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Light automation suggestions

JimS

Active Member
Building a detached garage (shop) building and wanting to automate the exterior lights.  Have a light by the door and also two floodlight fixtures by the overhead doors.  I gave up on cheap motion sensor lights on the house and put in a good low voltage exterior motion sensor with a relay in a box in the attic and an arduino for time delayed off.  Motion sensor had a setting to only provide output in the dark so the lights don't get triggered during the day.  Works great and trouble free. 
 
Now on the shop thinking there may be a way to do this with off the shelf stuff for not too much cost.  Want to have wall switch control of the lights individually as well as motion activated.  I just leave the switches on the current setup on all the time and didn't implement a good manual switch input scheme.
 
I have a bunch of old X10 stuff so could put in X10 switches and trigger them via a raspberry pi.  But looking for (relatively) low cost solutions that are um... less hacker like and more mainstream.
 
Mainly planning for wiring at this time as I am starting wiring of the building.  I don't have low voltage boxes near the light switches on the plan but could easily add them.  Would make it easy to get switch inputs into any sort of automation system.  Could go with a multigang box with a divider or separate boxes....
 
 
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
If you are running Mister House why would you not feed the motion inputs to that and then have it control the lights via X-10 or newer protocol switches? Not sure I see why arduino or ras-pi elements are needed?
 

pete_c

Guru
Here still using outdoor Optex sensors with UPB switches for out door coach lamps.  I also connected the Low Voltage lighting to trigger on with out door motion after hours.  Lights up everything which I like.  We are not allowed outdoor spotlights here.  
 
You could go with modded firmware in wall light WiFi light switches talking MQTT and have the PIRs also talking Mosquitto to get off of the cloud.  You just need to JTAG the WiFi switches or use OTA to upgrade the firmware to Tasmota / Espurna for a cloud less connection.  
 
WiFi cloud connected switches are dirt cheap now and all using same technology with ESP chips. (including the Leviton WiFi switches).
WiFi switches are made for those folks which are tethered and sleep with their smart phones.

In the 80's-90's used X10 for a detached garage and photo beam relays on the driveway to illuminate everything with spots. I did have a combo security panel back in the 80's which did speech and x10. It was a pita to program via keypad only or rows of buttons on the panel.
 
Been doing the MQTT stuff lately with Home Assistant / Homeseer.  Home Assistant is pure MQTT these days.  Homeseer is using X10, UPB, Zigbee, ZWave and now MQTT.  The OmniPro 2 panel now speaks MQTT such that I could use Unit triggers to enable MQTT devices via HA or Homeseer.
 

JimS

Active Member
I haven't had misterhouse running for some time.  Maybe I should remove it from my info.  Still interested in getting it more involved in the HA here but went with more local nodes for individual items.  Arduinos are great in that they don't care about power outages - when the power comes back they just restart with no issue.  Pi is a whole different story - with possible SD card corruption all bets are off.  But they do provide some advanced capability and I have used them for a few things.  Using Opensprinkler on a PI and that is working well.  Have power over ethernet from a UPS in the wiring closet.  Have used arduino to get signals into Pi nodes too.  Just wanting to get wiring in now to allow some flexibility for whatever I decide to do and also allow some updating as technology changes.  Thinking I will do line power switches and also some CAT5 cable to low voltage boxes near the light switches so I could have switch inputs to some sort of low voltage/automation system.  Easy to do wiring now - a real pain to do later.
 

pete_c

Guru
Here switched over to using little TV boxes with 64 Gb eMMC chips built in.  Never get corrupted.
 
First testing was:
 
1 - Arm based S912 TV box with Gb / WLAN / Bluetooth and a 64 Gb eMMC and 3Gb of RAM.  Installed Armbian Linux on the eMMC.  This box is smaller than an RPi and includes Gb, Bluetooth and WLAN.  Currently switched all of my KODI boxes (which were running on Intel mini PCs) to these cuz they do 4K video.  Sort of similiar to the Pine arm based boxes only smaller.  None the less these boxes have always run circles around any RPi.
 
2 - newer endeavor here used a micro computer called the BT3 Beelink Pro which is an Intel based computer TV box with 64 Gb eMMC.  It came with Windows 10 on it and I wiped out the Windows 10 partition and installed Ubuntu 18.04 on the 64Gb eMMC built in.  This computer is running two OS's now.  Stock is Gb interface, WLAN, Bluetooth and 4Gb of RAM.
 
1 - Ubuntu 18.04 for Mosquitto, Home Assistant, Homeseer Node Red, Docker
2 - Oracle virtual box of Windows 7 embedded for Windows SAPI speech voice fonts for Homeseer.
 
Paid ~ $70 for both boxes heavily discounted.  Thinking you can find the S912 box now for around $50.  The Beelink was around $150 and now you can find it for around $100.  Both of these run circles around an RPi.
 
You do not have to JTAG these boxes.  You just boot them up with the new OS and then in Linux write the new OS to the emmc partition and shrink down the Android partition or just wipe it.
 
Way back here wrote Linux on a Seagate dockstar and used a couple of SSD (true SSD) USB sticks for my irrigation program.  Worked fine like this inside of the old Rainbird Irrigation box with two Rain8 nets that were serially connected to the Seagate Dockstar.  Switching over to using the SSD usb sticks worked way better than standard USB sticks at the time.  The Seagate Dockstar computer was smaller than the Pogo Plug and did the same stuff.  The Seagate dockstar was POE powered at the time.  The irrigation Rain bird box was in the garage and had a conduit to the basement.  
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
My wiring strategy would be:
 
Deep boxes for all light switches. Keep lights on separate switches and use programming to group them for maximum flexibility unless cost is a concern.
 
Assume each switch and motion sensor will need a cat-6 pair (one pair, not a whole cat-6 cable) back to a central controller location. Twisted pairs from switches can provide physical feedback of switch state in case the switches you choose do not provide reliable status. (I use an outlet wired in parallel with the light load with a wall wart driving a relay to get reliable load status)
 
Consider additional pairs for door contacts, light sensors, moisture sensors etc. You really can't have too many twisted pairs (can even be used fo audio if you are handy with baluns and such)
 
Don't fret about what controller or lighting technology you are going to use right now as this wiring will support pretty much any option you decide to go with.
 
Off the shelf options do not really include using Cat-6 wires connected directly to switches so I would rules out that scenario when planning your wiring.
 

pete_c

Guru
A few years back on the Homeseer forum there was a father / son team looking to and automating their new Home in Australia using LV Aduinos in their electrical boxes switching the high voltage electrical switches. Person posted pictures of his designs in making a low voltage Arduino switch. 
 
There was  a bit push back from many of the US forum users relating to using UL approved in wall switches.
 
Early expensive (still sold today)lighting automation systems used LV wiring between the switches and the controller.

You could if you wanted to redesign a WiFi switch to use POE Ethernet removing the WiFi pieces to it.
Some new WiFi switches have WiFi modules soldered on daughter boards. That and using MQTT as your lighting automation protocol would be nice.
 
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