In another review I looked at Home Tool Pro which is the software used by installers (and presumably users) of the SmartOne CEBus automation system. This review covers some of the hardware and features of the system itself.
CEBus CommunicationSmartOne is the first CEBus based home automation systems and is supported and installed by a network of authorized dealers. The system is standalone (i.e. programmed via a PC and then disconnected to run on its own). The manufacturer makes all of the necessary devices and components to provide a complete package capable of lighting, appliance, security, energy management, entertainment and other home system control. External (non smart) devices can be controlled via the SmartOne Bridge which has analog and digital inputs and outputs.
The system features Distributed Control rather than conventional Central Control. The difference here is that the SmartOne devices contain enough intelligence to store their own configuration and functions so that if a system controller fails, the devices will continue to operate as programmed. For example if the lighting control panel fails, the switches will continue to operate according to their individual groupings etc. Also, the devices can share system resources such as real time clocks etc. and thereby request information and status from each other as required to perform various functions.
The CEBus protocol provides for device communication over the powerline as well as hard wiring, IR, RF etc. The SmartOne system uses the powerline to communicate with lighting devices (smart switches) and controllers (i.e. security and bridge controllers). The controllers themselves are hard wired to the controlled devices and sensors. The controllers are connected to the powerline via a Coupling Power Supply which provides power to the controller as well as providing the CEBus communication link.
The heart of the system is the System Manager which is a wall mounted control panel with an LCD screen and a keypad. This attractive and well designed control panel gives the user direct access to the system via a menu driven interface. Such things as lighting macros and scenes, security system operation etc. are displayed in a main menu. Using buttons, the user calls submenus and issues commands to the system. The menu layout is designed by the installer using the system software (HomeTool Pro) and can be customized to suit the system and user requirements.
Here is a brief description of the hardware available.
System ManagerSystem Manager(s)
Mounted on the wall in a convenient location, this is what controls the system. The user can initiate scenes and macros etc. using the keypad. The system manager uses the powerline to distribute signals to the various controllers in the system.
Presently there a 3 controllers available. These beige controllers are used to integrate other (non powerline & non CEBus) devices into the system.
BridgeThe Bridge is a key component which can be used to integrate many external systems into the whole house control system. It provides 4 analog inputs (sensors), 8 Binary Inputs (On/Off) and 8 Outputs (On/Off or Momentary relays) and is used to control such equipment as sprinklers, garage door openers, motorized windows etc. Connect motion, moisture, pressure etc. sensors to the inputs and they become available system wide to trigger events macros etc. The bridge also has connections for one RS232 thermostat for control of the HVAC system.
30 Amp Load ControllerThe 30 Amp Load Controller provides control of one 240 volt appliance (water heater, pump, baseboard heater etc). It includes a built in current sensor which measures the load current and can report that value to the system. The load controller can also be controlled by a remote SmartSwitch.
Security ModuleThe Security Module is used to integrate a home security system with SmartOne, thus allowing arm/disarm and monitoring from the System Manager as well as integration of lighting systems etc. with security functions.
Smart SwitchSmart Switches (replace existing light switches) send and respond to CEBus compliant messages sent over the powerlines. Can be used to control lighting (single or groups), appliances, events, macros or any low voltage home product on the system. The switches are fully programmable including the dimming rate allowing amazing control over lighting scenes etc. Each switch can be programmed for up to 4 functions responding to tap top / tap bottom, hold top and hold bottom.
Audio Video Controller (Coming Soon) – Integrated IR commands with power sensing. The A/V controller can store up to 40 macros and each macro can send 16 infra red commands to the A/V equipment. The unit is stand alone or integrated into a SmartOne system and responds to CEBus messages sent from a switch, sensor or a system manager.
Door Intercom Module – Allows two way communication from a touch tone telephone to the front door or gate and contains a relay that can be used to activate a gate control or latch. Can use a SmartOne or any standard speaker. Connect to a SmartOne Bridge and use the system to activate a security camera, flash the lights and turn down the stereo when someone rings the doorbell.
HomeTool Pro – This is the software used to set up the system. Details can be found in a separate review.
This is the first CEBus system to market and the products are impressive. Smart Corporation is a very professional outfit and the products that I have looked at here are well designed, attractive and solidly constructed. As the dealer network grows, I’m sure we’ll hear more and more about this system.
A basic installation integrating security and lighting would cost in the $5000 ball park and would be installed and setup by a professional home system integrator. Add more goodies and you can spend as much as your heart desires. For the DIY crowd, there will be consumer products available 1st quarter of 1999. Dubbed “SmartGear”, this equipment will be available from your Home Centers and other retail outlets with prices competitive to similar quality X-10 products. For more information, have a look at http://www.ge-smart.com.