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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Multi Zone Heating System Using Danfoss Z-Wave TRV

Todays post is about how to create an even more efficient heating system with the use of Danfoss Z-Wave TRV (Thermostatic Radiator Valve)

In your typical home we have a single boiler with multiple radiators and a single thermostat controller which is usually located in the hallway. The biggest problem with this arrangement is that once the temperature has reached the set point in the hallway, that is when the heating will be triggered. This means that even if the rooms are heated up to the the required temperature but the hallway hasn’t, then the boiler will continue to run until the hallway has reached the set point.

We can add traditional TRV to help each room reach a set temperature and this then means the temperature is then normalized throughout the house. This helps to save energy as once the room reaches the desired temperature then the heat supply is shut off and diverted to where it is needed.

These traditional TRV are manually operated valves and once you have set the temperature setting then it will continue to work at that temperature. During a typical day the downstairs is occupied and upstairs is unoccupied. So if the heating is turned on then the whole house will receive the heat from the boiler and start warming up the whole house, so unfortunately the upstairs is also being heated when it is not required. This means wastage.

By adding the Danfoss TRV instead and including them into your Z-Wave home automation network we can program in a schedule setting and adjust the required temperature setting for the upstairs rooms to a lower value during the day and to a higher temperature for the evening as required. This means that we are not wasting energy by heating unwanted rooms of the house.


By adding the Danfoss Z-Wave TRV to each radiator we can create a simple multi zone heating system enabling greater control over the temperature of individual rooms within the home.

If you are interested in purchasing home automation products and services contact us for pricing and more details.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Budget Wall Mounted Tablet for Home Automation Control

Here is a cheap little project I did at home, using an old Android tablet I had laying around and a cheap box photo frame and a long white USB cable for powering the tablet. 

I am using the excellent ImperiHome Android app which can be used to control various Z-Wave gateways such as Vera and the Fibaro Home Center 2 and some others. 

With the ImperiHome app I can control all aspects of the home automation system such as lighting, curtains, heating etc however the main use for this wall panel will be for entry and exit. To be able to arm and disarm the house / Z-Wave alarm system. 

ImperiHome has a very useful feature and this is the ability to lock down certain scenes or devices with a pin code. So for example when I press the Welcome Home scene or the Disarm House scene you are prompted to enter a 4 digit pin code like a traditional alarm panel. 

Another nice feature of ImperiHome is the screensaver option, so after a set amount of time, 1 minute in my case the screen will go black / dark.

I have configured the Android tablet to never go to sleep so it will always be on and the WIFI will always be up and running, you just need to tap the screen once to display the ImperiHome app and away you go you can then control the home automation system instantly. 

ImperiHome also has an option to start the app at startup. so if the tablet loses power or is restarted the ImperiHome app will automatically launch again. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Kitchen Cabinets Z-Wave Colour Changing LED Lighting

In this post we will show you how we can install for you colour changing under cabinet lighting for your kitchen. Many people have a standard light coming on but we can go a few steps further and give you an array of colours to choose from.


What we did was put some RGBW strip lighting under the wall cabinets and take the cable through the cabinet to above the wall units. We then put a single Z-Wave RGBW module and connected the power supply and the LED strip lights.

Once that was complete we added in the Z-Wave module to the Fibaro Home Automation controller. Here you can see that we can now set our colours or create some programmes and/or favourite colours as well.


Not all family members are big technology fans and some may not want to use the phone app or tablet app to control the lights, they may require something more simple and straight forward.

Fibaro Home Automation APP – RGBW Controls

With this in mind we added a key fob remote control, this is a wireless Z-Wave remote and does not require line of sight to function.



The remote has four buttons but importantly can be used to give us eight functions. So we programmed one of the buttons as on/off, and the remaining three buttons gave us options for six colours.

My wife loves this as she has the under cabinet lighting she has been wanting for a long time and now has six colours to choose from and all from using a simple remote control.

Of course later on if she wants to change the colours that is no problems at all and we just go into the Z-Wave controllers configuration page and make the changes to six different colours.

So instead of being boring and having just one colour we have six!

Blue Colour:


Red Colour:


White Colour:


Purple Colour:


Below is a short video showing the remote and lighting effects in action.

