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post #1 of 34 Old 03-29-2012, 09:56 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm going to be pulling the trigger in the next few months on some upgrades around the house and I wanted some thoughts on direction. I have already made initial contact with 2 local companies, but looking for additional advice/guidance from those of you who do this professionally or have been down this road before so that I can have intelligent discussions with the dealer(s).

Current setup (2700sf 2-story house). Distributed audio (Nuvo GC 6 zones); Distributed Video (Audio Authority matrix - DVR only at this point; replacing megachangers with server/Dune media players); Home theater - dedicated rack, dedicated lighting (GrafikRa), shared DVR. All except Nuvo controlled by URC rf remotes. 3 TV zones (1-5.1) + home theater (7.2).

Planned upgrades: Required: Lighting, HVAC control. Potential but not required: shade control (Sivoia QS wireless?), irrigation and alarm panel control. I think I have enough Cat6 wiring to accommodate any realistic solution (I over-spec'd my house wiring during construction 5 years ago in anticipation) except for shades (which is why I think the Sivoia QS wireless is my only option to not have to rip drywall up to run wiring).

My current ir/rf control is rock solid (knock wood) and does everything I currently NEED it to do in terms of controlling my a/v equipment (except the Nuvo - we never configured the URC base stations/remotes to control the Nuvo at the rack, and IR control through the local keypads is ridiculously narrow line of sight). So part of me is struggling with even moving from the URC control to Control4 or something else (why fix what ain't broke?). If I forgo security and irrigation, I could keep the URC and control everything else through the Nuvo and Lutron iDevice apps. But I like shiny new toys and bells and whistles, and I would really like to be able to control things while I'm away from home.

My first thought was to go with Lutron Radio Ra2 for my retrofit lighting (and HVAC and shade). I prefer a best of breed approach rather than one does it all (assuming those best of breed can be well-managed by the automation system without issue). My initial talks with two potential dealers locally have them both recommending using Control4 Lighting if I go with C4 automation, but I get the sense that both are doing it because they may not have ever integrated the two (I had to tell them both that Lutron provides certified drivers on its site for several different automation platforms).

Question 1. Does the Lutron driver for automation platforms provide for control over the Lutron HVAC and shade solutions?

Question 2. What are the limitations (if any) re: lighting control of the Lutron driver for automation platforms (I suppose this could be moot, as I could always fall back to the Lutron iPad app if the control I wanted in the selected automation platform was not available)? Actually, this raises Question 2a: How much control does the Lutron App provide (i.e., can I still control each load (i.e., switch) if need be)?

Question 3: If I go with Lutron, what do I lose with respect to other platforms by not using their lighting components (and I already know about the Control4 mesh network, but it can be strengthened through other means - like using multiple controllers around the house - and should not pose a problem in this size home).

Question 4. Does the Lutron HVAC controller (thermostat) provide for control over zoned systems with remote temperature sensors, as I suspect that is the solution my HVAC pro will come back with to solve my temperature variance issues.

Question 4. I know that most platforms CAN integrate security (yeah, I may need to switch panels), but are there any limitations/gotchas I should know about security integration? In other words, if I have the correct panel in place and the right driver/connection, I'm assuming I'd have full control over the panel in most systems/circumstances, yes?

Question 5: What am I forgetting? I realize that there are a number of other considerations (like whether my components are supported), but I'll address those with the dealer. Are there any major gotchas I need to think through?

I should add that I'm budget-conscious but not penny pinching; I'm leaning toward Control4 because it seems to be decent system that would accomplish my goals without breaking the bank, especially since I have the a/v foundations in place, and the costs to implement would mostly be lighting and control hardware/software and installation/programming costs (i.e., little to no equipment replacement). Would you suggest anything else? I had Elan g! in consideration, but after talking with the local dealer and reading the latest posts here, I have ruled it out for now.
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post #2 of 34 Old 03-29-2012, 05:37 PM
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In regards to the shades. You still have to get power to them unless you go with the Lutron Serena battery operated honeycomb shades. So more than likely you will be having to pull wire to them.

The Lutron HVAC should... if memory serves me correctly... work fine with zones.

And you should be able to control all of your lighting loads with the Lutron I-whatever app as well.
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post #3 of 34 Old 03-30-2012, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks!

Yes, for as much as I put in the post, I should have mentioned that I was only considering the battery operated shades - 95% of the walls where shades would be mounted have a custom faux finish, and I do not want to even think about how much it would cost to patch/repaint that after pulling wire.
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post #4 of 34 Old 03-30-2012, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1812 View Post

I'm going to be pulling the trigger in the next few months on some upgrades around the house and I wanted some thoughts on direction. I have already made initial contact with 2 local companies, but looking for additional advice/guidance from those of you who do this professionally or have been down this road before so that I can have intelligent discussions with the dealer(s).

