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Thread: New to CBus - some ideas/hints please

  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Default New to CBus - some ideas/hints please

    I've been looking at putting in a nice multi-room lighting and other appliance control across my house, to basically improve the ability to control lights, save energy, added security and a general techieness!!!

    I've tried x10 in the past, but found it quite clunky, so when I was installing a new phone system at a dentist practice, and the builders/electricians were installing a cBus lighting control system, I was hooked! It looked quite simple - central control unit, lights fed from that, and controlled by, in this case, a central control panel.

    What I'd like to initially look at doing is moving all our main downstairs lights (lounge, dining area, hall & landing, kitchen and conservatory) onto a centrally controlled system - i.e. cBus. These would then be controlled either by a central server (i.e. timed for when we are due home from work, or coming on appropriately if we are away as a security deterant) or by a central panel, which allows the user to turn the lights on/off and indeed dim.

    In time, something I've also wanted to do is control our central heating and hot water from an intelligent source (i.e. computer)... this will time the heating coming on to heat the house for when we get home (i.e. a bit of maths based on temperate and time to heat etc), and do the same with the hot water.... I think this can be done by cBus, but no sure!

    I've got a few questions though before I start...

    - can I do the install? I'm not an electrician, but fully understand electrics, and from what I can understand, once the central unit is installed by a professional, I could then adapt the internal lighting wiring to fit in?
    - I've seen the consumer style units on letsautomate (for example) which would presumably then need an appropriate number of lighting modules and other modules for other things (as above), is that correct?

    Am I barking up the right tree, or am I completely missing the point? Any helpful suggestions would be welcome!

    Many thanks
    Nunners

  2. #2
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Have you made the leap to CBUS yet as you may want to take a look at what the Idratek system can do. They have a forum on here too.
    I would try and get an electrician on board if you can, preferably one with at least network cabling knowledge and experience. May save you time and money in the long run. Plus if you are in the UK how will part P affect you.
    Also decide what you need the system to do now and then think about possible future needs as well, and base your installation on these things. Allow for easy expansion. No good getting a consumer unit that can hold 6 lighting modules only to find out in a years time that you need another 2 modules for something else. Take time to think about how you are going to wire all this up and how you will run the mains wiring.
    If you have plans for the house then scan them into the pc and then start drawing possible wiring paths.This will give you a good idea of how much cable you will need and potential problems with the paths.
    Often HA is a compromise between what you want the system to do and money and getting the balance right can be difficult.
    But that's what this forum is for.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  3. #3
    Automated Home Jr Member i-Home's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nunners View Post
    ................
    - can I do the install? I'm not an electrician, but fully understand electrics, and from what I can understand, once the central unit is installed by a professional, I could then adapt the internal lighting wiring to fit in?
    - I've seen the consumer style units on letsautomate (for example) which would presumably then need an appropriate number of lighting modules and other modules for other things (as above), is that correct?

    Am I barking up the right tree, or am I completely missing the point? Any helpful suggestions would be welcome!
    Hi

    Fitting a cbus or similar system can sometimes be more complicated than you'd think, but that's not to say you couldn't give it a go. I'd recommend you plan the mains wiring considering earth fault protection (i.e. RCD devices) so as if a fault is detected you only lose power to a small section of the panel.

    Once you have all the wiring done, you can program up all the kit using a laptop and PCI unit (usb to serial interface into system). Again this can be more difficult than you'd expect, and is best done after a little planning on numbering conventions and how you are to use scenes and schedules.

    Have a look thru my flickr photos (link below) to see how we've laid out various panels (called Energy Control Panel's [ECP] by Clipsal).

    HTH

    Stephen

  4. #4
    Automated Home Guru FrankMcAlinden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by i-Home View Post
    Hi

    Fitting a cbus or similar system can sometimes be more complicated than you'd think, but that's not to say you couldn't give it a go. I'd recommend you plan the mains wiring considering earth fault protection (i.e. RCD devices) so as if a fault is detected you only lose power to a small section of the panel.

    Once you have all the wiring done, you can program up all the kit using a laptop and PCI unit (usb to serial interface into system). Again this can be more difficult than you'd expect, and is best done after a little planning on numbering conventions and how you are to use scenes and schedules.

