C-Bus & Home Automation


Clipsal C-Bus Colour Touchscreen

What is Home Automation?


Introduction


Home Automation, also known as Home Integration or Smart Home Solutions, is about combining things together within the home electrical system.

Home Automation is revolutionising home security & entertainment. If you’re building a new home, installing home automation infrastructure will get you ready for the future & add value to your home.

Smart Home TouchscreenIf you’ve got an existing home, retrofitting cables is very expensive, but advances in wireless technology means you can now automate too. Wireless is a cost-effective means for automating an existing house, as you don’t need to rip out walls to install cables.

If you are considering an Integrated Home Automation System, then be aware that expert advice is crucial. Our experienced Systems Integrator will determine the features that you need after the initial consultationin & draw up your plans to suit your budget & lifestyle.

Clipsal eDLT Switch

Why Use Home Automation?


These days there are many facets of the home electrical system. There is the basic 240V light & power, the telephone cabling, data or home network cabling, the distribution of the Free to air TV system, the PAYTV system, sending sources like DVD & PAYTV around the house, home theatre system, distributed zoned music around the house, security ,intercom & air conditioning. It is possible to interconnect some of these things together to give a specific result & streamline functions around the home. We can also programme events to happen based on pre-set conditions or even on random events.

Examples


You could have the following events happen. When you come up your driveway you press your garage door remote button, the door lifts up & lights come on in the garage & up the hallway & into the kitchen. The door between the garage & house could automatically unlatch & the security could be programmed to disarm. As you walk up the hallway, music could start playing through the ceiling mounted speakers in the hallway.

When you come into the kitchen you could go to your wall mounted touchscreen & turn & activate the radio to come through the kitchen speakers. You could then go to another section of the touchscreen, & press the wording that says “ relax” & the lighting levels throughout the house common areas would go to the pre-set dimmed levels. From the touchscreen you also turn on the air conditioning in that area.

You notice that it has been windy & there are leaves floating in the pool so you go to your touchscreen but this time to the pool menu & activate the pump to come on, seeing it is outside normal filter time clock settings. You then sit down in the lounge & pick up your portable touchscreen remote control & press the button that says “ Watch a Movie” . The Plasma turns on, the amplifier turns on & goes straight to the DVD input, the plasma switches to the correct AV input, The DVD player turns on, & is ready for you to insert your movie.

While you are watching the movie the phone rings its unique intercom tone so you pickup your portable phone to speak to the person at the front gate. You pause the movie on the remote & press the button marked “Gate Camera” & the Plasma is now showing you who is standing at the front gate. You could release the gate if you wish from the phone keypad.

After your movie it’s time for bed. As you leave the area you press “Goodnight” on your wall mounted touchscreen & the lights start to turn off one area at a time but leaving a path of light to your bedroom. It also activates the alarm to be armed in the downstairs area & activates all of the electric locks on doors. Once in bed you hear the dog bark & press a single button on the switch next to your bed & all outside lights come on as a timer for one minute.

This is just some of the many scenarios that can be set up & programmed into an integrated home automation system. Really it is up to you to make your wish list of things you have always wanted to do to become a reality.

The features people seem to like the most are the lighting “scenes” that can be set up so groups on individual lights can be programmed to turn on together at pre-set dimmed levels. The “Goodnight” scene exampled above is very popular. Also schedules that make the home look lived in when you are away from home by having lighting coming on a different times & even curtains opening & closing are also popular.

Multi-gang switch plates where you have to remember what they all do are now a thing of the past. The touchscreen becomes the central “command centre’ in the home & other smart switches allow for LCD labels to be placed adjacent to buttons.

What we also try to do with an integrated system is to remove “wall acne” of different brands of switches & controllers cluttering up walls.

If you don’t use your home automation system for what it can do, you are only buying an expensive light switch!

Remember not everyone is the same & not everyone has a bottomless wallet. The type of system that is designed for you is based on what you need & can afford. The system should also add value to your home when it comes to sell & make it a more practical & enjoyable home to live in until that time.

Clipsal C-Bus

What is Clipsal C-Bus?


Introduction


C-Bus is a microprocessor-based control & management system for Buildings & Homes. It is used to control lighting & other electrical services such as pumps, Audio Visual Devices, Motors, etc. Whether simple ON/OFF control of a lighting circuit, or variable (analogue) type control, such as electronic dimmable fluorescent ballasts, C-Bus can be used to easily control virtually any type of electrical load.

