Home Automation




...this is quite a long post, so thanks to those who get to the bottom of it!

I'm moving house soon, and as the new place needs a rewire anyway, I thought I'd introduce a bit of home automation...

The more I've thought about it, the more and more things I find that I want to automate, my main concern is that once everything is wired and either under the floor or set in the walls I'll have no way of easily changing it, so I want to go for a really flexible system.

I'm pretty anti-X10 stuff as I've heard problems with interferance and in any case there seems little point in planning on going wireless when I've got the opportunity to run cabling wherever I want.

Most of the house will be ran via a number of pcs (servers) with parallel cards in which can drive 12v relays.

My plan is to wire every socket as a radial out from a central location (where I will have all the home automation stuff) With the exception of a few special sockets (fridge, freezer etc....) all the others will go back to a large metal enclosure containing banks of 20Amp relays (I'll be fusing the radials at 16 or 20amps and using 2.5mm T&E
Each socket will have it's own dedicated relay, which will be triggered from the parallel port cards on the pc (running some bespoke home automation software)

So that's the sockets sorted, anyone got any comments? Presumably using relays is fine provided they are adequately rated and in a locked/bolted cabinet?

The lights will be similar, except some will use DIN-Rail dimmers, the plan is to run 1mm T&E from the central location to all the light fittings (again a separate radial run for each light, and then cat 5 from the same central location to all the light switch locations. Initially the cat 5 will simply carry switching from the standard lightswitches to the relay panel, but as time goes on I'll be replacing some of the lighting relays with dimmers and concequenty replacing the standard light switches with controllers (hence the cat 5, 8 cores should be more than sufficient)

I'm fine with standard electrics, and electronics isn't a problem either, however really I'm unsure how the wiring regs deal with relays and such in a domestic installation, and is there anything it particular I should be aware of?

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I think you have problems:-
1) Installing all the cables back to a single location.
2) Getting the install past building control/electrical inspection.
It will certainly not look anything like the examples in Part P.
3) Selling the house latter.
part P looming is a slight issue but i don't personally think building control are likely to bother diyers too much (at least not to start with)

the seperate socket radials shouldn't be too much of a problem when selling you can just drop them into a large CU if need be (possiblly a couple to a breaker)

installing all those radials will be a pain but your right it is the ultimate in flexibility

i would put in normal switch drops to the lights even if you have no plan of using them and just leave them taped up at both ends for the time being it will make it a hell load easier to remove the automation if and when needed
I don't see the point in going OTT.

A Well wired and designed 'normal' install is fine, with the addition of a cat5e, and a multi-zoned Hi-Fi with speakers and control panels in every room.

Don't see the need to have all sockets and lights switchable?? I have recently installed an intruder alarm conected to some contactors to switch/override various lights. This turns on the neccessary lights to light the entry/exit route, and will turn lights on/off randomly at night when the system is full-set.
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The only people I have known with a fully automated house got thoroughly pi**ed off with it. It would do things like automatically turn off the TV at midnight, they never got round to changing the programming and would just swear every time it did it!

Sometimes the lights would turn out. Because when they programmed the system THOSE were the times that they decided they wanted all lights to go out.

I presume that new systems are less hassle to program (this one was a real b*tch). But unless you have masses of lights and want to be able to choose "party mode", "dinner party mode", "movie mode", "mother in law drinking tea in the living room mode" etc, then it can become a lot of hassle!

But despite saying all of that, I say do it. It will be thoroughly cool when you have it finished, and I will envy you.
I'd suggest locating the relays close to the sockets that they serve. That way instead of a mass of 2&E turning up at the central point, you'd have a mass of data cables, (more flexible, easier to keep tidy and less regulations concerning thier routing). The power reaching these relays could then be run as a standard ring.

If you leave plenty of slack in the cables, you would have the option to convert it back to a standard ring simply by pulling the cables out of the relay circuits and rerouting them straight into the sockets. (should the need ever arrise).
my 2 p worth

it sounds a great idea, being able to turn this on / off all via a pc, being able to chane the programming at the press of a few buttons, marvelous.

now lets look at it more closely

you want to run cables back to a central point.
this central point is going to have lots of relays
these relays (lots of them) are going to take up a lot of space
these relays will also make a lot of noise when they operate
you have a powercut your pc will not re boot (oh dear) what are you going to do now?
your pc crashes now what?
a bord you have in your pc becomes obsolete and fails oh dear
you opt to put the relays next to each device, ..............toasty why do all your sockets and swithces have a "little box" next to them?

you sell the house areyou really going to convert it all back?

it may sound a good idea, even though you can run all the cables where you want now, i would not do it.
The system that I have seen used sent switching signals over the ring main cables themselves. I suppose in a similar way to powerline networking systems. So, everything is sat on the ring or lighting circuits as per normal, but the sockets and light switches themselves are the relay.

This would easily be converted back, you just need to replace the accessories and remove the control unit.
but it looks like toasty has got the "bones" for his kit already

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