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Thread: Switches for lighting control

  1. #1
    Automated Home Sr Member mcockerell's Avatar
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    Default Switches for lighting control

    We have run Cat-5 UTP cable from each switch position in the house back to one of two wiring panels so that we can control the lighting centrally.

    I'm assuming that we should install momentary switches at each location, as it allows for either on/off or dimmer control, but would appreciate any advice.

    Thanks,
    Martin

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    Automated Home Legend Paul_B's Avatar
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    That is what I would do to overcome, off being on and on being off confusion.

    Although I haven't run eveything back to Node0 I do use a momentary switch from GET plc to run from switch to relay.

    Paul

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    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    FWIW, we're about to take a different approach, and have no wall switches at all ... relying instead on presence sensing, light-level sensing, and logic, with momentary over-ride buttons in convenient places - eg: by where people will be sitting or working, and (later) working through iPhone / iPod Touch which people pretty much have on them / by them all the time (later, only because there's no sign of a convenient app coming available - albeit ordering the multi-room hi-fi is already done that way, via the Remote app, as too are things like e-mails, general surfing, banking, ordering things, etc, etc)
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 25th February 2009 at 06:21 PM.

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    Moderator Gumby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    FWIW, we're about to take a different approach, and have no wall switches at all ... relying instead on presence sensing, light-level sensing, and logic, with momentary over-ride buttons in convenient places
    At first read I thought "... gosh, that's brave". But on second thought I realise that we very rarely need to use the light switches in most rooms. All our use cases would be better presented through other devices or could be automated out with a bit more config work.

    After all, light switches are only near doors due to convention from non-automated days. It's absolutely correct to start rethinking this convention, which for us is usually inconvenient.

    One thing you will have to deal with is how to handle guests. Since you have broken the convention they will be lost. However, my experience is that guests obviously notice the automation and are then too intimidated to use the "conventional" switches in case they break something. So I have to instruct them that they can treat them as "normal" if they wish to change the lighting.
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    Moderator Gumby's Avatar
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    PS ... sorry for taking the topic sideways, it's the Chris Hunter effect in action

    But what an interesting observation from Chris.
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  6. #6
    Automated Home Sr Member mcockerell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
    One thing you will have to deal with is how to handle guests.
    This is the very reason that we have provided some switches - but the majority of the time the lighting will be controlled centrally based on presence, time of day, day of week, dawn/dusk, etc.

    For similar reasons there are separate thermostats in every room, but the whole system can still be controlled centrally.

    Thanks,
    Martin

  7. #7
    Automated Home Legend Paul_B's Avatar
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    I did the same as David when reading Chris' post and thought that's brave. But it you get HA right you don't need switches. For example open the and the light is already on when dark then it isn't needed (although the guests may get lost when they leave the room and try to find a switch to turn off the lights).

    Chris is also a self-builder so he is in a rare position to craft his setup just how he wants it and not retrofit (well as long as he gets it righ ;o)

    Paul

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    Moderator Gumby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
    ... I realise that we very rarely need to use the light switches in most rooms. All our use cases would be better presented through other devices or could be automated out with a bit more config work.
    When I re-read this I realised that this could be read as general statement. What I also mean is that in our experience of living for several years in a house with automated lighting we rarely touch the switches except for certain use cases probably better handled by other means.

    In other words, the automation really does work and allow this approach ... but kudos to Chris for breaking with convention.

    I look forward to the video of the building inspector's visit
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  9. #9
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    of course, the HA (or, at least, this HA) allows easy re-associations ... ie: changing what buttons do, how they make things happen, in what groups, and in response to what happenings, & which sensor readings - so there's a lot of flexibility & opportunity to adjust & correct etc ... and in a way that's easy to do (ie: there's clear logic & consistency in the interface, so you don't need to do it everyday to remember how to do it)

    and, why have the old system and the new ... money & time & confusion !

    well, anyway, that's the theory - busy finalising architectures at the moment, drawing-up bills of quantities - drains done, ventilation almost done, plumbing's more than half done, electric's started (has to be in that order, inflexible to most flexible, in terms of gravity & size & susceptibility to not working so well & ability to route around things) with none of them small jobs, or simple, because we expect so much from them all these days !
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 25th February 2009 at 11:26 PM.

  10. #10
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    It is actually possible to use (awkwardly perhaps) standard rocker switches but momentary switches are much better if you really are doing lighting automation since, as mentioned above, there is no absolute ON/OFF only various senses of override. Retractive switches can provide an easier to understand method for dimming control in that press one way to dim up and press the other to dim down, but it takes up 2 digital inputs and I guess you'd need to know beforehand that these were intended for dimmer control since one connection would be redundant for normal lighting control (though nothing to stop you wiring both connections as same signal). Recent updates to Cortex provide a typical one momentary button approach to the dimming control (ie. using short/long press methodology).

    It is true that the intention with IDRATEK HA is to eliminate the need for button pressing as far as is possible, and if you have the automation working reasonably well you will find the amount of button pressing really does become minimal and even zero in some rooms. But of course there will always be situations where the system can't second guess. As Chris suggests, useful alternatives/additions to buttons are remote control devices such as IR handsets.

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