    Have a look thru my flickr photos (link below) to see how we've laid out various panels (called Energy Control Panel's [ECP] by Clipsal).

    HTH

    Stephen
    Hi Stephen

    Had a look at your installs ...very nice ...the Hollywood CBUS install looks really good...The alarm install i looked at could do with a few cable ties ;-)....Looks like you work all over the North ....
    BTW...Whats The ECP panels that Clipsal make...??
    Thanks
    Frank
    Home of FirM - the Multi Zone IR Transport System
    http://www.armaghelectrical.com.au/index.html

  5. #5
    Automated Home Jr Member i-Home's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMcAlinden View Post
    Looks like you work all over the North ....
    BTW...Whats The ECP panels that Clipsal make...??
    Thanks
    Frank
    Hi Frank
    Yip, we work all over the North and into bordering southern counties too.
    The ECP panels/boxes we use are nearly all made by SAIP. Apart from the Lisbane install where we used the new Hager Invicta boxes, but I wouldn't recommend them - not nearly as good as expected for the money. The blomin' front panels cutouts aren't even big enough to let the CBus output units stick though (on the width that is). Evidently 12mod + 4xmcb's are wider than 16x 1mod MCB's as we had to elongate the front panel slots for the 3 rows on the lower LH side of this panel -
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/1347818...57624224140934

    ..... and the Hager boxes don't have any cable management posts/clips to secure internal cables to. I had to use lots of stick on cable tie pads.

    I find the SAIP new style boxes best to work with. The old style boxes are slightly smaller and useful if space is limited.
    New style boxes -
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/1347818...57594209850335

    Old style boxes -
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/1347818...57625198255473

    Stephen

  6. #6
    Automated Home Guru FrankMcAlinden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by i-Home View Post
    Hi Frank
    Yip, we work all over the North and into bordering southern counties too.
    The ECP panels/boxes we use are nearly all made by SAIP. Apart from the Lisbane install where we used the new Hager Invicta boxes, but I wouldn't recommend them - not nearly as good as expected for the money. The blomin' front panels cutouts aren't even big enough to let the CBus output units stick though (on the width that is). Evidently 12mod + 4xmcb's are wider than 16x 1mod MCB's as we had to elongate the front panel slots for the 3 rows on the lower LH side of this panel -
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/1347818...57624224140934

    ..... and the Hager boxes don't have any cable management posts/clips to secure internal cables to. I had to use lots of stick on cable tie pads.

    I find the SAIP new style boxes best to work with. The old style boxes are slightly smaller and useful if space is limited.
    New style boxes -
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/1347818...57594209850335

    Old style boxes -
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/1347818...57625198255473

    Stephen
    Hi Stephen

    Those panels look good....Does each Clipsal Dimmer/relay module have their own rcd...??

    What are the terminal strips in the middle used for...??

    Looks like your protecting your Dimmer outputs with c/b,s....Does this work ok in practice...?? ie do they operate quick enough to save the onboard triac...???...

    The lighting cable is it flex or t.p.s ...???...Sorry for all the questions just curious...

    Thanks again
    Frank
    Home of FirM - the Multi Zone IR Transport System
    http://www.armaghelectrical.com.au/index.html

  7. #7
    Automated Home Jr Member i-Home's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMcAlinden View Post
    Those panels look good....Does each Clipsal Dimmer/relay module have their own rcd...??

    What are the terminal strips in the middle used for...??

    Looks like your protecting your Dimmer outputs with c/b,s....Does this work ok in practice...?? ie do they operate quick enough to save the onboard triac...???...

    The lighting cable is it flex or t.p.s ...???...Sorry for all the questions just curious...
    Hi Frank

    Each cbus dimmer o/p runs through its own mcb either 1A or 2A. But most relay o/p's do not, although we often run specific external circuits through their own mcb's or rcbo's where they are more likely to give trouble in the future (nearly always with water getting into external items).

    Each dimmer and relay usually gets its own mcb on the supply side, and more often now each o/p unit is supplied by a rcbo instead of a mcb.

    The terminal strips (din rail connectors) are for the joining together of the neutrals and earths of the loads.

    Regarding the mcb type, yes they are mostly C curve's, as its very difficult (and expensive) to get B curve ones. Out of all the dimmer units we've fitted only 1 channel ever has developed a fault, and I wouldn't even say that was caused by the load.

