Smart home – lighting control system and not only them

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In this Article: Smart Home Control System; simultaneously comfortable and economical lighting with the help of dimmers; types of modern switches; remote control of wiring accessories; what is the difference between sockets and switches from different manufacturers; ways of connecting wiring with the mechanism of switches and sockets; design of modern switches and sockets.

Smart home - lighting control system and not only them

Electric lighting for most of us has long become the norm, a familiar attribute of everyday life. With the onset of evening twilight, our hand habitually fumbles along the wall in search of a switch, presses its key and the light of the lamp floods the room – we know that it should be so and we feel nervous if the lamp for some reason does not light up. However, more than a hundred years have passed since its invention and the introduction of electrical outlets and switches into residential buildings, since then they have been many times improved. So what are the capabilities of modern wiring products in a smart home??

Smart home control system

The greatest degree of comfort for households can be achieved in only one way – by building a single control system for all electrical appliances within one building. To accomplish this task, it is necessary that these electrical appliances support a common “language” of control – for this purpose, KNX technology or a single receiver standard was developed in Europe.

A common communication channel between all electrical appliances existing in the house allows them to transmit and receive information from system devices controlled by specialized programs. According to the principle of operation, the KNX system is externally similar to a local network connection between computers, but it is used much more widely – signals received from sensors are processed by system devices, commands generated on the basis of software analysis of data are sent to one actuator or several at once, and upon receipt of a command, each performer confirms getting it.

The home control system based on KNX technology allows you to control all electrical appliances at the same time with just one button press. Scenarios, following which the control system creates the necessary level of comfort for households, are programmed by them according to personal needs. For example, at a preset morning time, the system will automatically open the roller shutters, activate the water heating in the boiler and turn on the electric coffee maker..

The system includes a meteorological complex that controls the air temperature in the premises based on the analysis of the current state of the atmosphere outside the building – with warming, the heating intensity decreases, and the supply of external air increases. And vice versa – when the wind increases, the windows will be automatically covered with roller shutters, the air intake is reduced to a minimum.

Smart home - lighting control system and not only them

Houses equipped with such a control system can be safely left for rest – electrical appliances will follow a programmed scenario, completely imitating the presence of household members.

In addition to the described advantages, the KNX system allows you to reduce energy costs and expenses for its payment by 1/3 – the devices are turned on only when necessary.

Economical lighting control

Before the advent of these devices, the only way to lower or increase the light intensity was to decrease or increase the number of lighting lamps of a certain wattage..

The first of them – dimmers – are designed to control the brightness of lighting, with their help you can change the lighting to a more comfortable one, dimming or intensifying it.

Installed in series in the lighting circuit, dimmers can reduce the power consumption of luminaires while increasing the life of the lighting fixtures. Disadvantages of dimmers: they have a narrow specialization and are intended only for a certain type of lamps (incandescent, halogen); have different power, and the maximum does not exceed 1000 W (the use of special amplifiers allows you to increase the power to 3 KW, but no more). The use of fluorescent lamps as sources of illumination complicates their control using a dimmer, because there is an individual transformer in their design. Only the largest manufacturers of wiring accessories produce dimmers for such lamps..

Smart home - lighting control system and not only them

According to the control principle, dimmers are divided into keyboard, rotary, rotary-push and touch. Key dimmers work like this – a short touch of a key turns on the lighting, a second touch turns it off, holding your fingers on the key changes the brightness of the lighting. Rotary dimmers are controlled by rotating the convex button, rotary-push – turning on and off the lighting is controlled by pressing a button, the intensity – by rotating it. The touch dimmer activates the lighting when you touch the surface with your finger, holding the finger changes the brightness level, repeated touching turns off the light.

Motion sensors, whose principle of operation is based on infrared radiation, will completely abandon switches. Usually they are installed in passages, such as staircases and corridors, following which in the dark is fraught with falling, and it is not so easy to detect light switches. As soon as a person is in the range of the motion sensor, the light turns on instantly, as soon as the person leaves the territory accessible to the infrared ray, the lighting turns off.

However, such sensors will not be effective if the person is immobile – the absence of movement for them means the need to turn off the lighting. In this case, special devices are suitable – presence sensors that activate lighting devices for the entire time while one of the household is in the room and turn off the light when there are no people in the range of their sensors. Presence detectors are much more sensitive than motion detectors, they turn on lighting at any, even the slightest, movement in their range.

