What is a reliable lighting system for new construction

Consider Sonos for your whole house audio.

Having done distributed audio in residential and commercial for a couple decades I finally did a commercial distributed audio with Sonos. The value in each zone is evident when you can crank them up and it sounds great. The end user also gets the benefit of regular software and mobile app upgrades.

Prewire your house with 16/2 speaker wire, take picture of the wire locations, and add SONOS AMP when you’re ready to add a zone. No Sonos bridge necessary because your going to hardware all network gear, right? :yum:

Also, https://www.openhab.org/addons/bindings/sonos/

How many square feet is the house? How many levels?

How many audio zones?

Will you have multiple HVAC zones? Thermostat zones or dampers?

Security: If this is critical then I recommend leaving this to the pros and request an integration friendly solution with a cellular link to their central office. It’s too easy to snip all wires at the dmarc and poof, there go your alert notifications.

Lighting: beware of most $50 wireless dimmers that cause lights to hum. I have yet to find a good Zwave dimmer that doesn’t make some of our chandeliers resonate. A Lutron system might save your ears as they have some anti-hum technology that they snatched up when they aquired Lightolier a decade ago.

Cameras: beware cheap foreign network cameras that punch holes in your firewall or expose themselves through the cloud. The last thing you want to do is find your video available on www.shodan.io. You may want to go with Nest for this. Also DW Spectrum is a commercial solution I’ve sold in the past, run on Linux, costs ~$120/camera for recording, free otherwise. Best GUI ever.

House is 5000 sq ft. 3 levels. 12 audio zones. 2 zones hvac. Security isn’t critical. I have nest cameras

I don’t say that, at least I don’t mean to.
But I’m taking the house owner’s perspective while you’re looking at things from an integrator perspective.
You’re looking at new constructions mostly, as a one-time project, to be maintained by a 3rd party.
Putting cables - just for example - everywhere is better from that perspective. And you don’t have to buy ETS software.
But people to live in their smart house put priority on different things than you do. Planning and maintenance and liability issues is not their focus. ‘Living’ is a moving target for them. The (partial) retrofit scenario is way more common than the new construction case. Everybody is fighting with his electricians (I admit it might be worse in Germany than elsewhere) because they’re so annoyingly conservative.
Things and requirements change over time (such as more and more WiFi devices to appear, people want color lighting, Alexa, Sonos, Netflix and the like). And they want to be able to modify their hardware setup over time.

Now that’s true. And I want people to think for themselves what might be best for them, that’s why I’m trying to show OPTIONS that I believe to be valuable ones if these have not been raised to date.
And yes sure I’ve got a different bias. To me KNX is still an overly expensive thing which isn’t applicable everywhere, and ZWave is a viable alternative.


No, I am thinking as a home owner (I do operate together with my family a couple of my own setups). I am an integrator, but my main focus is my clients’ well being. I have seen so poorly managed setups (where the integrator created systems which were a pain in the ass for the owner/user) that I for sure can tell the difference.
Regular maintenance should not exist in terms of Home Automation! If a system is working well, it should work in the same parameters for the entire life cycle (20-50 years) without any regular maintenance needed (for example, I never update a working setup unless it is specifically requested by the owner/user due to their need of change over time - in 15 years and more than 200 setups it happened twice).
Yes the home owner/user should have the possibility of integrating new stuff by themselves, that is true. But for that to be viable in terms of reliability requires some technical knowledge, which for more than 90% of the home owners does not exist (and frankly, it should not exist - e.g.: I should not learn medical science in order to receive quality medical services). That is why decent (proper education, experience, unbiased by various vendors) integrators should exist.
You are a fairly experienced technical person and you have managed to create systems that suit your needs - you are definitely an integrator yourself. You have probably seen a lot of stupid things going on on the market and try to make people aware of those things happening and somehow teach them to avoid, but when doing this please bear in mind that there are people out there that really love their job and do care about others.
BTW: Merry Christmas! :smiley:


