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post #1 of 63 Old 05-28-2011, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi folks,

Sorry for the generic nature of this question. We're fairly new to the home automation area - the only automation we have in our current house is a Harmony remote! But we're in the process of renovating a house we bought, and want to make sure we understand the available options before we start doing any electrical work! I'll try to describe our project and what we're trying to do - I have only a slight idea of what's out there & what could be done, so please bear with me here.

Our house:
Older home about to get a gut job. The existing home is about 5000sf and almost all existing rooms will be touched; plus we're adding another 1500sf of space (bump out of kitchen; sitting area; mudroom; family room; suite above garage). We have a small room in the unfinished basement (6x10) that we plan to seal off & turn into an equipment closet.

What we hope to get:

Lighting - hook up all internal and external lights to a smart system, so we can flip switches to turn on/off individual areas, or use an iPad/touchscreen to turn off entire house. Timer control and remote access would be nice too.

HVAC - we'll likely have 4 zones for heating/cooling. We plan to use radiant for some rooms, but the whole house will be using forced air (with humidity & filtration). We want to be able to use an iPad to control everything. Remote access a plus.

Intercom/security - have touchscreens that double as Intercom throughout the house. Intercom should have a video link to the front doorbells as well. Security cameras around the house. Remote access to security cameras. Maybe have it archive the footage for a certain # of days? Links to an outside security firm.

Shades - similar to lightning. We want to be able to control individual rooms from switches and whole house from an iPad.

A/V - I'm very new to this stuff. We'll likely have 6 TVs in the house (2 guest suites, kitchen, family room, billiard room and master bedroom). I was planning to get a DVR for each of the TVs, but I suspect there's probably a more elegant solution. Haven't thought about music yet, although we listen to most of our music via iPods or PCs. Also haven't thought about which rooms need in-wall/ceiling speakers yet.

Other - not sure but looking for recommendations. One guy we talked to suggested things like fire alarms, CO sensors, temperature gauges in pipes, water detector in basement, etc. I'm sure there are also lots of cool things out there that I haven't even heard of yet.

Sorry if this is too vague. I'm looking for suggestions in terms of how we can/should do our project, and specific vendors if possible. We don't have any specific thoughts on budget yet - there's no specific constraint but on the other hand I don't believe in paying top $ for things that my untrained eyes/ears can't appreciate anyway. In other words, how much we're willing to pay really depends on what we can/should be buying.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 09:04 AM
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How much time do you have? Sure, it's fun to learn it all and DIY, but it will take a long time to figure out what's available, and what is needed.

You will get lots of info/tips here, but you should prob hire pros to help you plan, and possibly install.

You should be 'futureproofing' by running all the cables now that you ever might need, to cover your bases. This way, you could take your time adding things down the road.

What you should be researching/searching:
Distributed audio (Sonos with racked amps in the wiring closet + in-wall/ceiling speakers should be a strong consideration - great controllers with ipad options)
Distributed video, conduit to display locations
Lighting control, scenes, keypads, 'wall acne'
Prewiring, 'new construction'
Wiring closet, enclosure, equipment rack
Elk vs HAI - alarm manufacturer choices; flood sensors, door/window contacts, security keypads
CCTV (coax + 18/2) vs. IP cameras (category/network/ethernet cable), which to wire for (or both)
Front door access control - video camera, automated lock, door phone

The scope of your needs is huge, might want to consult with an integrator to help prewire and/or install the basics now, e.g. alarm, audio, video.

You might want some automated shades as well, install now rather than later. Consider water sensors near water heater, sump pump, dishwasher, laundry room, under kitchen sink.

As far as distributed audio, I really like iPad control but the permanent, anchored in-wall control options can't get misplaced. I'm using in-wall keypads + iPad. In-wall iPads are also a good option (if permanently mounted), complemented by mobile.

Find a good, experienced integrator to make it as painless as possible, preferably someone with lots of security experience or who subs to a great security installer.

Knowledge is power - you lack knowledge, so you need to learn (will take years) or hire someone who has the experience.

Check references closely.

Edit - here is some good reading

http://www.cocoontech.com/wiki/Wirin..._New_House_101

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

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post #3 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 09:13 AM
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I'd suggest hiring a pro, even if it's to just design and spec out a complete system. You can pay for their design fees and all of the design details when they are finished.
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post #4 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the quick reply folks.

Just to clarify - we are expecting our house renovation to take about 9 months. Initial demo starting next week, so I'm trying to figure out this home automation stuff before the GC goes too far out and start doing electricals based on our current (and not-automated) drawings.

Also, we don't intend to DIY here. We're in the process of finding a few integrators to get their take. But what we've found so far is that every integrator has his own brand that he likes to pitch (we've heard about Crestron, Control4, Savant and RTI so far), and we don't really know what's good/bad and what's really appropriate for us. Hence I was hoping that by posting here, we can get some more objective suggestions. Specifically we're trying to figure out which control system to get first, and then figure out which components to get from the same vendor, or go best-of-breed (and what the different leading brands are).

Thanks for the reading material too - I'm on it!
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post #5 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 07:30 PM
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For the size house you have described and the features you are interested in, your best choice would be Crestron. It would help if you listed your location, because there may be a qualified member near you.

