Conventional hardwire systems

CollinR

Senior Member
Does nobody just use an automation controller like an ElkM1G to trip contactors?


I see no reason for all the extra stuff when the big gain is the ability to have multiple dim levels, even that could be done with multiple contactors in a circuit.



I mean as I see it all you need (if you can pull the wires!!) is:

A 24VAC power supply, to supply coil voltage to contactors.
A basic automotive style relay for the Elk to trip passing the 24VAC on to the contactor.
A conventional dimmer switch per lighting circuit, set the dim once.
A conventional HVAC contactor per lighting circiut, way more then enough capacity.

For retro fits you can just install the contactor between the prexisting switch and the load, leave the onld swtich on and it acts as a manual bypass for the future.


You can also build scenes using a single relay to trip multiple contactors.


Am I totally off on this? I don't do any HV wiring as I am not electrician but in the industrial world where I have some experience nobody is using anything like what they are doing in residential systems.

TIA
 

WayneW

Senior Member
What are you using to tell the Elk to turn the lights on & off for unpredicatable human use? Not everything can be scheduled or tied to motion.

How are you wiring the physical switches and relays? Is seems you mentioned both series & parallel, which both have advantages & disadvantages.
 

shenandoah75

Active Member
I am leaning towards doing it for my outdoor lighting/receptacles (esp for christmas lights)... namely because Leviton doesn't offer a 20amp switch (only 15A) in ViziaRF... but not indoors. (not just lights though, i want to be able to plug in to those receptacles - and i don't need full motion lights offered in some of the multi-channel devices)

But like wayne, i would want a manual way to turn on the devices quickly (esp for kids, visitors). You'd have to run addition low voltage to the elk inputs for such triggering unless i'm missin something. Seems like a lot of work to save on the price of the PLC/zwave dimmer costs...

-brad
 

CollinR

Senior Member
Thanks for the reply WayneW. :)

What are you using to tell the Elk to turn the lights on & off for unpredicatable human use? Not everything can be scheduled or tied to motion.

This displays my lack of knowledge well. I can't think of to many areas that would need manual control, couldn't be prescheduled and couldn't be tied to motion. They could however be manually activated though software or hardwired switches, the Elk touchpanel provides this functionality as well it seems.

Keep in mind I'm only speaking of lighting, I can see problems in other areas. Not totally ignorant but not educated either.

To answer that question though, I would deal with it by use of contact closure on the Elk. You could use HV switches that look right on the wall or the variety of switches available in industry.

Okay I have already though up some problem situations. The first ones I visualize basically happen when you want a scene inside a motion zone that currently has motion. The default scene is not desired, in a theater is obvious. This could be dealt with in software as I would think an activity would also be going on (watching a specific channel or input on client TV in the room). This also falls back on the the preset dim as this inherently limits your scene possiblities (well for this purpose anyway).

How are you wiring the physical switches and relays? Is seems you mentioned both series & parallel, which both have advantages & disadvantages.

For proof of concept, or testing just putting the contactor inline with the HV between the load and the existing conventional dimmer switch. This way either can open the circuit and the prexisting switch has priority for local manual override.
 

CollinR

Senior Member
But like wayne, i would want a manual way to turn on the devices quickly (esp for kids, visitors). You'd have to run addition low voltage to the elk inputs for such triggering unless i'm missin something. Seems like a lot of work to save on the price of the PLC/zwave dimmer costs...

-brad

Well how many places besides the Elk keypads would you want to switch your Christmas lights on from? Me personally, that would be on a schedule as I know when Christmas occurs each year and sunset can also be detected or calculated. Having manual control would be more for testing or configuring the lights, being rare you could just jumper it or use a keypad to output it.


It's like half a zwave switch from what I have seen, possibly much less when purchased in volume. Save $20 per load across 30-50 loads is not chump change, it actually pays for the Elk in savings.
 

