First, I haven't done this but I suspect few have.
The 500' distance to the Detached Garage/Shop and 400' distance to the Studio rule out any of the RF only solutions such as RadioRA or Z-Wave. None have that kind of range.
I'm assuming there is an electric run from the main house to each outlier. Is it underground or above ground?
My choice would be Insteon or UPB but I would want to run tests to the 500' target to decide which is best. I think Insteon has more devices (with still more coming) and will cost less but 500' might be iffy without any repeaters along the line.
I have empty conduits between house/garage/studio that are all for any low voltage.
By marry or free I was eluding to installing a security - automation system that can talk to each other therefore making one overall system. Or is it better to keep them separate??
I was thinking as you were on Insteon or UPB but was a bit stumbled by the distance.
Then I was reading some of the details on the Elk M1Gold. They have a component that will interface with RadioRa thru RS232 but their data buss is RS485 so the distance between devices can easily do the 500'.
view the install manual in small print near the bottom of page.
What I was wondering is has anyone here ever done this or used this equipment??
I was also thinking RS485 as the link between main house and outliers. You could use almost any RS232 device on the remote ends, using RS485 converters. That way you could use Insteon using the 2414S PLC with standalone capability but still communicate with it via RS485 from a PC or panel in the main house. You might try asking questions on the Smarthome Insteon forum.
If you plan to have networked PCs in all locations you might just do the communication at that level. While it's poorly documented, the SimpleLAN device is a serial/ethernet converter that uses AT commands.
I suspect either Insteon or UPB will work over 120VAC (Will it be 230VAC with remote subpanels?) powerlines, even at 500', but would test before investing a lot in either. If not, then you can look at RS485.
If you ever have lightning issues in your area you may want to consider fiber cabling if you're going to run computer networking between the two buildings. Simple CAT5-to-Fiber adapters are around $100 on each end. They act as completely transparent bridges. You DO NOT want to get into trying to use serial converters. Just go with fiber and be done with it. It works and STAYS working. Granted, fiber cabling is a bit more expensive but the hassle is saves is well worth the cost.
The problem with joining alarm and automation is you often get the least flexible of both. But you're not describing just what level of automation you desire. Personally, I'd want to avoid mixing the two, if just to make sure the security folks won't screw up the automation system, and vice versa.
Also, is it 500' and 400' of conduit between three buildings, with nothing in between? So where would the central gear be located? Is that 500' and then 400' to each (in a star) or 900' total (in series), stopping at one in between?
As Bill Kearney suggests, the best/most robust single transmission medium is fiber. I'd suggest pulling terminated SC-SC fiber cable first. The connectors are large compared to the cable diameter and it is not practical for the typical DIY home-owner to terminate fiber. So get pre-terminated fiber pulled and tested. Search eBay for " SC-SC" for many options at nickels on the dollar. Too long -- even *way* too long -- is OK if you have a place to store the still-connected, unused cable. You can leave it on the spool or not.
My conversion to fiber has (knock on wood) eliminated the repeated, expensive, time-consuming, exasperating (i.e., "painful" ) damage from electrical transients.
In your description of "this equipment" in the paragraphs above, you seem to mention only lighting. I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that you will eventually want other capabilities.
At the end of the fiber at the remote location, I have an ethernet hub and eight-channel, COMTROL ethernet-to-RS-232/485 converter. (eBay is also your friend here).
With respect to the non-lighting components, I'd start by seeing what I could accomplish with this capability, recognizing that the ethernet-to-serial converter requires a PC running Microsoft or Linux or Unix operating system.
Your description of "Married" and "Free", and the responses by others implies that these are Either/Or propositions. They are not in my experience. I use the term "federated" to describe a HA system that has components that can act autonomously ("free") _and_ be interconnected ("married" ) via one or more PC's.
Some examples in use in our home and years of operation include:
-- Napco security system (~12 years autonomous-only followed by 9 years federated)
-- Elk Magic Module MM443s ( 9 years federated)
-- Elk M1G ( federated 1.5 years in transition)
-- Slinke IR (federated 9 years)
-- Aprilaire/Enerzone thermostats ( ~ 8 years federated)
The first four devices also have at least some X-10 capability/possibilities. I have used X-10, INSTEON and hardwired lighting control in various standard and home-brew configuration. I can conceive of circumstances where X-10 might be a fall-back alternative for inexpensive lighting control at the remote location. But that's not where I'd start.
