Lighting automation and multi room audio in the UK - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 14 Old 09-23-2019, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Lighting automation and multi room audio in the UK

Hello all,

I am planning on purchasing a new build home next year, I am a UK resident.

I want to know what requirement I will need to provide to the builder whilst the house is still in the planning stage to make sure the correct wiring is installed for sensors on doorways, smart light switches, possibly a tablet in the wall in the kitchen and the master bedroom, integrated smart lighting throughout the house and wiring for in-ceiling speakers in each room.

I have done some reading and I think I need to provide the builder with a wiring plan? is this correct, would anyone be able to offer some more insight?

I do have a plan for which automation system I'd like to use and I understand how to wire in-ceiling speakers with sonos amps.

I fully respect that most people may work with a home integrator for this however I want to understand the requirements before I decide whether or not to include any more parties than needed?

Thank you in advance.
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post #2 of 14 Old 09-23-2019, 03:37 PM
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A real plan of attack for every room is in order.

Once you know what you want in each and every room, you need to write it all out on paper in a clear and concise manner.

So, lighting is (for example) RadioRA2. You need to know how many switches you will be buying and have them available if they are installed ahead of the build. If installed after the build, then just let the builder do their thing.

For speakers, they will need to know where to pull all the wiring to. As well, you may need to specific a certain type of speaker wiring to go to the speakers. By example, I typically use 14/4 pure copper speaker cabling everywhere.

For networking, you will need to indicate locations of all network drops in the home, and you do NOT want to rely on wireless. So, plan to wire as much as possible.

For control, you may want to provide keypads or something else at room entrance/exit locations to let people turn things off when they exit the room.

You should plan for the future when/if budget allows. This means perhaps pulling an extra cat-6 cable to any number of locations as well as speaker wire. Doorbells often use different wiring than current smart doorbells would like, so plan accordingly. Speakers in a garage, or outdoors, or in spare rooms which may not be part of the main plan are easiest to get wiring to during construction.

TV locations, if they have equipment located across a room, or next to a fireplace when the TV is over the fireplace, really need to have conduit run to them.

All of this needs to be first listed out on paper, then you need to transfer it to a set of the drawings.

I've used the simple builder provided plans to just mark out speaker locations and the rest along with a list of wire numbering so I could go back and find my cables later.

If you aren't head-ending all of your gear in a central closet, then you will want networking at every location where a Sonos is going.

If you are mounting any TVs on the wall, then you may want to ensure power and a pathway is in place at every TV location.

This can get expensive, but the prewire is the most important part of any AV and automation installation. Not sure of your home type, the layout, or anything else, so these are things you must consider. I've done any number of single family homes now and it always comes back to poor planning during the prewire that pisses people off the most when they come to the final installation work.

Sorry, we can't do that without opening up your drywall because nobody pulled one network cable from your equipment location to the location where you want control.

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post #3 of 14 Old 09-23-2019, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for your honest reply, I had never thought about the fact that I may need to buy equipment before or during in the build, I had only thought about the cabling *facepalm*

My current list of specs are:
Ceiling speaker wiring to a cabinet or wall fascia in each room
Ethernet to every room
Ethernet to a few ceiling locations for Ubiquiti APs
Ethernet to ever light switch/controller location, however this will not be for data rather home control, would you go for a different type of cabling.
2 zones of lighting to each room with electric running back to a central location for digitally controlled relays/dimmers
2 zones of lighting to the back garden and 2 to the front with power cabling going back to a central point same as above.
Entry sensors at building entry points and bathrooms.
Builder will likely be installing a 2 zone heating system for separate control of the upstairs and downstairs, so will need to see if there is a way to integrate smart control into that and then electronically controlled thermostats for each room.

To each TV point, what cabling would you run, power, ethernet?, hdmi?

Just for the automation is there anything you'd add or change?
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post #4 of 14 Old 09-23-2019, 08:11 PM
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You should first select the automation control system. That will then set the stage for the equipment. That will then determine the wiring.
Why ethernet for lighting control? Not too many lighting systems use ethernet. Again, you need to pick the equipment then the wiring.
For lighting, the first major decision is standard wiring or home run wiring for a high end lighting system (Homeworks / Vantage etc). That changes how the house is wired completely.

You either need to learn a lot or hire an integrator sooner than later. The system should be designed as a System. Not as an afterthought on what will work with what wires I pulled.
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post #5 of 14 Old 09-24-2019, 10:01 AM
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I tend to agree that I would spend some thought on the lighting system. Lutron Radio RA2 really offers a lot of 'traditional' light switches which electricians understand and can install. As part of a comprehensive electrical plan and lighting diagram for the entire space, you should plan accordingly and ahead of time. Depending on budget, this may involve an actual lighting designer, or may be something you just do on your own based upon your preferences. I'm no lighting designed, but I know I like recessed lighting and I know I like breaking up zones in certain rooms. Kids/guest rooms get recessed lighting on a single switch by the door, which they can then adjust via Alexa (through Crestron). Family room gets 3 loads. One for the seating area, one for the main area, and one by the fireplace. Three switches in a good room location and again, Alexa control. The theater will end up with more zones of lighting, as appropriate.