Don’t forget to visit us at for more home automation ideas and FREE no obligation quotations.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Emby Media Server–Why you should be using it

I’ve not done many articles lately, but I have been working on beta testing for the Emby / Kodi integration. If you are an XBMC / Kodi user or not? Emby Media Server is well worth taking a closer look at!

Image result for emby logo

What is it? Emby is an Open Source Media Server and Client applications solution which was previously named Media Browser, which initially started life as a 3rd party Movie / TV Shows views add-on for the now dead Windows Media Center platform.

In a nut-shell Emby can be used to centralise all your media content, manage its metadata and artwork, access your content on a multitude of different devices, share content with family and friends and more!

The Emby Server can be installed on Windows, Linux, NAS, MAC, FreeBSD. I have it installed on my WHS 2011 server and I removed which was still on there for legacy MCE metadata. One of the great things about the server side of things is the ease at which metadata and artwork files are automatically downloaded and can be managed using the metadata manager for example. Its pretty much 100% seamless, you add new content that is correctly named and structured and the Emby server does the rest for you.

No more messing about with 3rd party metadata managers or with several different metadata add-ons in Kodi such as the Artwork Downloader or CDArt Manager, those add-ons are made redundant. As is MYSQL as a centralised database for Kodi, with the Emby add-on for Kodi and the Emby Server back-end these replace and also make MYSQL redundant.

Emby client apps include: Kodi, Windows Media Center / XBOX 360 (MCE Extender), Android TV, Roku  / Now TV boxes, Amazon Fire TV, some Samsung Smart TVs and Emby Theatre which is their stand alone Windows client application. Also you can use the Emby’s web browser GUI to cast content to your Chrome Cast device, Emby also supports DLNA.

So plenty of apps to play with and then there are the mobile apps which include: Emby Web Client (HTML5), Android, iOS (Under development and coming soon), Windows 8.1 / 10 and Windows Phone.

As you can see its a very impressive list of client app options! I am personally using the Emby add-on for Kodi, this is still in beta and I have it installed on two test PCs only at the moment and not installed on my main OpenElec HTPCs which are connected to the TVs in the house. I am also using the Android mobile app on several tablets and the Windows 8.1 / 10 app on my new Windows 10 touch screen laptop. I have also setup the Roku app on a Now TV box for a relative so they can access content remotely over the Internet.

And that is another killer feature of Emby the remote access side of things, in native Kodi media center there is no easy way out of the box to open up your content for remote access when you are away from the home. This is where Emby really shines and the Emby Server will ensure that the vast majority of your content can be played on remote devices either by transcoding on the fly to suit devices such as tablets and phones or by allowing Direct Streaming where possible. For example another family member of mine now has a remote Kodi installation on their PC and they can direct stream movies from my server here with no transcoding required for most video formats that Kodi can play natively.

Other Emby features include cloud sync (this is a paid for option which there aren’t too many) where you can choose to sync some of your content titles up to the cloud to services like Dropbox. Mobile sync is another feature, I’ve not tried this but presumably you could choose to sync down a movie for example to your mobile devices local storage for offline playback. Parental Controls and user management to easily share content with family members and fiends. There is also an inbuilt Live TV side to Emby, which I believe only currently works for HDHomeRun network tuners.

However I am still using DVBLogic’s DVBLink Server as the back-end for my Live TV and Kodi using the DVBLinks PVR add-on for Kodi links in to this. However there is also a plug-in for DVBLink on the Emby server, this then enables Live TV to then be streamed to the various Emby client apps, some features fall under the Emby Supporter / Donator category like being able to see all your TV channels in the electronic program guide. But most of the core features of Emby are free and do not require supporter access. Other Live TV Emby plug-ins for back-end TV services include ServerWMC, Media Portal, Next PVR, TVHeadEnd, VU+.

Some screen shots:

Emby HTML5 Web Browser GUI





Movie Info Page


TV Shows


TV Show Info Page


TV Show Seasons


Season 1 / Episodes


Episode Info Page


Music Albums


Album Details / Tracks


Album Artists


Artist Info Page



To wrap this up then, Emby is well simply excellent, the forums are active and helpful to new users. There are parts of the system which are still under heavy development such as the Kodi / Emby integration and the iOS app, however there are stable versions available for Kodi if you don’t want to be on the cutting edge with the beta releases.

I would say Emby is a replacement for Windows MCE /, Plex and probably a whole other bunch of media center related software. Try it out and it won’t be long until you think how did I live without it?

