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I know so little I don't know what i need to know.

davejones4

New Member
Really glad I have come across this site there seems some really well informed people.
 
My wife and I are building a new house in the UK and I am really keen to include some home automation technology including:
 
Security/ baby monitoring cameras
Car location sensors (not driveway, we have on street parking)
Light and mood setting automation
Appliance automation if possible (washing machine, cooker, I've seen some people with automated fridges?!)
Thermostat/ central heating.
A centralised store of media that can be accessed from various screens e.g. music, tv, films, games console, netflix and photos.
Outside socket, speaker and water feature.
I hope to use some ipod touches and our iphones as the remote control (not sure about voice recognition I think that maybe a little 2001 a space odyssey 'just what do you think your doing dave')
 
I have read the 101, 102 and 103 guides and I feel like Homer Simpson in the episode where he picks up a book 'advanced business and economics' and a series of cut scenes later; books on 'business and economics for beginners', 'business and economics for dummies' have all found there way into the bin and he is left scratching his head and reading a dictionary.
 
My understanding is that I will need
 
A remote in my case iphone/ ipod (this will send a wifi signal to the controller)
 
A controller e.g. mcontrol, homeseer or control4 and others (any recommendations welcomed) (can these operate hard wired devices as well?)
 
Then comes the parts i'm less sure about
 
z wave, zigbee, insteon and others (again recommendations welcomed) my understanding is that the companies offer smart devices that can pick up wifi, or rf from the controller. (what about hard wired ones?)
 
Should I be considering hard wired systems as its a new build and being timber framed there will be battening behind the plasterboard making cabling more straight forward.
 
I don't understand anything about how to achieve a centralised media centre. I have so many questions on this I don't know where to start. I can understand how you could turn devices on and off as the controller would convert the wifi into an rf signal but thats where my understanding ends.
 
Where do you store all the media? I don't currently have tvs that accept data cabling or wifi will I need to upgrade these? How would i link in ceiling speakers and how what you set up a system so that allows different music to be played in different rooms. I have seen automation systems where people scroll through content on their phone and then send it to the screen of the room that they're in and other people are doing the same in a different room.
 
What about the other appliances such as washing machine, cooker and fridge? Do you have to have special ones that have have wifi, an rf signal or a data cable? And where do you find these products?
 
Again I can see how if you have a data cabled, rf or wifi thermostat could work but again what about the central heating system does this need to be wifi, rf or data cable enabled? And again where do you find these products?
 
Also about cable general consensus seems to be 5e for data cable, 18 to 14 gauge for speakers, RG6QS (is this for cable tv?) I think UK tv comes down normal coax. We do not get cable in our area sky satellite tv is more popular.
 
Anyone who can help me work out what I need to know and has any recommendations they will be greatly received. Also if you know any good home automation installers in the UK that would be good.
 
Many thanks
 
Dave
 

ano

Senior Member
Hi Dave:
 
At this point don't get overly concerned with planning every wire of cable you'll need in the next 30 years. You can't do it. But my advise alone with installing the obvious things is to really overwire when it comes to low-voltage door, window, motion detector, smoke detector sensors.  This wiring is cheap and the hardest later to add.  Also, don't worry so much on putting in ever other type of wire you can think of, but instead make it as easy as possible to add future wires.  Building extra cable space and runways is always helpful, with a way from the attic or basement to get to them.  This will be cheaper in the long run than adding a bunch extra cables you'll never need.  You can do things like running strings now, as long as in the future you can use the strings to pull the cables.  Strings cause no inspection problems and its a whole lot cheaper than some big cable you may never use.
 

picta

Active Member
There are many way to do what you want, and there are many different levels you can add automation to your house, from very simple remote "app" based to fully hard-wired/wireless combo. Quality home automation is also expensive. Hard-wired lighting is the most reliable but less conventional, although it is more accepted in the UK. You may want to look at Clipsal, Centralite and Omni-bus by Leviton for possible hard-wired lighting technologies. Wireless lighting could also be an option, but it will not be as reliable unless you go with an expensive brand like RadioRA.
 
If you want security, distributed AV and window coverings, consider centrally located closet for all equipment. You'll run the wires from the end points to that closet. Here is an example list of equipment that will give you all the functions you have listed, and all components will be easy to integrate together. You may want to read about the components to see what wiring they require and perhaps look for alternatives that may better suit your goals.
 
Lighting: hard-wired system like c-bus, or wireless like RadioRA2
Controller and security system: HAI Omni Pro
Software controller and music server: mac-mini with HaikuHelper
Whole house audio: Russound or HAI Hi-Fi2
HVAC: HAI Omnistat thermostats
IP cameras (see the list of supported brands on HaikuHelper site)
Door Locks: Kwikset zigbee
Window coverings: Somfy
Video: miriad of options, if you choose the ones with simple ASCII protocol, they can be integrated with your HAI controller and/or HaikuHelper.
UI: Haiku on iphones and ipads
 
The smart appliances are still in the early stages of development, but you can find a few here:
 
http://www.samsung.com/us/smartappliances/
 

bucko

Active Member
First rule with new construction....hardwire everything! Add plenty of future proof wiring now. Then you are free to add devices later outside your original plan.
 
At first it is overwhelming trying to digest all the options building a HA project. Be patient and study each category one by one. Security, lighting automation, whole house video, whole house audio, etc. Take your time and it will all come together.
 
I spent almost 2 years to study and learn different systems while my house was being built. And I am an electronics technician with a heavy security background.
 
Also be aware that the HA technology is changing by the minute. Many new and easier integration methods are offered all the time. I still study the industry at least 2 hrs daily to keep up.
 
Join http://forum.micasaverde.com/ to gain important insight in planning and education. This site is key to your understanding the big picture.
 
You can see my blog here and also go to http://buckchucko.com and review my project for details.
 
Good luck.
 

mwachtmann

New Member
Another thing to consider. In places where you have concentrations of technology (media center, where the router(s) lives), run conduit with pull strings. Later you can switch/add the cables out as technology changes.
 
As another example, if you have a trench being dug in the front yard for a fence, see if you can run some PVC pipe while they have it dug up as cheap conduit. I've gone so far as to have a second trench dug (less expensive to do it at the same time) just for cabling and electricity to get technology (IP cameras in particular) "out in the yard".
 
Finally, if you have multiple structures (separate garage, guest house, barn etc....), run a large conduit between all structures.  
 
Absolutely agree that hard wiring whenever possible is the best way to go.  If you have to budget, pick the places that matter the most, or will be impossible to do later (for example run underground cable between two buildings with nothing but concrete between them). 
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
Knowing that you know so little that you don't know what you need to know is the first step towards... umm.... knowing that you need to know stuff. Sorry. That sounded more profound in my head.
 

mwachtmann

New Member
Shortened attempt :). Realizing you don't now something, is the first step in learning it.
 
And just as important in my opinion, is the initiative to go and get it done. And you're working on that as well!
 
My 2 cents.
 
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