Is C-Bus a viable solution for home automation in your opinion? How reliable is this technology and what is the expansion capability?

A: C-Bus is a distributed control system operating across a common Cat 5 unshielded twisted pair cable, or ‘bus’. Bus networks are simple and robust. The C-Bus network operates at a SELV (safety extra low voltage) of 36V DC and carries duplex control signals and control unit operating voltage between networks of control devices.

Control devices installed on a Cat-5, C-Bus network feature in-built microprocessors, non-volatile memories and a resident operating program, with each control unit talking to an automated device, whether digital and/or analogue. Because each control device is able to function independently of all others, C-Bus is tough as nails. Regardless of whether any device on the network fails, all other control units continue to function.

On a cable run of 1000m, installers can install up to 100 C-Bus control units, and an open topology structure allows connections to loop between units or to be branched at any point. What this means is that depending on the number of control units already on the system, should you need to add another control, you simply build a branch and port into the bus without needing to mess around reconfiguring the system, or even pull power.

One C-Bus cable connection is able to handle what the manufacturer calls a practically unlimited number of devices, and expansion is modular. Should you have more than 1 network of 100 control units on a C-Bus of 1000m, it’s possible to link networks to make one overall system. In fact, it’s possible to link 255 such networks to make one very large system.