Advice for initial smart setup new house

Good morning all,

We have just bought a new house that needs complete renovation (new electricity, new central heating, gas, water etc). I want to take the opportunity to lay the foundation for a smart home right away. Homey as a base seems ideal to me as it keeps the options open to use multiple systems. Since the basics are important, I would like some advice on a few choices:

  • We will make spotlights in every room and would like to make the dimmers smart. I read that both Zigbee and Zwave have smart dimmers. Which option works best? In another post I read that Zigbee Mesh in combination with Homey does not always work well. Has this problem been resolved or is still the case?

  • A smart thermostat: Downstairs we have underfloor heating (2 different rooms) and upstairs it will be normal radiators that I wanted to control with smart radiator valces. What is the best option? Mostly see Honeywell, Tado and Nest being adviced.

  • Electric underfloor heating will be installed in the bathroom. Is there a good system that can also be connected to the network?

  • What is the best voice control option?




Initially wrote it in Dutch, but noticed the community mainly uses English. But for the Dutch, here the original text :slight_smile:

Goedemorgen allemaal,

Wij hebben net een nieuw huis gekocht dat volledige renovatie nodig heeft (nieuwe elektra, nieuwe centrale verwarming, gas, water etc). Ik wil gelijk van de gelegenheid gebruik maken om de basis te leggen voor een smart huis. Homey als basis leek mij ideaal aangezien dat de optie open houdt om meerdere systemen te gebruiken. Aangezien de basis belangrijk is heb ik graag wat advies op enkele keuzes:

  • We zullen spotjes in elke kamer maken en zou graag de dimmer smart maken. Ik zag dat zowel Zigbee als Zwave slimme dimmers heeft. Welke optie werkt het beste? Ik las dat de Zigbee Mesh i.c.m. Homey niet altijd even goed werkt. Is dit probleem inmiddels verholpen of is nog steeds zo.

  • Een slimme thermostaat: Beneden hebben we vloerverwarming (2 verschillende kamers) en boven zullen het normale verwarmingen zijn die ik met slimmer thermostaatknoppen wilde aansturen. Wat is de beste optie. Zag Honeywell, Tado en Nest vaak voorbij komen.

  • In de badkamer zal elektrische vloerverwarming komen. Is er geen goed systeem dat ook op het netwerk kan worden aangesloten?

  • Wat is de beste optie voor spraakbesturing?




At least one thing to keep your options open: make sure the new wiring for switches includes a neutral (blue) wire.This isn’t standard, but helps if you want to use smart switches or dimmers. Though there are options for two wire versions, they need to keep themselves powered by sending a small current though your lights, which may result in leds not fully go out unless you create a bypass.

As for the choice of z-wave vs zigbee: Firmware V5 seems to fix a lot of zigbee problems. If you have money to spend, My personal preference is z-wave. It is more expensive, but has less compatibility issues, more sure ways of direct links (associations) to switches and lamps (so you can keep turning on the light if Homey breaks down).

As for thermostats, my preference for Tado is in other threads too. I cannot really compare to other systems of course. One advantage Honeywell has (though more expensive) is that it stays smarter when internet is down, with Tado you’re back to pure manual control. I hear in all Honeywell is more traditional though, less smart IMO.

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As @Edwin_D also said my option at this point would also be Z-wave, but you never know, maybe Athom can fix the Zigbee issues :soon:

The underfloor electric thermostat that I would recommend at this point is Heatit Z-trm3. I have only couple of months experience with one piece from it but can say at this point that it’s worth the price. Though there are some complaints here at the forum about the inclusion (which is tricky) and some operation errors.

If I would start over or renowating the house I would do the following:

  1. Forget about the smart lightbulbs in “normal” illumination and focus on the smart dimmers and switches. Ofcourse if you just love to change the color of your light you better stick with the smart bulbs. I first bought some colored lamps, have to say that I changed the color in the first week when I bought them but not after that. Ofcourse if you have some “special” areas that you want to be certain color the smart bulbs are justified.
  2. Keep using the “conventional” switches, which are wired to smart switch/dimmer input. This way you don’t get into s(h)itting in the dark when your main controller decides to break. I wouldn’t use smart buttons to operate the lighting.
  3. Wire the neutral to the switches as @Edwin_D suggested, this will keep the options open.
  4. Keep the smart devices within one additional (addition to wlan) protocol (meaning in homey’s case either Zigbee or Z-wave). This will keep the mesh operation better. My recommendation at this point is z-wave.
    a. This is not mandatory, but I would recommend it.
  5. In groups where you need to control the whole group, install the smart switch or dimmer to the main electric kiosk/cubicle or whatever you call it. For example warm water boiler, heating, lights, etc. There are options for DIN installed smart devices. This way you have easy access to the smart device and it’s not in the ceiling or behind the actual wall switch.
  6. Expecially in high power applications (heating, pumps etc.) even though some smart switches/thermostats/dimmers have rated value of some amps or watts I wouldn’t load them fully. I burned one dimmer rated for 500VA with 350VA load and that wasn’t some chinese manufacturer. This is something to keep in mind to some extent. Use separate contactors if needed.
  7. Stick with the common brands at least in main equipment that are vital to you. You have better support from the manufacturer and with community.
  8. Make your smart home bullet proof, so that if you lose your controller you can still operate your home.

