House renovation - which technology

Hello Folks

In the near future I may have the opportunity the renovate an 45 year old house. We, my family and I, are in the very first steps of it.

The following parts (controlling-relevant) have to be renewed:

  • electric wire
  • heat generation
  • windows
  • Shutters (some classic, some Rollershutter)

Because I’m a big fan and user of openHAB since 3 years, it’s absolutly clear to automate this project. I’ve figured out the following goals until now…

must-have goals:

  • automatic lighting
  • less switches as possible
  • small security (window / door control, unexpected movement, smoke and co2 detection)
  • comfort features (blind control)
  • heat control

nice-2-have goals:

  • smart lighting
  • ambient lighting
  • Text to speech informations

My biggest question at this point is which technology would be fit best, or better which combination.

My thoughts until yet:

  • KNX Wireing where it is possible
  • KNX Sensors (Switches, Movement, Temperature, Lux)
  • decentral KNX Actors
  • Lighting with Hue
  • zWave, where KNX isn’t possible (I use zWave already, but I’m a little bit afraid that the Stick is still the single point of failure, and its replacement isn’t easy).

I’ve often read about 24V DC for LED Lighting. Does it make sense to go with a seperate wireing for lighting?
I’m afraid from the financial impact, if I renew all the wiring…

Thank you for your input and ideas


Well, that’s almost what I did over the last year, too, so I think I’m in the right position to give some advice.

Well, KNX is pricey, and requires adding control wires.
You wouldn’t start using KNX if you don’t have to, and even more so if you have to add wires to your house first (to put additional wires into a new home is rather little add-on cost, but to add the centralized cabling to an old house is a nightmare, in terms of cost and efforts).
Please don’t underestimate this !

Go for zWave. Yes, to replace the stick isn’t easy but possible. Check out it’s backup capabilities, there’s also a discussion thread on this in the forum.
The worst thing that could happen is that you have to buy a new stick and run around the house and re-include all of your devices… To be prepared, make sure to deploy actuators where you can still access them if you need to (below switches or in cabinets).

Note it makes sense to have centralized or semi-centralized wiring (like one wiring cabinet per floor) wherever you can get it for little cost and put the actuators there. Eases repairs or to replace your technology in the future.
But I’d still go for zwave.

It’s the same ideas and discussion as there used to be on 12VDC powered household appliances some years ago or with 5VDC computer equipment nowadays
I don’t think it’ll happen anytime soon, even in office buildings they don’t do it, even less so in private houses.

There won’t be 12/24VDC bulbs for E14/E27 sockets.
What will happen is you will need to deploy 24VDC power supplies everywhere you want to deploy LED lighting.
There are and will be more lamps or bulbs to have this included already, i.e. to use LED but to have 220VAC input to connect to existing wiring (and E27 socket). That isn’t the most effective way of doing things from a technical perspective, but it’ll remain to be the cheapest upgrade path.
The only exception would be if you intend to deploy RGB(W) LED strips. These you need additional wiring for anyway, and these I would attach to a 24 VDC supply and a Fibaro FGRGBW zwave actor.
I did the same when I renovated my house over the last year, but just where it made sense to replace or complement the existing lamps with strip based lighting.

Hey Markus

At first, thank you for sharing your expierence.
The law here in switzerland is a little bit complicated in relation to electric wireing:
If I change one little part (wall switch, wall plug…), I need to bring up the complecte electric to the newest legal requirements. Additional to that, I also like to have some structured UKV cableing (Network Cat 6).
This drove me to my thoughts, mentioned above…[quote=“michael_sutter, post:1, topic:13131”]

  • KNX Wireing where it is possible
  • KNX Sensors (Switches, Movement, Temperature, Lux)
  • decentral KNX Actors

Again, thank you for this advise. I know, an insufficient planning leads to an cost explosion.

My idea is to cover the basic environment with KNX:

  • presence sensors
  • wall switches
  • temperature and humidity sensors

Althrough I use zWave for 3 years, I’m a little bit afraid of its relaibility.

I completly agree with you:[quote=“mstormi, post:2, topic:13131”]
ake sure to deploy actuators where you can still access them if you need to (below switches or in cabinets).