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post #6 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 07:36 PM
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I echo the crestron recommendation.
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post #7 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honestpleasure View Post

Also, we don't intend to DIY here. We're in the process of finding a few integrators to get their take. But what we've found so far is that every integrator has his own brand that he likes to pitch (we've heard about Crestron, Control4, Savant and RTI so far), and we don't really know what's good/bad and what's really appropriate for us. Hence I was hoping that by posting here, we can get some more objective suggestions. Specifically we're trying to figure out which control system to get first, and then figure out which components to get from the same vendor, or go best-of-breed (and what the different leading brands are).

Odds are that any of those systems can do all the things you need them to do. It's a matter of how it's done.

The fact that a Crestron dealer 'pushes' Crestron or a C4 dealer pushes C4 isn't necessarily to be considered a disadvantage for you. Dealers commit to specific lines and you could look at it as a positive that they commit to the platform and master it, as opposed to a dealer that does all lines (Crestron, AMX, C4, Savant, g!, etc)

The manufacturers are vested in building the belief that their products deliver the most and best features. The reality is that they all do 95% of what needs to be done relatively as well as each other. A professional might understand differences between the last 5%.

No professional will know all features and nuances of all lines completely. Nor do you need that person to make a good decision. You do not need to have every possible choice presented to you to make a good decision, only a few good choices.

I would bias your decision on which professional to work with before which platform you choose. The reality is that you should choose the professional who you hire and they will choose the system to install, given that you they have properly consulted on your needs and your budget.

That may go against your intuition. Manufacturers market consumers to choose products on features and lifestyles and then, as an aside, tell you to hire a pro. The reality is the pro will, generally speaking, make a more significant impact on the eventual outcome that who's iPad app is better.

Check out the specs and features, but the professional who seems to have their stuff together, listens to you best, seems like they have your best interest in mind (and not theirs by overselling features or products you don't want or need), that is very important. Since technology is changing, and parts still break, and will need maintenance, think of who you want to have a long term relationship with as opposed to a transactional relationship.

This is a service based industry. Find who will serve you best by advocating for you and spending your $ the wisest as opposed to who will promise the most bang/features for the least amount of $.
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post #8 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 09:36 PM
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We are both a crestron and amx dealer. My recommendation still stands with crestron. Primarily due to the fact that it can control more of the functions you want (ie. Lighting) natively. Obtaining lighting control, video/audio switching, etc becomes a little more fluid (as opposed to having to use a bunch of code/modules to tie in 3rd party devices.
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post #9 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 10:42 PM
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The 'best' will cost you a kidney. Maybe it's worth it to you, maybe not.

Just make sure that if you want perfect, that you hire perfect.

Don't pay a fortune to an integrator that doesn't have a perfect track record of outstanding installs. But if you find the perfect guy, he's worth it. Hard to find that guy.

Hard to afford perfect, but the guys who do it perfectly charge a great deal of money.

If anything is subbed out, e.g. Security, make a point of meeting with the subs directly.

Lots of Crestron installers, but some are certainly better than others. Same with Elan, Savant, and C4.

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

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post #10 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 11:18 PM
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Although the crestron is probably the "best",
the elk or HAI panels and their options for audio, telephone, a/v also not just limited to one brand will be able to do everything the crestron does for a fraction of the cost. Also, a large expense of Crestron is the crestron specific programming codes that can only be done by the authorized dealer which will tie you to a single store (the crestron dealer store for your area) for the rest of your life financially.

One the the hand, I personally installed my HAI system (Omnipro II) which gives me all the lighting, a/c, security, and audio control via iPad and iPhone. My parents have an élan system at their house and I really liked the intercom working off phone and front door camera over tv, so I purchased élan communications controller and plugged it into HAI audio board and now can talk to anyone at the front door by picking up any phone. I can also page into house or back door and have someone in house pick up a another phone and have private conversation.

In a nutshell, I spent about $10k on all the equipment and learned everything I need to know thanks to this board. The only expense I have is $8 a month for monitoring.

I did the entire install my self with dual cat6 and dual RG6 and HDMI in wall to every room, two ceiling speakers per room, 2 touchscreens (which I never use since my iPhone is next to me), security cameras are viewable live on iPhone and iPad, and on and on. My new house is 4 bedroom 4 bath and 4,300 sqft.

I can say is that if you are so new to automation, that the HAI or Elk panels will do everything you can imagine and probably a 1,000 you can't. For instance, if my alarm goes off during the day, I get an email from alarm with a picture from front door camera so I know who walked in. Also these panels are partners with 30 plus brands which means your equipment choices are extensive. Not to knock Crestron, but I could easily afford their system and have no problems buying high end ( I drive a MASERATI QP and Ferrari 360), but it all came down to the fact the programing was very complex and required a very expensive service contract with local dealer to keep programming up to date and cost extra to make changes. I have made tons of changes since moving in since it took some living in the house to figure out how I would use the system. Good Luck.