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Z-wave Doorbell - Version 2

Some time ago I wrote about my Z-wave doorbell project using a iTemp device and my existing doorbell chime and push button, see that previous article here for full details.

Well that chime and button were really old to begin with and have recently packed in and stopped working. After reading some wired doorbell chime kit reviews on Amazon I decided to purchase a Byron 1217 kit normally around £15 currently only £7.99 at Screwfix here. The user manual for the Byron 1217 unit can be seen here.

Byron Wired Wall-Mounted Door Chime Kit White

Critically this new doorbell chime only takes 2x D type batteries which are 1.5 volts each totalling 3 volts, whereas my old chime unit took 4x D type batteries totalling 6 volts. This meant I had to also purchase a new 3VDC miniature relay as my old relay was rated at 6VDC on the coil.


Miniature coil relay pin out diagram

Here’s how I wired up the new Byron doorbell chime unit to the iTemp device.

Pins 2 & 9 on the coil relay (no polarity) connected to terminal 2 on the back of the doorbell chime and to the negative terminal of the right hand side battery, at the front of the doorbell chime.


Pins 1 & 5 on the coil relay (no polarity) were then connected to the dry input connector on the Z-Wave iTemp device which you can see in the picture below.
iTemp Sensor

Note: I wouldn’t actually recommend the iTemp device as it uses batteries far too quickly, instead if you are doing a new Z-wave doorbell project I would recommend using a Fibaro Door and Window sensor and the dry input connector on that device instead.

This time as the Byron 1217 chime unit is much smaller in size than my old one, I mounted the coil relay in a surface mount 1 gang box.


Here you can see the Byron 1217 chime unit. The wire on the right of the chime unit is going off outside to the push button, the wire in the corner of the walls going up, is heading towards the iTemp device which is mounted in my living room as it also acts as a temperature sensor.


This time I used a lot smaller and thinner cable running under the ceiling coving heading in to the living room and to the iTemp device. Last time I used some CAT5 cable which was much thicker.


Here’s the other side of the internal wall in the living room, where the iTemp device is mounted.


Blanking faceplate installed on the 1 gang surface mount box which contains the coil relay.


Finished installation.


New push button installed outside, the button came with the Byron 1217 doorbell chime kit. The chime doesn’t go ding dong as I thought it might have, it sounds like a bicycle bell and can only be heard for the duration that the button is being held down. However its perfectly fine for the money spent.


OK so now everything was wired up it was time to test it again, looking in the Vera UI my binary contact device was GREEN i.e. not tripped.
Upon pressing the doorbell it changes to RED i.e. now tripped
After a short while the binary contact device should return back to green.

So now what? Well you can now trigger Vera scenes based upon when this binary contact device is tripped. So for example I have added LUUP code in to a doorbell scene to send a popup notification to all the Kodi HTPC’s / TVs in the house, that there is someone at the door, video / audio playback is also paused, also if its night time and the lights are dimmed the lights will automatically brighten up to 100%.

I also have a Logitech Squeezebox (SqueezeLite instance) in the kitchen announce through the kitchen speakers, using Google Text-to-Speech “There is someone at the door”.


Once you have Z-Wave enabled your existing wired doorbell the possibilities are endless, have a Vera scene send an email notification or send out a SMS text message notification to your phone for example, this could also be integrated in to any front door IP CAM and even send you a picture of who is stood at your door!

Tip - go for a Fibaro door / window sensor rather than a iTemp and you should be good to go.

If you are interested in purchasing Z-wave Europe home automation products, please contact us directly here for bespoke prices and discounts.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Z-wave Immersion Heater Project – Home Automation with Vera

I thought I’d write about my latest Z-wave Home Automation project, to be able to control the immersion hot water heater with Z-wave / Vera. The reason for needing to do this is because our gas central heating system is very old and currently we are unable to have water only turned on with the gas. So in the summer months we rely on the electric immersion heater, which I often turn on and then forget about and I have been known to leave it switched on for days, which isn’t good! Ideally I need to invest in getting the boiler and plumbing sorted out, but in the mean time this project is really going to help.

Once the immersion heater can be controlled via a Fibaro 3KW relay module, I can then schedule some scenes in Vera to automatically turn on the immersion heater at 6am for twenty minutes, so we have hot water when getting up.

Here you can see my new Immersion Heater device in Vera UI5.