Thanks @Edwin_D and @peltsi51 for all the tips. This really helps. Already instructed the electrician to at least add blue wires everywhere. Got a few other questions now we are at it :slight_smile:

Given your input I am also leaning towards Zwave for all build-in lighting.

Will indeed just go for normal lightbulbs and build in the zwave within the switch/dimmer. Noticed you got 2 type of options:

Which type would you recommend? Also the ecodim brand is relatively expensive. Is this worth the quality or are there any other cheaper versions with similar quality?

Also what would work best just normal light switches (non dimmable)?

I will need 11 dimmers through out the house and probably another 8 normal lightswitches. So at these prices it adds up to quite a high amount.

You could also look at FIBARO Dimmer 2 250W Inbouw Z-Wave Plus if you do not mind push and hold to dim instead of a rotary dial. You can combine these with Jung or similar. But as mentioned, z-wave tends to be pricey.

Fibaro also has single or double switches.

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Thanks @Edwin_D ! If I understand it correctly you can use this combination to dim two different set of lights from the same pulse switch?

That will indeed bring the number of dimmers down by 4 for me, so definitely wil save quite a bit!

Dimmer 2 is only one dimmer (version 2). I don’t think you can fit two in one box and it won’t get cheaper.

The double switch could fit in one box. I’m not sure which Jung panel is most suited for that.

Got it. I misunderstood how the second input of the Fibaro switch works. I noticed that there is a second switch possibility in the Fibaro 2 dimmer. As I understand it now this won’t be an analog switch, but allows you to link it via the z-wave network to activate scenarios.

Do you by any chance know if it is possible to link a double pulse switch to this dimmer and then link the second pulse input to another Fibaro 2 dimmer via the zwave network? This will allow me to e.g. turn on the lights on the second floor halway via the dimmer on the first floor.

I can’t confirm, but as I understand it you can either use the two pulse buttons to control one dimmer (nicer and more logical control) or you can keep it to the default setting, which is use one button to control the dimmer and the other to control scenes. Dimming in one button mode is less natural though.

I don’t expect the second pulse button to provide nice dimming controls for the other dimmer, as it takes time to execute the controls when they are not directly linked. Maybe some one that uses a similar setup can tell you more. On off should work fine though.

I am going to have to post a comment in favor of Zigbee. I have approx. 40 zigbee items and they run flawless. I have tried one Z-Wave sensor once (Fibaro), but it ran out of battery really fast and was about 3 times the price of a similar zigbee device. So to make your choice more difficult, I would choose Zigbee. I am apparently an outcast of some sorts, but it just works for me. I have Homey, 9 routers and the rest are battery powered devices.

My advise: start with buying enough routers (light bulbs, smart plugs etc.) add those first. After that, add your battery powered sensors. I personally feel that the commonly accepted way to add zigbee devices on the community is wrong, meaning that it doesn’t work for me, but my method does.

In short, the community’s advice is to always add devices when they are close to Homey and move them to their location afterwards. That doesn’t work for me. I add them when they are in the place where they should be. That works 99% of the time. I sometimes find a ‘Zigbee dead spot’, meaning the Zigbee mesh doesn’t reach that place at the moment. The solution is to just add a router in a strategic place. But if you’re planning to make a lot of lights etc. smart,. you won’t need to do this. I only have 9 routers, and this is enough to cover my first and second floor

There is an obvious downside to Zigbee. Zigbee uses 2.4 GHz, whereas Z-wave uses approx. 900 mHz. 2.4 GHz has more traffic (wifi etc.). I believe that’s the reason Z-Wave has a better range than Zigbee. Then again, if you are planning on using a lot of devices, Zigbee will be more than enough, and it will be a lot cheaper.

None. I don’t really like voice control, and I don’t use it very often. A smart home for me is a home that does what you want it to do automatically. I don’t want to ask Google to turn the lights on or off every time I walk in or out a room. I want a sensor to trigger this, for example.

Having said that, I feel that Google is currently the best choice. It was the first Dutch speaking voice assistant and I feel it understands me best.