Abode Automation at Aston Marina

Project Description

Aston Marina appointed AD Electrical in Stafford to complete the electrical work on the redevelopment of a farm shop to a new restaurant. This project was shortlisted and highly commended at the Smart Solutions Awards 2018 for Best Commercial Project.

A brand-new bar and dining venue, AD Electrical were tasked with commissioning a specialist automation company, Abode Automation, to ensure lighting was controllable only by authorised members of staff to prevent accidental blackouts, during service.

The project had already started when Abode were commissioned to design and install a fully automated lighting system. The owners required the ability to create moods and lighting scenes, as service would take place throughout the day from breakfast through to lunch and dinner.

What’s more, the restaurant owners liked the idea of being able to control all elements of the restaurants lighting on a tablet or smartphone.

Abode Automation liaised with both AD Electrical and the restaurant manager and were given a strict budget to meet. Time frames were also tight and it was vital that the installation of the Niko components did not delay the opening of the restaurant. 100% reliability was key and built-in redundancy was a must to ensure lighting would always be available.

Abode Automation designed an initial system and then met again with AD Electrical and Aston Marina to discuss any minor changes to create a bespoke system. The key features and benefits of the Niko Home Control system were clearly superior to any other option and it was decided that Niko would be used for total automation of the Aston Marina restaurant. The owners saw such potential in the Niko offering, that they decided to future proof the installation to ensure that growth could be met with additional circuits, if required.

A detailed system design was created with wiring diagrams and considerations for the position of the control cabinet, modules and controllers. Lighting was designed

to be subtle, yet in keeping with the marine theme of the restaurant. Niko was to control both inside and outside lighting.

Since other trades needed lights on whilst the project was in progress, the on-site electrician and restaurant manager were given access to control the lighting via their smartphone and tablets so they could turn all lights on at full brightness during the day, whilst construction work was completed. A single touch switch was also programmed to allow trades to turn the lights on and off themselves.

Managers were also able to control individual lights at different dim levels so they could create custom scenes and moods at their leisure at different times of the day.

Since the opening of the bar and restaurant in May 2017, the system has come in to its own. When the first member of staff arrives in the morning, they disarm the alarm, which triggers the lights to turn on to a ‘breakfast scene’. Throughout the day, the lights gradually fade to create different scenes, which have been designed to fade slowly enough to go unnoticed by diners.

At the end of service, once the diners have left, managers are able to turn lights up to full brightness to help staff clean the premises. Once all the staff are ready to leave, all that’s required of the managers is a simple arming of the burglar alarm which, in turn sets the lights to automatically turn off after a period of time, ensuring staff have a fully illuminated exit path, including all the outside lights.

Even though the project was designed and commissioned in Spring, separate switched circuits for Christmas lights were incorporated in the design specification which will automate when the additional decorative Christmas lights and Christmas tree’s are erected, during the festive period.

In the unlikely event of a fire alarm activation, gas valves will be closed and all lights will automatically turn to full brightness aiding an evacuation of the bar and restaurant. And, in the event of an intruder alarm sounding, all lights will come on at full brightness and all light switches will be disabled.

Sadly, the client did not realise that the Niko system was also compatible with the new heating system. Niko Home Control is compatible with 99% of both wet and dry heating systems including the use of renewable energy sources, conventional wall radiators and underfloor heating.

Unfortunately, as the heating contractors had already finished commissioning their system, it was not viable to connect the heating to the Niko systems to allow for one system to control all lighting and heating. However, it is something they will bear in mind should they decide to upgrade the heating system at a later date. Provisions for such an upgrade have been already been considered and it would be an easy upgrade to make.

Abode Automation have subsequently been back to tweak some settings on the set-up and change some of the moods and scenes. They will be returning in the Autumn to further tweak the moods and scenes, to ensure they are seasonally appropriate, when the nights start to draw in.

Aston Marina’s manager is delighted with the result of the installation and is especially pleased with the lighting programme. The lighting is totally automated, allowing them peace of mind at all times of that day and all other users at Aston Marina have been impressed with the ability to control the lighting from their iPhone and iPad.

Equipment list

12 dimmed circuits

6 switched circuits

Analogue Sensors to detect outside lux levels

Digital sensors to connect the burglar alarm and the fire alarm to the Niko Home Niko Home Control system.

Abode Automation Ltd are Niko UK Partners based in Staffordshire, working throughout Cheshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire & West Midlands.


Specialists in Lighting, Heating, Blind/Curtain/Gate Automation, Intruder alarm & CCTV, Multi-room audio & video distribution for home and bar/restaurants/hotels.


E2 Contract Lighting (www.e2contractlighting.co.uk) from Stoke-on-Trent who did a fantastic job of creating bespoke lighting for the project (particularly the bespoke rope light fitting which we think is exceptional).


Faber Design & Architecture (www.faber.design) from Birmingham