To determine whether INSTEON ( which appears to many folks including me to be the most cost-effective automated lighting system alternative) would work for you, consider buying an
INSTEON RemoteLinc Starter Kit, Black INSTEON
and testing its performance your particular wiring and circumstances. Even if you decide to go with another lighting technology, this RF remote kit will be useful. Put one 2443 RF-to-powerline link and one 2456D3 lamp module at each location on the same AC phase. At a distance of 500 feet, actual data transmission from the house to the remote location should/will be over the powerline, not via RF.
(I have about 50 INSTEON devices installed including each of the components in this kit and can, with a few provisos/observations recommend them.)
Note that a simple INSTEON system would not use the fiber that I recommended at the beginning of the post. But do consider installing the fiber anyway ;-) in part because once the bugs are out of the dependable implementation of multiple RS-232 ->INSTEON controllers, one could have one controller at the house and another at the remote location and communicate using the fiber ->ethernet ->RS-xxx setup.
Marc, I assume that you did a double click on your message and it was sent twice...... 6 minutes apart????
Dave - Bill - Marc,
Thanks for the great replies. Very informative. First let me say that I am not a DIY. I am a Security/Low Voltage installer. So searching ebay will be a last resort. I got pulled into this project by the on site electrician who knows that what the customer is asking is not in his field.
What the customer is asking is un-clear at this time since the project is in the planning stages.
Here are the answer to your questions.
Location is Central Pennsylvania. It gets cold here baby!!!
From the pole (service feed) I will have two 3" conduits to the main house
500'. The head end will at the house. However the Garage/Shop will be only
75' and the Studio will be about 150' from that point. But with the actual cable runs they will be 500' and 400' approximately from the head end. It would have to be a star configuration but could be a daisy chain if necessary.
My initial thoughts would have been to use the RS485 (copper cable) protected on each end from the house to both the Garage/Shop and the Studio. However now that I an hearing that it would be better to run with fiber and convert that does make more sense. We do get some nasty lightning here at times.
Again "marry" and "free" means as Mark as described. I do know that a Security Equipment and a HA manufacture are to be experts in their field and they should be kept separate. However with the long distance communication of the RS485 does have and appeal with the ELK M1G in that it will be talking to both the security devices as well as the HA devices over the RS485.
And then the HA devices can talk to each other but using the same RS485 or am I missing some point here??? At least that is what I was thinking.
Or is it better said that the M1G will be handling the Automation thru the programming but using the HA equipment to do the work??
This is the area that I am a bit foggy on.
The other thing that I did not hear in the responses was the use of RadioRA as a HA for light control functions at each location. Is that because no one has experience with RadioRA as a result of price or something else???
Or is the suggestion of INSTEON because you like the line carrier functionality?? And speaking of line carrier I have to assume that with INSTEON the reliability if far better than the X-10 product line. Is that correct??
RadioRA is the most expensive lighting solution of those you listed. Reliability is a function of density. Lutron recommends a repeater evey 25'.
Insteon has good reliability as far as PLC control and is the least expensive of those you mentioned. But there are also some quality control (and design) problems so your choice probably depends on what the customer is willing to spend and whether you want to avoid callbacks. My personal experience with their ToggleLinc V2 switches has been good. I was not happy with the first (pre-Insteon) Togglelinc version.
If price is not a factor and walls are still open, I would look at hardwired (or combo) systems like...
Clipsal C-Bus is relatively new in the US but has a long history and excellent reputation in Australia, NZ and Europe. I've played with some of their wireless hardware and the quality is first class (as is the price).
You can use fiber or WiFi for communicati>Marc, I assume that you did a double click on your message and it was sent
You can extend serial communications via a TCP/IP network using Lantronix device servers:
Using these will allow you to have a standard computer network over all the property and have it carry serial data over the same network.
Unless there is a lot of automation to be done my inclination would be to use one Elk M1 located at the main residence and have RS485 bus devices at both of the outbuildings. This should require 4 Lantronix device servers. It might be possible to do it with 3 but I am not sure if one device server can handle two virtual serial connections.
Thanks Dave, I did not know that Lutron wants a repeater every 25'. That could be a lot of repeaters. Have used the ToggleLinc equipment on a project this past spring. Worked really nice for the project. I believe you were the one that initially suggested that product line to me.
