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Lighting Control

patchwork_62

New Member
Hello,
My name is Helen and we are building a new house. I have run the data and video cables. 2 runs of RG-59, 2 runs of Cat 5e and 1 run of cat 5e with speaker wire to each outlet. 13 in all.
Now I would love to know if I need to run cat 5e to my light switch to automate them.
No we do not have a system. I would eventually like to have the Elk M1 Gold. This is a project that does not have to be done NOW. :( We are taking our time with this house.
I don't know if we even need to run anything to the switches. But I would rather have overkill than have to ever run another wire in my house again.
Oh, everything is being run back to one central closet. Star configuration is what I believe you call it. No daisy chaining here.
1500 sq. ft. house. 2 bed, 2 bath. Open kitchen and living room area.
Need anymore info, please ask.
Thanks,
Helen :)
 

IVB

Senior Member
Welcome to Cocoontech. Yes, you need something run to the switch if you opt for a hardwired solution, which is the best path if you have new construction and you want rock-solid reliability. Look into the various hardwired solutions, c-bus [available soon in the US] is the only one I know of. I know it needs a low-voltage wire run to the switch, not sure if CAT5e will work though. I believe Lutron also has hardwired solutions, but as I have a 95 yr old house, I don't pay much attention to that stuff.
 

carry15+1

Active Member
I suggest you check out www.hometech.com - they have some excellent basic tutorials on home automation, security and telephone/cctv/network wiring.

While the M1G is automation capable, it really shines as a security system. You need to run a bunch of 4/c #22 cable to locations that will eventually have door/window contacts, motion sensors, etc. Don't forget the garage door and inside and outside speakers/sirens. I ran cat5 cable to my keypads. You may decide on an outside temperature sensor - run a 4c cable for that. Consider a water sensor for your laundry room, temp. sensor for your freezer, heat sensors for kitchen, furnace room, laundry, etc. and smoke detectors. If in doubt run a 4/c cable. Run an extra cat5 from your thermostat to the closet so you can connect the stat to the m1G as well. And consider running Rg6/power cable to any locations that might have an outdoor cctv camera. If you consider a PTZ camera, you'll also need control wiring - usually 2#16.

I consider hardwire automation systems to be expensive and geared toward big buck homes. Most HA enthusiasts struggle along with PLC equipment which relies on a control signal superimposed on your house wiring. The better quality devices require a neutral at each switch/dimmer. You don't need any hardwire for PLC systems and you can chose from the original X-10 devices, or any of the new comers, some of which use RF.

In a new home you might try to protect your telephone service by having the demarc inside the house if that's acceptable to the phone company.

And consider a heavy copper ground wire (#8 or so) from the wiring closet to the building ground rod location.

Good luck.
 

patchwork_62

New Member
Oh, sorry should have stated that. All windows and doors are already wired for sensors. Cable runs with cat5e for cameras, 4 outside and one inside. Haven't run for alarm sirens yet. Or antenna and satelite.


What is a 4c cable?
Will 18/2 wire work for the cameras?
And wiring the smoke detectors---lordy lordy. That is a question that I would like answered. To integrate it with home automation. HOW? :( Do you run the fire wire to the closet and then to the load center and will this pass inspection? I have looked a lot of places for these answers and I will definitely check out your link. Been reading on every message board I could find. Have 4 books, which could definitely use a good update. I get more off of these boards than those books.

Anyway thanks for the info.
Helen
 

rocco

Active Member
Since you are already doing star wiring, you may want to look at the CentraLite LiteJet system. It's the most affordable hardwired system that I have found so far. It's competitive with the better wireless and PLC protocols, especially when you consider the reliability.

It can be controlled through an RS232 port, so it can physically hook up to a serial expander on the ELK. I don't know if there is yet any software/firmware to make them play together, though.

I hope there is, or will be soon, as I intend to install this combination in a house I'm renovating next year.
 

Ripper99

Active Member
When you mentioned the "Star Configuration" it reminded of the book "Smart Homes For Dummies" :)

Not a bad book....the wife bought me it for a present.

As for lighting not many systems I know rely on cat5 to switchs but I know C-BUS does...I made sure to run neutral wires to every switch as some protocols require them so I thought this was my best bet at the time we started building.
 

Spanky

Senior Member
Grey Fox/OnQ lighting and EDT Lighting is two additional hardwired lighting systems that use CAT 5 to the switches.

I suggest IP Cameras or conventional cameras running into a camera server. This will give you maximum flexibility in the future for viewing the cameras anywhere including on a PC or Touchscreen. The IP Cameras will need CAT 5.


