A hardwired home light automation controller using ESP32 #HomeAutomation

Rob Dobson has worked the home automation scene for years with mixed results using various equipment from manufacturers.

One thing I have learned (the hard way) was that over 100 separate wireless devices, each with their own power, software and reliability issues, was a recipe for endless “support” work. In addition, a fundamental weakness of any wireless lighting system is the fact that it is “wireless”. Wireless communication is, by it’s nature, less reliable than wired communication as anyone with a WiFi network or mobile phone can testify.

So I set about the task of finding a multi-channel dimmer/switch which wouldn’t depend (solely) on wireless that I could integrate into my system. What I realised is that there are many “professional” lighting systems (e.g. the higher-end Lutron systems) that support multiple channels but at the DIY home automation end of the market I didn’t find much…

So Rob decided to design a multiple-circuit switching system that would have features designed for reliability:

  • Use of Solid-State-Relays (SSRs) instead of electro-mechanical relays
  • The option of using wired communication (in addition to a wireless communication method) using standard CAT-5+ cable
  • A single microcontroller / firmware to reduce the potential points-of-failure (and the number of firmware updates required, etc.)
  • Support for at least 8 circuits with one unit and the option to cascade multiple units

The final design is called Light Scader and Rob has installed a total of eight of them (six stand alone units and two “cascaded” unit with a single microcontroller and between 14 to 20 circuits).

Rob uses an ESP32 with Ethernet board from Olimex with POE capability.

Read more here and see the software on GitHub.

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