PS - my Maserati was used in the movie "The Mechanic" in the first few minutes of movie. The movie was partly filmed here in New Orleans and the rented my car from me for 3 days to film.
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post #11 of 63 Old 05-29-2011, 11:49 PM
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Just wanted to add that a week prior to demo, the very first need should be planning on bringing the appropriate wires per room to a central location. This should be something like I mentioned above. I purchase one a/v wire roll that had two cat6 wires and two rg6 quad shielded cable wires all in one. So I just ran this wire to all the tv locations. I ran cat6 for almost everything else to, such as thermostats, cameras, and telephones. It was a little overkill but I knew I was future proof for a long time since most of the new items run over cat5 wire run. I also went ahead and ran hdmi in the walls to the entertainments room, study, master bed, and master bath.
The Electrical part is not so complicated as almost all the switches go in place of the old switches. The main difference is the way to hook up the places with more than one location for switches, normally called 3-way or 4-way switches.
The speakers should be a 16 gauge 4 conductor wire going to the first speaker in a room and a two conductor to the second speaker, at least the way I did it.

Central Vac is something I added in one day and sooooo glad I did since it makes vacuuming quick and easy with any dust blow through exaust outside. I bought a Drainvac bagless wet or dry vac along with vacpans in kitchen. A vacpan is a little slit under cabinet that you sweep dirt up to like a dustpan and turn on suction with your foot to suck everything away.

Hope this gets you thinking on right track because if you start with all the right wires or go a little overkill like me, then you can delay your decision on the automation system a little. I even added things like cat6 behind bathroom mirrors so that I can add a tv behind the mirror in the future if I choose.

You should consider either doing a lot of reading to figure out what you want or go to some local automation stores first, then NEXT, find someone to get a prewire schedule together that will list all the wires needed in each room and where they go to. Be careful if you use someone with no av background to do runs since most of the video wires should be run far away from electrical wires or cross at 90 degree angles.
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post #12 of 63 Old 05-30-2011, 01:09 PM
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Quote:


Also, a large expense of Crestron is the crestron specific programming codes that can only be done by the authorized dealer which will tie you to a single store (the crestron dealer store for your area) for the rest of your life financially.

Huh? That's news to me and I've been in the biz for a very long time. Some shops will provided the complete programming package upon final payment, some will not. Clarify that with your dealer. Many systems are not programming intensive and thereby do not have such the large programming budgets, especially if you use typical features. Stuff like 'when an alarm happens, my camera takes a picture and sends me an email' sounds cool, it sure is, but all these little extra features start adding up cost.

Quote:


Although the crestron is probably the "best",
the elk or HAI panels and their options for audio, telephone, a/v also not just limited to one brand will be able to do everything the crestron does for a fraction of the cost

My Nissan pickup does everything your Maserati does but at a fraction of the cost.

Al, how many man hours have you put into your installation as a DIYer?
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post #13 of 63 Old 05-31-2011, 06:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the responses, folks.

We're definitely trying to find a qualified installer right now - my wife is in charge of that and I don't envy her! She's met with 2 guys personally and spoke to a few more on the phone, but she feels like she's trying to pick a dealer before she even understands which car we should be buying. Hence my earlier noobish questions. I'm still trying to understand the differences among the various manufacturers and whether or not any of them is more appropriate for us.

In terms of what we need, it seems like most manufacturers can tackle the functionalities - lighting, shades, intercom, security, audio/video, surveillance, sensors. I know I could be opening a whole new can of worms by this question - but do any of the manufacturers do some/all of these things better than others? My understanding is that some of the manufacturers (like Crestron) does all of these things natively, whereas others (Savant?) may outsource a lot of the "non-core" stuff to partners? Is that impression even right? And is one approach better vs the other?

Also, I agree with the comments re: futureproofing the house. We definitely want to bring wires to as many rooms as possible. That brings me to another great point - we want to make sure we get a modular system that's easily upgradable. For example, we'll pull all the "right wires" and put them in conduits, but hopefully they won't need to be replaced too frequently. As for the equipment, we were thinking about a system that's modular, flexible, and preferably as software-based as possible. We don't want to end up in a situation where, 20 years from now, we'd have to do a rip-n-replace of the whole thing to keep it updated. We'd rather just do software upgrades and if necessary, replace individual modules on the equipment rack. Is this a good approach or am I just dreaming here? I'm hoping to take the same approach as what I've done with our home desktop - don't buy a new PC every few years, but keep replacing old components inside it to keep it fresh - this way some components get replaced faster (CPU, mobo, memory) whereas other components may not get replaced at all (power, UI, DVD). Do all manufacturers give me this ability or are some better about it vs others?

Thanks so much again! This is very educational for me.
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post #14 of 63 Old 05-31-2011, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honestpleasure View Post

Thanks for the responses, folks.

We're definitely trying to find a qualified installer right now - my wife is in charge of that and I don't envy her! She's met with 2 guys personally and spoke to a few more on the phone, but she feels like she's trying to pick a dealer before she even understands which car we should be buying.

That's a great analogy. Let me not completely counter that, but adjust it to make my point; you are not buying a car, you are building one. Now, who will you choose to work with you on designing then manufacturing one?

I would not get too hung up on the 'native vs non-native' question. It's a good question, but the answer is not so simple. The intuition thinking that native is better is correct, but some manufacturers do communicate very well together, as well as native equipment.

