Update on the Loxone kit
We have most of the Loxone kit now in place. Our original intention was to purely use the Loxone kit to control the lighting. Since we were re-wiring the property from scratch, this was a great opportunity to do things differently. All of the lights switches are wired back to a central computer that then controls the lights. Unlike most houses in the UK, there is no direct connection between the light switch and the light – this is achieved by programming the computer. So changing what light switches do is just a case of reprogramming – no rewiring required.
We currently have around 47 lighting circuits (excluding LED strips) controlled via 27 switches (plus iPads, iPhone and laptops). Each lighting circuit may have more than one light, but all the lights are controlled together. This seems like a large number of lights, but there are 6 circuits alone in the hall (dimmable downlights, LED staircase lights, LED parapet wall lights, dimmable feature light that hangs between the porch and the hall, a set of LEDs along the foot of the stairs, and finally, a lighting circuit in a floor box that controls a lamp on the hall table). There are 4 circuits in the lounge and another 5 in the kitchen. If that sounds complicated, it gets a lot easier as one switch can be programmed to control more than one lighting circuit – you could have one switch that turns on all 6 circuits in the hall on at the same time.
In addition, there are a further 5 circuits to control the each of the extractor fans in each of the bathrooms. This means that we can set the time that the fan runs for after the light has been switched off. The timing could even be changed depending on the time of day (e.g. maybe you don’t want the extractor to come on after midnight).
There are another 6 circuits that are then used to open and close three banks of rooflights (2 in the lounge and 1 in the kitchen). These could be linked to a rain sensor or a wind sensor. In our case, the rooflights are closed when the alarm is set.
At the moment, we have all the lighting (and extractor fans) plus the rooflights controlled via the Loxone kit.
When we set out on this renovation, I thought if we could achieve the above, we would be happy. In fact, we have achieved more than I thought. So I am more than happy.
But now we have the kit in place, we try some further experiments. These include:
- Integration with a Texecom alarm (e.g. using the PIR sensors to turn on lights, closing rooflights when the alarm is set);
- Using outdoor proximity sensors to turn out outside floodlights (or even lighting in the house if no one is home);
- Controlling access to the house using key fobs and an electronic latch release;
- Controlling some elements of the heating system. We have a ground source heat pump, so there is little point controlling the output, but we can control some of the hot water pumps (we have a secondary hot water pump for part of the building).
We have managed to get this far fairly easily. There has been a little trial and error in terms of the programming, but we have got there. It is interesting to watch how visitors react to the technology – it is one of the features of the property that seems to have people talking. It will be interesting to see what happens as we add more features.
The key to all of this is keeping it simple. Any fool can make things complicated. It is much harder to make things simple. I suspect that this is where many home automation projects go wrong – they become too hard to use (except by the person that built it!). Please don’t let me fall into that trap!