I mounted an ELK TS-07 Touchscreen in my kitchen and have current weather maps running for my wife. She loves it!
 

elcano

Active Member
Ripper99 said:
When you mentioned the "Star Configuration" it reminded of the book "Smart Homes For Dummies" :)
Helen,

Most people around refer to the star configuration as 'home run'.

It was difficult for me to grab the idea because the only 'home run' that I know is in baseball, where player runs in daisy-chain configuration across all the bases before returning back to home. :(

The main difference between the different hardwired architectures is were the high voltage line circuit is opened/closed or dimmed. This is defined by where are the relays and dimmers located:

Relays/dimmers located in the control room:
C-Bus
CentraLite LiteJet

Relays/dimmers located at the switch/keypad:
Grey Fox/OnQ
EDT Lighting

They both have pros/cons. The first group allows you to have a single nice and advanced keypad in a large room area controlling several individual loads. You are not required to have one switch per load in the room. This is optimal for high end applications (new house).

The advantage of the second ones is the backward compatibility. The high voltage wiring is identical to a high quality traditional installation (neutral wire included in the switch box). Once you run your low voltage cable to each switch box you have the option to have this switch automated by the hardware system (using the low voltage cable), automated by a PLC/RF system, or just install a regular switch/dimmer. You are not locked into an architecture. This is optimal for mid level applications (new house, gradual migration, hybrid systems).

PLC/RF systems (search them around in the forum) work flawless for most people (even the 30 years old X10), but can be a nightmare to a few (not my case). The problem with these systems is that they all are subject to interference which not necessarily start at day one. The newest ones seem to be more robust, while they still have areas of improvement. After reading so many post of people here having problems with almost every PLC/RF architecture available, many of us (cocooners) have reached the conclusion that during the construction of a new house the best option to consider is a hardwired system, especially if you can include the cost in the mortgage. In my case, I would use the most backward compatible hardwired systems (Greyfox/OnQ or EDT) because it gives me the option to switch back to plain old switches if desired.
 

Steve

Senior Member
patchwork_62 said:
Hello,
My name is Helen and we are building a new house. I have run the data and video cables. 2 runs of RG-59, 2 runs of Cat 5e and 1 run of cat 5e with speaker wire to each outlet. 13 in all.
Now I would love to know if I need to run cat 5e to my light switch to automate them.
Wow, lots of overnight activity!

Hi Helen and welcome to Cocoontech...

First, it sounds like its already done, but I would have run RG6 Quad Shield instead of RG59. If you plan on using satellite, like DirectTV, RG6 is REQUIRED and quad shield is highly recommended.

What is a 4c cable?
Will 18/2 wire work for the cameras?
And wiring the smoke detectors---lordy lordy. That is a question that I would like answered. To integrate it with home automation. HOW? sad.gif Do you run the fire wire to the closet and then to the load center and will this pass inspection?
4c is is referring to 22 gauge 4 conductor cable. That is a single cable that has 4 individual wires in the sheath. You need 22/4 for things with power such as motion detectors, glass break detectors, etc. Two wires are used for power and two for the zone contact. Regular contact switches only require 2 wires or 22/2. While you can run 22/4 to windows/doors, imho I would run 22/2. You won't have to worry about cutting off and hiding extra wire and is a bit smaller if you have tight spots around the windows, etc.

All kinds of cameras, but if you run a Cat5e (ip or video with balun), RG6 (regular video) and 18/2 (power) you should be covered.

As for smoke detectors, there are 2 kinds. The builder usually installs 120V detectors that hook to your homes power and are daisy chained with 3 wires so when one goes off they all do. They do not interface to your automation system unless they have a relay contact which you can run to your panel. The other approach is to leave the builders smoke detectors and add your own 12V smoke and heat detectors that are designed for security and automation panels. They come in 2 wire and 4 wire. The Elk will support either. 4 Wire you can 'zone' and have each detector on its own zone, or 2 wire which daisy chains and goes on zone 16. In a smaller house 2 wire is probably fine and gives the advantage of a 'cleaning needed' signal. Personally, I leave the builders smokes and add my own 12V ones.

The lighting has already been discussed, but for my $.02, if you can afford it and rock solid reliability is important to you, then hardwire is always the way to go. As mentioned you usally only hear about it in larger more expensive homes because typically diy'ers like to tinker and don't spend the big $$$. Personally, from my experience, even if I moved into a smaller home I would do hardwire and make it a part of the budget. You can easily make the cost up in knocking your head against the wall troubleshooting. But again, its a personal financial decision only you can make. As for PLC (x10, Insteon, UPB and wireless Zwave), none are perfect but with enough tweaking can be made to work pretty well. Don't mean to make you nervous, some PLC installs actually do work perfectly with very little messing around, but our powerlines are full of all kinds of stuff these days so there are no guarantees.