You have a lot of work to do focusing on getting your infrastructure designed and finding somebody to help you do it with a budget you are comfortable with (an installation company). I'd focus more on that first, then the 'which systems is best' question may be answered by the time you need to answer it.
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post #15 of 63 Old 06-12-2011, 12:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honestpleasure View Post

we were thinking about a system that's modular, flexible, and preferably as software-based as possible. We don't want to end up in a situation where, 20 years from now, we'd have to do a rip-n-replace of the whole thing to keep it updated. We'd rather just do software upgrades and if necessary, replace individual modules on the equipment rack. Is this a good approach or am I just dreaming here?

Even the undisputed leaders from today who were around 20 years ago (Crestron, AMX, Elan, Lutron) would require a complete rip and replace to be bought to today's standards.

Anyone who tells you with absolute certainty that an integrated home automation and multi-zone a/v system that is installed today will still be 100% functional as the backbone of a state-of-the-art system in 2031 is a sleazeball trying to appease your concerns to get a check, or just completely deluded.

I regularly see homes that had very expensive systems installed 10, 15, 20+ years ago, and the first thing to do is to determine what the newest, latest, greatest features the existing system does NOT have. Then we present the client with our research along with an honest assessment of the existing system w/ some finesse & rework vs a complete teardown and replacement.

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post #16 of 63 Old 06-15-2011, 09:05 AM
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I have started doing a lot of home automation myself, security stuff, lighting, door control, etc. I am able to control everything via my iphone or home PC. I am in an older house and the switches etc that I am buying to be able to do this is through Smarthome. They offer the Insteon switches. I'm not sure what else is out there as far as automation switches for lighting etc. Smarthome has an enormous amount of information on home automation ideas projects and add ons. Using the Insteon line of switches, communications is done over the Neutral lines in the house. The problem is when wiring a regular light switch the hot is usually the only thing run to the switch box.
Have your electrician run a Neutral to every switch box. It isn't much more to add that extra conductor into the cable, and even if you don't use it, it is there.

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post #17 of 63 Old 06-15-2011, 09:13 AM
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Personally, I am using Insteon. I am in a similar situation, I am remodeling a home and am doing as much automation as I can afford.

http://www.smarthome.com/_/INSTEON/_/23b/land.aspx

You can piecemeal a solution from this place that will be relatively inexpensive and allow access from your harmony remote, or iPad/iPhone/iPod touch.

Right now, I have my lighting done, a couple of wall outlets, my HVAC, and plan to expand to my lawn sprinkler system and security lighting and detached garage.

When I press the "watch a movie" button on my Harmony One remote, it sets up my home theater for watching a movie, and it turns the lights down automatically in the living room and adjusts the lights in the kitchen and bathrooms appropriately (how I have them programmed, anyway). Take a look at the website and see if you can find an inexpensive solution for you. That's what I did and I had a lot of fun putting it together.

EDIT: The best part is if you can install a light switch or electrical outlet, your pretty much good to go.

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post #18 of 63 Old 06-15-2011, 09:25 AM
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In new construction, a neutral is normally ran to the switch location. The reason this is on now is for safety and longevity of the electricians, by no longr having to pigtail neutrals, splice the hot through, etc, it minimizes the aount of overhead work and ladder work. My new home is nwer construction '96 and the only spots where it has been a problem are ceiling fan locations. My last home was built in '57 with the older method. By having the hot spliced through, you can have a constant hot and switched hot at the ceiling location. This allows the motor and lights to be controlled independently. Of course this can also b done with a 3-wire from te switch to the ceiling location, but that's not too easily done on a 2 story existing home.
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post #19 of 63 Old 06-15-2011, 09:54 PM
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As you are gutting most rooms, in my opinion a hard wired centralized system like Vantage, Lutron, LiteTouch or Crestron is a real good solution. All switchlegs are run to the central panels and your keypads are single gang low voltage, with a low Voltage loop connecting them.
Its very solid, can integrate with any av system, or with Vantage or Crestron also control the AV.
My preference is Vantage for ease of installation, fewer parts, less cost.
Just be sure to get a GREAT programmer, that make the system easy, easy, easy to use,
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post #20 of 63 Old 06-16-2011, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by westcojack View Post

As you are gutting most rooms, in my opinion a hard wired centralized system like Vantage, Lutron, LiteTouch or Crestron is a real good solution. All switchlegs are run to the central panels and your keypads are single gang low voltage, with a low Voltage loop connecting them.
Its very solid, can integrate with any av system, or with Vantage or Crestron also control the AV.
My preference is Vantage for ease of installation, fewer parts, less cost.
Just be sure to get a GREAT programmer, that make the system easy, easy, easy to use,

I agree, but would cut ou Litetouch out of the equation. This coming from a Vantage and Crestron dealer
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post #21 of 63 Old 06-21-2011, 09:40 PM
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Really? All this advice about Crestron being the best... I wonder if these guys might be Crestron Dealers?

Right now there are basically two solid choices: Control4 which if your house is larger than 5,000SF I'd start leaning in other directions and Savant. Savant isn't native for anything but Apple. If you're using an iPad or iPhone to control the house, the Savant apps are FASTER and more reliable hands down.

The idea that you want a "Native," solution for automation is marketing nonsense from a company that is drastically losing market share. What you want is RELIABLE. You want the system to work. You want to PAY A FAIR PRICE. If those are your goals, you won't find yourself buying a Crestron system.