As for the walls being open................ well there are no walls in the house, not even a foundation yet. Other building are in construction but plenty of time to get the right stuff in place.
Concerning the Insteon and the M1G if you go to the instruction manual for the ELK-M1XSP page 18 gives a list of limitations. The one being that status signals cannot be read by M1G. Is this all that important to the operation??
There limitations listed on the Centralite, OnQ ALC, UPB, Insteon mostly dealing with reading status from devices. There does not seem to be any limitations listed with the Lutron RadioRA equipment. That may be a plus for the Lutron.
Thanks for the response. However a bit confused here. If I am using the RS485 to communicate between buildings why would I need to convert with the Lantronix device servers. I would think I would just have to connect to the network with Ethernet card provided by Elk the ELK-M1XEP. Or am I missing something??? Is there some advantage to what you are suggesting??
The advantage is that you can run serial over a fiber with other network traffic. This allows all buildings to have all the advantages of a computer network AND the security/automation system over the same physical media. In addition to computer in all buildings adding network cameras is a piece of cake...
The ethernet module for the M1 is mostly for programming, virtual keypad applications and sending email. Communicating with contact closures, lighting systems, keypads and thermostats is over the serial bus.
I may have overstated that. RadioRA recommends a repeater within ~25' of each switch, etc. which is not quite the same as "a repeater every 25'". Almost all RF based systems need the same kind of density for coverage - it's a function of FCC radiated power limits.
Bruce Robin has a lot of experience with Insteon in a large house so maybe he can jump in here. In discussing this, he told me that Insteon is almost
100% reliable but it may be that there are NAKs and retransmissions happening in the background that he's unaware of. I'm not sure this is what ELK refers to as "status signals" and, having no interest myself in the M1G, don't want to get deeply involved in understanding it - I'm too busy with my own projects right now.
Shortly after Insteon was introduced, a dealer loaned me one of the starter kits and I reviewed it here in a series of posts. I think you can find them by searching on "Insteon Review". I did see instances where signals needed to be repeated so I would want to look into the details here. It may be that they're just not reporting ACKs from the PLC (e.g. 2414S) but that the ACK/NAK process and repeats are still taking place (this is primarily a function of the transmitter and node it's trying to reach). If that's the case, the ELK being unaware of status may not be a big deal. There's a lot of back and forth signaling (especially with group commands) about which the ELK panel may not need to know the details (and may not want to bother sorting out). With my project, I'm planning to ignore much of that traffic but to offer an optional module that will track status of all modules based on primary signals sent and received.
Lutron has a patent on two-way RF signaling for switches. That might be a factor in status reporting by some of the others.
S>Thanks Dave, I did not know that Lutron wants a repeater every 25'. That
You used the statement; "my preference would be for one of the hardwired systems". I have looked at your page
and I am trying to understand your reference.
I can either view you statement as standard single pole toggle switches are hardwired as well as Insteon which are also hardwired but you do not have on your list. The Lutron is listed and it is wireless in control but hardwired into the circuit. So I question your definition of "hardwired". Hardwired over Softwired or Wireless or............................ Just making sure I understand what you are trying to tell me.
Thanks again. This is all very good info and I do appreciate all of it.
The systems on that page use low voltage control wiring (in one manner or another) including Lutron's non-RadioRA systems. Some use RS485, others CAN, others proprietary RS485-ish protocols. Their reliability is better than any of the PLC or wireless control systems although some of them also incorporate some wireless sub-systems - using hardwired for new construction and wireless for retrofit or in niches where hardwired may not be best.
Disclosure: Since I'm an ELK dealer my opinions are not entirely without bias.
You can connect the three structures to the ELK-M1G system using RS485 rather than Ethernet. Lighting and other modules can be installed in the remote structures as needed. I'll have to check with ELK to determine compatibility with fiber converters but TTBOMK it's doable.
True. Just plan the bandwidth and features you need well before selecting the Tx/Rx and fiber. The process is not complicated but it must be done to assure a successful installation. Some of the fiberoptics manufacturers offer online planning guides. If you need help feel free to contact us.
Correct. I would also point out that the ELK M1G controller is a solid security system as well as a robust home automation system. It's also one of the few reasonably priced systems available for DIY.