I'm so confused, please help with new home

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  #1  
Old 08-18-05, 04:18 PM
Salmo
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I'm so confused, please help with new home

Hi folks, new to this. We were waiting (a LONG time) for a quote on a home automation control (mainly lighting) from the only local desing guy around for our new 4,000 sq foot home. To make a long story short he took six weeks to come up with a quote, which topped 20K for lighting, 10K for cable, 14K for structured wire, 5K for my media room and 5K for security. Blew me away. He said lighting with the Lutron controls can't be done for less than 10K and that's only the first floor. I know nothing about this, and now face my builder wanting to close walls up VERY soon.

I want to do lighting scenes and lighting touch panel controls in most major rooms. Where does Cat5e come in to play? Does that have anything to do with lighting? I am an intelligent professional, but now I face time pressure to come to a solution. My builder is an excellent builder but does "normal" lighting. Being in a more rural area, nobody does this stuff except this guy who I think is crazy. So I'm looking at going online, buying what I need (which I have no idea what I need) and having an electrician wire it. I will stay up tonight surfing trying to understand as well. Many thanks, from one very frustrated guy.
 
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  #2  
Old 08-20-05, 07:19 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 539
I'm not an expert at this, but

Cat 6/5/5e can be used for a lot of things, such as telephone/DSL wiring, computer networking, almost any low voltage/low current application.

For the light systems, your power (120V) would come into the breaker box as normal, then it would go to a lighting controller, then the wires would go from the controller to the light fixture itself. My understanding is that there is no normal wall switch controlling 120V, no switch at all, just a wall control box. Basically, the controller replaces the switch. I think the controllers are located near the breaker panels, basement, garage, etc.

The CAT 5 wires allow the wall control units to talk to the lighting controller to turn on/off and dim the selected lights.

Also, some whole house automation and whole house audio systems also use CAT5 to send control signals and low level audio signals.


You may want to check this out, I'm not familair with it personally, but it seems to be really popular and can integrate climate control, audio distrubution, lighting, and alarm systems: http://www.homeauto.com/main.asp

Also, try searching here: http://www.cocoontech.com/

I hope this helped!
 
  #3  
Old 08-24-05, 08:55 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 19
Originally Posted by Salmo
Hi folks, new to this. We were waiting (a LONG time) for a quote on a home automation control (mainly lighting) from the only local desing guy around for our new 4,000 sq foot home. To make a long story short he took six weeks to come up with a quote, which topped 20K for lighting, 10K for cable, 14K for structured wire, 5K for my media room and 5K for security. Blew me away. He said lighting with the Lutron controls can't be done for less than 10K and that's only the first floor. I know nothing about this, and now face my builder wanting to close walls up VERY soon.

I want to do lighting scenes and lighting touch panel controls in most major rooms. Where does Cat5e come in to play? Does that have anything to do with lighting? I am an intelligent professional, but now I face time pressure to come to a solution. My builder is an excellent builder but does "normal" lighting. Being in a more rural area, nobody does this stuff except this guy who I think is crazy. So I'm looking at going online, buying what I need (which I have no idea what I need) and having an electrician wire it. I will stay up tonight surfing trying to understand as well. Many thanks, from one very frustrated guy.
The quote you got from your 'local expert' does not sound outrageous to me. When you mentioned that the builder is wanting to close up walls VERY soon this throws up huge red flags for an automation consultant, especially when a lighting system is involved, because this implies the electrical is already completed.

Since the lighting is already wired, you will need to run much more wire for the lighting control system and add substantial parts which make it even more expensive. In a normal installation for new construction all the lighting loads are a home run (fed straight from the mechanical room) where a lighting enclosure (usually more than one) will house the modules that do the physical switching and dimming. You will also have a lighting processor close to that panel where all the keypads will terminate.

Since you have the wiring already in place you turn a straight forward centralized system into a more complicated star type infrastructure. You now need to use either WPM (wall power module that controls 6 loads per device) or smart switches (such as the Lutron Maestro) to control every load that you want on the system. To make the most reliable system, and the only option I would present you since it is new construction, you will need to run a wire to a central mechanical room from every lighting device. In addition to these you will have to add lighting keypads to initiate the scenes that you mentioned. These keypads also have to be wired back to the main closet. It is possible to daisy chain maestros in a loop (8 max), keypads in a loop (about 26 max depends on the number of LEDS), and WPM's (16 max).

The system will take a while to wire and even longer to program after the rest of the house is finished, but you will not regret it one bit. All the information regarding lighting systems was in reference to Lutron Homeworks as that is what I am assuming was spec'd in the bid. The lighting system will not run off of cat5 if it is the Lutron, as homeworks has higher requirements for the interconnect.

Cat5 can be used to prewire for distributed audio/video, security, computer networks, phones (including the option for a PBX type phone system in the future).


My advice is to spend the money to at least wire the house for cable, phone, data, and at least some for distributed A/V. It is monumentally less expensive to run the wire now than to try and retro it after the walls are closed up. You do not need to install the entire system at this time, but please at least wire for it.



I hope I have answered some questions, or at least given you some information to mull over. I install and program full high end home automation systems professionally, and it is how I earn my living. If you have any other specific questions please feel free to PM me.

-Pete
 
  #4  
Old 08-31-05, 08:59 AM
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Yep, you can't run too much cat5 wire........

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Last edited by majakdragon; 08-31-05 at 06:23 PM.
  #5  
Old 09-04-05, 07:46 PM
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Location: CA
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As far as home automation, you would fall in the "early adopter" category. This stuff is out there, but not in widespread use. I would want to know if the system you are looking at has all the bugs worked out. Can your designer refer you to any actual completed jobs? Or is he just putting this together out of catalogs. There have been some horror stories. Who would be the contractor installing the automation? Is it someone with a lot of experience doing this?

Installing a lot of cat 5 is certainly a good idea, because certainly computer networks and the like are a thing of TODAY, and it give you options down the line. Some A/V cabling also gives you lots of options later.
 
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