    Lastly, ... the lighting cable. You ask if it was tps or flex. Perhaps you've been "abroad" quite a while - is tps a common term in Oz for T&E? Anyway, almost always the loads are wired in grey 1.5mm T&E. Sometimes the links between fittings are wired in flex, but mostly T&E as well. Why you ask?

    Stephen

  8. #8
    Automated Home Guru FrankMcAlinden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by i-Home View Post
    Hi Frank

    Each cbus dimmer o/p runs through its own mcb either 1A or 2A. But most relay o/p's do not, although we often run specific external circuits through their own mcb's or rcbo's where they are more likely to give trouble in the future (nearly always with water getting into external items).

    Each dimmer and relay usually gets its own mcb on the supply side, and more often now each o/p unit is supplied by a rcbo instead of a mcb.

    The terminal strips (din rail connectors) are for the joining together of the neutrals and earths of the loads.

    Regarding the mcb type, yes they are mostly C curve's, as its very difficult (and expensive) to get B curve ones. Out of all the dimmer units we've fitted only 1 channel ever has developed a fault, and I wouldn't even say that was caused by the load.

    Lastly, ... the lighting cable. You ask if it was tps or flex. Perhaps you've been "abroad" quite a while - is tps a common term in Oz for T&E? Anyway, almost always the loads are wired in grey 1.5mm T&E. Sometimes the links between fittings are wired in flex, but mostly T&E as well. Why you ask?

    Stephen
    Hi Stephen

    Re the terminals.....Using spring terminals ???...

    Good idea on the rcbo,s on the outputs a bit more expensive though....??

    Yes i,ve been away quite a while (since 1977) ... here they also call it T+E ....From memory it use to be white sheathed ..??....I ask because of the colour,s used....If i,m correct your T+E is using the European colour,s ???...Here in Oz our T+E is still red for Active (Live) and Black for Neutral....
    Thanks for the feedback
    Frank
    Home of FirM - the Multi Zone IR Transport System
    http://www.armaghelectrical.com.au/index.html

  9. #9
    Automated Home Jr Member i-Home's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMcAlinden View Post
    Re the terminals.....Using spring terminals ???...

    Good idea on the rcbo,s on the outputs a bit more expensive though....??

    Yes i,ve been away quite a while (since 1977) ... here they also call it T+E ....From memory it use to be white sheathed ..??....I ask because of the colour,s used....If i,m correct your T+E is using the European colour,s ???...Here in Oz our T+E is still red for Active (Live) and Black for Neutral....
    The DIN rail connectors I use are screw down ones but I'd be keen to try using the spring terminal type sometime. I had been using Legrand ones as they had lots of accessories but recently changed over to Telemecanique as they use really long bridging bars making it neat to connect all the earths together (and neutrals where rcbo's aren't being used).

    The RCBO's certainly are more expensive then MCB's, but they've came down in price a lot of the last year. MCB's can cost as little as 1 each with descent makes costing about 3, with RCBO's costing 15-25 each, but one make recently that we tried was less than 10 each, and seem to work ok so far anyway.

    1977! I was only 2 then You ever come back much?
    99.9% of all T&E is grey now. It is very hard to find white T&E but it can be got but not as a stock item. We've a big house (15K sq.ft.) to completely wire this summer for power and cbus amongst everything else, and I plan to use white & grey T&E to differentiate mains systems.

    And yes our colours were "harmonised" with European colours a few years back, so red/blue/yellow/black are now brown/grey/black/blue.

    Stephen

  10. #10
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    Stephen -

    thanks for posting all those example Nodes - plenty of variety there !

    any tips / lessons learnt ?

    'curious to know how much advance planning you find is necessary, in terms of Node content & layout ... and if you think a mechanical label printer (eg: Rhino 3000) would be help or hinderance ?

    we're about one-third wired-up now (power & light, Cat-5e FTP & UTP, Cat-6 UTP, CT100 digital, etc), so we're beginning to think about how in-detail to arrange the nodes - it would be nice if the result was presentable !

    one suggestion we've had is to use some of the UniStrut system components for mounting enclosures & help with managing cables ... ??

    Chris
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 24th April 2011 at 05:54 PM.

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