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Home Automation

Home Automation

At the very start of the process to refurbish our London Victorian Apartment, we knew that we wanted to build in the ability for home automation in the future.  It is far simpler to install the wiring (which is relatively inexpensive) prior to installing suspended ceilings, than to install the wiring at a future date.

The last update covered the installation of the ceiling grid.  We found it easier to install the wiring into the containment system (this is the metal basket in the picture) after the ceiling grid had been installed.  The grid itself, and the duct work for the MVHR were installed in conjunction with the ceiling grid.

It has taken quite a bit of time to install all of the wiring – hence the period of time since the last update.

What is Home Automation?

Well it really depends on how sophisticated you want you system to be.   At the simplest, it is the transfer of the audio signal around the home.  This means that instead of carrying CD’s around the home, you can access you entire music collection in each room of the home from a central music server.

Other systems can transfer the combined audio visual signal around the home.  Systems are available so that the same audio and visual signal can be heard in each room, or different rooms can transmit different audio visual signals concurrently.  In addition, the systems can also control lighting, heating, HVAC, blinds, curtains and home security.

Most systems work by having a central hub, which is controlled using wall or mobile hand devices.

Our Home Automation System

We wanted a system which fitted the following criteria:

  1. A system which is scalable to the number of rooms in our apartment.  We have four rooms to which we only want to transmit an audio signal (two bathrooms, foyer and dining room), and eight rooms to which we want to transmit the audio visual signal (reception, kitchen, four bedrooms, two other bathrooms).
  2. We want the system to link into control the heating, blinds, door answer phone, security cameras and lighting.

To achieve the above we spent time discussing what the wanted the system to achieve with a Home Automation System designer.  The designer was affiliated to any particular system.  He visited our home, we discussed what we wanted the system to achieve, and the pros and cons of different systems were discussed.  The designer then produced a plan, showing which cables needed to go to each area of the apartment from the hub.

As a result of these discussions we decided upon a system by Netstreams called ‘DigiLinX’.  This system can transmit the audio signal around the home, and is scalable to almost any number of rooms.  The system only transmits component rather than HD video, so we will be integrating Netstreams with an HDMI matrix.  It integrates to the other items which we would like to control by way of the hub communicating to the 3rd party components using RS232 devices.

Other comparable systems to Netstreams are Control4, Crestron and AMX.

The Netstreams system is basically hard wired using a combination of Cat5e, Cat6, Siamese (this is a Netstream’s cable comprising a low voltage power cable and Cat5e bonded together) and speaker cable.  It takes time to draw the cables from each source to the hub.  The cables need to be treated carefully, as tugging will cause damage.  It is essential to have a coding system for each cable, because by the time you have finished there are going to be a lot of cables.  Our system comprised ‘LR’ for ‘living room’, ‘DR’ for ‘dining room’ etc, with each one having an ascending number.  This enables you to locate the use of each cable at both ends of the run.  We used a ‘RhinoPro’ handheld printer.

It’s also important to have a proper containment system to support all of the cables.  They do build up and are quite heavy.

Following the installation of our structured cabling for our Home Automation system, we completed the duct work for the MVHR, and closed up the ceilings.



About Michael Fleming

A Chartered Surveyor who likes to use the knowledge gained from visiting refurbishment projects to my family's own apartment. Through this blog I would like to show others what it is possible to achieve, to reduce fuel bills, carbon emissions, and ensure we all have a healthier way of life.

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