WayneW

Senior Member
For proof of concept, or testing just putting the contactor inline with the HV between the load and the existing conventional dimmer switch. This way either can open the circuit and the prexisting switch has priority for local manual override.
If you put the manual switch and the contactor/relay in series, then you have a total nightmare since neither way can turn "on" the light if the other device is in the wrong position. And if I turn the light "off" via the manual control, then the automation plans are foiled. And if I have to go to a third interface to tell the Elk (or whatever) to turn off the contactor, then I have totally defeated the existing switch. These are all the same reasons that X-10 modules with a plug-in lamp with a manual switch are a disaster with guests who use the lamp manual switch. It isn't as simple as it sounds if you want true automation control and true local control. By the time you work around all the issues & the economics, you might as well purchase an existing solution, hardwired or modular (Insteon, UPB, Z-wave, X-10).
 

WayneW

Senior Member
Save $20 per load across 30-50 loads is not chump change, it actually pays for the Elk in savings.

Yes, it will pay for the core M1. Unfortunately, $1000 doesn't buy much in the way of multiple nice touchscreens or other interfaces to control lighting from. My wife would kill me if I told her to use the Elk KP1 or KP2 for routine lighting control. And even I wouldn't like having to use a touchscreen whenever I wanted light unless what I wanted to control was always already on the screen (no menu digging).

Now, if I were doing new construction or extensive rewiring, there are some fixtures that could definitely be put on simple Elk relay control as they are totally timed and we never need handy interaction with.
 

CollinR

Senior Member
For proof of concept, or testing just putting the contactor inline with the HV between the load and the existing conventional dimmer switch. This way either can open the circuit and the prexisting switch has priority for local manual override.
If you put the manual switch and the contactor/relay in series, then you have a total nightmare since neither way can turn "on" the light if the other device is in the wrong position. And if I turn the light "off" via the manual control, then the automation plans are foiled. And if I have to go to a third interface to tell the Elk (or whatever) to turn off the contactor, then I have totally defeated the existing switch. These are all the same reasons that X-10 modules with a plug-in lamp with a manual switch are a disaster with guests who use the lamp manual switch. It isn't as simple as it sounds if you want true automation control and true local control. By the time you work around all the issues & the economics, you might as well purchase an existing solution, hardwired or modular (Insteon, UPB, Z-wave, X-10).

You also have the option of removing the manual switch and making it a junction. This removes that style of confusion.

I don't like wall switches so pulling them wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit. I don't take the manual override as serious either.

Save $20 per load across 30-50 loads is not chump change, it actually pays for the Elk in savings.

Yes, it will pay for the core M1. Unfortunately, $1000 doesn't buy much in the way of multiple nice touchscreens or other interfaces to control lighting from. My wife would kill me if I told her to use the Elk KP1 or KP2 for routine lighting control. And even I wouldn't like having to use a touchscreen whenever I wanted light unless what I wanted to control was always already on the screen (no menu digging).

Now, if I were doing new construction or extensive rewiring, there are some fixtures that could definitely be put on simple Elk relay control as they are totally timed and we never need handy interaction with.

Thats also only 30-50 loads in larger installations you could easily mutiply that many folds.






Talk more about what cannot be scheduled or triggered by motion. Those are my biggest concerns, I would just prefer not having a bunch of wall switches. So switches would eventually trigger specific actions on the system. Finding these and finding ways around them is a high interest to me.
 

roussell

Active Member
Does nobody just use an automation controller like an ElkM1G to trip contactors?

Funny, you brought back some old memories. I did this about 15 years ago with a Siemens PLC. I ran each switch of our 900 sqft home to a 120V input and each light to a 120v output. The PLC was programed using RLL (Relay Ladder Logic) and had a serial port that I connected to a PC running DOS and a quick basic program :) that I used for "scene" control. It worked well and never let me down. We didn't have any dimmers so that wasn't an issue for me back then.

For a modern twist, you could check out some inexpensive PLCs with Ethernet/serial connectivity that would give you direct high voltage control. Automation Direct may have something to fit your needs.

Terry
 

ano

Senior Member
I think a few things are at issue here. First, you say you dislike wall switches, but does your wife, your kids, your guests, and how about if you ever sell your home someday? No matter how automated your house is there are always times when you want to override lights.

Second, you are loosing two-way control. If you manually override a light, how does the system know that? At least in my house, manually switching lights is data that can be used to make decisions. You loose that with contractors.

Third, you loose dimming and most scene control.

A system like Centralite, or UPB or Z-Wave allows conventional control, two-way monitoring, dimming, etc.