There is a prewire guide around here that has lots of information and ideas - irrigation, outdoor motions, etc. The good news is if you forget a wire, you can add the GE/ITI wireless sensors (and a receiver of course) as well which are fully supervised.

Feel free to keep asking!
 

carry15+1

Active Member
Hi Helen,

You've received plenty of good recommendations already.

Based on the sf of your home I'm 'assuming" you don't have $10k+ to put into home automation. All the more reason to give PLC a hard look. I live in a very rural area and enjoy my own private power company transformer. I have enjoyed 100% reliability with x-10 for many years. That's not to say this will work with the low end x-10 devices. I use PCS and Lightolier which have been excellent. You're looking at $65 - $80 per dimmer. Hardwired lighting pretty much requires an up front decision and wiring accordingly.....not later, but now.

Keep in mind that it's pretty easy to remove an x-10 installation when you go to sell your home. Lamp modules unplug really quick and dimmers can be changed back to original switches in 10 minutes. Hardwired systems are pretty much built to stay - and the prospective buyer may or may not be turned on by them.

In my opinion, the most important thing about a hardwired system is that there be support and replacement parts 5 or 10 years from now.

I suggest running 4/conductor #22 to everything in the security system - no 2/c wire. The wire is cheap and you may need a spare one day. My installation involves our home and two detached buildings. I have 4 areas (partitions) defined. One for the home, one for the out buildings, one for my gun cabinet and one that has odd things like the driveway alarm, temp sensors, etc.

If you go with 2-wire smokes on the M1G - all the smokes are one one zone. In my case I wouldn't know if the smoke was in the main home or one of the out buildings until I ran around checking them individually. For this reason I chose 4-wire devices and put each smoke on it's own zone. A glance at any keypad will immediately tell me where the problem is. Along these same lines, zone EVERYTHING independantly. Much easier to trouble shoot and not a lot of extra money.

The new IP cctv cameras are great, but pretty costly as well. I have a (non-IP) Pelco PTZ in front and fixed cameras in the back and on the sides of the building. These go thru a 4-channel modulator and can be viewed on any TV in the house. They also go into a 4-channel DVR. Old fashioned by todays standards, but works very well.

John - SW Missouri
 

rbroders

Active Member
My last house had three different lighting systems:
CentraLite
X10
Standard

They all look and behave differently, and it drove my wife nuts. The centralite was the worst because the buttons dont even look like light switches. I think the wiring costs may be higher with centralite type systems because all loads are homerun to the lighting controller. With OnQ ALC or EDT iLine the electrician can daisy chain the supply to several loads. I'm personally leaning towards iLine for my new house.

You might also consider is wiring zones for your locks as well as your doors. Is your house secure when your door is closed, or when your door is locked?

Also, my wife's favorite feature is and automatic door strike and keyless entry.

--Bob
 

rocco

Active Member
rbroders said:
They all look and behave differently, and it drove my wife nuts. The centralite was the worst because the buttons dont even look like light switches.
Yes, this is a definite consideration. They look like keypads, not switches.

The nice part is that you can re-program any switch to work any light whenever you want. Or just set scenes, and don't have any one switch work a single light. This works well in my remodel, which is mostly open space, with can lights in a high ceiling.

But it is not at all intuitive to a visitor.
 

rocco

Active Member
carry15 said:
In my opinion, the most important thing about a hardwired system is that there be support and replacement parts 5 or 10 years from now.
It's a good point, but you shouldn't need to worry with a "home-run" system.

My neighbor has a low-voltage system that was installed in the early fifties, made by Touch-Plate. I maintain it for her, and I can still get new parts for it, fifty years later. GE made a competing system, and parts are available for it as well.

But the interesting part: I can replace it with a CentraLite system, or almost any other home-run system, without any rewiring outside of the wiring closet.
 

rbroders

Active Member
The interesting thing is that EDT iLine is not a home-run system. It is a cascading star topology, which should make installation simpler, but could be a problem if you want to change it out for a home-run system. The limitation is that the star can only have four arms (if I understand correctly).

I suppose you could home-run iLine, but you'd need two cat5s to each location, and then you could create the cascade by patching cat5s together in your wiring closet.

--Bob
 

elcano

Active Member
rbroders said:
I suppose you could home-run iLine, but you'd need two cat5s to each location, and then you could create the cascade by patching cat5s together in your wiring closet.

--Bob
Does it really need the 8 conductors of a cat5 cable to work? I haven't seen the specifications but I dont see a reason for using 8 wires. If it is a RS-485 bus it just needs 4 wires. Most other low speed bus technologies can work with just two pairs (one for power, the othe for 2-way communication).

So, if my assumption is correct you could use a single cat5.
 
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