Lighting Control Systems

There are basically three types of premier Architectural Lighting Control Systems available. The first is a hard-wired system. The second type is an electrical grid system and the third is a wireless lighting system.

Lighting Control Systems Options

There should be a healthy discussion of the various lighting control systems on the market today and which is the best. If we brought in a representative from all the lighting control systems, they would all swear that their system was hands down the best. In addition, if we organized those same representatives into groups defined by the technology their lighting control system is based on, they would swear up and down their technology was better than all other technologies.

Stand Behind What I Install

I have installed several types of systems which fall into different categories of lighting control technology. I would consider myself to be somewhat of an expert because I have installed these systems in my client’s homes and faced the pitfalls of each type of system. After all, over the years when I recommended a system for a home owner, I was the one who took the heat if and when it did not perform up to what the customer expected.

There was a time when I only installed top-of-the-line hardwired systems. Hardwired means that every switch in the house has a control wire pulled from its location back to the controller. Yes, this type of system has many reliable features and works 100% of the time. That was the reliability I counted on so that I could sleep at night. The down side to this particular type of system is that the equipment is very expensive and the labor to install it is substantial.

Wireless Lighting

There are other types of systems which have come a long way in terms of their reliability. I have installed wireless lighting systems in the past, but there was always that one or two light switches which had difficulty in receiving the command signals. Although the manufacturers claim new reliability performance rates at 100%, you are dealing with a system that controls the light switches by transmitting RF energy through the air.

I have been installing lighting control in large expensive homes with lots of concrete or steel in their construction. All of these factors leave me with a lingering worry as to whether all the light switches will work all of the time for every function. My opinion is why take the chance when something else is available. In addition, these wireless lighting control systems compare in cost up there with many of the hardwired systems.

New Reliable Cost Effective System

Fortunately a new technology emerged just a few years ago that is 100% reliable and not too cost prohibitive. It does not send command signals through the air nor does it control the switches through specially run control wires. This system sends command signals down the hard wires of your electrical grid to each light switch and controller.

I am an Authorized Dealer for the UPB Lighting Control system which I recommend for my jobs, big and small. The labor to install the system is cut down to an absolute minimum. In fact, your Electrician will do most of the work in his normal contract to wire up your house for AC. No additional control wires have to be pulled by you or the electrician. He will wire the house in the normal way.

Cost Less But Not Cheap

I said the UPB system is less expensive but I did not say it was cheap. On the contrary, the individual Dimmer switches cost in the range of $100 each. The 6-Buttom controllers are in the range of $265 each. These switches are in fact, reliable electronic components.

There is some other equipment and software involved as well, however when you add it up it cost a fraction of what other lighting control systems cost not to mention the difficulty of installation. So what I am offering you is a system I can teach you how to install which is 100% reliable and has all the bells and whistles of systems costing much more. One other very important factor is that it will integrate seamlessly with the HAI Security & Home Automation system discussed in one of my other “How to Install” books.

Control Your Cost

The keys to this technology are capability and cost. The absolute best way to control these issues is to install the system yourself. I help by providing lots of FREE information on this and other related home electronics systems like my 10 Video Mini Course. I invite you to follow me on my BLOG, sign up for my bi-monthly Newsletter, and view my ever increasing list of How to Install videos.

In addition, I have written an eBook on How to Install Lighting Control. In the book you will receive step by step instructions on installing the system which integrates with the Security & Home Automation controller I have been installing for years.

Installing Multiple Technologies?

It has been my experience that when people are considering one technology for their new or remodeled home, they are likely considering other technologies as well. I make available a FREE eBook on How to Install Modern Home Electronics. Download the free copy and it will give you an overview of several systems which are commonly installed in homes.

If you are a person who wants to bypass all the instructional material and go straight to our website where you can safely shop on-line for electronics for homes at reasonable prices Click Here.


Cat5 vs. Cat6 Cable

When the average consumer reads information about various types of cable they sometimes get lost in the haystack looking for the ole proverbial pin. Right now the discussion is centered on Cat5 vs. Cat6 cable. For the long term discussion fiber optic cable installations is not even discussed.

So let’s limit our comparison to Cat5e and Cat6 cable. To accomplish our comparison we must take a little time and examine some specifications on each type of cable. The story begins with Cat5 cable which will support 10BASE-T and 100BASE-T network standards. It supports networks running at 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps. Cat5e is an enhanced version of Cat5 that adds specifications for crosstalk. The added specifications of Cat5e enable it to support Gigabit Ethernet (1000BASE-T), or networks running at 1000 Mbps. If your goal is Gigabit Ethernet, Cat-5e will work out great.

