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Author Topic: Advice on lights in series  (Read 4955 times)

willk

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Advice on lights in series
« on: January 21, 2016, 12:09:18 AM »

Hi All,

I have a project which is going to require me to control primarily lights on a B&B style property. The idea is that guests will scan a QR code that will open the entrance gate, and turn lights on to lead them to their cottage. There will be about 200 lights in total on either side of the driveway.

GATE -------L------L-------L------C------L-----L------L------C-----L-----L-----L-----C
L = light   C = cottage

So in this basic example essentially I need to be able to turn on the first 3 lights if they are going to cottage 1, the first 6 lights for cottage 2 and all 9 lights for cottage 3.

Is this going to be possible using an Inline Relay Module (like the AD10 http://www.envioustechnology.com.au/products/product-detail.php?ID=32 ), so once the 1st one is turned on, I could reach the 2nd one via X10 to turn it on if needed, and then the third? There's no time when I would want say just the third set of lights turned on without the other two, so they would always be in sequence. I'll most likely use the Activehome Pro PC Interface to control the lights and the gate.

If I'm barking up the wrong tree here please let me know.

Thanks All,
Will
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Brian H

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2016, 06:29:58 AM »

How far does the X10 commands have to travel. From the CM15Pro interface to the last light?

Will the controller be on the same power circuit as the light strings?

200 lights is a large amount of lights.
How much power are you going to try and switch?
Do you want to try and have them all on one circuit?

The specifications for the module is 2000 Watts for lamps. That would be 10 watts per bulb if you used one module.
You maybe able to use more than one module. Maybe one for each side of the driveway or another combination of wiring.


« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 07:09:58 AM by Brian H »
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JeffVolp

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2016, 10:05:54 AM »

In addition to total load current and signal attenuation with that many modules, another concern is switching them off.  If configured is series as you specify, the order must be reversed when switching them off.  And while we can achieve a high level of reliability, it will never be 100%.  So if on occasion one of the modules does not switch on, everything beyond that would not respond either.  The switching sequence must be reversed when turning off, and it is possible that one might not respond to the off command too.

A better arrangement would be to run several independent circuits fed by a common subpanel.  Each circuit would feed up to a dozen modules wired in parallel, and all modules would receive commands, not just the ones earlier in the string.  That allows redundant commands to be issued to increase reliability.

Multiple circuits also reduce signal loading so the distant modules would receive stronger signals.  But if the run length is much over 100 feet, you may have to consider a signal booster to insure adequate signal strength at the distant locations.

Wiring in parallel also eases the control.  A single ALL_OFF command can extinguish up to 16 sets of lights.  And you can use the "arming" process A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A_ON to turn on sets 1-5 at the same time.  Of course, you can also use A1, A_ON, A2, A_ON, A3, A_ON, in sequence if you prefer the sets of lights to switch on one-by-one.

Jeff
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dhouston

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2016, 10:29:12 AM »

Other factors to consider: If using the European CM15Pro, the PLC output is much less than US users are accustomed to. European regulations limit it to just over 2Vpp. On the other hand, Australia allows far more RF power @ 433.92MHz than does the FCC - about 100x as much although it's doubtful that X10 remotes take advantage of this.

I suggest contacting X10 & Insteon dealers in Australia & New Zealand to get their input.

Also, there are a multitude of 433.92MHz RF controlled light switches (and other devices) available in Europe as well as Asia and while I've no idea what range they get, Europe allows about 10x FCC limits so their range may be adequate.
https://www.bing.com/search?q=433.92MHz+RF+controlled+light+switches&pc=MOZI&form=MOZCON

But, a custom setup using LED strings is what I think best fits your needs. You can likely find someone at the next Maker Faire to design it.
http://makerfaire.com/map/

« Last Edit: January 21, 2016, 10:48:12 AM by dhouston »
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bkenobi

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2016, 10:50:58 AM »

I skimmed the thread but didn't see mention of one other issue.  If you use X10, you can only address a finite number of modules.  There are 16 house codes and 16 unit codes for a total of 256 individually addressable modules.  If you are suggesting having over 200, you will be close to maxing out your available addresses.  Maybe that's ok, but I would think you might want to have room for expansion of the system.  If you went with RF based Insteon, Z-Wave, ZigBee, etc, you would have thousands of addressable units that each acted as repeaters (solving 2 problems).

willk

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2016, 05:21:04 PM »

Thanks everyone for your replies. The distance is an issue as it's about 750 metres from the first to the last light. I wasn't sure RF would be able to travel that far, didn't realise X10 had similar issues with distance. Using LED so I assumed 5w or 10w bulbs. Can run two modules, subpanels do make the most sense.