There is nothing wrong with central control of your lighting. You should look at the Centralite system. All switches are in cabinets in one central location, and remote switches control it. I'm not sure about ELK, but the Omni can directly interface to Centralite.
 

CollinR

Senior Member
Does nobody just use an automation controller like an ElkM1G to trip contactors?

Funny, you brought back some old memories. I did this about 15 years ago with a Siemens PLC. I ran each switch of our 900 sqft home to a 120V input and each light to a 120v output. The PLC was programed using RLL (Relay Ladder Logic) and had a serial port that I connected to a PC running DOS and a quick basic program ;) that I used for "scene" control. It worked well and never let me down. We didn't have any dimmers so that wasn't an issue for me back then.

For a modern twist, you could check out some inexpensive PLCs with Ethernet/serial connectivity that would give you direct high voltage control. Automation Direct may have something to fit your needs.

Terry

Thanks man, so what are you doing now?

How many loads did you serve?


I think a few things are at issue here. First, you say you dislike wall switches, but does your wife, your kids, your guests, and how about if you ever sell your home someday? No matter how automated your house is there are always times when you want to override lights.

Second, you are loosing two-way control. If you manually override a light, how does the system know that? At least in my house, manually switching lights is data that can be used to make decisions. You loose that with contractors.

Third, you loose dimming and most scene control.

A system like Centralite, or UPB or Z-Wave allows conventional control, two-way monitoring, dimming, etc.

There is nothing wrong with central control of your lighting. You should look at the Centralite system. All switches are in cabinets in one central location, and remote switches control it. I'm not sure about ELK, but the Omni can directly interface to Centralite.

1st, pretend I never menioned the wall switch. It's gone, no local control of that specific load.

When I said manual override I was more thinking about an E-stop. Not somthing that would actually be used regularly, an easy means to kill power to change the bulb is more like it.



Please give me more of these
"
No matter how automated your house is there are always times when you want to override lights.
"
Thats what is really helpful.




Centralite is just a PLC with a sweet set of relay outputs, if their relays were cheaper I would just use them. I dont know how they do dimming but it wouldn't take me long to figure it out if I had one in hand.

Dimming is an issue however scene control can still be accomplished. The multiple dims is a big factor as I do like a little light in the middle of the night with more during other times.


Does nobody just use an automation controller like an ElkM1G to trip contactors?

TIA

I have done some hardwired lighting control using the Elk.

Brian


How many loads? how have you enjoyed it.
 

BDHall

Active Member
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I have done some hardwired lighting control using the Elk.

Brian

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How many loads? how have you enjoyed it.

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I am somewhere around 14 loads at the present time, with some others in progress. I hope to have all the overhead lighting and ceiling fans in my home controlled through my Elk by the end of the year but I guess I will just have to see how things go. I have been spending most of my free time lately working on installing a sprinkler system which I plan to control with the Elk. This has created some delays in the lighting project. Also the summer heat will make attic work very uncomfortable, so I will probably try to avoid spending much time up there until cooler weather.

I have been pleased with the results, but it is a lot of work. I had a time trying to decide what to use for wall switches since I wanted to have manual control available that would operate like a normal house but not limit control from motion, time, or whatever. I found a Decora style switch with two NO momentary switches that I have been very happy with except for the price. This way I can maintain the normal mode of operation of pressing the top of the switch to turn on and the bottom of the switch to turn off. There is a little delay between pressing the switch and the light turning on or off but it hasn't been much of a problem and my wife does not complain. I wanted hardwired for reliability and I wanted to use standard parts as much as possible.

I took an alternative approach to dimming, but judging from the length of this post I may have already bored you to death so I will close for now.

Brian
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
I may have already bored you to death so I will close for now.
Actually I was hoping for some more details. :huh:

I guess the trick to having your switches provide manual control which will not interfere with the Elk control is because they are momentary. Do you have any problems with the Elk missing a push (i.e. the time of closure was to short)? What relay/control do you use to switch the AC source to the lighting/fans? Did you have to re-run your AC wiring to the wiring closet? Are the switches just sending a momentary contact closure to an Elk input zone?

I'm not understanding how or where the relay/contact control is handling the lighting load.

Thanks,

BSR
 
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