To ensure fast & reliable operation, each C-Bus device has its own in-built microprocessor & “intelligence”, allowing units to be individually programmed.

C-Bus uses a patented method for updating the status of units. This method does not require a central computer or central controller to handle databases or lookup tables to operate. The status of each C-Bus unit is initiated at specific time intervals, without the need of a central controller. Each device is allocated a specific time frame to broadcast its status, synchronised by a self-generated system clock pulse. This allows large amounts of data to be transmitted in a very small time frame, effectively & reliably on the network, leading to low processing overheads & low bandwidth requirements.


Why C-Bus?


The primary reasons to use C-Bus are:

  • Highly robust & reliable control system, but low cost per node.
  • Wide range of tools available to allow 3rd party companies to interface to both PC based & embedded systems.
  • A single C-Bus cable connection can control an unlimited number of devices.
  • Ultimate flexibility in switching & control – functions can be changed, added, removed, moved, reprogrammed, at any position on the network, at any time – without any cumbersome hard-wiring.
  • C-Bus is simple to install & commission.
  • C-Bus can control any type of load, digital & analogue.

C-Bus Network Wiring


The C-Bus Network Bus is the communications wiring for the system, consisting of an unshielded twisted pair (UTP) ‘Cat 5’ cable. The Bus not only provides the means of communication between units, but also the small amount of power needed to operate the circuitry within each C-Bus unit.

The C-Bus Network is electrically isolated from the mains power, & operates at safe extra low voltage levels (36 V dc). Legal restrictions of mains wiring do not apply, so C-Bus wiring may be run into places that would be dangerous (or illegal) with normal mains wiring.

All Input & Output devices are wired to any point in the C-Bus Network by a twisted pair cable, which carries all communications between the Units.

The C-Bus connections may be looped from unit to unit or a branch can be made at any point. This ‘free topology’ structure provides a flexible system layout. New units can be added anywhere, at any time, without re-configuration.

During commissioning, the system is programmed so that specific commands trigger specific responses in one (or more) devices on the Network. At any time the commands can be re-programmed, & C-Bus units can also be added, removed or moved.

The size of a C-Bus Network is practically unlimited. A large network is usually divided into sub-networks of 100 C-Bus Units, with a total cable length of 1000m per sub-network. This allows a C-Bus system to be divided into manageable sections, simplifying design, limiting potential fault propagation & aiding in any troubleshooting.


C-Bus Units


All Units on the C-Bus Network have their own built-in microprocessor, allowing them to operate independently with “distributed intelligence”. This provides extremely reliable & efficient communications, & also means that a malfunction in one unit will not affect the operation of any other Unit or the Network.

Every C-Bus Unit has a unique number, so that all devices on the Network can communicate directly. Also, as C-Bus uses point to multi-point communication, every device on a C-Bus Network issues & responds to commands directly from the Network, rather than requiring a central computer or controller.


Simple Control


Each C-Bus device is programmed to issue & respond to the certain commands. A virtually unlimited number of commands can be programmed into the C-Bus system. Generally, Input Devices are programmed to issue commands, & Output Devices are programmed to execute those commands.

When a C-Bus Group Address comm& is issued by a C-Bus Device, any other Devices that have been programmed with that Group Address will be activated, wherever they are on the C-Bus Network. There is no need for any direct 240V connection between any C-Bus units.


Multiple Events


Single Devices can also produce multiple events. For example, you may program an Input Switch so that the length of time the key is pressed determines what Command is issued – a short press issues an on/off command & a long press controls a dimming command.

Multiple commands do not have to control the same Output Device(s), so complex scenarios can be easily created, for example a single push button switch controlling a whole floor of a building.

Multiple Input devices can conditionally control a single Output Device, dependant on specific circumstances. This allows multiple levels of over-ride switching & other complex control systems to be created easily.


Control Flexibility


The C-Bus system can carry out control in virtually unlimited ways, including:

  • Any input device can be programmed as a master control point. Master overrides can be positioned anywhere in the network, & control any other unit or units on any connected network.
  • The system can allow unlimited switching configurations. Two, three (or any number) of switches can be set to toggle or control any other switch or device.
  • Overrides can be easily re-programmed via Windows software at any time.
  • A computer or cental controller is not required for normal C-Bus operation, but can be used to add additional features if desired.
Richard CookeC-Bus & Home Automation