I mentioned in other posts as well, that switches we have selected for our house were Schneider/Unica. We had quite good experience with these in our previous apartment where we have renovated the electricity from scratch. The only component to avoid are the electronic dimmers, which are prone to failure after a couple of months or years. But this is a different story and a smart home installation you do not need these, so there is no issue with that.

Here I have summarized few things I like about Schneider, and the reasons why we picked these again. Other models we have considered were from Legrand and ABB. Just briefly why these were out: For me it was hard to understand Legrand’s portfolio and the structure what exactly they are offering and how the things align together. Maybe a bit too much of marketing and missing the sense of the how the things play together. I had difficulties to make a list of components I would need to order to not miss anything. That was not a problem with ABB, their offerings are clear similar to Schneider. I know that most of the electricians do prefer ABB, as they are used to id. However, the design lines are either too common and used everywhere in public places (Tango, Time, Element), or they are nice but too expensive (Impulse, Solo, Alpha Nea).

The key differentiators were the following attributes, that made me select Schneider components again:

  • The layout that can consist from two modules per each  installation box
    • You can have two blinds modules in one box
    • You can have two slim power sockets in one box, of similarly two ethernet sockets in one
    • You can have a combination of two different switches in one box
  • The modular way of “zamak” installation fixing frames that holds the components in precise distance
  • Overall modularity and wide selection of components
  • The design variability is amazing

The above were the obvious ones that you might know already, but here is the more secret one. Did you know, that if you use push-buttons with blue indication lamps, these work flawlessly with 24V as well. These blue LED indicators are connected internally between the two terminals of the push button, which is very common for the 230V installations, but guess what, the same switch with the same LED lamp will illuminate the button on 24V without any modification or hacks. It might not be so bright as on the intended 230V, but as a night backlight helping you finding the switch it is awesome feature. And as for Loxone, the current going through the push-button in open state to illuminate the button is so low, that it does not represent any issue even in case there are three of these in parallel. I have not tested more than that, but three or less are are working fine for me. This means, I have all switches back-lighted by these blue LEDs without any wiring extras, which I find awesome! Check this out.

Schneider Unica – From left: Two module blind control, 2x one module blind control, two module push-button with blue LED
Schneider Unica – From left: Two module Eth socket, two module TV/Radio, one module SAT plus one module blind, two module standard power socket

Last but not least, there is one guy developing and selling sensor modules for Unica switches, that fits perfectly into the switch body. I have not tested these because its installation uses space that is normally dedicated to the original LED lamp module, which I do have installed in every push button, and it is not possible to have both at the same time. However, this was just an illustration what all is possible with these switches.

If I could have one wish, or have something changed in these Unica push-buttons, it would be customized type for low voltage (smart home) installations. Because all the devices are obviously intended for use on 230V, which corresponds with the stroke force required. If there was a version for low voltage, having the same easy click feeling like their electronic dimmers, that would be fantastic upgrade. At the same time I am conscious that Schneider does have their own wireless  / smart home product line, so they are not going to shoot themselves in a leg, so to say.

That was it, I hope it makes sense. 

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