Having choices is GOOD. It's good for your wallet and believe me it's also good for system performance. There is no need to use Crestron audio switching or audio amps. Control a better amp that just happens to also cost less.

Savant allows for a lot of choices. With lighting you get Lutron, Vantage, Central Lite, etc. With video switching you can go with choices like Wyre Storm, Atlona, Key Digital, etc. I'm sure you're now getting the idea.

That isn't to say Crestron isn't a solid product. It is, it's just currently slightly behind the times and not the best choice in terms of pricing.

Getting the right company to do the install is also imperative. You need someone who won't be adding nonsense additions that aren't needed. You need someone who can program the system properly and quickly. You need someone that gets it right the first time.

What you really need is a consultant. To spend more than $20,000 on a home automation or AV system and not have a consultant on your side to me is foolish. They will save you more money than you spend on them.

Of course, I work with the largest consulting firm in the nation. So maybe I'm extremely biased. Doesn't make me wrong though. We may not have offices near you, but we definitely have knowledge of the best installers on a national level. Most of our Consultants worked for manufacturers as regional or even national sales positions (dealing directly with the dealers).
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post #22 of 63 Old 06-21-2011, 09:56 PM
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Really? All this advice about Crestron being the best... I wonder if these guys might be Crestron Dealers?

Right now there are basically two solid choices: Control4 which if your house is larger than 5,000SF I'd start leaning in other directions and Savant. Savant isn't native for anything but Apple. If you're using an iPad or iPhone to control the house, the Savant apps are FASTER and more reliable hands down.

The idea that you want a "Native," solution for automation is marketing nonsense from a company that is drastically losing market share. What you want is RELIABLE. You want the system to work. You want to PAY A FAIR PRICE. If those are your goals, you won't find yourself buying a Crestron system.

Having choices is GOOD. It's good for your wallet and believe me it's also good for system performance. There is no need to use Crestron audio switching or audio amps. Control a better amp that just happens to also cost less.

Savant allows for a lot of choices. With lighting you get Lutron, Vantage, Central Lite, etc. With video switching you can go with choices like Wyre Storm, Atlona, Key Digital, etc. I'm sure you're now getting the idea.

That isn't to say Crestron isn't a solid product. It is, it's just currently slightly behind the times and not the best choice in terms of pricing.

Getting the right company to do the install is also imperative. You need someone who won't be adding nonsense additions that aren't needed. You need someone who can program the system properly and quickly. You need someone that gets it right the first time.

What you really need is a consultant. To spend more than $20,000 on a home automation or AV system and not have a consultant on your side to me is foolish. They will save you more money than you spend on them.

Of course, I work with the largest consulting firm in the nation. So maybe I'm extremely biased. Doesn't make me wrong though. We may not have offices near you, but we definitely have knowledge of the best installers on a national level. Most of our Consultants worked for manufacturers as regional or even national sales positions (dealing directly with the dealers).

Wow...the push for a consultamt makes it sound like you work for a firm...oh, wait you already admitted that. Just like I already mentioned I'm a crestron and Vantage dealer. we also carry amx abnd elan. Typically a dealer selects a product for their business because they feel it is the best offering. They dont arbitrarily select a product and blindly push it.

on another note, I find it very amusing that you think crestron is "behind the times." They regularly sweep ingenuity awards at product shows. Just my .02
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post #23 of 63 Old 06-21-2011, 10:13 PM
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Wow...the push for a consultamt makes it sound like you work for a firm...oh, wait you already admitted that. Just like I already mentioned I'm a crestron and Vantage dealer. we also carry amx abnd elan. Typically a dealer selects a product for their business because they feel it is the best offering. They dont arbitrarily select a product and blindly push it.

on another note, I find it very amusing that you think crestron is "behind the times." They regularly sweep ingenuity awards at product shows. Just my .02

A dealer selects a product for many reasons. Rarely is it the best offering. In most cases it is in fact, not. Why would any dealer sell TruAudio, Current Audio, SpeakerCraft, etc? MARGIN. Buy a cheap $60 pair of speakers at dealer cost and sell them for the $350 MSRP. Meanwhile better sounding speakers at $350 exist, but they have a dealer cost of $175. Is anyone selling them? Sure, but they sure are out numbered by the high margin crap speaker dealers.

Crestron makes dealers more money than ANY other automation line. That is a fact. That doesn't make it "better," nor do awards won at shows or through magazines. The idea that CEDIA and others wouldn't give awards to their number one money maker (Crestron routinely has massive floor space rented at events, generally 4 times the 2nd largest foot print guy, buys more advertising space, etc.) is laughable. Awards can and generally always are... BOUGHT.

I'll stand behind the resumes of the consultants I work with. We've helped run some of the largest companies in our industry. We offer advice, and it's always good advice at an extremely fair cost. Clients save more money than they spend on us.

Dealers have their business, and it is to make money. We do business the same way. The difference is we sell honesty and peace of mind. Sure, we have our opinions, but we throw our reasoning behind the opinions.

