3-E Electrical Ltd

Control Systems & General Electrical Work
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Case Studies

The Snowdonia Smart Barn

Before Work Started

We were contacted by Simon very early in his build journey to take his plans forward to completion. He had a good idea of what he wanted to achieve with this ambitious barn conversion, had lined up the build team and researched much of the hardware going into the build. After initial discussion, we arranged visits to a couple of system supplier showrooms. Loxone was chosen as it fitted in with the level of functionality, feedback, integration and ease of use.

John Cullen Ltd had been commissioned with the lighting design and supply, and as the install progressed a comprehensive set of plans arrived with the hardware. All of the lighting had been designed on the DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) protocol, and given the open structure of the barn we were able to hide the majority of the cabling for each of the 108 lights & 30m of LED tape split over 38 circuits. The number of light fittings truly justifies the end result with layers of light filling the room with gentle warmth. The Loxone Miniserver has a DALI extension that easily incorporates the fine control of the illumination. For added effect the dimming rates were slowed down to gently breathe life into the room and eliminate harsh changes in brightness.

Much of the magic of this barn is showcased by the lighting, therefore the control had to be special. The open plan area comprises, the lounge, dining area, kitchen, hallway to the bedroom, and the mezzanine area. The main lounge Touch Pure controls this as one area, with moods synchronised over the 5 areas. Using scene control ensures the same consistent light is enabled for each area and enabled the zone plans to work. With some creative programming each of the other zones can be controlled individually e.g. needing additional light in the kitchen while making a cup of tea, after a predefined time, this zone will revert to the set lounge scene thus maintaining the ambiance.

The main bathroom required a little thought as this was not a typically enclosed space. The staircase has been constructed with a combination of oak and acrylic panelling, therefore the stair tread LED and the Smart Glass had to be provided for. The “bath” setting ensured the correct lighting, the smart glass was clear and the skylight blind was opened so you could look up to the stars while soaking in the sunken bath. The mezzanine motion sensor can trigger the SmartGlass to ensure privacy should someone venture up the stairs….. Read the IntelligentGlass blog….

Heating & Heating Control – An air source heat pump was installed along with a hotwater and heating buffer tank. The primary delivery method was underfloor in the main area and bedroom. As this was not a daily home, radiators were added to quickly boost the temperature after periods of absence. Loxone handles multiple heating sources with ease and can do so automatically to achieve the target temperature quickly. The exception is the bathroom towel rail which is set on a schedule to warm up the fluffy towels. To compliment the heating in the lounge with its high vaulted ceiling, there is a large fan that gently springs into action when it’s a few degrees warmer higher up. Recirculating this warm air helps with the warm feeling in the room and helps with the efficiency of the heating.

High skylight windows with blinds are fitted in the lounge and bedroom. Through the convenience of one touch control, the windows can be opened, and the blinds set to automatically retract to prevent damage. A simple wind vane with direction feeds real time data into the Miniserver and can either prevent windows from being opened, or close them in strengthening wind, the same is done via a rainfall sensor to keep the Snowdonia horizontal rain out. For an additional bit of fun this wind info also provides live data in the app, which has be converted to km/hr, MPH and the Beaufort Scale, direction is displayed in degrees and 16 cardinal points. Historical data also records wind gusts and average wind speed.

With space at a premium, much of the tech, set-top-boxes and controls were located out in the plant room. The Sky box, Music Server, AV receiver and amps housed in a network rack, this not only kept them neat & secure, but also makes future maintenance easier. Cat6 cabling provided the Sky connection in addition to audio return to the AV receiver for the lounge surround sound system. iR control is fed back over the Cat6 link to the various boxes. The Loxone Music Server and Amp is located in the rack providing audio back to 4 stereo zones. Being linked to the Loxone MiniServer, system messages can also be played out over the multi room, or specific zone speakers, e.g. rain/wind warnings

Thick stone walls necessitated multiple WiFi access points to ensure strong and robust coverage inside and out. Built in as part of the wired network, the data provision in the barn should handle traffic for many years to come.

360 degree CCTV coverage was provisioned with cameras being custom sprayed to blend in with the stone exterior of the barn. Much of the exterior tech had to be blended in to minimise visual impact within the National Park and comply with National Trust covenants placed on the build.

Even with the property being geographically difficult to access, security was high on the agenda. The HD CCTV provides the 1st deterrent through the use of virtual trip lines and motion detection. The building is fitted with motion and door/window contacts as a 2nd line of defence, however should someone gain access the 3rd line kicks in. Lighting in the barn can be made to flask on and off and loud music/noise can be played through the Music System. In addition all light switches are disabled. All of this should be enough  to deter the majority of attempts. Finally, push notifications and the caller service are triggered to provide Simon with live alerts.

Other Bits – Smoke/fire detection is linked into the Loxone System via the Acio relay module. In addition any of the lights switches can trigger the fire alarm if excess heat is detected. Leak detection has been placed under the “wet” appliances with plans to add a solenoid shut off for the mains water supply. The front gate is pre wired for gate control with the intention to do this via an NFC tag in the car and/or Automatic Number Plate Recognition

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