Hardware in the Australian market - cbus, legrand etc

I am building a house in the next 12 months, so I have decided that it will be openHAB2 based, as it gives me the the greatest flexibility and fairly future proof, as I am sure the project will continue to follow market trends and development.

However choice is a double edged sword, so I am looking for anybody with advice on a start from scratch build and especially any experience in the Australian market with 240V products certified here. eg Clipsal CBUS, Legrand etc

I am mostly looking at controlling lights & heating, and monitor presence, temperature, door states. I think most of my sensors will be wireless, possibly DIY MySensor network.

I found this in regards to C-Bus and openHAB

Hi Peter,

I am in NZ, so just across the dutch ;).

I would recommend having a look at Z-Wave, for both lighting and appliance control, and for wireless sensors (motion, temp, humidity, light, flood etc). Buying a Z-Wave USB stick is very cheap and then you can mix and match Z-Wave devices from any manufacturer.

Obviously with openHAB you can also use any other system/protocol along with Z-Wave, but in my experience Z-Wave is a very good starting point, especially for things like lighting and appliance control. It just works.

Cheers,
Ben

I suggest z-wave products for home automation as the mode of communication is wireless and easy to add new items into your set up. Moreover,most of the z-wave products are easy to work with without any electrical knowledge and also they are considerably of low cost when compared with other products of insteon or X10.

I have been running openHAB v1 for over 2 years now managing an 1200 seat Auditorium and surrounding buildings over here in Australia all automated with C-Bus. Ended up writing my own C-Bus binding for openHAB1 in order to get the functionality we needed (lighting, HVAC, DALI dimming lights, security camera feeds, alarm system integration, fire alarm regulations, occupancy timeouts, Google Calendar scheduling etc).

Probably pushing openHAB beyond the “home” automation level, but its been very successful in automating everything remotely from one pane of glass :smile:

Currently considering porting the code over to openHAB2 and running down that path. If there’s enough community interest I’ll submit the code into the openHAB2 project, just haven’t seen heaps of interest for C-Bus in the forums of late. We have too much invested in C-Bus hardware to be changing our infrastructure, so one way or another I’ll be making it work :smiley:

Scott

Another fellow Aussie here. I’ve gone the DIY route, partly because I’m still experimenting and partly (mostly) for cost reasons. I’ve loved the MySensors tutorials and have gotten new RF-based sensors up and running in minutes. For now I’ve not got any ‘fixed’ 240v devices or lighting being controlled, only lamps and such via WeMo and RF outlets. I’d like to get the main lighting hooked in before long and will likely go down the Z-Wave route…assuming I can find a cheap Z-Wave supplier in Aus.

AliExpress is amazing as a supplier for MySensor parts. Especially if you compare it to the cost of shopping for the same parts at Jaycar… $3 for a UNO clone compared to $40!..ouch.

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Hi @ben_jones12

I’ve tried looking into z-wave for australia, but I haven’t found a decent cheap supplier of australian-band z-wave devices.
Have you managed to find one?
$100 for a reed switch door/window sensor just seems too high to me…

I actually run the online store at www.smartthingsnz.co.nz. And yes, for simple things like a door/window sensor it can seem a bit expensive, but as is usually the case you have to pay for quality. The Fibaro Door/Window sensor is not the cheapest but it is very good, comes in 7 different colours to match your joinery, has excellent battery life (if configured correctly), I have one on my front door which is almost 2yrs old and is still reporting 65% battery, and is small and thus very discrete.

Plus it will just work with your existing Z-Wave network - no need for another RF protocol, dongle etc. Assuming of course that you have one!

So whilst you can get cheaper reed switch sensors, it comes down to how easily it will integrate both into your home automation system, and your physical home itself.

By buying an Aeon Labs Z-Stick ($NZ120) you have the start of your Z-Wave network - which I think is an extremely cheap way to get started. Plug it into an existing server or a RPi2 and you are away (with openHAB of course!). Then you can start adding devices and nodes very easily.

One of the best things about Z-Wave is the mesh networking - it really does work very well. Once you have a few mains powered nodes scattered around your house you can place battery powered sensors and other nodes in far away spots, a long way from the controller, and everything just works.

