Visiting Schneider Electric’s Experience Center

We are considering using Schneider Electric’s C-Bus Whole Home Control system.  Before making the decision to move forward, we wanted to visit Schneider’s Experience Center in LaVergne, Tennessee (Nashville).  Schneider has a website dedicated to C-Bus Whole Home Control, which includes information on the Experience Center in LaVergne.

The Experience Center is located inside a building that received LEED Silver certification.  It was good to see that Schneider Electric values third party certification and is truly committed to sustainable practices.   

Our local Schneider contact, Neil Moodie, scheduled the visit and arranged for the appropriate people to be available.  Neil came to our job site on November 29, 2010 and spent several hours with Bryan.

The day started with a tour of the Experience Center.  Lauren Henslee showed Bryan the various control systems and how they worked.  She demonstrated how lighting can enhance the artwork and other features of a room through various scenes and lighting controls.

Brad Wills, the Director of the Installation Systems & Control Group, opened up the cabinets and showed how the C-Bus system works.  C-Bus is very compact and has a number of modules that are designed to go into the cabinets.

After the tour of the Experience Center, Keith Richardson took Bryan on a tour to review the manufacturing operations in the facility, which is where PowerLink cabinets are assembled.  The PowerLink product line is for commercial applications, such as ‘big box stores’, drug store chains, parking garages, etc. where there are large electrical loads (lighting) that are controlled remotely and through dynamic programming.  PowerLink cabinets house circuit breakers that are operated by relay switches so large loads can be turned on and off easily.  The relays can be controlled by other means, including the C-Bus system.

It was interesting to see that each PowerLink cabinet is configured uniquely.  After the unit is completed and tested, they photograph the cabinet to document the components that are included in each cabinet.  Having photos of the completed cabinets makes it easier to establish the status of units that are shipped to customer sites and reduces any ambiguity of the configuration and condition of those units.

After touring the Experience Center and manufacturing operations, Bryan then settled into a conference room with Neil Moodie and Duke Dunsford.  Duke is a Field Application Engineer and leads the training group for the C-Bus systems.  As a trainer, Duke has extensive knowledge of the C-Bus product line and has extensive experience configuring complex, integrated whole-house systems for high end residences across the U.S. 

The objective of the afternoon session with Duke and Neil was to review our requirements and go through the preliminary design of a system for our house.  Bryan outlined certain details of our house, including the important requirements and integration points.  For example, we would like our security system and pool systems to be integrated with the whole house automation system.  As well, we have two windows and our three-panel sliding glass door that are controlled by electric motors.  The whole house automation system must control these electric motors.

Importantly, we’d like to have our heating/cooling system, which will probably be an Uponor Climate Control System, integrate with our lighting controls and whole house automation system.

During the meeting, Duke had John Tabacsko, a product manager, join us to review the integration points and product development evolution for the C-Bus system as it related to security and swimming pool controls.  It was excellent to have the resources available with deep knowledge to review our requirements and explain how the C-Bus system could meet our needs, today and in the future.

After reviewing our requirements in the conference room, Dan Loncar, drove both Bryan and Neil to the airport.  Dan was going to Chicago, Neil to San Francisco, and Bryan to San Jose.

It was a very full 24 hours.

The Experience Center is located inside one of Schneider Electric's facilities located in LaVergne, Tennessee (just outside Nashville).  The building received Silver certification under LEED.

The Experience Center is located inside one of Schneider Electric's facilities, located in LaVerge, Tennessee (just outside Nashville). The facility was certified Silver under LEED.

LEED Silver certification plaque on the wall in the reception area.

LEED Silver certification plaque on the wall in the reception area.

Copies of Schneider Electrics patents.

Copies of Schneider Electric's U.S. patents.

Lauren Henslee took Bryan through the Experience Center, demonstrating the functionality of the C-Bus Whole Home Control system

Lauren Henslee took Bryan through the Experience Center, demonstrating the functionality of the C-Bus Whole Home Control system

The Experience Center included an eating nook with pendant lights.

The Experience Center included an eating nook with pendant lights.

The Experience Center included typical kitchen lighting, which our design will have as well.

The Experience Center included typical kitchen lighting, which our design will have as well.

After Lauren demonstrated the lighting controls, Brad Wills showed Bryan the various components of the lighting control system and how it works.  It was very powerful to see the end result and then the underlying equipment and infrastructure that makes the system operate.

After Lauren demonstrated the lighting controls, Brad Wills showed Bryan the various components of the lighting control system and how it works. It was very powerful to see the end result and then the underlying equipment and infrastructure that makes the system operate.

Components and wiring inside the cabinets.

Components and wiring inside the cabinets.

After the Experience Center, Bryan toured the assembly operations, where the PowerLink cabinets are configured.

After the Experience Center, Bryan toured the assembly operations, where the PowerLink cabinets are configured.

PowerLink cabinet that will be customized for a specific retail store branch.

PowerLink cabinet that will be customized for a specific retail store branch.

This PowerLink cabinet passed all testing successfully and the configuration and condition of the cabinet is being photographed before being packaged and shipped to the installation location.

This PowerLink cabinet passed all testing successfully and the configuration and condition of the cabinet is being photographed before being packaged and shipped to the installation location.

A commercial LED from CREE Lighting.  We would like to have LED lights throughout our house.

A commercial LED from CREE Lighting. We would like to have LED lights throughout our house.

Schneider Electric does extensive recycling of packaging and other materials used in this facility, which received LEED Silver certification.

Schneider Electric does extensive recycling of packaging and other materials used in this facility, which received LEED Silver certification.

The weather improved significantly and the skies cleared before our session in the afternoon.  Duke Dunsford (left) and Neil Moodie (right).

The weather improved significantly and the skies cleared before our session in the afternoon. Duke Dunsford (left) and Neil Moodie (right).

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