Currently the IT product is Apple based product. The only Apple based automation system is Savant. They embraced the iPad first, and still have the best use of the iPad. They got rid of over priced Touch Panels, and instead use the iPad. Meanwhile Crestron is winning ingenuity awards still for touch panels!

The ability to play multiple streams of iTunes through a home (up to 8 different streams) is awesome with the new addition of the iCloud (which solves Savant's horrible iTunes server problem).

I could go on and on about why Savant is pushing the envelope and Crestron is playing catch up. However, I don't want to hijack this thread.
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You already hijacked it.
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You already hijacked it.

I don't think so. The original poster asked a question, I answered it, and gave my background for why I suggested it. Another poster then implied that I was just pimping my business and that others had given very good advice based on their being a dealer. I replied to that.

Buying an Automation system is scary for a lot of people. They don't trust dealers any more than they do used car salesmen. There is not enough information available online or in books to help them like in buying a car. For a car, I can tell you invoice, dealer hold back, etc. after 5 minutes online. There is no answer for that in an Automation system, and it's a bigger purchase than a car!

So my advice: Find a professional who knows the industry and isn't going to make more money based on you buying product A vs product B: A Consultant.
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Buying an Automation system is scary for a lot of people.They don't trust dealers any more than they do used car salesmen.

No kidding, and it doesn't help when you come out of the gate spreading FUD spamming your services by trashing companies that provide and support product, by comparing them to used car salesmen. That a consultant is a better choice since there is no obligation to a product is sheer fallacy. A professional may be committed to a product line for noble reasons that may benefit the client/end user, but instead you choose to tarnish actual professionals who believe in a product line they feel confident will provide their clients reliable service.

You should revisit your value propositions before you piss off the dealers you work for, especially ones doing Crestron. Or do all your dealers do Savant?

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So my advice: Find a professional who knows the industry and isn't going to make more money based on you buying product A vs product B: A Consultant.

You're not selling equipment, but you're selling services. You are little different than a Crestron dealer selling Crestron equipment. You are no different than a Crestron dealer pushing Crestron by trashing other manufacturers. This is a cheap value proposition, a used car salesman tactic.

The only difference is being a consultant you can trash all of them, and trash installing dealers at the same time by inserting FUD based on specious assertions that will be rarely challenged by prospective clients. It's also convenient that not committing to a manufacturer doesn't make you accountable for their performance: if you find out some dogged idiosyncracies from equipment you specified (if you are even still on the project after you saved them a bunch of $) then you just specify something else on the next project. Easy, no?

If a dealer has allegiance to a product (based on performance and reliability before margin) then that's a vote of confidence to the prospective client. That you would imply that all dealers allegiances are based on margin first speaks of either your experience base or your integrity. Which is it?

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A dealer selects a product for many reasons. Rarely is it the best offering. In most cases it is in fact, not.

On what do you base this assertion on? If you've been in this business for more than a few years you should know that in the vast majority of projects there is rarely one single 'best product,' most of the time you can have multiple choices that fit the needs of the client.

On many projects a C4 or Prodigy may do an excellent job. In most of these cases, what will the difference be? The service and professionalism of the installing dealer.
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No kidding, and it doesn't help when you come out of the gate spreading FUD spamming your services by trashing companies that provide and support product, by comparing them to used car salesmen. That a consultant is a better choice since there is no obligation to a product is sheer fallacy. A professional may be committed to a product line for noble reasons that may benefit the client/end user, but instead you choose to tarnish actual professionals who believe in a product line they feel confident will provide their clients reliable service.

You should revisit your value propositions before you piss off the dealers you work for, especially ones doing Crestron. Or do all your dealers do Savant?



You're not selling equipment, but you're selling services. You are little different than a Crestron dealer selling Crestron equipment. You are no different than a Crestron dealer pushing Crestron by trashing other manufacturers. This is a cheap value proposition, a used car salesman tactic.

The only difference is being a consultant you can trash all of them, and trash installing dealers at the same time by inserting FUD based on specious assertions that will be rarely challenged by prospective clients. It's also convenient that not committing to a manufacturer doesn't make you accountable for their performance: if you find out some dogged idiosyncracies from equipment you specified (if you are even still on the project after you saved them a bunch of $) then you just specify something else on the next project. Easy, no?

If a dealer has allegiance to a product (based on performance and reliability before margin) then that's a vote of confidence to the prospective client. That you would imply that all dealers allegiances are based on margin first speaks of either your experience base or your integrity. Which is it?



On what do you base this assertion on? If you've been in this business for more than a few years you should know that in the vast majority of projects there is rarely one single 'best product,' most of the time you can have multiple choices that fit the needs of the client.

On many projects a C4 or Prodigy may do an excellent job. In most of these cases, what will the difference be? The service and professionalism of the installing dealer.

Well said bigpapa. I want to say much more, but do genuinely feel bad for the OP as his thread has digressed (not your fault by any means bigpapa, I appreciate your input).

One last thing, though, I did a thread search for threads Mr. Consultant has responded to, and all of them (except one which doesn't have a product suggestion) he's pushing C4, which I just don't get.

honestpleasure- I apologize for contributing to your valid thread's demise. Hopefully you get the info you need to make a sound choice.