I am obviously a little biased, as my entire home is controlled by Z-Wave. But I started with a Z-Stick and a single relay, and built up my system from there. Be careful, it is VERY addictive!

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hi Peter, a few years ago we did a major renovation/extension and installed our home automation setup. My main piece of advice would be to allocate space for a ‘data cupboard’ where you can collect all wiring, controllers and additional gear. Electricians were happy to wire all lighting circuits back to this central location where I use relays to control all lights and other circuits. The cabinet there is fed from the main circuit board.
All the gear I used was from the industrial automation world and properly certified. I run a NUC PC which talks to an Advantech ADAM-5000 over serial/USB. These have a number of modules available with various I/O setups. This then just switches industrial relays from Weidmuller to operate various devices - they cost around $6. All electrical items are mounted on Din rail and all cabling is terminated using Weidmuller terminal blocks.
All items were sourced locally - I live in Melbourne.
Like everyone else, it is an ongoing experience and I’m happy to talk about it more.
Andy.

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For doors and windows dry contacts and modbus gets under $2 a contact including modbus board.

Thanks everybody who responded. In summary what I got back from you all (and with some of my own research):

C-Bus is robust and reliable but expensive, there are existing installations with openHAB, but not many, and there is little activity on forums.

Z-wave is good solution for controlling hardwired and plugged in devices.

  • It is not “cheap”, but a wired in-wall light controller is ~$80AUD locally, and cheaper imported.
  • Products can be imported but must use Australian/NZ/Brazil frequency 921.4 MHz
  • There is lots of activity/support in the community
  • There is an open issue on the Raspberry PI with openHAB related to duplicate messages, but otherwise it seems to be reliable and working well.
  • Z-wave locks are not yet supported (security classes not implemented in binding)
  • Can be used for sensors, but if you have lots of sensors, there are much cheaper options.

Some other alternatives is to control lights using wired relays (certainly possible but I like house wiring to be fairly standard), other protocols like Zigbee didn’t get a mention…

So now I think I am in the same boat as a few of the responders, and try to source cheaper z-wave products.

Hey Peter,

I’d still consider CBus for any installed fixtures (ie. overhead lights etc), In my experience its:

  • Fairly supported by electricians
  • Very reliable.
  • It can operate as a standalone system meaning that if you do sell your house down the track it becomes less of a hassle for the new owners
  • OpenHAB can still integrate to it quite well.
  • I’d say its a comparable cost if you consider reliability etc as well… I’d purchased some new relays from TLE and you’d be looking in the region of $80 per channel (available in blocks of 4, 8 or 12).

Other comments:

  • Things like occupancy and security you could do with cheaper sensors if you find you’re on a budget.
  • Other appliances which aren’t fixed (ie. lamps) make sense to do with Z-Wave, Hue or Wemo rather than CBus.
  • A central wiring cabinet certainly makes sense!

Cheers,
Murray

There’s currently no ZigBee binding for OH1, and it’s unlikely there will be as OH1 is near end of life. I am working on a ZigBee binding for OH2 though - ZigBee devices work quite well when wired, but battery devices are problematic (more so even than ZWave battery devices!).

Hi Peter,

C-bus can use almost any twisted pair cable. Standard C-bus wiring uses pink Cat5 cable. If you put Cat5 cables in your new house, you can use C-bus or almost any other type of wired home automation interface.

The only difference between pink C-bus cable and any other Cat5 or Cat6 cable is that C-bus pink cable is certified to be laid in the same conduits where mains wires are. Apparently pink cable has slightely thicker jacket. But if you separate Cat5 cabling from mains wiring then you can use any Cat5 cable for C-bus. And it is a good idea to separate signal wiring from mains wiring anyway.

I’d caution about using non-Clipsal pink cable. Clipsal will not provide a warranty for any installation done without the pink cable. Bear in mind that if you installer goes bust, Clipsal will find someone to assist with it in the future and if need be will provide tech support which is very, very good.