But if I do so, it’s only a little cost impact, if I go with zWave or with KNX, but here is one big advantage of KNX addressed, the multible actors. And I’m facinated of the smart ON/OFF with KNX lights (I don’t know if something similiar is possible with KNX). And yes, I know the more zWave I have, the more stable is the zWave network.

With this, so is my thought, I could cover the main features. All additional features (funny and nerdy ones) could be based on other technologies.

I like to have smart / ambient lighting in the living room, bath and maybe some lighting games in the bed room :wink:
The possibilities of different lighting szenes, and light colors (daylight light in the morning, neutral light over the day and warm light at the evening sounds interessting).
I don’t know, if Philips Hue ore something similiar is the right way for it. But even zWave RGBW Controller sounds interessting.

May you share some information about your light environment?

Thank you in advance.


Hey, you’re talking to a German here, you know that big Kanton up there, the inventors of bureaucracy, to probably have the most restrictive and annoying laws and set of Vorschriften (you can’t translate the true meaning of this :-)) worldwide.

Hmm, I don’t catch that. KNX is about 2 to 3 times more expensive than zwave per port. You might get close to parity if you deploy 8-fold or 16-fold actuators, plus you still need to pay for a KNX gateway. And you need to centralize probably all wiring to fully utilize those multi-port actuators.
And that’s only true for actuators to handle ON-OFF only. Do you know the price of a 8-fold KNX dimmer ?

What do you mean by this ? Fading in and out for dimmable lights ? Yes, you can do that with zwave dimmers, too.
Or do you refer to some kind of multicast group command for lighting scenes?
That you can and should do in OH anyway, not on KNX (or other technology) level.

There’s a minor set of timing-critical stuff (like dimming) that you better do locally inside actuators, but that’s what all actuators do (KNX, zwave and probably all other dimmers work ‘locally’).
But all remaining ‘features’ should not be handled by intelligent actuators but through OH. So they work independent of the technologies below, i.e. you are free to replace or add sensors and actuators by better ones if needed or available, even if they use a different technology.
And fun just starts where you start combining sensor inputs and actions in OH that weren’t designed to work with each other.

Sure, but the probably most important advice first:
Make an all-new lighting plan from ground up. You will want to have lamps in different places than they’re in in the old house now, you will want to have different types of lighting and switches once the opportunity is there (think of spotlights or LED strips in ceilings or alongside walls), and you will want to have (at least some) mobile lighting so you can change your scenery by moving lamps whenever you or your family wants to.
Also re-think your usage concept: will you still want to have 1:1 switch:lighting everywhere like in the old days ? With a OH central, there’s many possibilities to improve on this (e.g. auto on/off based on time of day/presence information/movement detectors), or switches to activate full sceneries. You won’t need a switch for every light any more, but in some rooms, you will still want to keep that 1:1 capability.

I’m actually using a combination of techniques, I have

  • zwave actuators added to all existing wall and ceiling lamps. Mono color, but I deployed dimmers everywhere but in the basement. I use Fibaro and Qubino devices. Even if your current lamp or bulb ain’t dimmable, you will appreciate the dimming (and fading) capability when composing ambience lighting sceneries in the future.

  • new 24VDC RGBW strip based lights in the living room ceiling (abgehängte Decke) and alongside the stairway. These I use Fibaro FGRGBW controllers for.
    Their capability to tune to any color and brightness level is the basis of my lighting sceneries.

  • some Hue globes (more precisely it their predecessor ‘Living Colors’, now called ‘Friends of Hue’) controlled by a Hue bridge.Easy to move around, and RGBW to support ambience lighting.

  • zwave on/off and dimmer plugs to to plug mobile lamps (Deckenfluter etc.) into.

  • different lighting scenes for different times of the day (‘agressively’-cold white in the morning, warm red-ish in the evening, dim blue scenery at night) and a ‘TV scene’ a.k.a. cinema mode (to also close the rollershutters and blinds). Triggered by either time of day, or manually by smartphone or a physical switch.

  • on/off (or fade-in/fade-out, actually - looks nice) based on movement detectors in hallways, toilet etc. Dimmed at night.


