AVS Special Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Give a monkey a brain...
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Be prepared to spend several hundreds or thousands of hours researching this stuff.
Good rec, Anthony.
Most of the control systems accomodate most of the lighting technologies (your most important need you say), so that won't be a big problem. However, if you're picky about switches and keypads, you'll have to physically touch each one. Everyone says that Lutron has the best, but I really was not that impressed, when I finally put my hands on them (Lutron automated switches have the same feel as the non-automated ones at HD/Lowes).
When looking at controllers, your first decision will be PC-based software or a dedicated device/component/controller. That google spreadsheet that Anthony linked has a field for 'Controller' accessed at the bottom of the spreadsheet. Great comparison. Once you decide on the platform (hardware vs. software), you'll have about 5 to compare. Spend a few days (or weeks) researching each one.
Then spend a few weeks researching the different subsystems - HVAC, AV, lighting, security, etc.
You mentioned security - Elk and HAI offer alarm controllers that also have HA features (both listed on the spreadsheet). Most DIY people end up with one of those, and then add the PC/software control a year or 2 later when the alarm/HA system becomes too limiting. Security should be rock solid (don't want that crashing at the wrong time), so it's a very good starting platform for HA. Even though lighting is most important to you, the switches (usually) will still operate if the control fails.
If you love to tinker, and want a robust system that is very flexible, go with the Elk M1.
If you want an off the shelf solution for all/most of the subsystems, go with HAI.
I don't know who said it first, but "DIY HA is not for the faint of heart, or faint of wallet".
Edit - if you hadn't mentioned security, I'd have suggested differently.
Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha
Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. -Fishbone