So, every single aspect of your home, which you want control over, is it's own aspect and requires a certain skill set.

None of my light switches have network cabling pulled to them unless I actually have a controller next to the light switch (several rooms do). They are all RF controlled via a central controller in my rack.

On the flip side, all my in-room keypads use a 4-wire connection, which I used cat-5e for. Doubling up the pairs. If I ever switch to a network control switch, then the wire is fine. Yes, pull network cabling to control locations as it likely will be what is expected or can be used.

Ethernet to rooms is good, but pick you locations. If you intend to use 'smart' functions in a TV, you may want a Ethernet pull there, but you may want a second or even a third pull in certain rooms. But, perhaps not. I basically have hard wired Ethernet at all TV locations as well as in my office and WAP locations and my kid's computer locations. But, bedrooms and such likely should keep a network location as well.

For what it's worth, look to place the Ubiquity units in hidden locations if you can. Closets and such if possible. It's a cleaner look. I just hide ours in our family room directly behind our couch. No reason to not put it under a sofa if it fits you know?

For outdoor lighting, I would ask a landscaper what they recommend you do. It likely is all low voltage outside these days. But, heck if I know. Depending on your home design and how much landscape work you have done ahead/after the build, you may want to wait on pulling power for non-existent landscaping. But, make sure you circuit breaker can handle the power load. Depending on home size, this could require a great deal of power. But, overbuying a larger circuit breaker, or putting in a sub-panel during construction can save a lot of money in the long run.

TVs in my home have access to my head end after the fact. My design uses distributed audio and video to every room (20+ zones of audio, up to 16 video zones). I also have access to every TV location from my basement at any time. So, I can retrofit wiring whenever I would like to. That said, I don't want to pull wires constantly. So, I pulled cat-5e (now I'd use cat-6 at least). I pulled 3 runs of network cabling and if the run was short enough, I pulled HDMI. This all runs into issues when it comes to 4K and 18Gb/s requirements. As it turns out, my HDMI matrix can handle this with cat-5e cabling and the right cards. But, it's pricey. All this said, when I finish my basement I will have conduit installed (1.25" Carlon Resigard or similar) to each TV location and my family room equipment location, so I can add/change cabling in the future as necessary. I already have 2" conduit and a pathway between my basement and the attic space to add cabling.

When my last home was built, I prewired for speakers everywhere. I found that taking about 100 pictures of the unfinished pre-drywall walls and ceiling was not enough. I would have taken more. So, if you don't intend to install speakers during construction, just wire for things, and NOT have those wires protrude through the drywall, then take hundreds of photos to document wiring locations and mark on the drawings where those wires are hidden. My drawings would say things like: 4'3" from a certain wall, and 6' in from another wall. I would look at the photos and then measure, then pull out my stud finder, then I would cut a hole and find the wire. I had a 100% success rate, so that seems to be the way to do it if you aren't putting speakers in from the start.

Pulling extra category cabling to locations where you might want sensors or controls or indicators or whatever is never a bad thing. I have pulled them to my garage to eventually get my garage door fully automated with hard wired relay controls. Good. I pulled spare network cabling to my attic which I will soon be using to control my motorized shades.

Look around and make considerations for things you also may not have thought of. Like motorized shades. Or a networked refrigerator (likely that will be wireless). I ended up having to add cat-5e to all my shades in my home, and it was a piece of work to get them in place. But, now they are all on hard power. Unfortunately the shades offer no real control to raise/lower them which drives me nuts. So, find out ahead of time how things can be controlled. Alexa 'automation' isn't automation really. It's just another closed format remote control system. Relay is open. RS-232 is typically open. Ethernet is sometimes open. So, don't get sold on the word 'automation' by a manufacturer that doesn't publish commands!

Planning is never going to be enough and you will wish you had done something after the fact that you didn't do. This is unavoidable and while you can't change that, you can do as much research as possible ahead of time and be as ready as you possibly can be. Consider things like security cameras in the future (hard network cable) which you may want in various locations around your home both inside and outside.

Maybe ask what all people have controlled outside of their A/V system and lighting. Look for ideas of unusual automation options.

I control, for example, my fireplace. My front door lock is relay controlled. I also have a couple of sets of wireless headphones which I can set to track in any room that I'm in.

Finally, for HVAC, if you are looking for room-by-room thermostat control, then that would often be built into the HVAC from the start with motorized dampers in each room that regulate airflow to those rooms. That's a serious discussion with the HVAC installers and often outside the normal scope of most builders. We have a two-unit HVAC system with separate Nest controllers, but definitely not room-by-room control. Yes, I almost definitely would add that in the future if money allowed.