Of course trying to get away with doing this cheaply, don't particularly want to fork out for c-bus, need to make sure X10 will be okay over that distance though. Thanks.
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bkenobi

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2016, 06:25:13 PM »

One advantage that I see with the Z-Wave etc option is that each module is both a receiver and a repeater.  So, the signal from the RF device doesn't have to reach the entire string and you aren't reliant on the distance of wire degrading signal.  I don't use these other technologies, so I don't know how well the mesh network approach actually works.

willk

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2016, 06:28:21 PM »

Thanks bkenobi that's really good info!!
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dhouston

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2016, 06:45:11 PM »

Of course trying to get away with doing this cheaply...

Then this is likely not in your budget but it is perfect, otherwise.
http://www.solarroadways.com/Product/Videos
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willk

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2016, 07:05:34 PM »

dhouston: Looks awesome, surprised I haven't come across it before. Am planning on putting a 40KW solar system on the property as well, but I think the cost of solar roadway would be well above the solar system and lighting unfortunately. Very very cool though!
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dave w

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2016, 08:30:00 PM »

I agree with bkenobi. A mesh style, repeater network like Z-Wave or Insteon would be a lot more reliable. It could be done with X10 but you would need PLC repeaters for that distance and I think the headaches would outweigh any X10 cost savings. 
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bkenobi

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2016, 01:44:28 AM »

If you are looking for a project more than a solution, you could consider constructing your own mesh network using ESP8266 (or some other WiFi enabled MCU) to create your own mesh network.  You could basically create a whole bunch of modules that use low voltage LED's for the lighting that could have whatever logic you want.  If you use A/C, you will have a lot more hardware to worry about but it's also possible.

If it were me and this were for a business, I'd just go with the most reliable readily available mesh network that had a good user community.  I think that would probably be either Z-Wave or ZigBee, but I've done no research on either directly.  X10 could probably work, but I think the others would be easier to implement (though certainly much more expensive).  But, businesses don't consider costs the same way I do for my own projects.  My time is free, but employee's time is not.

dhouston

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2016, 05:27:33 AM »

Z-Wave has the most support among major suppliers but I'm not sure it fits the distance requirements. I haven't looked at it in depth since it was first introduced so they may have improved things but, IIRC, it had fairly short range (~10m) and the number of hops between devices had an upper limit as well so you will likely run out of hops long before you run out of real estate.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 03:18:11 PM by dhouston »
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JeffVolp

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2016, 10:44:20 AM »

Thanks everyone for your replies. The distance is an issue as it's about 750 metres from the first to the last light. I wasn't sure RF would be able to travel that far, didn't realise X10 had similar issues with distance. Using LED so I assumed 5w or 10w bulbs. Can run two modules, subpanels do make the most sense.

Of course trying to get away with doing this cheaply, don't particularly want to fork out for c-bus, need to make sure X10 will be okay over that distance though. Thanks.

We have customers on farms that are sending X10 signals similar distances, but they are injecting very strong signals onto the powerline - over 20 times the 2Vpp spec that Dave quoted.  And the runs are clean except for loads at the distant location.  That is why I recommended breaking the load up into multiple circuits.

Jeff
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 10:46:16 AM by JeffVolp »
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dhouston

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Re: Advice on lights in series
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2016, 03:28:35 PM »

Look at Z-Wave. According to Wikipedia...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z-Wave
there have been vast improvements since I first looked into a developer's license (which may have still been beta) with 30-100m open-air range and 232 max nodes.

I'll have to eat my words as it looks like it will fit your needs with devices available from over 200 suppliers.  :o

PS: I still prefer Solar Freakin' Roadways.  ;D
« Last Edit: January 22, 2016, 03:35:25 PM by dhouston »
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