Current setup (2700sf 2-story house). Distributed audio (Nuvo GC 6 zones); Distributed Video (Audio Authority matrix - DVR only at this point; replacing megachangers with server/Dune media players); Home theater - dedicated rack, dedicated lighting (GrafikRa), shared DVR. All except Nuvo controlled by URC rf remotes. 3 TV zones (1-5.1) + home theater (7.2).

Planned upgrades: Required: Lighting, HVAC control. Potential but not required: shade control (Sivoia QS wireless?), irrigation and alarm panel control. I think I have enough Cat6 wiring to accommodate any realistic solution (I over-spec'd my house wiring during construction 5 years ago in anticipation) except for shades (which is why I think the Sivoia QS wireless is my only option to not have to rip drywall up to run wiring).

My current ir/rf control is rock solid (knock wood) and does everything I currently NEED it to do in terms of controlling my a/v equipment (except the Nuvo - we never configured the URC base stations/remotes to control the Nuvo at the rack, and IR control through the local keypads is ridiculously narrow line of sight). So part of me is struggling with even moving from the URC control to Control4 or something else (why fix what ain't broke?). If I forgo security and irrigation, I could keep the URC and control everything else through the Nuvo and Lutron iDevice apps. But I like shiny new toys and bells and whistles, and I would really like to be able to control things while I'm away from home.

My first thought was to go with Lutron Radio Ra2 for my retrofit lighting (and HVAC and shade). I prefer a best of breed approach rather than one does it all (assuming those best of breed can be well-managed by the automation system without issue). My initial talks with two potential dealers locally have them both recommending using Control4 Lighting if I go with C4 automation, but I get the sense that both are doing it because they may not have ever integrated the two (I had to tell them both that Lutron provides certified drivers on its site for several different automation platforms).

Question 1. Does the Lutron driver for automation platforms provide for control over the Lutron HVAC and shade solutions?

Question 2. What are the limitations (if any) re: lighting control of the Lutron driver for automation platforms (I suppose this could be moot, as I could always fall back to the Lutron iPad app if the control I wanted in the selected automation platform was not available)? Actually, this raises Question 2a: How much control does the Lutron App provide (i.e., can I still control each load (i.e., switch) if need be)?

Question 3: If I go with Lutron, what do I lose with respect to other platforms by not using their lighting components (and I already know about the Control4 mesh network, but it can be strengthened through other means - like using multiple controllers around the house - and should not pose a problem in this size home).

Question 4. Does the Lutron HVAC controller (thermostat) provide for control over zoned systems with remote temperature sensors, as I suspect that is the solution my HVAC pro will come back with to solve my temperature variance issues.

Question 4. I know that most platforms CAN integrate security (yeah, I may need to switch panels), but are there any limitations/gotchas I should know about security integration? In other words, if I have the correct panel in place and the right driver/connection, I'm assuming I'd have full control over the panel in most systems/circumstances, yes?

Question 5: What am I forgetting? I realize that there are a number of other considerations (like whether my components are supported), but I'll address those with the dealer. Are there any major gotchas I need to think through?

I should add that I'm budget-conscious but not penny pinching; I'm leaning toward Control4 because it seems to be decent system that would accomplish my goals without breaking the bank, especially since I have the a/v foundations in place, and the costs to implement would mostly be lighting and control hardware/software and installation/programming costs (i.e., little to no equipment replacement). Would you suggest anything else? I had Elan g! in consideration, but after talking with the local dealer and reading the latest posts here, I have ruled it out for now.

I have an Elan G system and it is quite clunky. My biggest complaint is that there is nothing the end user can change in the software without calling back the installer, as Elan AVC Group has no home owner software interface for modifying anything. All Elan offers the home owner is the user controls, and after spending over $40,000 on the original system, I get the routine answer from my installer that every software change I request is at least $1,000. I paid for the remote capability on the Elan G system but the installer says he always has to visit my home even though changes are only in the software (and no hardware needs to be installed). So I think you are making a great choice in staying away from the Elan AVC Group until they start listening to the enduser/homeowner rather than their installers.
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post #5 of 34 Old 03-30-2012, 07:34 PM
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Lutron 2-way drivers will provide control, and feedback of any aspect of the system. The app has the ability to control any scene, or individual load connected to the system, and provide remote access if configured properly. You lose nothing by not going with Control 4 lighting, even with their controllers, however you are at the mercy of the programmer. They will need to put in effort for seamless control, although this is true with all sub systems. Personally I would not touch Control 4 lighting for any reason.