My initial plan was just to wire in the Fibaro 3KW relay insert module in behind the immersion heater switch in the kitchen.


However my concern was that the immersion heater uses around 3KW and that the Fibaro relay module would be operating at its upper limits, so a safer and smarter solution was needed. I then thought about also using an additional more heavy duty relay and to have that one handle the heavy load and just have the Fibaro relay switch on and off the additional rely.

So I spoke to my new electrician friend Ahmer Mohammad, who is also a home automation enthusiast (his website "A Smarter Home"), and he also sells and installs Solar Thermal (hot water heating) systems via his renewables company "Solar Sparks", which is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. 

With his advice and installation instructions I was able to purchase a suitable relay and install everything and get it all up and running. I’d also like to thank user “RexBeckett” on the Micasaverde Vera user forums, who is one of the well known experts on there, for his input and advice on the project also!


Here is the wiring diagram I was working from, which was approved by the Electrician:


Here is a photo of the SSR and information about the terminals:


And here are the written instructions from the Electrician:

Use a junction box or heavy duty 20A connectors for the 'lives' as only 1 is coming out of the switch but you need to connect to 3 places.
same with neutrals as only 1 from switch but you need to connect to 3 places as well.
Live from switch connects to:
live in Fibaro
IN in Fibaro
on 1 of the output terminal in the relay
Neutral from switch connects to:
neutral of Fibaro
neutral of the relay (INPUT SIDE)
neutral of the immersion
OUtput 1 of the Fibaro connects to the Live of the relay INPUT side
Live of immersion connects to the switched out terminal of the relay
turn switch on this acts as our isolator for this whole system so don’t need to turn mains off if ever need to change or alter Fibaro, relay or immersion
Fibaro becomes live and ready to accept z-wave commands
Fibaro will then turn the relay on or off
the output contacts of the relay will close or open respectively
when relay contacts closed the immersion is on
nice and safe as we previously discussed.

Parts I needed for the job:

1 x Fibaro 1* 3KW relay insert module (Note- these are now discontinued and have been replaced with the newer 1* 2.5KW FIBEFGS-212)


You can purchase Z-wave Euro devices from us directly, contact us to discuss your personal requirements and we can then offer bespoke discounted pricing.

1 x Solid State Relay which I purchased off eBay. You can buy these without the heat sink, I bought one that came with the heat sink.

Single Phase Solid State Relay SSR-40AA 40A 150-350V 24-480VAC w Heat Sink

Here is the specification of the SSR

Product Name
Solid State Relay + Heat Sink
  • Model
  • Material
    Metal, Aluminum, Plastic
  • Rated Load Current
  • Input
    AC 150-350V
  • Output
    AC 24-480V
  • Total Size (Approx.)
    8 x 5 x 8cm / 3.1" x 1.9" x 3.1" (L * W * H )
  • Color
  • Weight
  • Package Content
  • 1 x Solid State Relay
  • 1 x Heat Sink
1 x Double Pole Switched Fused Spur, to replace the 1970’s looking switch that was in my airing cupboard, where the hot water cylinder tank is located.


This is the old switch in the airing cupboard I replaced and don’t ask me why the walls in the airing cupboard are pink? I didn't paint them that colour!


1 x Single Dry lining box 35mm bought from Screwfix here.


1x Electrical enclosure box 180 x 110 x 100mm from Screwfix here.

IP55 Enclosure Grey 180 x 110 x 100mm

1 x 20A Junction Box also from Screwfix here.


I also needed some twin and earth socket wire.


First step was to ensure that the switch for the immersion heater in the kitchen was turned off, to isolate the circuit upstairs in the airing cupboard. Then I started to remove the existing ON/OFF switch in the airing cupboard, that connects to the immersion heater at the top of the water tank via a flex cable.


I then knocked out a new hole in the wall for the new dry lining box. The cable you can see is the existing cable that comes from the immersion heater wall switch downstairs in the kitchen.


Here is the back of the switched fuse spur, I connected the existing cable in the wall to the Live and Neutral IN and the earth cable to one of the earth connectors.




I then added a short piece of new twin and earth cable to the Switched Fused Spur – To the Live and Neutral OUT and earth to the other earth connector. This cable will be fed back through the dry lining box and connected to the new 20A junction box that will be placed and hidden inside the stud wall.



Feeding the new cable back through the dry lining box.


