup like this in kitchen is on our wish list.

Loxone iPad Control

While voice control is not currently a core feature of Loxone it can be added with the 1Home system which we are also really interested in.

What Have We Forgotten?

As is often the case, blog posts like this are as much for my benefit as anyone else’s as they force me to get my own thoughts together.

So, is there anything I’ve forgotten? Something else worth considering? Let me know in the comments below.

Remember to check out our Instagram to follow the project, read the rest of the Automated Home 2.0 blog posts and find the links to all the products we’ve used in our self-build.

19 Comments on "Automated Home 2.0 – #13 Here’s What We’re Planning for Our Loxone Smart Home"

  1. Apple NFC: Apple has finally opened up NFC in IOS 13, however I guess it will take a while for app developers to catch up (https://www.howtogeek.com/425745/how-ios-13-will-unlock-nfcs-potential/).

    Video: Nvidia has just updated the Shield, which may be a good option for video, its basically the best implementation of Android TV out there (assuming you don’t go down the apple TV route), and could possibly run the Lox one app? https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/28/20935782/nvidia-shield-tv-pro-announced-features-pricing-dolby-vision

    Network: Will be interested to see what you go with on the Network/WiFi front, are you considering Ubiquiti? If so you might be interested that they have just launched the “UniFi Dream Machine”, however they are also working on a pro version that drops the inbuilt WiFi AP, but is rack mountable and includes a HDD bay for CCTV recording (UniFi Protect), as well as a 10GB SFP port. https://store.ui.com/products/unifi-dream-machine

  2. @Vanburen – thanks for that NFC info, good news, hopefully Loxone can implement that soon.

    After doing a few UniFi installations it’s definitely the front runner for our network, more on that in the future 😉

    Thanks.

  3. Hey @Mark, awesome to see the details.
    Re door locks using an app like geofency on the iPhone it can push json commands into a HA system. I have this working perfectly with an electric latch plate for hands free key access to home.

    More details on the indigo forum which I think you were on previously?

    Re timer based appliances the future is demand driven usage, octopus energy already have a geeky tariff that you can tie into ifttt or HA systems to let them notify you when electric is cheapest to then trigger washing or tumble drying.

    Definitely worth looking into if you’re choosing applicances or mechanisms for optimum control. (Cost May outweigh savings tho!)

    Cheers
    Noel

  4. @Noel – thanks, all great suggestions!

  5. Another fantastic article, Mark! We’re looking forward to seeing AH2 in all of it’s (smart) glory! 😉

    @Vanburen Apple opening up (to an extent) their Core NFC framework for Developers with iOS 13 is, of course, a welcomed advancement! Our software development team is actively exploring the complementary features this could present for users of our Loxone iOS app.

  6. @Loxone – thanks for the update. Hopefully Apple are moving in the right direction.

  7. Movement activated lighting we found annoying in real world and have only ended up using it in the (windowless) downstairs loo. We’re in a city which might be the difference, but theres often enough ambient light to get around without switching on main room lights (and it ended up too complex trying to predict different lighting moods based on time of day). The best thing about Loxone (or most HA) of course is that its’ easy to rejig things. We do have various commands that switch off a number of rooms lighting – a triple click from the kitchen switches off the living room as well (and vice versa), triple from the bedroom door also switches off ensuite and dressing room, the bedside switch all lights except guest bedrooms.

    Central iPad control panel is useful (though I wonder if I’ll regret the expensive wall mount when the iPad needs replalcing and the next one has different dimensions). Also works well for music control (though we just use Spotify connect).

    Speakers – you could wall mount something like Monitor Audio Radius 225s (or floor stand 360’s) with ceiling mounted surrounds (and a decent subwoofer tucked away) for much better sound than a soundbar for your main TV. BKElectronics make a decent looking in-wall subwoofer if you’re really averse to any boxes.

    We’ve got wall/ceiling speakers in the kitchen for more casual listening and they’re not bad now.

  8. @Simon – thanks for sharing your experience.

  9. Hi Mark,

    Congratulations on the new house and on choosing Loxone. I installed Loxone when we built our house in Derry/Londonderry in 2012. Loxone has been really good, the only problem I ever had was with the memory cards failing. Recording too many stats, makes them fail sooner. I just keep a few spare cards now.

    I also have the motorised Keylite windows in the bedroom, but the motorised blinds for them were crazy money at the time.(2012) I think it would have been cheaper to get the Velux windows as the blinds were much cheaper.