The Costly Mistake

Consumers have been mistakenly told that by running Cat6 they will then have a Gigabit Ethernet. If every single component in the network is gigabit rated, then you will achieve a gigabit network. However, 99% of the time one does not have every component in their network capable of Gigabit Ethernet speeds. It makes sense that your network will always run at the speed of your slowest device. To achieve true Gigabit Ethernet speeds, every single component on a network must be gigabit rated. Cat5e runs near or at Gigabit speeds it just cannot be “certified” for this use.

The primary difference between Cat5e and Cat6 cable is in the transmission performance. Cat5e can support gigabit speeds, however Cat6 is certified to handle gigabit Ethernet. In addition, Cat6 cable is better suited toward environments that have lots of interference like power lines and lights. However all of these negatives can be overcome with careful and judicious installation techniques. If you can be certain that all the components on your network are gigabit rated, and the volume of the data being transmitted calls for certified gigabit performance, then Cat6 is the way to go.

Cat 6 Cable is a Higher Gauge

When it comes to Cat6 cable it must be understood that it is a slightly higher gauge than Cat5e. The reason is that because as you increase the number of twists per inch, you also increase the length of the wire. It makes sense that the longer the wire the greater the resistance in the wire. From an installation perspective one must realize that the cable jacket is a lot heavier. The cable doesn’t bend as easily because the copper is a slightly heavier gauge. All that adds up to a cable slightly harder to deal with from pulling it through the walls to stripping it and punching down the individual wires. It is common knowledge that the price of copper is at an all time high so draw your own conclusions.

The Correct Conclusion

Once you come to the same conclusion as ninety percent of other consumers that Cat5e cable is the least expensive, capable of gigabit speeds, and compatible with all the components that currently go into a networking system, you will get down to figuring out how to install the overall structured wiring system.

Plausible Plan of Action

I would like to offer my many years of experience as a Security / Low-Voltage Contractor and give you a very plausible plan of action. If you install the system yourself you will save thousands of dollars. The way I help you accomplish that goal is to offer lots of FREE information, like my 10 Video Mini Course, on How to Install a Structured Wiring system. You can follow my articles on a weekly basis on my BLOG, sign up for my bi-monthly Newsletter, and watch my ever increasing How to Install Video series. In addition, I have published an eBook titled How to Install Structured Wiring which is available on-line.

Installing Multiple Technologies?

It has been my experience that when people are considering one technology for their new or remodeled home, they are likely considering other technologies as well. I make available a FREE eBook on How to Install Modern Home Electronics. Download the free copy and it will give you an overview of several systems which are commonly installed in homes.

If you are at a different stage and just want a location on the Internet where you can purchase various electronic products for your home at low prices, please visit our on-line store.


Alarm Wire

When writing about alarm wire I always distinguish between security / burglar alarms as opposed to home automation systems which also have a UL approved security controller. Regardless of the system involved, alarm wiring will always have a significant role. Many security installers will state that alarm wiring will normally be a 22-gauge, two-conductor cable. And most installers will go on to advise the use of stranded cable rather than 22-gauge solid copper wire as is contained in a Cat-5 cable.

Watch Out For Drywall Screws

The reason they advise the use of stranded cable is that should a drywall screw somehow come in contact with the solid copper wire it will likely break leading to a loss of all conductivity. Whereas when a screw touches a stranded wire, with any luck at all some of the strands of wire will survive thus maintaining conductivity between the zone contact and the security controller.

Recommendation Will Save Your Bacon

All that is needed for normally open or closed contacts used in doors and windows is a two conductor wire. However, I have a recommendation to all would-be installers. It is a practice which has saved my bacon many times over the years. I always run a four-conductor wire between each door, window, motion detector, glass break sensor, photoelectric beam, and any other device being installed as part of an overall home automation and/or security system.

All motions, smokes, glass breaks, etc., always use two wires for 12Vdc power as well as two wires for normally open or closed contacts. Why not just purchase one type of cable to service both the devices requiring power and normal door and window contacts? The difference between the cost of a box of 2-condcutor vs. a box of 4-conductor is negligible. Yet the savings in labor is immeasurable.

Do the Smart Thing

Do the smart thing, use the green and wire wires for window and door contacts, leaving the extra red and black pair in reserve at each location. That way when it turns out that conductivity has been lost on the green and white pair, one or both of the red and black wires can be used to complete the zone connection. That beats having to purchase and install a wireless device at the lost door or window or losing the zone all together from your overall system.

Home Automation is Important

Home Automation refers to an intelligent home, which is controlled by a 2-way interface computer. Without conscious thought by any human, it manages the systems in your home to provide you and your family with the ultimate in luxury, convenience, safety, security, substantial energy savings, and peace of mind. Automation makes it possible to integrate various technologies into one cohesive system.