Melodic- If you want to continue this chat, let's take it offline and allow the OP to get the info he wants.
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post #28 of 63 Old 06-22-2011, 10:22 AM
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Lighting - hook up all internal and external lights to a smart system, so we can flip switches to turn on/off individual areas, or use an iPad/touchscreen to turn off entire house. Timer control and remote access would be nice too.

HVAC - we'll likely have 4 zones for heating/cooling. We plan to use radiant for some rooms, but the whole house will be using forced air (with humidity & filtration). We want to be able to use an iPad to control everything. Remote access a plus.

Lighting and HVAC control are possible via all major control systems. Remote access is also a common feature. Crestrons xpanel for example gives you the ability to have the full home interface including camera feeds from anywhere in the world.

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Intercom/security - have touchscreens that double as Intercom throughout the house. Intercom should have a video link to the front doorbells as well. Security cameras around the house. Remote access to security cameras. Maybe have it archive the footage for a certain # of days? Links to an outside security firm.

To archive footage you simply take the camera feed from the doorbell and route it into a CCTV DVR. Treat it like any other security camera in terms of recording. Remote access of the CCTV cameras can be done via a proprietary webserver or app from the DVR manufacturer or via things like xpanel from crestron.

Touchscreens as intercoms... i prefer integrating voice with the phone system. I also prefer to have the touchpanels and the TV's (that are currently on) switch over to the front door camera feed when the door bell is pressed. I think its more natural to reach for the phone while viewing the camera on the TV or touchpanel. You pick up a cordless phone and answer the door, then walk to the in-wall panel showing the camera feed then maybe over to the window to see if the UPS truck is out front or maybe you continue the conversation while heading up to get dressed before letting them in. Personal preference i guess.
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Shades - similar to lightning. We want to be able to control individual rooms from switches and whole house from an iPad.

No one will be able to give you lightning control. And if they could... would you really want that kind of power?

As long as you choose shades and lighting products that are 'control system friendly' you can use any major control system.

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A/V - I'm very new to this stuff. We'll likely have 6 TVs in the house (2 guest suites, kitchen, family room, billiard room and master bedroom). I was planning to get a DVR for each of the TVs, but I suspect there's probably a more elegant solution. Haven't thought about music yet, although we listen to most of our music via iPods or PCs. Also haven't thought about which rooms need in-wall/ceiling speakers yet.

Tons of options. Many clients will have a "his/hers/guest" DVR that is available in any room or specific rooms. An example would be that both guest suites have access to only the guest DVR or the guest DVR and his DVR meaning that her DVR is always available to the home owner. You can dedicate a DVR to the master bedroom or theater or both. Endless options. Same with music sources.
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Other - not sure but looking for recommendations. One guy we talked to suggested things like fire alarms, CO sensors, temperature gauges in pipes, water detector in basement, etc. I'm sure there are also lots of cool things out there that I haven't even heard of yet.

Most of the items listed above can be (and should be in a house your size) integrated with your security system. You can then integrate the security system with the control system

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Sorry if this is too vague. I'm looking for suggestions in terms of how we can/should do our project, and specific vendors if possible. We don't have any specific thoughts on budget yet - there's no specific constraint but on the other hand I don't believe in paying top $ for things that my untrained eyes/ears can't appreciate anyway. In other words, how much we're willing to pay really depends on what we can/should be buying.

Thanks!

Budget is an important factor. It's like shopping for a car. Are you looking for a Kia or a Bentley? Or maybe a middle class BMW? There are dozens of ways to get music in every room but just like with anything... features are gained or lost depending on budget.

If you are unsure about what you want to spend or what options you want my advice would be to meet with someone to discuss your wish list and engineer the system for you. Someone who can inform you on the possibilities, someone who can tell you about things you are unaware of... and build a set of wiring documents that will tell you what wire needs to go where.

This way your home is wired and ready and you have time to decide what system and how much of that system is going to get installed once the house is ready for it.

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post #29 of 63 Old 06-22-2011, 10:36 AM
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The 'best' will cost you a kidney. Maybe it's worth it to you, maybe not.

Just make sure that if you want perfect, that you hire perfect.

Don't pay a fortune to an integrator that doesn't have a perfect track record of outstanding installs. But if you find the perfect guy, he's worth it. Hard to find that guy.

The best way to find out who can do what they say they can do is to ask to see one of their previous installations. Look at the installation. Is it messy? Neat? Test drive the touchpanels. Is it confusing? Is it intuitive? Ask questions about anything that doesn't feel right.

If you hear something like this... "this wiring or this GUI is temporary we are going to clean it up later" When is later? When they are supposed to be working on your project?

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Hard to afford perfect, but the guys who do it perfectly charge a great deal of money.

Perfect = More money is not always the case. In some cases a 'perfect' dealer is more efficient and costs less than others. An example of this is that our company uses liberty wire and connectors. These cost more than monoprice but less than other commonly used brands. Our choice to use the products is because A.They have a quality product that works every time and B.They have a large number of skus so we spend less time procuring product and experimenting with new products. The decision to use Liberty is a no-brainer for us and actually saves us and our clients money... and frustration that could occur with the failure of an untested product.

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If anything is subbed out, e.g. Security, make a point of meeting with the subs directly.