    I really like your new house, love the stone. Half our house is also done with field stone.

    Cheers

  10. @Graeme – thanks, great to hear!

  11. Hi, somehow we feel identified with you. We are moving to a new house where we’ll have Loxone, all and all Loxone, lights, sensors, switches etc. Our concern is about music. Now we use Sonos and so many streaming music services, that is a fantasy in Loxone’s world. So we consider continuing to use Sonos as streaming music provider but we don’t want to lose the functions Loxone give besides music (text to voice messages, alarms, door bell etc…) So… do you know how to enjoy the functions listed before using Sonos speakers ? (Loxone has been consulted but “they offer the main services” (3) was the answer…)

  12. @Sergi – have you seen the new music features in v11 of Config? We are a Spotify family and the new UI has been made to look like the Spotify app – https://youtu.be/LzJG-5OG5-Y?t=188

  13. Thank-you very much for your answer.
    We haven’t seen v11 of config, is there a way to use Sonos speakers ? (We are just final users, don’t know how to deal with Config).
    Well, as we said we use “so many streaming music services” not just one, two or tree… we are music lovers and eclectic, we enjoy baroque composers and 80’s house, french chançon and progessive… and… and… Spotify is not enough, consider that just in CalmRadio service there are around 400 channels… imagine all the services Sonos offer to you… (Spotify is just one of them) you will never get enough. It has no sense to migrate to Loxone who only offers 3 services: TuneIn, Spotify and Google play… We don’t want “elevator music” playing in the background. It is clear that Loxone is NOT a product in the cloud so… let us ask again: any idea how to send the messages, alarms, T2V from Loxone to Sono’s speakers ? so we can enjoy music from Sonos and HA from Loxone ?.
    Thanks again for your patience.
    Sergi.

  14. Yes you can use Sonos speakers, each music server has uPNP zones which can be used for Sonos.Not sure if you can use those services though with Sonos through Loxone. Have a chat with a Loxone Partner who will be able to advice.

  15. Colin Cooper | June 4, 2020 at 9:08 am |

    Interesting discussion about when and when not to use Loxone. We have a Loxone in our house and it is great. So use Loxone for all the things it is good at – lighting, heating, ventilation, blinds, alarms, etc. But IMHO it is best not to use it for more peripheral areas such as sound.

    We have a Sonos system. And it is streets ahead of Loxone for audio quality and the range of music services it works with. And frankly Loxone will never catch up with a specialist provider like Sonos – they are too small and don’t have the development teams.

    Loxone will part work with Sonos in that it switches music on and off. But it won’t play alert messages over Sonos. Does that matter? Well there are many other ways to get alerts from Loxone (light flashes, beeps from switches, alerts on phones, etc) so no, it doesn’t matter at all. It depends what you see the sound system in your home as providing – music or alerts. For me that is easy to answer.

    Similar with a fire alarm. We have an independent set of smoke and heat alarms in kitchen, hall and stairways. They link to Loxone too so that if Loxone or the fire alarm decide there is a fire both will be triggered. That gives me resilience/redundancy that is great for something important like a fire alarm. We get very loud sounders going off in the house (note no need for sound system) and alerts to my phone wherever we are.

    I think the same applies to a burglar alarm. Have a limited regular one that can be certified for insurance purposes linked to Loxone that extends the functionality. That way the alarm still works if, for example, your power is cut.

    We use Arlo security cameras too. They stream video to a cloud library so we can check up on what has been happening at the house over last 30 days. It also alerts Loxone if a car or person is in the drive so switching on external lighting at night.

    So IMHO a best-of-breed approach is best. That has to be done carefully and I think an important test is – do these systems run independently as well as together. That means that is still provides the main functionality even if the communication link fails for some reason.

    And finally one problem with Loxone (and some of their partners) is that they would strongly argue against the above. They are programmed to sell the entire Loxone suite. And that means selling overpriced and under-featured parts of their system. IMHO they sometimes fail to get in the shoes of their customers.

