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Thread: Yet another 'just starting out' question!

  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Default Yet another 'just starting out' question!

    Hi,

    I'm about to do a complete re-wire in my house and I don't want to miss the opportunity to do a spot of automation.

    I don't think I can really afford the cost of CBUS stuff or similar, so I've been looking at the other end of the scale at X10.

    I've spent quite a while searching the various forums (of which this is the most helpful so far) but there are some areas I'm still not clear on. I'm sorry if I'm asking daft questions...


    I should explain what I want to do:

    Lights:
    I want to be able to control lights in each room (a variety of 12v halogens and dimmable energy saving stuff I think).

    Heating:
    I'd like to be able to integrate the heating into this - in a basic way at first. I'm considering more localised control in the future with individually controlled radiator thermostats like the Z-wave ones just out. Is it possible to easily integrate Zwave with X10? Or, is there a better way to deal with heating control more natively to X10?

    Security:
    I also want to integrate security - basic CCTV and access control, and also possibly use motion sensors to trigger events.

    Software and Macros:
    I realise I need some kind of computer interface and software to manage more complicated events - I'd like to be able to create macros which respond to the doorbell etc. I'd also like to create macros for various things which may be triggered from the tv remote, a switch in the hallway or motion sensors.

    Controlling it all:
    I want to be able to control all of this in a variety of ways - I want local light switches in the usual places, but also the option to control the system from a one-for-all style remote, and ideally via my laptop/desktop computers.

    Something I haven't managed to work out with X10 so far- there are some locations where I have only one light but would like a dual switch so that one switch could control the light and another could be used to trigger a macro.. is this possible or do all switches have to be linked to a specific light?



    As far as the reliability of X10 is concerned - I've read (somewhere on this forum) that I should install a whole house filter which I will definitely do, but I am interested in people's views on the reliability of the new X10^2 stuff. Is this the same as the X10 Domia branded range?

    Are there alternatives to X10 which I should look at? I’ve seen a lot of comment on the US forums about Insteon – but am I right in thinking that it’s not available in the UK?

    I'm sorry so many questions, I'm very grateful for any help anyone can give me.

    Thanks
    toast0r

  2. #2
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Welcome to the wonderful world of Home Automation. Warning its very addictive.

    Lets see:
    Definitely fit a whole house filter.
    Lighting - X10 can do this. But be wary that some transformers can't be dimmed, and the energy saving bulbs can cause interference with the X10 signal. Though the fitting of a local filter can prevent this interference. The new X10^2 modules are a definite improvement over the older type. While I haven't actually used their micro modules we install something similar which we call a mini-module its about 2mm thicker, slightly cheaper and has the same spec. These have all worked very well. We are also developing a special adapter so that either the micro modules or our mini modules can be Din rail mounted.
    Heating can be controlled via a digimax thermostat, This can be coupled with an SC9100 alarm panel and your heating controlled via this. Up to 4 separate zones can be set up with the panel. You could use mains operated valves for each rad, and link them to appliance modules.
    Security - The Sc9100 panel will give you basic security functions, and has a built in telephone dialler, so it will phone you when the alarm triggers, also you can phone the alarm and switch lights on or off. We also do a GSM module for this unit, though it doesn't support SMS messaging.
    CCTV and access control. What sort of access control are you thinking of. And what type of CCTV system where you thinking of. Do you want to be able to access it via the internet, see it on your TV. How do you want to record the images etc.
    To control it all, basic control functions can be done from the SC9100 panel. You can set up timers, there is also a random event timer which will turn something on around a set time I think its plus/minus 30 minutes of the stated time.
    For more advanced control you have 2 choices PC based and non-pc based. I used and recommend the Homevision controller www.csi3.com This is a non-pc based system, though it does require a PC to program, and uses an XM10 interface rather than the CM11 or CM12. Homeseer www.homeseer.com is a PC based application which is very good.
    If you require somewhere between basic and advanced control then the Active home software that comes with the CM11 or CM12 is not bad. Its not great and the Clock in the Cm11 loses quite a lot, over a period of 6 months it can lose about 45 minutes.
    What about structured wiring have you though about this.
    If you require more info or brochures etc, just PM me and I can send them to you.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your rapid reply!

    So I’ve had a look online and I’ve so far found the Digimax thermostat and an SC9000 panel (can’t find the SC9100 – is there a difference?) – how do I then use the outputs from the panel – presumably I need up to 4 thermostats and the same number of radiator valves? Any recommendations on specific valves which are compatable?

    As far as CCTV is concerned, I’ve had a look at the software that you can now get in the Domia range; it uses a PC and will work with a variety of cameras, both capture cards and USB stuff I think. I haven’t thought through access control really yet – I’d quite like a couple of relay activated doors, though not sure whether I want keyfobs, code entry or whatever. Is that something the SC9000/SC9100 can handle?

    I’ll have a look at Homevision – I want to be able to get quite complex with macros and stuff, but I’m not sure whether I want to rely on a PC being on all the time. Do you know whether the CM12’s clock is more accurate? What about the CM15Pro?

