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Replacement for Clipsal C-Bus - what are my options


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My home is wired with Clipsal C-Bus. A fantastic system that is  very popular in Asia and Europe.

Unfortunately, it did not take off in the US and its manufacturer, Schneider, has discontinued sales in the US.

I assume that components will be available for a but ultimately, I won't be able to replace any defective 110V UL part. I am looking into retrofitting another system but I would like to avoid opening all the walls and rather reuse the same wiring. .What are my options?  The Clipsal system in based on a cat-5 bus and all components are connected to the same bus in a tree topology (e.g.  Segments can branch out but loops are not allowed.). The power components (dimmers and relays) are located centrally and all circuits is wired back to the central closet where all the power elements are located. What other systems use the same type of wiring?

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Well it may not be the answer you are looking for, but it appears there is a growing DIY community around C-Bus. Arduino and Raspberry Pi, seem to have activity going. That would be what I would explore.

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I too have a Clipsal lighting system and am concerned about how to maintain and/or replace the system or components.  Please post any updates you find for your solution to this problem and I will likewise update what I find.  

 

I have heard that the Clipsal line is to be sold soon by Schneider, and hopefully the new owners will decide to renew the USA line and start supporting it here again. I think the system is a good one and deserves a sales push in the US. I plan to wait till this plays out before I look at a total replacement strategy.

 

Clipsal seems to be a dominant lighting system in Australia, and also seems to have a reasonable foothold in Europe. This makes me think it will someday be continued in the US once out economy pick up better.

 

In the near term I'm looking for someone that can help me support my system via remote internet access (program updates, debugging problems, etc.), along with a local electrician that can do the parts updates and other "groundwork" on my system at the house. I think this combination will work. Along this line of thought, right now I'm looking for a Clipsal expert that can handle my system via remote access, then I'll bring in the local electrician to supplement him.

 

If all else fails, and in the long term, I fee sure there is another Cat-5-wired automated lightiing system that can probably be back-fitted into an existing Clipsal installation. We just need to find that option for the ultimate backup strategy.

 

Maybe we can get others to post here about their Clipsal sources, experiences, and strategies in the US, and this should help all of us develop better plans. Maybe some "Clipsal experts" can offer their inputs and help us figure this out quickly.

 

 

 

 

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Good to hear from another Clipsal orphan!  I agree the Clipsal system is very good technically and, also, the devices are much nicer looking than the competition. 

 

I have been in touch with http://www.intrecservices.com/ .  I am told they are approved by Schneider to import c-bus equipment from Australia in support of existing installations.  I also had a good experience with buying from Asia on Ebay.  I think we will be able to support the low power side of the system for a long time but ultimately the inventory of 110V/UL power modules will run out ! I am planning to stock some spare of critical power modules as a precaution. 

 

I have done a little research and found no wired system among the top systems available in the US that can re-use the same wiring .  For example Lutron uses a home run topology instead of the C-bus tree one. There is however a promising new comer - KNX - It is a standard promoted by several hundred mostly European companies including some biggies  (Siemens, Schneider, ABB, ....) . It is now very popular in Europe; It has a lot of similarities with C-Bus. Same distributed control model (no central controller necessary),  can work with a  cat-5 bus , most power modules are designed to fit on DIN racks, There are supposedly thousands of devices in Europe and I have seen  some really elegant keypads and panels. Also, there exists a translation interface between C-bus and KNX. Actual Lutron, Russound, Control4 and others also claim interfacing with KNX. Unfortunately, similarly to C-Bus, KNX is only an upstart in the USA, they just launched so future will tell if they stick!

 

Finally, if you need any urgent technical help with you system, don’t hesitate to reach out, I am pretty proficient with the system and its programming. Also, register on the C-Bus forum maintained by Clipsal. It is a very active and helpful community. 

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Thanks for your insight. I plan to dig into the whole C-Bus matter myself and get the tools running on my laptop so I have some control over my destiny.  I do have the original Clipsal files, which is a good start.  I have signed up for the Clipsal forum site and have already found some good info there. Thanks for your thoughts and I'll keep you posted on my progress. Let me know if you find other options.

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  • 1 year later...

Another orphan here, I installed my system about 4 years ago, it was love at first sight.  I have spent a lot of time building my own software to control my clipsal stuff, and I really do love the platform.  Now I am stuck stressing out over how long my system will run before something will go bad and I will not be able to replace it :(  I'm shocked that Schnieder would run and hide like they have and not give users who literally wired their house around their product a suitable migration plan.  I'm a little embarrassed and shamed to have sold so many people on how great the clipsal system was.  I can only hope things continue to work and I dont have to explain to my wife why we have to open up the walls and re-wire our home, ugh.... cmon Schnieder, have some mercy.

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I share you feelings (and so do our wives I reckon). 

Here is a bit of good news however :

 

1. There a lot of parts available on Ebay. I managed to buy a whole stock at a very good price from a former cbus installer

2. The company http://www.intrecservices.com/claims they are authorized importers of cbus products.

3. The low voltage parts are the same internationally, Cbus is still very successful in Europe and Asia and it is just a matter of finding a supplier. For example  www.laser.com can ship from the UK.

4. I strongly suspect that 220V parts will work perfectly in the US. It is obvious for relays and very likely also for dimmers. Actually several of the parts I was supplied originally were clearly 220V devices that had been relabelled.

5. Finally, there exist bridges between cbus and other systems. I think the most interesting one is the KNX-CBUS translater (http://www.cytech.biz/c-bus_to_knx_translator.html ). KNX is based on the same principles as cbus but better and  adopted by multitude of suppliers. More generally, I think that re-using the cbus wiring to install a KNX system should be possible. However, similarly to cbus and the metric system, it  is a foreign standard and might not take hold in the US in spite of all its advantages !  

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