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tracknut
Average Member

60 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  12:43:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
In building the new house and looking at home automation, I've been generally happy with the results so far. But I'm at a bit of a loss as to how I'll handle all the low voltage stuff, like motion detectors, thermostats, cameras, outdoor lighting, etc. I feel like I'm heading toward a house full of transformers, or devices which need batteries replaced every six months. Neither of which is too appealing.

What's the general answer for this? Is there a low voltage "outlet" that I can wire the house for, such that these devices can "plug in" to their power, and possibly even receive Insteon signals over? Okay, I can deal with RF for the signals, but it sure would be nice if these things could all plug in for their power, without needing to actually have an ugly transformer plugged in to 110V AC.

Dave

BLH
Advanced Member

4359 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  12:55:21 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Well the thermostats are powered by the 24 volt AC transformer in the Heating and Cooling Unit. Over the control wiring to the thermostat.

Other things maybe a mixed bag as most of them don't use the same voltages. Like the Insteon Motion Sensors use a 9 volt battery or a 9 volt battery eliminator.

I have seen some users in general automation sites using a central power source and distributing it through out the house.

Edited by - BLH on 02/20/2012 1:03:24 PM
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tracknut
Average Member

60 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  1:50:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yep, I guess that's what I'm looking for, some method of central power distribution for low voltage power, that's set up to deal with the separate voltages.

Dave
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
10878 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  2:11:59 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
A common method is to run tubing from a central location to where each device will be located. Wire can be pulled later if a drag line is installed (the electrician will know what this is). All low voltage wiring can be installed together. Audio cable should not run parallel to any wire conducing AC unless they're separated by a few feet.

Due the length of some runs, you should supply power using 18AWG stranded wire and a power supply capable of handling 150% of the total load.

1. Insteon motion detector: requires 9VDC
2. Insteon thermostat adapter: receives power from the Insteon thermostat (needs a common, sometimes omitted, see the HVAC contractor).
3. Camera: IP or CCTV? wired or wireless? all need power, usually 12VDC, sometime 5VDC.
4. Outdoor lighting: usually installed when the house is built, so all the wiring will be concealed.

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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
8282 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  3:09:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I wouldn't expect to see a wireless Insteon motion sensor in new construction. While the walls are still open, you should be installing low voltage drops for both perimeter and interior security sensors, then using that same security hardware to trigger motion-activated automation.

Volunteer Moderator & Home Automation Enthusiast
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foxtail22
Average Member

USA
87 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  3:50:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit foxtail22's Homepage  Reply with Quote
There is no single answer for the low voltage but for the low power stuff like motion detectors, glass break sensors, etc, you can home run low voltage wire such as CAT5e and use it to provide DC power to these devices. You will need two conductors to carry the sensor signal back to the panel and two more for power running from the panel up to the device. You can use the plastic electrical boxes to hole the wire and install your devices over the boxes. I did that and then installed a single power supply in my structured wiring panel and used power regulators to give me the DC value I needed such as 5V or 12V, etc. As far as powering outdoor low voltage lights, they require more current and you should plan to dedicate a transformer for that purpose. You can control the power to the outdoor lighting transformer using an appliancelinc module and use your automation controller to manage those lights.

I found CAT5e to be the least expensive wire and it has 8 conductors vs other choices where were all more expensive then the Cat5e.
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tracknut
Average Member

60 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  3:56:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for all the ideas, guys. Stringing CAT5e wire around is likely as cheap or cheaper than conduit tubing, I'm guessing. I just need to plan in advance where the devices need to be. Could someone give me a link to a motion detector that I can wire up this way for power, and sends a signal back on wire instead of RF, that I can use with ISY?

Thanks
Dave
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
8282 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  4:01:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by tracknut

Could someone give me a link to a motion detector that I can wire up this way for power, and sends a signal back on wire instead of RF, that I can use with ISY?


There is no such animal. Use normal, 12 VDC security motion sensors tied to an Elk M1 Gold security panel, then connect the Elk to your ISY to trigger your automation.

Volunteer Moderator & Home Automation Enthusiast
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tracknut
Average Member

60 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  4:51:19 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Okay, thanks much. That's a bit of an upgrade over what I had in mind, but definitely gives me lots more options in the security space....

Dave
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
10878 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  5:14:48 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
If you want motion sensing for lighting only, Elk is overkill. If you want motion sensing for security, Elk is the way to go.

It's easier to have the wiring in place and add the equipment later than the other way around. But, it takes more planning.

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Saving energy is not always free. Be a world saver.

Edited by - stusviews on 02/20/2012 5:16:01 PM
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tracknut
Average Member

60 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2012 :  8:38:09 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Good point Stu. I think I need to decide whether I want a "real" security system, or just turn a few lights on when a motion sensor goes off at the wrong time of day.

Dave
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foxtail22
Average Member

USA
87 Posts

Posted - 02/22/2012 :  4:58:52 PM  Show Profile  Visit foxtail22's Homepage  Reply with Quote
tracknut, you got to the key point quickly. I have had both a security system and home automation and I see them very different. It does not take very many false alarms from your security system to realize security needs to be thought of differently then home automation. I am looking to upgrade my HAI security system, which has been a good secuirty system, but I want web access and more cross over linkage to my home automation than the HAI easily provides. I have looked at DSC, HAI, ELK, among others, and my pick at this point would be the ELK M1-Gold because it does well at both Security and Home automation. It has full professional security system capabilities, and strong support for rules driven home automation.

My approach will be to allow security sensors, and events, to be used to trigger home automation actions but I do not plan to use home automation inputs to trigger security events. I am also a big fan of hard wiring anything that could blast me out of bed at night or bring those blue and red flashing lights outside my door along with soon to be angry policeman when they realize that the alarm was a "another" false alarm.
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