Depending on the model and purpose, the sensors controlling the lighting have a different viewing angle. Outdoor models, the viewing angle of which is usually 200-270about, and the range of action is 3-14 m, they are set at the corners of buildings, the height of their placement is 2 m.Home sensors are set at a height of 0.8 to 1.1 m, their viewing angle is usually 180about, the distance at which infrared rays act is up to 12 m. The simplest models of motion and presence sensors have a small area of ​​action of infrared rays, they activate lighting only when a person appears, ignoring pets, which is an undoubted plus. More complex models, the lenses of which emit several beams of infrared rays in several directions at the same time, track several sectors, for example, staircases and partly corridors of the first and second floors.

The motion and presence detectors can be set for the period of time during which the illumination remains, despite the cessation of movement in the infrared range. In addition, it is necessary to set them the level of illumination of the room, at which it is not necessary to turn on the lamps, which will eliminate the activation of lighting in the daytime..

In addition to the lighting controls described, there are wiring accessories with timers and circuit breakers. The first type is designed to supply electricity for a specified period of time, which is convenient, for example, when controlling lighting fixtures in stairwells. Products of the second type – sockets that automatically cut off the power supply in case of network overload, short circuit and current leakage outside the mains (into the ground).

Modern energy-saving technologies based on these products allow not only saving energy, but also creating a truly comfortable atmosphere in the house..

Switch types

According to the principle of operation, all switches that control the lighting of our houses are the same – they close and open the electrical circuit, due to which the lights in the rooms are turned on and off. Their difference in design, there are keyboards, pushbuttons and cross switches.

In the usual and widespread key switches, the swing principle is involved – pressing one side closes the electrical circuit, pressing the other opens it. There are models of key switches with pressing on the same side of the key – its initial position is reported by a spring mechanism. Switches with one, two, three and four keys are produced, with the most widespread being two-key and one-key. Depending on the number of keys, such switches allow you to simultaneously control several lighting devices, divided into groups and associated with this key..

Smart home - lighting control system and not only them

Pushbutton switches, pressing which activates the lighting, and pressing them again turns them off, are equipped with a mechanism that returns the position of the button after each press to its original position. High-quality pushbutton switches withstand about 60,000 clicks, i.e. their minimum service life will be at least 20 years.

Cross switches (switches) are designed to control the on and off lighting at the same time from several points inside the premises, for example, representing a suite of rooms with a common corridor. With their help, you can turn on the lighting at the entrance to such a group of rooms, go through them completely and turn off the lighting with another switch, i.e. there is no need to return to the original switch.

All the described types of switches can be equipped with two types of LED backlighting – the first type allows you to easily locate the switch in a dark room and turns off when the electrical circuit is closed, the second type backlight acts the other way around and turns on when the switch is activated, which allows you to make sure that a remotely located electrical appliance is turned on (basement or street lighting, pump, fan, etc.). As a rule, backlight LEDs are mounted in key switches, thus illuminating part of the key, its contour or its entire surface. Depending on the manufacturer, the backlighting uses from 2 to 5 colors.

Remote control methods for wiring accessories

Almost all modern products allow them to be controlled from a remote control, the signal from which is transmitted by an infrared beam or radio wave. Remote controls with radio control have one undoubted advantage – radio waves freely penetrate the walls, which allows you to control the complex of wiring accessories of the “smart home” system without getting up from your chair and even remotely using the Internet and a communicator (laptop).

Smart home - lighting control system and not only them

Variety of designs and purposes

The contact mechanism, the caliper plate and the outer panel – this is the device of wiring products, the invention of which took more than 20 years in the last century. Today, while maintaining the general principle of the device, their structural elements have become more diverse..

The main difference between electrical outlets and switches from different manufacturers is in the way the wiring is attached to the contact mechanism. The classical fastening of wires to the terminals of the mechanism is carried out with a screw connection and it is certainly reliable if no one used these sockets – mechanical vibrations that occur when installing or removing the plug from the socket, over time, weaken the screw clamp. In addition, copper, most often used in electrical wiring, is a very ductile metal and as it is used, it deforms and compresses. For these reasons, the contact between the electrical wire and the outlet mechanism weakens, gaps appear, as a result, the body of the electrical outlet heats up significantly.