As Alex has said, the pink cable has a voltage rating allowing it to be used alongside mains wiring. Note that since C-Bus relays are mounted on DIN rails, the cables WILL run inside distribution cabinets where the mains voltages are.

I’ve never seen a C-Bus installation that doesn’t use the pink stuff. I doubt you will find an installer who will use anything else.

Note : I don’t work for or have any commercial relationship with Clipsal but spent a number of years working in R&D in a product that used C-Bus extensively.

C-Bus is expensive and to be honest it’s getting on a bit now, but it is extremely reliable and maintenance-free if installed properly.

Interesting thread. Another Australian here. We’re considering doing home renovations in a few years, reasonably extensive and tossing up options.

Personally I’m leaning towards C-Bus, mainly as it

  1. It is well supported and here in Townsville, I can find one guy doing KNX and all the others at least know a bit of C-Bus.
  2. I did have Z-Wave going at my last house but it is mainly still DIY, when selling the house I removed everything which is one of the main advantages of C-Bus.
  3. The other issue I had with Z-Wave was being wireless it wasn’t 100% accurate or trouble free. I would find some switches weren’t updated or occasionally lost commands, hence the preference for something hard wired.

Was tossing up what options I had for logic around the C-Bus, either Wiser (Clipsal), Openhab or something else like AMX/Crestron.

Would really be interested in the C-Bus binding as I believe that is going to be the way to go for us. With regards to the wiring cabinet, I have read of some people on the C-Bus forum advocating more sub-boards for the C-Bus as it reduces the amount of 240v wiring required and having C-Bus pink cable linking the sub-boards up.

Josh

I tend to agree with the others - if you have the choice to hard wire your system then that would be my preference as well. For most this is not an option however, and as far as retro-fit systems go Z-Wave is hard to beat IMO.

I noticed with openhab that there is a lot of support for KNX but KNX isn’t that big in Australia yet, it is still mostly C-Bus.
Did have a brief look into KNX but in the end I’ll go with what is supported the most and also when we sell the house, what is manageable for the average person.

I’d love to see the binding for C-Bus.

Josh

KNX/EIB and C-Bus are very similar, they share the same fundamental principles. No wonder, originally they were developed by the same people in Denmark. C-bus first came to market, while KNX was delayed and influenced by Siemens.

Cool - more Aussies :wink:

If it were me building a new place, I would cost up CBUS vs Zwave for all lights, including the wallplates, likely Saturn series.
Shop around for the Zwave devices, ive paid a lot less that $80AUD for Aeon modules.

Dimming circuits… Some Zwave dimmers don’t perform all that well with LED downlights etc - so if you do go the Zwave route, then research which LED downlights perform OK with the various Zwave dimmers. Fibraro seem to be the most reliable in my experience… but there are a few other brands now available which may also be. Aeon/DWI are very good dimmers for incandescent lights which you probably wont be using!..

You then cable accordingly…

Don’t worry about what controller for zwave, as this is the cheapest component…and its OpenHAB anyway ;-)… but if u use Aeon Zstick or a Vera with Guessed’s MIOS binding is not really a consideration cost wise…

Sensors… I would ( and do) make my own using MySensors. Ideal for anything that isn’t mains connected, but will consume time!

As already mentioned above, ensure you allocate a nice spot to bring ALL cables back to.

  • Assign 2/3 cat5/6 per room - may not be data ( could be HDMI/Voip )
  • Assign 3 RG6 for each TV location - 1 FTA and 2 Foxtel ( u might not use now, but good to do later)

You may not need to terminate these cables at the patch or at the allocated room, but running them during the build phase is cheap and saves pain later.

Dont forget about speaker cables for any outside areas or multiroom you may want to do…

Locks… I use a RFID system which isn’t connected at this time to my HA system. It is TCP/IP based for programming and seeing access logs etc. Cheap off Ebay, and 100% rock solid for last 3 years. My front door is a swinging door, so I used this lock:


-Very tidy solution :wink:

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How did I not stumble across MySensors.org before!?!
Brilliant, thanks.
I was trying to work out how to make some low cost, low power sensors but those guys have it sorted out.