Attaching the new cable to the Junction Box. Live, Neutral and Earth, the various connections needed as shown in the wiring diagram, will all come from this new junction box.


I then starting checking out the enclosure box, to see where it would be mounted on the wall and where I needed new holes in the wall for the cables to come through in to the box



My Dad always told me make sure its level!


I made two new holes in the wall behind where the enclosure box will be mounted.


I also cut out all the access holes of the box for air flow, as I was worried about how hot the SSR relay would get? The heat sink does get hot and you can’t leave your finger on it for too long!


In this picture you can see I have added two new pieces of twin and earth cable and looped them round in the two new holes and out through the larger hole for the dry lining box.


Next step was to connect the ends to the Junction Box.



As per the wiring diagram, I also needed one extra Live cable, so I also added a single Live cable from the junction box and  looped it round to one of the holes in the wall, to go in to the enclosure box. I also at this point, wired in the neutral and earth cables from the immersion heaters flex cable in to the junction box, I don’t have photos of this step.

In this photo I have put the top on the junction box.


Next I mounted the SSR relay in to the box, I had to drill two small holes in to the base of the box and using some nuts and bolts secured the SSR in to the box.


I then cut the excess off the bolts with a hack saw.


I then pushed the junction box in to the larger hole to hide it in the stud wall and started to connect up some of the cables to the SSR relay.

At this point you really need to start following the wiring diagram, to work out which cables are connecting to where on the SSR and to the Fibaro relay unit.



I mounted the SSR upside down, which just seemed easier as far as the wiring was concerned.


Once I had completed all the wiring and triple checked everything, I turned back on the power and tested I was getting power to the various live cables with my little screw driver that lights up.


It was then time to add the new Fibaro 3KW relay to Vera. So I put the VeraLite in battery mode, pressed the plus button and then pressed the button on the Fibaro module three times.


Here is a picture of the SSR powered up the red light comes on.


Here is the completed installation, minus a bit of pink paint as I had to fill in and tidy up the wall around the fused spur.


In the Vera web UI I could then see two new _Appliance Modules devices has been added. One is a child device and the other is the father or main device.


The reason you get two new devices, even though its only a 1* 3KW relay is because:

“The child device is for the S2 input. It allows you to use it as an extra input which can be useful if you need some way to signal Vera with some state.
The S1 input would switch the output and thus control the SSR directly.”

As the child device isn’t needed in my setup I hid the device using the following method:

You can hide it using the command:


Replacing 123 with the device number. In UI5, this needs to be placed in Startup Lua. In UI7, it apparently sticks if run once in Test Luup code (Lua).


Thanks to RexBeckett for this information and solution.

Immersion Heater turned ON


House Power Usage when the immersion is turned ON.
(CurrentCost EnviR Energy Monitor integrated into Vera with the plug-in).


After installing everything and actually sitting down and using Vera to turn on the Immersion Heater and then watching the real time power consumption usage, I noticed something that looked odd.
I thought there might be a problem? After about 8 minutes of turning on the Immersion the wattage dropped from 3000 and something watts to 600 watts. I went upstairs to the box and the SSR was still lit up and powered on. Then several minutes later it had shot back up to 3441 watts. It would keep doing this as if the immersion heater was being turned on and off after so many minutes. I suspected that it must be a thermostat on the hot water tank but wasn’t sure. Both the electrician and our resident forum expert both confirmed it was likely due to the thermostat on the immersion itself inside at the top of the tank.

Here’s what RexBeckett said about it:

“Immersion heaters usually have built-in thermostats. These turn on and off to keep the water temperature fairly constant. Because they are physically close to the heater, they can cycle quite often even though the tank temperature does not change quickly. I would expect your energy monitor to show the change in energy use as the 'stat cycles.”

After leaving the Immersion turned on for twenty minutes or so I checked the water from the tap and it was nice and hot, so it was indeed all working perfectly fine!


I am very pleased with how this project turned out and I will now be able to schedule some scenes in Vera to automatically turn on and off the Immersion Heater early in the morning so the water  is nice and hot for when we get up. We can now also turn on and off the Immersion heater using our mobile phones and tablets, even when outside of the house!

Here are a couple of screen shots of the new Immersion Heater device in the Vera mobile app Authomation HD.



Next and probably a more expensive job, find a plumber to sort out the central heating boiler properly.