    As far as wiring – I’ve thought a little about this but I don’t yet know enough to make an educated decision. At the moment I’m thinking of wiring it in the traditional manner, though with a few more loops (rather than just upstairs lights, downstairs lights etc, more like lounge, kitchen, office, bedrooms, bathroom). I’m definitely open to better ideas though if this sounds like nonsense.

    Thanks for your help with this.

    toast0r

  4. #4
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Homevision can handle very complex macros, and conditional macros. To give you an idea I have one macro which control my pool pump. I have it set up so that when its summer it comes on 3 times day for about 2 hours each time. Then during the rest of the year it automatically changes to only about 3 hours a day. I can also if need be cycle the pump for 24 hours and then it will switch back to the normal settings. All this is done via Homevision. And if you couple it with Schelte's version of the Homevision software you can get quite a good looking touchscreen control setup. Have a look here http://hv.tclcode.com/
    I posted a few of my LCARS screens on the homevision forum here.
    There are differences between the SC9000 and the 9100 The SC9100 can't remember off hand, but I think they have a slightly better setup for the Digimax theremostats.
    For rad control you can have more than 1 valve per thermostat. You just set your appliance modules to the same house and unit number. As long as the valve uses mains operated, and it can handle the temp then it should be OK
    Have a look here www.betavalve.com and here http://www.idratek.com/public/datasheets/RVA001_DS.pdf
    For CCTV I would go for a standalone Hard disc recorder with network connectivity. Depending on type they normally allow for at least 4 cameras to be connected, some can handle upto 16.
    Last edited by toscal; 16th February 2008 at 11:09 PM.

  5. #5
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    Default Digimax

    Thanks for your help so far. The plumbers are in this week, and I'm getting a bit confused with the various options for heating control. Am I right in thinking that the most basic thing would be-

    Digimax 210 Thermostat -> SC9100 -> Digimax 210 Receiver?

    How does that link to the combi? Does the receiver have a relay or does it trigger an X10 module?

    Toscal: I've read elsewhere that you supply a re-badged SC9100 - are there any differences with this unit?

    Can all of this then be linked in to the rest of the X10 control? I haven't yet chosen the software, but I want to be able to use macros and other sensors to control the heating.

    I've also been looking at the Danfoss Z-wave radiator thermostats, and they're pretty difficult to track down at the moment it seems. I can't get them in time for the install this week so I'm going to have to fit them afterwards - a bit annoying, but it does mean that I can wait and see how other people get on with them first!

    Thanks everyone
    toast0r

  6. #6
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toast0r View Post
    Am I right in thinking that the most basic thing would be-

    Digimax 210 Thermostat -> SC9100 -> Digimax 210 Receiver?
    This is not correct, the Digimax receiver is used if you want a stand alone thermostat controller. What you need is a digimax210-->SC9100-->X10 module (connected to the boiler). The setback temp is set in the SC9100.
    I know there are quite few differences berween the SC9100 and 9000, and one is with heating control, the 9100 has slightly better heating control. If you want I can email you the manual for the sc9100. Just pm me.
    I would also allow for the possibility of using mains valve actuators, just in case , this would mean a small conduit near each rad valve location, going to a suitable location. These actuators could then be controlled via X10.

  7. #7
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    Ah, thanks Toscal- that makes things much clearer! I've sent you a PM.

    Is the Digimax thermostat the thing to go for then? Initally I think I'd like one, but I'd like more zones in the future.

    Good advice on the conduit - I'll get that done (it never even occurred to me...).

    As far as the actual actuators are concerned - these presumably an x10 module each? Do they only provide two states - open and closed - or do they allow half open etc?


    Sorry for all the questions!

    Thanks
    toast0r
    Last edited by toast0r; 14th May 2008 at 11:43 PM. Reason: I re-read the previous parts of this thread and realised that a couple of my questions had already been answered! I'm a fool.

  8. #8
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    in terms of wiring, have you read the wiring guide on the automatedhome website? it's very good and will give you a lot of information.

    If you cable right then you don't need to make your system choices now and can decide at any point in the future.

    Cabling is the most important thing as you dont want to rip your walls apart again.

    From comments from others I would suggest NOT doing it the conventional way.

    Generally star wiring everything back to one central point is the better way. i.e. if you have a central location (node 0) where your wiring boxes and consumer units go (and would be your equipment cupboard also) everything gets wired back there, so instead of having a loop for say a lighting circuit that goes out from the consumer unit passes to five lights and comes back, each light would have their own direct cable from the central location.

    What this gives you is absolute full control over everything at any point in the future. It still allows you to normally switch everything now but in future gives you access to most systems.

    Would suggest wiring to every possible switch location, motion sensor location, light location, floor light location, installing conduit as recommended above, install plenty of strings also for pulling future cables, cables to every radiator, and any locations where you may want a thermostat, and then we're onto audio visual/data cabling. We on here are big fans of cat 5 cable, once you've got a few runs of that you can do everything from run IR signals over it all the way to HDMI using two cat 5. Would suggest as much as possible. Guidance from seeing what others have done would be about 4-6 to normal rooms, with Far more to the lounge where your main screen would be. You can truly never have enough cat 5 in this scenario!!! 10 runs to the main equipment spot plus 4-6 for every other room would get you going, this would be used sooner than you'd think.

