John has been interested in home automation since he was a young lad, amazed with the idea of a house managing itself and automating tasks.
He started off with basic timers that would predict what time he would come home or when it was getting dark. Finally he purchased an X10 timer kit that consisted of a X10 alarm clock and 2 relay modules that allowed him to have control over devices with a timer.
When John moved into his own house, he continued buying X10 devices such as light switches, motion detectors, IR controllers and modules for his PC. He was able to create all kinds of scenes and conditions but one problem kept creeping up with X10 – reliability.
He would program scenes on his computer and have to send the command several times to ensure it was received and even then it would still fail.
"I wanted to use home automation for comfort, security, energy efficiency and safety."
Moving over to Z-Wave
Finally John had reached his limit and realized it was time to convert from an outdated X10 home automation system to a Z-Wave system.
John came across Vesternet in his search for alternatives and was impressed with the selection, service and competitive prices. He found several options for replacing the X10 equipment he already had but was still a bit overwhelmed at all the choices available.
After consultation with Mark from Vesternet, who guided him through all the controller options, the pro and cons of each and narrowed his options down so he could pick the package of products that was best for his situation.
John’s System Details
John finally settled on the Z-Wave Fibaro Home Center 2 System as the brains of his system, after realizing the interface and forum support were hard to beat & the amount and variety of devices he could control were endless.
Ground Zero for all the electronic gear is the Lounge, where the broadband router, network switch, HP Microserver and the Fibaro Home Center 2 System reside.
The TV is managed via an IR Blaster, so he can control the TV via his mobile device rather than worrying about where the kids left the remote.
Overhead lights are controlled with a Fibaro Universal Dimmer module, which were easy to install next to his existing switch. The lamps and fans are managed with TKB Dimmer Sockets that plug into existing wall outlets. Both of these products can be controlled remotely or set up as part of scene to turn on/off at certain times or the fans adjust their speed according to the temperature of the house.
Also in John’s lounge is a TKB On/Off Socket that is connected to a water valve via a 12V adaptor that allows control of the sprinkler in his garden. If it hasn’t rained on a hot summer day and he is not at home, the sprinklers will come on to water the garden..
“Wait, the Fibaro Home Center knows if you are home or not?”
Because John’s Fibaro is connected to the network, every ten minutes it will ping his iPhone. If it comes back with an error message and there has been no motion in the house recently, then it assumes that he is not at home.
From that point on, it will ping his phone every 5 seconds until he does come home. When he does return, the ping will be successful and the Fibaro will register that he has come home. The hall lights will come on and greet him via push notification to his iPhone.
John also has a XY-Vision IP camera in the lounge window so if motion is detected in the hall or in the garden, the Fibaro will send a command to the camera asking it to move to that location and then send a snapshot to his email. This has come in handy many times as he caught his father “borrowing” tools for the garage.
The ceiling and the under cabinet lights in the kitchen are controlled by the Fibaro Universal Dimmer modules along with an Aeon Labs Multisensor attached to the ceiling lights that automatically turns them on depending on the light already in the room.
The Multisensor also sends other information back to the Fibaro such as motion, humidity and temperature so he can better manage the heating and cooling of the home.
Hall and Landing
These two areas are installed with Megaman LED Lamp GU10 lights that controlled by the Fibaro Universal Dimmer modules. The Megaman LED Lamps are helping him reduce his energy bill by using up to 80% less electricity, saving him money and earning a return on his home automation..
The Aeon Labs Multisensor has a presence here also as they activate the lights as soon as someone enters the room or walks down the stairs to the lower level of the home.
If he or one of the family members leaves the bedroom at night, the lights automatically come on to 5%. This allows enough light to see where they are going but not too much that they are blinded by bright lights.
Lights are handled by Fibaro Universal Dimmer modules and the fans are controlled by TKB Dimmer Sockets. John has his main bedroom light set to gently fade up 0-50% from 6-6:30AM to gently wake him up.
Of course, if he is not home, no electricity is wasted as this task does not come on. Presence detection has increased his energy efficiency tremendously because he used to accidentally leave the bedroom and bathroom lights on, much to his wife’s dismay.
Fibaro 2x1.5Kw Relay Inserts are used on the lights and extraction fans in the bathrooms along with an Aeon Labs Multisensor for light and humidity detection. When the humidity goes above a certain level, the extraction fan turns on and when the humidity has dropped below a certain level it switches off.
This ensures that John or the family don’t forget to turn it on when they have a shower and it doesn’t turn off until all of the steam has gone from the bathroom.
John has two solar power PIR LED Lights to illuminate the garden as well as the water feature on the koi pond that are controlled by 2x1.5kw Fibaro Relay Inserts.
The Aeon Labs Multisensor and Fibaro Dimmer Module control the lights so his father can better see which tools he want to “borrow”.
He has previously used the Multisensor and TKB relays to maintain the temperature in the garage fridge to keep it between 10-12° C for fermenting his home brew, which begs the question of whether Dad was doing “taste tests” too.
John likes spending time experimenting with other network attached devices to understand their full potential and has learned a lot in this home. He will get a chance to do it all over again as he prepares to move to a new home and looks forward to the challenge and Vesternet will be his first call.
If you have a home automation system that you think would be a good case study to show others what’s possible, we’d love to hear from you - email us at firstname.lastname@example.org