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Thread: New House, New Project

  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member stoop_uk's Avatar
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    Default New House, New Project

    Hello folks... It's been a l-o-n-g time since I posted anything on here... I pop in and read the forums from time to time, but I feel like I'm a bit out of touch with HA and smart home stuff these days...

    Anyway, I'm 7 weeks from moving in with my fiancee (we get married in August). She has (reluctantly!) agreed to let me run in all the cabling I like, and generally let my imagination run away with me in terms of turning the place into a smarthome.

    I'll probably come and ask a TON of questions relating to things I want to do, but don't quite know how!

    Being on a relatively tight budget, I'm leaning towards X10 with a homeseer backend. I'd also quite like to get a Comfort alarm (there's currently no alarm system in the house). Any advice on these things would be greatly appreciated..

    Thanks for now..

    Stewart
    Stewart Priest
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  2. #2
    Automated Home Lurker
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    Being a newcomer I cant be a lot of help, but look forward to learning a lot from your project (not moving for 12 months).

    Justin

  3. #3
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    By cabling I take it you mean Cat5 or similar. Do you have plans of your house, as these are very useful when planning cabling runs.
    Structured wiring can be either roll your own or an off the shelf solution.
    The roll your own can have its own problems trying to get equipment that wasn't meant to work together to work. Also you may have problems with tech support as companies will often say "Oh its the other company's bit of kit that's at fault" But it does mean you get a system that does exactly what it says on the tin and not some sort of compromise in one area or two.
    Off the shelf can be a straight forward CAT5, CAT 6 type system or a hybrid system like Abitana's which in some ways will give more flexibility. www.abitana.com
    A good place to look is www.minitran.co.uk they are also the main agents fro Abitana even though they do other structured wiring systems.
    Another one to look at is Lexcom from Schnieder http://www.schneider-electric.com/si...excom_home.xml.

    X10: I still use x10 and we continue to install it, if a client wants it.
    Whole house filter is definitely a good idea. The passive FD10 unit is pretty good. Wouldn't recommend it on 3 phase installations any more as there are better active filters and couplers now on the market but these are considerably more expensive. Also rather than doing the complete X10 install in one go I would do it gradually,makes it easy to fault find (unless you have access to X10 test equipment like we do) . So think about what needs to be done first and what can be put in at a later date. The Xanura micro modules are excellent never had a problem with them. And these can be fitted behind the face plates of your switches. I would run a neutral wire to all switches.
    Planning the consumer unit is something that often gets over looked. So make sure its big enough and there is enough room for all the wiring.

    Homeseer is very good I was a beta tester for their V2.0. But switched to using a Homevision unit www.csi3.com I love it to bits. Plus it doesn't require a pc once you have set it up. There is quite a good users group for it here http://groups.yahoo.com/group/homevision-users/
    If you like a challenge you could also use it as an alarm system as well.

    Lastly make sure you are able to expand at a later date. This could mean, running extra cable or running empty conduit to various locations as a just in case. I ran large diameter conduit to all my RJ45 wall sockets. Each conduit can carry up to 4 Abitana omni media cables but they only have 2.
    Think about what you want your system to do now and then what you want it to do in five years time.
    One thing you haven't mentioned is whole house audio or multimedia set ups.
    For multimedia there are many solutions from a Pinacle Showcenter to DIY to something inbetween. The Showcenter has a few homebrew projects for it such as www.swisscenter.co.uk. For the roll your own you have the Xbox media center which now runs on Xboxes of course and pcs with MS OSes, Linux, MacOs and even Apple TV boxes. The XBMC live version is very good and can be run direct from the CD if you just want to get an idea of what it can do, or installed to the hard drive. www.xbmc.org.
    Others are Boxee, Plex and MythTv.
    For audio Sonos has to be very good.
    Last edited by toscal; 9th May 2010 at 11:01 PM.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  4. #4
    Automated Home Jr Member stoop_uk's Avatar
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    Thanks Toscal..

    Sorry - I should have been clearer - by cabling, I meant Cat5. I'll pretty much be floodwiring the whole place, with Node 0 being in the loft.

    Multimedia:
    I'm quite keen to have zoned audio, but not sure which amp I need to be looking at. I'll have a potential 7 zones, but probably not all being installed at the one time (although I'll run the cable now).

    My TV setup is going to me Windows 7 boxes for all the Windows Media Center goodness they provide, along with a WHS fileserver (probably very similar to the Jukebox Mk II).

    I'll be getting Virgin Media in, and I'm going for the extra box. There's also a satellite dish feeding into the loft too, so I'll see what I can do about getting Freesat too - this gives me loads of options for TV and radio. Not forgetting Freeview too!

    X10:
    I like X10 because of its modular nature, and the fact that its relatively inexpensive. I also like Homeseer because it can control multiple technologies... what's the thinking on alarm systems for X10/Homeseer setups? Am I limited to Comfort, or is there something better?
    Stewart Priest
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  5. #5
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Have a look at www.sonos.com for the audio. Some of their units have built in amplifiers. Also you can add to it as time goes on, and you don't need to have a PC running all the time if your music is stored on a separate file server.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  6. #6
    Automated Home Jr Member Ad's Avatar
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    It might be worth a post on the Homeseer forum if you have not already, there is a UK section on there aswell for some specific information about alarms (I think there were some posts fairly recently about alarm options for UK'ers aswell)

    I use a X10 & Homeseer solution and it works pretty well for me, whilst homeseer is more of a DIY solution I find it rewarding with coding and building interfaces...I think its a decent balance between cost and functionality.

  7. #7
    Automated Home Jr Member stoop_uk's Avatar
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    Thanks @toscal and @Ad

    I'm seriously thinking about my lighting solution now - both ceiling/wall mounted lights, and also table lamps. I know there are x10 modules which fit behind switches. Does this require the neutral wire?

    As it stands, I've got no idea what the wiring is like in the house - we don't get the keys until the end of next month..
    Stewart Priest
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  8. #8
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    There are micro modules available that don't need a neutral, but if you need feedback from the switch then you will need the type that has a neutral connection. With the status feedback as soon as you manually change the state of the light it will also send out an X10 command. so for something like homeseer it will know when a light is on or off.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  9. #9
    Automated Home Sr Member MrFluffy's Avatar
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    Ive said rude things about x10 and its reliability but that hasn't gone down well in certain quarters so Im not going to repeat, apart from the fact that we're putting our last x10'd smarthouse on the market very shortly, so Ill finally be rid of the stuff. I have no ties to any vendors, just lots of bitter aftertaste...

    One actual consideration to your thread is your putting node 0 in the loftspace I noticed. Whats going into node0? a ethernet switch, maybe a cm11 etc? Have you considered how hot its going to get midsummer up there? Heat removal and selecting equipment carefully may become a strong consideration. The cm11u will last about as long as a chocolate fireguard in a over warm environment. At one point mid summer one particulary hot year we found the server in our loft space used to crash around midday from cpu overheating despite having five case fans at strategic points.

    Node0 is downstairs inside a housing in the projector room with large boxed in conduit ducts running to it this time round. You live and learn...

  10. #10
    Automated Home Jr Member stoop_uk's Avatar
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    Moving away from the X10 pros and cons for a moment, I've found a neat little solution for sending HDMI over Cat5. It's not Kat5, but something very similar..

    I've blogged about it here. Has anyone seen/used these?
    Stewart Priest
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