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post #6 of 14 Old 09-24-2019, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I should probably say I am in the UK, so HVAC isn't a necessity.

My feeling was that I want to wire the house to be compatible with the loxone control system, even if I dont initially use it, I am a technologist and as such I will be aiming to implement my own control system. This will likely be based around raspberry pi's and other add-ons, then if my personal idea ends up being a failure, I can just install the loxone control mechanisms.

If I wire electric for each lighting zone to a central point and then an ethernet cable to each switch location then I will have universal ability of whether I have 12v to 230/240v lighting in each zone, yes it will be overkill running 12v over 240v rated cabling but hey ho it will be future proof.

Ethernet to each switch fitting I feel will allow me to fit from as basic as momentary press switches to advanced loxone wall controls if I end up going down that path.

I guess if I have ethernet to each switch location I may also be able to incorporate temperature sensors into the switch locations?

I hadn't thought about the simplicity of hiding the AP's within or around furniture, I'll consider this.

If I was to rung each TV to a central point, what cabling would be better 2 x cat6 or 1 x cat6 and 1x18gbps compatible HDMI? I don't think I will bother with coax as I only use online services anyway for screen content now, but would it be better to just do it for resale value of the property if I ever want to move, is this the kind of detail that actually matters?
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post #7 of 14 Old 09-24-2019, 12:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Just thought I'd like to mention, I don't currently feel like I want to use lutron or control4 as they are very much closed source and only allow people with their own certifications to work with their products, or at least it very much feels that way, but I'm happy for you to point out if I am wrong.
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post #8 of 14 Old 09-24-2019, 05:19 PM
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Lutron is a lighting company. They are VERY open with their API and the full documentation of how to control their products, while not always easy to find, is out there. They are not an automation company, but a electrical manufacturer with a ton of product in the world. So, almost every control system company, like C4, Crestron, AMX, and a LONG line of others integrates with Lutron because Lutron truly is 'open' standard.

Control 4 is a automation company. They offer a lot of control based on residential (mostly) setups and installation.
Similar would be Crestron or AMX, but both Crestron and AMX offer very high level control options that can be well outside of the box.

Luxone appears to be as proprietary as Control 4. They are very stylish, but I would take a close look at their integration history and support structure. As is often the case with AMX, Crestron, and Control 4, people are most often disappointed with the high cost of needing a professional to integrate everything and their often deep lack of actual knowledge on how to do so. While their products are very stylish, they lack any labels, so you better know how things work. That's a peeve of mine when things have form over function. It also concerns me in the long run when businesses do such things. I often find that the functionality of a space is replaced by it looking good. Forget that the damn room is unusable - it's pretty!!! Just something you will want to keep in mind.

If going with a system that needs a professional to program, I would stick with Crestron as it is the world leader and has the history and support to back it up forever. Otherwise, you will want a DiY solution and that's going to be a lot of work and hope on your end to ensure things keep working over the years.

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post #9 of 14 Old 09-25-2019, 12:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g00sey View Post
Just thought I'd like to mention, I don't currently feel like I want to use lutron or control4 as they are very much closed source and only allow people with their own certifications to work with their products, or at least it very much feels that way, but I'm happy for you to point out if I am wrong.
once a dealer sets up your C4 account and project you can do 95% of all the programming on your own using Composer HE which is a 1 time fee of $149. You would just need a dealers support on going for firmware updates and adding new hardware to your project. Just an FYI. Crestron/AMX/Elan/Savant are 100% closed and give the end user 0 programming capabilities.
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post #10 of 14 Old 09-25-2019, 12:27 PM
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Following this thread. It's interesting to hear about the UK based stuff compared to the US.
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post #11 of 14 Old 09-25-2019, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by g00sey View Post
Just thought I'd like to mention, I don't currently feel like I want to use lutron or control4 as they are very much closed source and only allow people with their own certifications to work with their products, or at least it very much feels that way, but I'm happy for you to point out if I am wrong.
You can get a level 1 certification from Lutron just by doing their on-line course. That gives you access to the Essentials software and can configure a system with one main repeater and up to 100 devices.
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post #12 of 14 Old 09-26-2019, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
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You can get a level 1 certification from Lutron just by doing their on-line course. That gives you access to the Essentials software and can configure a system with one main repeater and up to 100 devices.
Please may you provide some information on how to access Lutron online courses?
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post #13 of 14 Old 09-26-2019, 02:43 PM
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Please may you provide some information on how to access Lutron online courses?

http://www.lutron.com/en-US/Educatio...CI/Online.aspx
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post #14 of 14 Old 09-26-2019, 04:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the link, I’ll go through the training when I next have some spare time.
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