    Telephones
    data points
    IR distribution
    Video
    audio
    and many more

    then you have speaker cable to all the locations you may want speakers, e.g. 5.1 or more in the lounge, ceiling speakers elsewere etc etc

    there's people far more qualified than I to advise but this is what I have gleaned from the many posts on here. good luck and let us know how you get on.
    N

  9. #9
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Default You only get this 1 chance...

    So don't close any doors at this stage that you'll regret later...

    I know you said you weren't planning to go down the CBUS route, but I promise you, if you are going to live in the property for a good long while, you *will* become dissatisfied with X10 technology at some point...

    I would *very* strongly recommend that whilst you have the opportunity to do it that you at least allow yourself the option of migrating to CBUS (or similar) later on... - who knows what finances might be like in 5 years? At the very least, buy yourself a couple of boxes of CAT5 cable, run a single cable from a central point (near the consumer unit is a good place) out to *EVERY* light switch back-box. You (or your sparkie) will be pulling T&E to all those points anyway, so it's practically no extra effort to pull a CAT5 too.... - you don't have to *USE* them yet, - just leave a few inches coiled up in the backboxes ready for if & when you do. I would also strongly advise that you use the proper CBUS pink CAT5 cable for this, - the outer sheath is mains rated, so you are allowed to have it in the same backbox as the mains T&E (ordinary CAT5 cable can't come into the same backbox as mains without infringing the wiring regs).

    With a CAT5 run into the lightswitch boxes, you have the option later on to use it for a variety of lighting systems, not just CBUS - quite a few of the systems available today use CAT5 wiring..

    As mentioned above, DON'T use conventional ring wiring, - definately install star-wiring instead, you absolutely can't get the same control flexibility with rings as you can with star wired circuits. As already mentioned, star wiring doesn't prevent you from setting it up as a "traditional" system initially, - i.e. phyically wired switches, electrically connected to the loads, one switch per fitting etc... so you aren't forced initially to shell out for a load of lighting control packs (be that X10 or CBUS, or XXX...) - there is NO downside to star wiring apart from needing a little more cable... (the ring-wiring design was only invented to economise on cable use, not because its "better" in any way). - you also generally tend to use more MCBs at the consumer unit because with star wiring you'd typically fit one per load rather than for a whole ring, - but that has benefits too... (like not having to turn off the lighting for an entire floor of the house just to change a bulb in 1 fitting).

    The other thing to remember, is that the choice of your lightling system isn't an all-or-nothing choice, - X10 & CBUS aren't mutually exclusive, - if you can't afford to fit everything out in CBUS *NOW*, there's no reason why you can't mix-&-match... start off with mostly X10, but maybe a little bit of CBUS in a few high-visibility areas like the lounge.. over time, it's trivially simple to slowly swap out bits of X10 for more CBUS as finances permit (well, it is that simple if you've star wired...)

    On the security front, can I also enter a vote for Comfort... http://www.cytech.biz and http://www.comfort.org.uk This is a *VERY* capable and programmable system. I would venture to say that if you have Comfort as your security panel, you could potentially remove the requirement for either homevision or PC HA software like Homeseer - both already previously mentioned. (And both *very* good products I hasten to add - not "dissing" either of these in any way). I know there are many in the UKHA community who are great fans of the HomeVision unit, but (flame suit on), I would say that pretty much anything HV can do, Comfort can do to... - only exception to that I can think of would be output to TV. Thus you only have 1 unit to purchase at the outset instead of two. - Again, not mutually exclusive though, - no reason you can't have Comfort AND HV (and Homeseer too if you like). - I run both Comfort and Homeseer, and I get fantastic integration between the two. I also have CBUS, and again thanks to Comfort, I get complete integration into the overall system.

    I also started out a few years ago with X10, and as I gradually rewired the house (I had to go room-by-room, rather that doing the whole house in one go), I changed the wiring over to star layout. I initially fitted DIN-rail X10 modules (LD11's & AD10s), which I have now almost completely replaced with CBUS, as I got more & more frustrated with the performance & limitations of X10). - actually, that reminds me, - I must have a bunch of X10 DIN modules for sale 2nd hand of you're interested....

    HTH

    Paul G.

  10. #10
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Each actuator would require an X10 appliance module. The Sc9100 can have upto 4 digimax zones each controlling one house an unit code for example B12.
    So if you only need 4 zones then you could use the SC9100. If you require more zones or better control then a controller such as the CM15, CM11, Homevision or Homeseer software will be needed. Then you could switch the heating on at say 7am and turn the rads on on the bedrooms first then in the kitchen and finally in the lounge. Then when you come to switch the heating off you could switch the rads off in the reverse order or even another order.

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