To solve this problem, manufacturers of wiring products have modified the design of the contact mechanism of the sockets – the connection remains screwed, while the bare wires are inserted into a special window, and then tightened with a screw.

There is another way of connecting wires to the socket mechanism, different from the screw fastening – a clamp assembly, in which the wires are tightly held by special terminals with springs. The force with which the wiring is fixed in the clamp is precisely calculated, i.e. it is impossible to under-tighten or over-tighten such a connection. In addition, the quick-clamping unit, in contrast to the screw connection, is able to damp mechanical vibrations due to the springs installed in it. Because it is not necessary to loosen and re-tighten the connections of the contact mechanism of the socket with the quick-release assembly, then the number of operations performed when installing one electrical outlet is reduced, which means that the installation time is reduced – we press on the terminal, start the wire, weaken the pressure and the wire is securely fixed. Such sockets are most convenient if the electrical wiring is made with a rigid single-core wire – it will not be easy to bring a bare flexible wire into the clamp.

Most models of wiring accessories from various manufacturers are designed for a standard 50 mm depth of an installation box (a cylindrical recess in the wall) – they have a mechanism about 30 mm thick. At the same time, models of electrical outlets are produced with a smaller mechanism thickness – within 20 mm, which greatly facilitates installation work, since there is more space in the box cavity for laying the wire.

The contact mechanism of modern sockets and switches is fixed on a plastic base, the material of which contains a number of special additives that increase heat resistance, strength, UV resistance, self-extinguishing in case of fire, and preventing dust accumulation. The higher the cost of a particular product, the more it possesses the described properties. Depending on the manufacturer, the brushes (the conductive parts of the products) are made of ordinary, tinned or silver-plated brass – the latter have the highest characteristics, but the cost of the product in the design of which they are included is the highest. Often, brushes in electrical outlets are made of two parts – it is necessary that their design contains means for tightly connecting these parts, however, cheap sockets do not have such means. Power outlets of the largest manufacturers are equipped with additional protection of current-carrying elements – they are covered with an insulation layer, which ensures complete safety for people, even if the decorative outer panel of the outlets is dismantled, for example, during wallpapering or painting walls.

Smart home - lighting control system and not only them

A metal or plastic support ensures reliable fixation of wiring accessories in the junction box – after clamping it with screws, its legs with two teeth on each expand into vertical grooves made around the perimeter of the box. In terms of reliability, a metal support is more effective, especially for sockets.

The product line of the largest manufacturers of electrical outlets necessarily includes products for children’s rooms – sockets equipped with protective curtains that block the contact holes when not using it. The shutters are opened either when the special contact of the plug comes into contact with the corresponding socket contact, or when the plugs are simultaneously inserted into both contact holes. There are two types of safety shutters: push-up; rotating clockwise. In both cases, a special spring is used to return the shutter when the plug is removed..

In addition to the usual sockets for connecting power to electrical appliances, there are so-called signal sockets designed to transmit a signal to a TV, telephone or computer. The classic representative of wiring devices of this type were sockets for radio, widely known in the days of the USSR, which are no longer used today. Such products can be designed to transmit only a certain signal, for example, television or telephone, or be multifunctional, i.e. simultaneously have outputs for telephone or television plugs. Signal sockets can be equipped with shutters that protect their contact mechanism from the penetration of dust particles.

Design of wiring accessories

As mentioned above, the material for their bodies, buttons, keys and faceplates is plastic, the additives of which increase the strength to mechanical and thermal wear, resistance to ultraviolet rays.

Smart home - lighting control system and not only them

The main colors of plastic are white and white with a cream shade, also called “ivory”. In addition to the main color range, models of products of various colors are produced – from pastel to piercingly bright, for example, sapphire or platinum. The largest manufacturers include in the product line products made of wood – maple, beech, cherry, oak, etc. – with their treatment with fire retardants. The key and switch frame can be made of ceramics, glass and metal, and plastic products can be lined with natural leather and artificial stone (for example, marbled).

The standard shape of wiring products is a square or rounded frame, a round or square key. However, there are models with an oval key, various widths of the frame around it, the front panel can be not only flat, but also convex, in the shape of a sail.

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