When I was starting the project of the own home 3 years ago, it was pretty sure I would go with KNX. It’s known that it’s a bit more expensive, but I wanted to have a reliable system running on a bus.
When I met my electrician, he recommended DALI for dimmable lights but being linked to KNX using a gateway. So this is basically what I did. All lights are controlled with KNX but also have additionally a DALI cable in case I would go for dimmable spots. So basically all lights are linked to actuators, same as for a few plugs. If I could do the same exercise again, I would even put each plug on actuators and I would bring the DALI wires indivudually to the main board instead of bridging them - this would allow me individually changing a DALI wire to a KNX wire and easily add sensors (like motion sensors).
Furthermore I have several PIRs, Energy monitor VOC sensor in toilet, Humidity sensor in bathroom and shower and a weather stations on the roof - all KNX. For the heating system, I had no big choice as the appliance couldn’t be changed, but there I additionally bought a Buderus Gateway which can be addressed directly and I have a gateway from this appliance towards KNX again (being able to get information about the solar panels, water circuit, heating circuit).
Shutters are also controlled using KNX and roof windows were already in Z-Wave. Here I could get another gateway towards KNX which sends signals to Z-Wave.
Last but not least, what I didn’t finish yet, but on the todo list for the next month: the ventilation system which I cannot address using gateways, but I have 2 input (0-10V and potential free contact). So, once again, I can link it to KNX.
As alarm system I work with binary inputs and output on the alarm system. It allows me to return the state of each open/closed window/door towards KNX. Intercom has its own bus, but I have IP gateways and actuators which can trigger a binary input on KNX again (e.g. when somebody rings the door, when I push the light button on the Intercom …).
I knew I could not do all and everything with KNX, especially as I have some other sensors like from Netatmo, Awair, … sound system is done with Sonos, and I have some more Hue lights, but all these I get to work together using OpenHAB (e.g. as I said, I have no more nice way to add a PIR in the guest WC, as such, I did put there a Hue Motion Sensor, which tiggers the light on KNX via OpenHAB rules - or during this time, I did change the living room main switch to have the Christmas tree lights there via KNX -> OpenHAB -> Hue -> Z-Wave to Osram Plug as the plug on KNX is already used).
For the networking part I rely on Ubiquiti Unifi elements (Gateway, Switches, Access Points, Video Cameras). I found some interesting work from other people who made a python script and allows to trigger the OpenHAB API when noise is detected on a webcam via RTSP stream. This allows me basically to make the Hue lightstrip blink red and bridge the webcam audio to Sonos loudspeakers.
So, I can completely recommend KNX as long as you have ETS and the knowledge to configure it by yourself. Think twice if you really need DALI and please do not make your electrician make you buy the expensive KNX appliances like the Gira Homeserver - keep in mind that electricians. This is actually where OpenHAB come in the game. For KNX actuators and sensors I use mainly Zennio. Binary inputs are from ABB, PIRs are from Theben and Mertens, Weatherstation from Gira, DCS from Gira as well.
Hope I could give you some input and keep in mind that most electricians (at least here), can barely make this link between the wires and IT world - I heard so often “this is not possible”, “this won’t work”, “only possible with expensive home servers” … :wink:


Question about Dali. maybe it is not related to the post question.

In general, can I add Dali driver to any type of lighting fixtures?

you can add DALI to any fixture. The SR-2303AC for example has a DALI input and a phase controlled AC output to drive any AC fixture.

But for new construction - you can bypass the AC and drive the LEDs directly. Meanwell has good DALI drivers with AC in and DC controlled current out to go directly to the LEDs without any electronics in the fixture.

In 2019 - we think AC to lights and AC dimmers isn’t ideal anymore. We also think that all lights should be dimmable, and that the result needs to be affordable.

We have built and sold some houses from 1100 st ft to 4000 sq ft in Austin with 100% DC for lighting. That means - all the ceiling LEDs and fixtures operate from controlled DC current - no PWM. We use a combination of Meanwell DALI drivers, our own DALI DC wall switches, and there is no active electronics in any of the lights.

Some of the lights are individually DALI addressable - but most are in groups of 4 or more ( light the ceiling lights in a room) so that all 4 have the same level. This saves a lot of cost and wiring.

Any DALI software or DALI to control 4 bridge can be used. But since we did not find any user friendly Alexa/Google integrated DALI controller - we have designed the hardware for one. See http://atxled.com/Pi - the wiring diagrams for the houses is linked from there.

Perhaps we can help with your project?


South Africa.
has no Connections installed in houses . need to be done your self.


It’s good to know that there a place where people are allowed to do things themselves.

it is hard. as some of your rooms only have one power outlet in that is normal your family room. and the plague tends to be in the wrong place. lol.
so yes you do it your self. and when you build on to your house you design it according to how you want it installed.

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Hello my dears,

I would like to here from you your answer for these questions, (I hope I did not miss the answer within previous posts):

1- Is it fine to build full home automation using wireless medium (such as Z-Wave) for two floors house (around 5 rooms each), or better to build it based on wired technology (such as KNX) and then connect some parts wireless?

2- Can you guide me for full set of reliable Z-Wave equipment: thermostat, motion and presence sensor, push buttons…?

3- I am thinking that having large amount of Z-Wave devices connected to Z-Wave stick is not professional. If the stick is pulled or damage; the whole system will be stop. Maybe it is acceptable for room or small area. Please what do you think?