Looking at showhomes today and saw one house that had its finished basement area have 6 lighting areas all controlled by one decora switch. Ganged beside it was a series of 6 buttons that fit in the area of a decora opening. You pushed whatever labeled button you wanted to control and then used the switch to turn it on or off. Where would I buy a set up like this? There was no brand name showing anywhere on the switch or buttons.
No, it doesn't sound like that. Note that in the showhome you had to first hit a button, then hit the switch.
You can, however, do something similar with the 8-button keypadlinc: have 6 source buttons with the two remaining labeled ON and OFF. You can program it to require pushing a source button followed by ON or OFF. No additional switch needed.
is the manufacturer of the KeypadLinc I mentioned, but you can get them from other vendors. I got mine from
(on this page you can see some other ones too:
Are you familiar with X-10 lighting control? In case you're not, the transmitter is not the only thing you'll need. Each "light area" will have to have a receiver of some sort (a plug-in lamp module, replacement switch, or the like). Also, the same thing can be accomplished with technologies other than X-10, each with its own set of pros and cons. Let us know if you need assistance.
Sounds like the first thing you'll need to do is choose a technology. X-10 and UPB communicate over the existing power lines, so no extra wiring is necessary. X-10 is cheaper, but requires lots of vigilance to keep it reliable. UPB is much more reliable, but is a relatively new technology with a smaller product line (i.e. no UPB sprinkler controller yet, etc). Insteon is an X-10 replacement by Smarthome that reduces some of the problems with X-10 yet remains backward compatible. There's also Z-Wave where switches communicate wirelessly. Check archives of this newsgroup for lots of discussions on these technologies.
But since you have the luxury of wiring your own new house, you may want to also consider a wired lighting control system. These are much more expensive and usually require Cat-5 to each switch location. But they are as flexible, fast, and reliable as you can get. A couple of vendors are Lutron, Centralite, Vantage.
It may have been a hardwired system like the above. Usually Cat5 to a central controller.
Pretty much all the technologies offer switches with configurable "ramp rates." Some can be set up with different ramp rates for different "scenes."
Many of them need to be wired that way; however, some have amplified keypads, which means you only run speaker wire from the speaker locations to the keypads. Running the speaker wire through the keypads to a central location will prepare you for anything!
Thanks for the tips Mark. Starting a house build in a couple of weeks (depending on how fast my permits go through). I like neat things like I see in home automation/audio. Last night I was reading on some UPB items.
Now I just need to figure out how these things work. I've seen them in show homes but don't know how they are wired. I am going to pull my own permit for wiring so it will all be done by me. So when I get started I have to go like crazy and know my stuff in advance.
I really liked that 2 gang switch system that controlled 6 (or 8?) lights. I walked through a home being built the other day and they had a gang for 9 light switches. They had to bolt 2 boxes together to make that number. I think that is a but crazy and will look silly. How would the push button lighting system have been wired? Relays?
When you have say a light switch and you want to do that neat stuff like have the light slowly increase or decrease as the switch is turned on and off, how is that done? Do I need to run cat 5 to switch boxes and use special switches?
Also for the whole house audio, do I run cat 5 to where I want the speaker controls in each room and then run speaker wire to each area I want speakers and then home run all the wires to the mechanical room? For the sound source i.e. stereo, do I run wires from there to the mechanical room and then do I my tying together there as needed?
Thanks for the heads-up. I got lots of reading to do.