  16. Hi Colin, very interesting your experience with Loxone as an user, for those, like my family and myself, who are planning to move to a new house and install HA by Loxone.
    We agree with you. Let the music to SONOS not to Loxone, period.
    But music is not sound.
    Messages T2S, alerts, alarms are a must in the house.
    Sure it can be used another way to alert, but if you have elderly people living with you (87+) you’ll know they will panic and get blocked if the lights start blinking or the switches beeping… and sooner or later, if lucky, we all will be that old.
    I think interacting with voice commands and getting oral answers is around us in our car, gadgets and it will be in ours homes. No way to escape from it.
    We finally decided to continue listening music through SONOS, but we still need to find a way to get the voice messages from Loxone. (How to send oral orders to Loxone is easy and solutions can be found all around)
    The easiest way would be to duplicate systems, as you do for your alarm or fire detectors. One SONOS system for music (we already have it) and one Loxone system only for the voice messages. Kind of expensive, you have to buy the music server and the amplifier from Loxone (beside some extra speakers).
    I am no an expert at all in electronics, but I consider that the messages from Loxone is something possible to be captured and processed outside Loxone’s world. I’ve been googling and there are Loxberry based solution (among others) can be seen in
    https://www.loxwiki.eu/display/LOXBERRY/Sonos4Loxone
    where the plugin is described and commented, but briefly they say:
    “Purpose of the plugin:
    The plugin is used to control a Sonos Multi Room installation from Loxone. The common standard commands, but also text-to-speech (T2S), Sonos-to-speech, clock-to-speech and, if the Wunderground plugin is installed, also weather-to-speech are available. In addition, values ​​(e.g. temperature or window status) from Loxone can also be integrated into the text-to-speech announcements.
    In addition, information such as title / artist, play / stop / pause and volume per zone are made available via UDP packets and via virtual text input connectors.”
    Every time I find something like that I cry. It seems that a solution already exist but it’s only for geeks.
    What I am supposed to do wit a plugin downloaded to my Mac ?
    Kindly introduce it to my Loxone ?
    As you say Loxone and it partners tend to sell all the solution they have, and offer not help at all if you want a change that means not selling part of their products, like we want.
    Let me yield out loud: if there is any one reading this who knows where find help or a solution (how can I get it working at my home) please let me know.

  17. Colin Cooper | June 4, 2020 at 1:22 pm |

    Hi Sergi. Thanks for the reply – and yes we seem to agree.

    On text/voice specifically I’m not sure I’m convinced of the need for voice out. Can you give me any examples? My elderly parents would much prefer a door bell ding dong than suddenly being spoken to!!! One way you could do it is with an Amazon Alexa routine. That can use an external trigger to make Alexa speak on an Echo.

    On voice in, yes it is essential. We have 1Home and it works great with Amazon Alexa. Again Loxone seem to be convinced voice control isn’t needed for some strange reason. However I like to be able to either use my phone app, a tap on the wall, or asking Alexa. Then my visitor doesn’t need training when they come to stay (oh for those days before lockdown!!!).

  18. Hi Colin.

    My elderly are over 87 and even they are quite fit and mentally clear they don’t deal well with the unexpected.
    Especially for them and kids a voice message is an understood message.

    It is my pleasure to give you some examples of voice messages to be provided by the Loxone HA, I have to say that all of them are already working in a Loxone home (without a Sonos system) as you can find in their web site.
    Water leak detected in (name the room)
    Smoke or fire in (name the room)
    Window glass break in (name the room)
    Rain expected don’t forget the umbrella (when leaving the house)
    Storm coming please go indoors
    Good morning it is seven o’clock
    Good morning don’t forget pick up Susan from the airport today
    The (washing machine, dryer, dishwasher) has finished its job
    The garage door/window/door is open (when going bed)
    Intruder detected in (name the room/garden area)
    Someone at the front door/ fence door is ringing the bell
    The car is charged
    The batteries are charged
    Someone trying to enter but fingerprint is not recognized
    An elderly person has fallen in the (name the room)
    CO2 or Radom gas high level detected (name the room)
    etc…
    Some of them could and should be accompanied by other notices via phone and/or email and/or lights and some of them followed by some actions (e.g. after the “good morning” message play music and open blinds and curtains).
    If we finally find a way to implement the messages we’ll let you know.
    Take care.

  19. Colin Cooper | June 5, 2020 at 8:10 am |

    Thanks Sergi. Hope you find your solution.

    We all have our own aims with smart homes. But IMHO more than half of those example messages are taking a Loxone implementation too far. Washing machine and calendar are the most extreme examples of that. There are many other ways of doing that without even bothering Loxone – and at a tenth of the cost – and with future changes and improvements accounted for. Eg. buy an Echo or Google Home or Apple Homekit.

    Loxone will never be better than the rest for those peripheral areas. And likely that will become even truer in the future. If I was advising Loxone it would be to focus on their core and stop trying to do everything. Whoever thought of making a BBQ sensor should be fired on the spot.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.