An automated home adjusts the security, cooling, heating, and lighting automatically for comfort, energy savings, and convenience. A home automation system takes the place of a standard security system, and for not much more, greatly increases the value, safety, and efficiency of your home.

Control in Multiple Ways

Systems can be accessed and controlled over the telephone, either from within or away from home, and over the Internet. Check and adjust lights, temperature, and security from your phone and/or computer. Not only can you call into your system to check on the status of your home over the telephone, but your system can actually contact you! The system can be programmed very easily to call out over the phone to inform you when your children have arrived home from school or if the alarm has gone off.

You can expand and customize your home automation system. Not everyone wants the same capabilities in their Security/Home Automation system. I provide lots of FREE information on How to Install Electronics in Homes like my 10 Video Mini Course. You can join my Newsletter, follow articles in my BLOG, and watch my How to Install Videos. In addition, I have written several How to Install eBooks. At the center of them all is my How to Install Security & Home Automation eBook which shows you detail by detail how to install a specific system.

Installing Multiple Technologies?

It has been my experience that when people are considering one technology for their new or remodeled home, they are likely considering other technologies as well. I make available a FREE eBook on How to Install Modern Home Electronics. Download the free copy and it will give you an overview of several systems which are commonly installed in homes.

If you are a person who is not in need of information on installation, perhaps you would prefer to go directly to our product website where you can shop safely for home electronics at very reasonable prices. We can have a product shipped to you within a few days.


House of Stereo

This site is dedicated to help you understand and install a multiple source, multiple-room house of stereo system. What exactly will this system offer that a single source system will not? Well right off the bat the fact that the system will accept multiple sources of audio as inputs is in itself remarkable. With a touch of a button you, the end user, can select from FM radio, CD player, DVD player, Ipod®, and TV channel music. You are not locked into whatever the source your Home Theater amplifier happens to be selected.

The second remarkable capability all your family members will enjoy is the ability to select any of those music sources for their individual listening zone, at the same time everybody else in the house is selecting and listening to their own choice. Each room has an in-wall mounted zone controller that allows the occupant to turn the power on or off in the zone, select his or her own source of music, and play it at the desired volume without any regard to what other people have chosen to listen to in other zones.

The System I Install Most Often

I recommend the Hi-Fi-2 by HAI system for several reasons. It is not necessarily the fanciest system around, but I can tell you from personal installation experience it is the most powerful 8 x 8 multi-source, multiple-room house of stereo system on the market today. The amplifier uses state-of-the-art digital technology. Power output to each listening zone is a whopping 50 watts (25 watts per channel). Fifty watts per listening zone at 8-ohms means robust power for some serious whole-house entertainment. I dare say you will not be able to listen to music in a room at more than 50% capacity as it would blow the paint off the walls.

Have a Big House?

So you say to me that you have a very big house and you want more listening zones. This system has an expansion amplifier which gives you an additional 8 listening zones plus two more variable line out amplification outputs (zones 9 & 16) available as inputs to a separate amplifier for zones where you think you might want more power.

Integrates with Automation Controller

In my opinion, the primary reason the Hi-Fi-2 by HAI is the best system available is because it is but one of the sub-systems designed to integrate with their primary Security/Home Automation controller within the home. You not only have a powerful and expandable system, but you can control it in multiple ways. The three most common control methods are with the in-wall controller, color touch screens, and with automation. Think about this: When you walk in your front door from a hard days work, your security system disarms, a preprogrammed lighting scene is activated, and the music source you love the most comes on at a volume level you have selected.

The Two Keys

The two keys to all this technology are cost and the ability to make personal programming choices. The best way to have a handle on both is to install the system yourself. I can help you do that in multiple ways. First of all I provide tons of FREE information on this and other popular electronic systems for homes like my 10 Video Mini Course. You can easily sign up for it here on this page. I would invite you to follow me on my BLOG, join my bi-monthly Newsletter, and watch my ever growing list of How to Install Videos. In addition, I have written a How to Install a Multi-Room Audio System eBook which takes you hand in hand and instructs you step by step in installing a specific system you will be proud of for years to come.

Considering Other Technologies?

It has been my experience that when people are considering one technology for their new or remodeled home, they are likely considering other technologies as well. I make available a FREE eBook on How to Install Modern Home Electronics. Download the free copy and it will give you an overview of several systems which are commonly installed in homes.

If you are a person who does not need instruction but could appreciate an on-line store where you can shop safely and always be guaranteed very low prices, please visit our product site.


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