Clone a Loxone Mini Server with Arduino?

Background

I'm building a new home and would like to use Loxone for the Home Automation Hardware. However, the Loxone Mini Server is extremely expensive. See this link for the tech specs http://www.loxone.com/enus/service/documentation/miniserver/getting-started.html

The goal was to hook up, almost every light and wall outlet to multiple Loxone mini servers. The house will have close to 64 can lights and 30 wall outlets. Which means around 12 Loxone Mini Servers would have to be purchased. There only 8 relays per Mini Server. Ultimately, all of the relays of the house would be housed in the basement. And the relays would be controlled via Vera and/or OpenHab.

Question:

Is it possible to safely mimic the above setup with Arduino, and make up to city code? Any advice on where to get started would greatly be appreciated.

Thank You

The safety aspect is entirely up to your skill and adherence to regulations and common sense.

I'm reading the specs and, yes it appears that an Uno, or more precisely Atmega328 would be entirely capable of replacing all the inputs and outputs (except analogue outputs) of the Loxone thing and then quite a bit more if you use shift registers (no reason why not to). The only problem I see that you might face is the LAN and web server capability. That might be underwhelming, depending on your expectations. I have no idea what KNX® EIB integration is, so no comment on that one

Anyway, apart from switching your outlets on and off, what else is it supposed to do? How does it determine when to do that? How do you see the future user interface? What about changing the software? All the wall outlets? Seriously? What if you need to change the software? You power down your entire house? Then you lose your PC on which you need to make the software changes.

And the last question for now - Why?

lazukars: Is it possible to safely mimic the above setup with Arduino, and make up to city code?

Yes, it would be possible - as far as whether you could get it to pass code inspection, that is unknown - maybe?

The real question is, should the unthinkable happen, and your house burns down, and the fire department or inspector determines it was due to an electrical issue (whether due to your system or not) - will your insurance policy cover your house for the damages?

The answer will very likely be "no".

If you don't have insurance (?) - then the above concern is moot, and you can do what you want, and you'll have to live with any potential consequences (but that's life).

Personally, if I was tackling this project, I would try to use commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) parts for the light and outlet controls (plus any other controls).

Ideally, these controls would be RF actuated, or perhaps actuated/controlled via a signal over the mains power lines (ie - something like X-10, just more reliable). If not either of those, then hard-wired would be OK (use in-wall or plenum rated cabling for the wiring, though - again, this is for any insurance coverage aspect) - but still, the control/actuation should happen at the light/plug - and those controllers should be COTS.

Then - try to obtain the spec for actuating those contollers, or reverse-engineer the signals. Basically, you want a line of demarcation between your system, and the actual devices controlling the electricity. You don't want to modify or otherwise change the controllers themselves, because doing so would bring into question any testing and certification (ie - UL standard or similar) that deems them "safe for use in a home environment" - again, this would be for insurance reasons.

If insurance or other similar reasons aren't an issue for you, then I would just go completely custom for everything - provided it was the cheaper option, and you have the skills to make it electrically safe and robust to use for 20 years or so.

Shpaget: How does it determine when to do that?

That's depends how the system is programmed. For example if a motion or proximity sensors are installed, lights could turn off when a room is empty. The proximity sensor, in this case would send a signal to the Home Automation software, and that software would turn the electrical relays connected to the lights off. Or a panic switch could be installed. Another example is a panic switch. One light switch that could turn on all of the lights in the house at once. The possibilities are endless.

Shpaget: How do you see the future user interface?

Great question. There's a ton of Home Automation Software on the market. Open source software is the only viable option IMO. OpenHab is a great choice. However, in terms of future user interface, I see something like Home Assistant https://github.com/balloob/home-assistant becoming the norm. The best thing about Home Assistant is that it's a responsive interface. Its interface will look great on smartphone or a touchscreen tablet mounted to a wall.

Shpaget: What about changing the software?

Just update the latest version from Github.

Shpaget: All the wall outlets? Seriously? What if you need to change the software? You power down your entire house? Then you lose your PC on which you need to make the software changes.

Good point. Will have to look into this further.

Shpaget: And the last question for now - Why?

There's a lot of home automation protocols out there ( ie ZigBee, Z-Wave Insteon, etc ), however they are all wireless solutions. Being able to hard-wire a home for home-automation seems like a great choice if the owner has the ability to do it. In my opinion it's comparable to using Wifi in a house.

Wifi works most of the time, but if you have the ability to install Cat6 or Cat5 into a house during the build then that's a no brainer. Plus hard-wiring a house for home automation allows for complete customization. Any wall plate can be installed in any size or color. That can not be said for Z-wave wall plates or switches for instance.