This is probably the most important thing posted in this thread. If your AV guy subs out the upholstery work in the theater you can usually stay out of it and let him handle it. But if he is subbing out something important like Security you are going to want to be involved and IMO in control of the situation.

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No kidding, and it doesn't help when you come out of the gate spreading FUD spamming your services by trashing companies that provide and support product, by comparing them to used car salesmen. That a consultant is a better choice since there is no obligation to a product is sheer fallacy. A professional may be committed to a product line for noble reasons that may benefit the client/end user, but instead you choose to tarnish actual professionals who believe in a product line they feel confident will provide their clients reliable service.

Maybe you should poll buyers. How many feel our industry is corrupt and full of liars? Most of them. I've paid for such research. Some cities are worse than others. I don't compare dealers to used car salesmen, CLIENTS and prospective clients do. The other major comparison is to a mechanic.

There was no FUD in my post. Show one piece of data that was twisted. Do the majority of dealers sell architectural speakers with 70 to 80 points of margin or do they not? Are there BETTER QUALITY speakers that are the same MSRP but 50 points of margin? Yes. Do most dealers sell those or the cheap stuff?

Is Crestron not the most profitable automation solution to choose for a dealer on a per job basis?

Sorry no FUD, no trashing. Just fact. [/quote]

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You should revisit your value propositions before you piss off the dealers you work for, especially ones doing Crestron. Or do all your dealers do Savant?

Dealers love my company. We bring them jobs and a lot of them. Most of the dealers have changed the way they bid, just because of what they've learned our jobs don't have in terms of useless product and charges that are known to upset clients (project management and quality control fees for instance).

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You're not selling equipment, but you're selling services. You are little different than a Crestron dealer selling Crestron equipment. You are no different than a Crestron dealer pushing Crestron by trashing other manufacturers. This is a cheap value proposition, a used car salesman tactic.

No one here has trashed anything. I haven't said Crestron was junk. I said it was reliable, and if anything over priced. Lets use your own "guidance," you said all these control companies offered 95% of everything the other guy does. So if you can get 95% with anyone and a good installer is the thing that makes that product good. Then with that reasoning it means, that there is no reason at all to buy the most expensive product. That would be Crestron. Followed by AMX, Savant, Control4, HAI....

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The only difference is being a consultant you can trash all of them, and trash installing dealers at the same time by inserting FUD based on specious assertions that will be rarely challenged by prospective clients. It's also convenient that not committing to a manufacturer doesn't make you accountable for their performance: if you find out some dogged idiosyncracies from equipment you specified (if you are even still on the project after you saved them a bunch of $) then you just specify something else on the next project. Easy, no?

You keep bringing up trash and FUD. I've not once said anything trashy about Crestron. I've not trashed dealers. I've not trashed product. I've trashed Awards, and the idea that a dealer is the best choice for a good opinion on what product to choose. Consultants are obviously the smartest choice, but make sure you choose a good firm. Ask them their experience. If their experience is with only one product line, they're likely just as biased as a dealer.

You then assume we specify anything. We specify what we know works, and believe in. Before we specify new product or new manufacturers we live with the product for 3 months. Many manufacturers send us product in hope we start specifying it. It drives some of my best dealers insane. "Uhoh, here he is with some new speaker system again!" WE TEST EVERYTHING OURSELVES. Clients aren't used for beta testing. We are.

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If a dealer has allegiance to a product (based on performance and reliability before margin) then that's a vote of confidence to the prospective client. That you would imply that all dealers allegiances are based on margin first speaks of either your experience base or your integrity. Which is it?

I live in reality. I've worked for CE PRO top twenty dealers. I've worked for manufacturers. I've had dealings with over 500 dealers in my time in the business. I know exactly how our industry works:

Dealer Type A: Pure Business. They pick product based on how do they make money on it. Margins and secondary income (like say Crestron programming) are all that is important to them.

Dealer Type B: AV Lover. They are in the business because they love it. They generally have more lines than most people, and sadly the big manufacturers shy away later, because they want to be big dog, not one of many choices. These dealers pick products based on their excitement about them.

Dealer Type C: Loyal Dealer. This dealer started out and the major lines were all hoarded by the big dealers. So this dealer was forced to adapt and build lines for himself. Once he has built a line, he is extremely loyal to it. Manufacturer's love this dealer. The Loyal Dealer is capable of becoming a big dealer, but for the most part, the big dealers are Type A.

Dealer Type D: If it's at the local distributor they carry it.

Dealer Type E: A mixture of the above.

Dealers also want to have exclusivity. So they try and pick lines their competition don't have. Margins, exclusivity, and brand recognition are the top 3 reasons a dealer normally makes a decision. They always say reliability is important, but the deciding factors in reality are generally not reliability. Reliability is generally their top response when asked. However, how many Dealers continued to sell Product X (Since I don't want to trash anyone) after their RMA percentage reached over 20% on their top selling receivers? They lost something like 10 dealers, and only 3 from the CE PRO Top 100.

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On what do you base this assertion on? If you've been in this business for more than a few years you should know that in the vast majority of projects there is rarely one single 'best product,' most of the time you can have multiple choices that fit the needs of the client.

There is always one barometer: PRICE. There is usually a best product for the price. There are also usually many choices to choose from in a price range.
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