PS: one more advice: stay as flexible as possible. No matter how well-thought-of your plan is, once you implemented it, you WILL want to change things. Simply because it doesn’t turn out to look the way you imagined when you pinned down the plan.
That’s true for any technology platform, but for sure it’s true in a literal sense for lighting.

Hello North-Kanton Citizen :wink:

I can’t say “thank you” often enough.
The more you write, the more I aggree with you.

Now I know :wink: Point for zWave

Point for zWave

This is exactly my plan.
Especially indirect lighting with LED strips and lighting szenarios with colored LED bubls will get the WAF and the WOW-Effect.
As lazy as I am, I won’t use switches. My home have to know what I want and do it, without (active) interacting :wink:
At my researches I found the new aeotec Motionsensor can be used with a recessor, which kill’s one of the last arguments for KNX.

And now, you are on the trigger, kill the last one:
Did, and how did, you integrate scense selectors (e.g. “All off button at the door”, Panic Button over the bed [WAF])?
Do you have a open window / door monitoring?

Wich Qubino devices do you use? They have DIN mounted switches an dimmers…

Where at the stairway did you mount it? Near the bottom, at the handrail?

You have implemented many features, I plan to implement too, or I have already in my flat…

I have found time and event triggers (like “TV on”) to be sufficient to always select the appropriate lighting scene. You quickly get used to that and don’t want any manual selector any more. And if once a week it doesn’t show the lighting to match the mood you’re, there’s still the smartphone. You need to select colors anyway.

At an intermediate state of planning and implementation of mine, I had no more switches at all.
But it turned out that my wife wanted some of them back. Now we have switches in the hallway, kitchen, toilet, but none in the living room. And I admit it was a good idea. Gives your wife, your visitors and yourself a feeling of safety as you can still put on these lights even if your system is down.

Yes, but be warned the Aeon devices drain battery quickly. They’re mostly unusable unless you run them USB-powered.
I’ve put up Fibaro FGMS-001 (those ‘Sauron eyes’) on top of most of my indoor door frames. You quickly forget about them.

Sure. As I said I deployed quite a number of dimmers, and I’m mostly using the Fibaro FGD-211/212. They allow for attaching another switch to be a pure scene selector. You can assign arbitrary actions to single/double/triple-click and press-and-hold in OH.

Of course - I’m using the MAX! system for those. Half the price of a zwave device.

The in-wall dimmer ones. At the time I deployed them, they were the only trailing edge zwave dimmers available, to work better with some of my LED bulbs than the Fibaro dimmer FGD-211 did. But now with the FGD-212 (“Dimmer 2”) out, I’d rather go with those.

Sort of a fake, lighted handrail. Funny it looks like a warm white but I had set it to orange in reality. Guess I need a better camera.

Hello Markus

I hope you enjoyed your weekend as I did.

May you share your code for it? It sounds very interessting.

Do you use OH 1.x or 2?

Thanks, I did.

The function is in the actuator. In items, just use something like
{ zwave="15:command=SCENE_ACTIVATION,scene=26,state=1" }
26 is triple-click, I believe. More codes see manual.

Still OH 1.8.3. Maybe if I started today I’d give 2.X a try. I still pretend there’s one or two issues to not work flawlessly in 2.X , but I may be wrong and that’s mostly because a) I’m lazy and b) I don’t like living (Wortspiel :-)) on the bleeding edge.

Take a look at para 28. here:

SCENE ID value sent at specified configuration:

Momentary switches

SCENE ID: S1 input
SCENE ID: S2 input

16 : 1 x click

14 : 2 x click

– : 3 x click

12 : hold

13 : release
26 : 1 x click

24 : 2 x click

25 : 3 x click

22 : hold

23 : release

Toggle switches

SCENE ID: S1 input
SCENE ID: S2 input

10 : OFF to ON

11 : ON to OFF

14 : 2 x click

– : 3 x click
20 : OFF to ON

21 : ON to OFF

24 : 2 x click

25 : 3 x click

Roller blinds switches

SCENE ID: S1 input
SCENE ID: S2 input

10 : turn ON (1 x click)

13 : release

14 : 2 x click

– : 3 x click

17 : brightening
11 : turn OFF (1 x click)

13 : release

14 : 2 x click

15 : 3 x click

18 : dimming

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Hey guys

Thank you so much.
The Reservation ist signed. It go further :slight_smile:

While you can use the FGD-212, Fibaro has also just released “The button”.
Looks exactly like the panic button in the ‘Land of Confusion’ music video :-).
And it’s battery powered, so no danger of electrocution if you happen to sweat as much as Ronnie does.

