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Retrofit advice on lighting
Posted 10 December 2011 - 11:35 PM
My current home is not automated, but most rooms have wired CAT5 network access leading back to a switch in basement. I also have 3 Logitech/Slimdevices units, serving music from NAS, media center PC in living room, as well as a PBX/VOIP.
10 years ago when moved into this house, replaced most light switches with dimmers, like the Lutron Toggler, which served us well. Every light is easily adjusted individually, so are three-way even.
Now, the new home does not have anything like it yet. I will have a 'wiring closet' in the basement to house my nas/pbx/mail/web rack and have no problem wiring the important locations.
I have spent most of my time in the last weeks reading information on this great website, and I think I understand the role of the controller (hardware or software) and the different technologies involved.
It is also very clear from the great feedback provided what one could do to make a new construction ready for any possible automation.
There seems a lot less discussion on retrofit installs, and I will say this cautiously, understanding the inherent limitations. It is my plan to automate my new home, and also add a security system.
So my question is what do you recommend for lighting control/automated dimming that is the most responsive?
I have no experience with any of the mainstream technologies, but have a ceiling fan/light that has an RF remote, and this has probably close to a second or more of lag time from pressing the button on the remote and the light coming on, and than another second or so until reaches full brightness (ramp up?) Compared to incandescent lights turned on with toggle switch, this noticeable lag always gives me a pause.
To summarize: retrofit install by capable DYIer trying to decide on lighting control.
Thanks in advance, Leo
Posted 11 December 2011 - 02:05 AM
My current house is a 2-story, on a concrete slab (no basement), 4,000sq ft... and I had to retrofit it. For doors/windows, I used wireless contacts; for motions/keypads/speakers, I sucked it up and wired them. For HVAC, I had a two-zone system, so I just replaced the zone controller with a communicating zone controller; used the same wiring - all I had to add was a Cat5 from the wiring closet to the controller in the attic (10ft away). For lighting I went all UPB of course.
I did cut a little bit of drywall, but did so very inconspicuously - mostly one and two gang blanks covered the holes in places completely out of sight anyways; for my nastiest run (along 2 exterior walls wrapping around the room) I peeled off the baseboard and removed the drywall behind the baseboard; drilled the studs and ran the wire, then patched the drywall and replaced baseboard... that way there was no paint matching or texture matching involved.
Posted 11 December 2011 - 08:24 AM
Posted 11 December 2011 - 03:08 PM
Posted 11 December 2011 - 03:43 PM
I too started out with x-10, then UPB, but the WAF on the UPB switches wasn't that positive. I wanted a closed loop system that was immune to any outside factors, so I did the 'unthinkable'----retrofitted the whole house with cat5 to every switch. 51 total devices. A couple of mornings in the attic, a few days under the house, and a couple of 'choice words' later the system seems bullet proof.
I could never get the UPB switches to trigger 'flawlessly' like the ALC devices, there is zero lag time with them.
I considered / tried some of the many options available, and have no regrets going with the ALC system, the WAF is good, which means less static in the house.
Edited by edge, 11 December 2011 - 03:49 PM.
Posted 11 December 2011 - 09:15 PM
Posted 12 December 2011 - 12:16 AM
Luckily in my current house, there's a neutral in every box (except one) and they're all deep boxes - that made a big difference. Then again, that's an issue for any of these brands - except z-wave has some options that don't use neutrals, but they only work with incandescents (deal killer for me). There's ways around the neutral issue, but they end up costing more and require thinking outside the box.
What Edge did just wasn't an option for me... due to the framing and construction of my house, it would've meant a lot of drywall repair (with texture) and even a lot of work in the attic finding the wiring under several feet of insulation and an awkward framing situation - that would only be possible if I were doing a $50K+ remodel.
UPB has been good to us - never had a WAF issue - once in a while get a "that's cool" out of her.
Posted 12 December 2011 - 05:02 PM
Will get the keys later this week, and after that I can start investigating how the house was wired and start making some detailed plans.
Posted 12 December 2011 - 07:42 PM
Posted 13 December 2011 - 11:30 AM
I'll second blmxm here on centralite jetstream, its a great retrofit light system with easy programming. Plays nice with HAI as well. I think UPB is a good choice also but its success will be dependent on the quality of the powerline in the house. It works well with good electric wiring but some older houses did not follow the rigorous standards imposed in building today.
I'd like to add my third to the replies from picta and blmxm. I've installed every technology currently on the market. And while each seems to have their positives and negatives, Centralite has my absolute top vote. UPB is my #2 choice primarily because it is well suited for installations where the customer only wishes to control a few loads, and the distances between the point of control and the load is great. That's because UPB communicates over the power line, whereas JetStream and it's RF communication requires shorter distances between devices. You can find plenty of posts praising or criticizing every technology, but for my money Centralite Jetstream is rock solid. My customers love it, and most importantly myself and my wife love it. No matter which technology you choose I'll just say this.....once you experience and live with reliable Lighting Control it's kind of hard to imagine living without it.
Posted 13 December 2011 - 06:25 PM
As previously stated, the biggest determining factor with regards to a retrofit of UPB will be whether or not the exisitng switches have neutrals in the boxes.
Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:38 AM
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