Hey Markus

Which LED Stripes did you use?
Currently, I build up my shopping lists…


Several suppliers, latest I got are “YULED” from Everen. Not cheap but professional. They are pretty fine, and lots of options to choose from w.r.t. color temperature, CRI and brightness.
I also got some cheap ones off *bay. Those now on the stairs were fine but on another occasion the strips I got failed miserably, multiple LEDs are already broken. So with those, you have to be lucky, I guess.

Hey Markus

Thanks for the hints. I saw many interessting products at everen, so I think, I’ll invest some bugs more to get professionell products. (If you buy cheap, you’ll buy twice).

Now, only The “Gemeinde” has to go further. My plane Are almost done…

That is good adding technology to the renovation process is a unique idea. Adding lights and other modern stuff while renovating makes home look elegant. Apart from these the designs for the home also matters a lot, like furniture, wallpapers/paints, show pieces, etc. I was browsing on web and I found some good information for home renovation you can check here.

I noticed this post a bit late but thought I should comment on some of the things you said.

All the lighting in my house works on 12V and is controlled by a Lumencache system. There are no power supplies anywhere in the house except in the basement next to the Lumencache control panel.
The power supply in the basement is also a battery charger so that in the event of a power failure, everything works off a Lead-Acid battery meaning that a power failure has no effect on my lights (of course how long battery lasts depends on how many lights are used and duration of power outage. For me a power outage of 24H does not deplete my battery).
All the light wiring is CAT5 with RJ45 connectors so it was pretty easy to route through the house and the added benefit is that in regards to electrical wiring codes, here in the US it is not considered electrical wiring so none of the electrical codes apply.
My outdoor lights are also Lumencache controlled and use standard E27 outdoor light fixtures.
There are plenty of 12V bulbs with E27 compatibility (mostly from China).

All indoor and outdoor lights are controllable via OH2 which is what I use. Lumencache has an RS485 interface which I hooked up to an RPi and it communicates with my OH2 server over MQTT.
I use Leviton switches mounted in the walls but also have a HABpanel I use to control all the lights.
Of course all lights are dimmable and can be grouped anyway I want.

So, just to let you know, low voltage LED lighting is viable nowadays.

Huh? Well there are some but in Europe where we live, it’s hard to get hold of them. The only ones you get are for special purposes like usage in boats or motorhomes. Probably linked to the war on waste of energy that the EU commission has started. They recently banned classic bulbs, and their crusade continues.
E27/E14 by definition are for 230/110VAC. While you can apply adapters in some cases, for sure this does not give you all the choices and pricing you have with standard voltage.

Regarding your centralized 12V power system: yes, it can be done. But I doubt it makes sense from a personal economic point of view. You’re limited in choices for the bulbs, you will want to attach readymade lamps to not have 12V, and your preferences (or your wife’s :-)) will change over time, too.
I’m pretty sure we all will end up with operating a mix of 12 and 24VDC lighting and some appliances, 230VAC lighting and household appliances, plus even lots of 5VDC devices, too (such as smoke or motion detectors today, and more to come in the future). Oh, plus many battery powered ones.
As I wrote somewhere up this does not really make sense from an efficiency point of view, but it’s a consequence of the way things are (housing and electrical standards).
If you are really willing to jump the barrel and deploy centralized wiring, I’d go for classic (230V capable) wiring.
Then you can still choose whether to connect that into a 230VAC or 5/12/24VDC power supply inside your wiring cabinet, and use the corresponding lamp or bulb or appliance.
But to install a separate power network for each of those voltages does not make sense economically.

Yes. Personal taste varies, but anyone should take the opportunity for a renovation run to integrate tech and design.
As I happen to have a picture of my living room online to show that, here it is:

PS: guess what, the Van Gogh is just a replica.