As far as HVAC goes, both the TouchPro and HVAC Controller have support for remote mounted temperature sensors. Only the HVAC Controller supports wireless sensors. Multiple zones means multiple stats/controllers at this point, but that is true with most systems.

For shades you will be limited to battery powered cellular if you want to use Lutron. Anything else will require wiring. Sivoia QS Wireless are roller shades that require wiring for powering the motor.
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post #6 of 34 Old 03-31-2012, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hjhbrown View Post

I have an Elan G system and it is quite clunky. system

It shouldn't be - properly done it can be slick and easy to use.

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Originally Posted by hjhbrown View Post

I get the routine answer from my installer that every software change I request is at least $1,000.

A minimum of $1000 is too high.

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Originally Posted by hjhbrown View Post

I paid for the remote capability on the Elan G system but the installer says he always has to visit my home

That's wrong - perhaps you need to look around and see if there are any other dealers in your area - the folks I work with are just great.

Everything you mentioned suggests - just suggests mind you - I'm not putting anybody down here - that the problems might, perhaps, possibly be related to your installer.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #7 of 34 Old 04-01-2012, 05:40 AM
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Mike:

I have automated two home....the one I was previously in which was 2-story town house and the house that I am now in which is significantly larger...

In my experience it all comes down to 3 items:

1. The user interface where the trick is balancing ease of use and flexibility

2. The installer

3. The end user's personally.

If you are a type A personality [which I most definitely am] be prepared for a significant amount of time in designing / tweaking the interface, testing the functionality, setting the lighting scene, etc....noting defining the lighting scenes [which lights, their intensity, automatic on/off time, integration ino other functions, etc.] is extremely time consuming...this time investment is "absolutely necessary* to get a system that adds any value and ease to life...

If you are not a type A person and simply expect to get something that will do everything you want it to do you will be disappointed...

To me it comes down to this...if you are prepared to make the investment in time then go for it because in the end you will a highly functional and enjoyable system...if not then you likely will not be happy with the end result...

Would I do it again....I would have to think as the bigger the house the bigger the job and this last round -- even though I was working with a fantastic CI -- nearly drove me mad but, then again, I am the poster child for type A personalities...

I hope this helps...

Joel
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post #8 of 34 Old 04-02-2012, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joelc View Post

Mike:

I have automated two home....the one I was previously in which was 2-story town house and the house that I am now in which is significantly larger...

In my experience it all comes down to 3 items:

1. The user interface where the trick is balancing ease of use and flexibility

2. The installer

3. The end user's personally.

If you are a type A personality [which I most definitely am] be prepared for a significant amount of time in designing / tweaking the interface, testing the functionality, setting the lighting scene, etc....noting defining the lighting scenes [which lights, their intensity, automatic on/off time, integration ino other functions, etc.] is extremely time consuming...this time investment is "absolutely necessary* to get a system that adds any value and ease to life...

If you are not a type A person and simply expect to get something that will do everything you want it to do you will be disappointed...

To me it comes down to this...if you are prepared to make the investment in time then go for it because in the end you will a highly functional and enjoyable system...if not then you likely will not be happy with the end result...

Would I do it again....I would have to think as the bigger the house the bigger the job and this last round -- even though I was working with a fantastic CI -- nearly drove me mad but, then again, I am the poster child for type A personalities...

I hope this helps...

I tend to agree with you to a point. This stuff gets very technical and very time consuming. It's quicker and faster to design a program for all and tweak it a little. Thus gets you in and out quicker, and tends to be more reliable the first round. This works for about 75% of clients. Then the ones , like I am personally, are more type A, and want the tweaks. I personally work on those, because I get along well with them. But, most changes take lots of programming, and then get approved by owner, then tested. You can see it is time consuming. So it's one way or another. You can't have both, but a great CI can make you believe you did. And that's what counts.
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post #9 of 34 Old 04-02-2012, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by jmaxbrod View Post

I tend to agree with you to a point. This stuff gets very technical and very time consuming. It's quicker and faster to design a program for all and tweak it a little. Thus gets you in and out quicker, and tends to be more reliable the first round. This works for about 75% of clients. Then the ones , like I am personally, are more type A, and want the tweaks. I personally work on those, because I get along well with them. But, most changes take lots of programming, and then get approved by owner, then tested. You can see it is time consuming. So it's one way or another. You can't have both, but a great CI can make you believe you did. And that's what counts.

I agree with you...I am only pointing out to the OP that to the extent he is a Type A person [like the two of us] that he needs to be prepared to invest both dollars and time to get the system he wants...I would also suggest that he explain this to the CI before starting so that he is on the same page...

Joel
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post #10 of 34 Old 04-03-2012, 12:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the replies, especially Bradkas for his (as always) detailed, informative response. I meant the battery powered cellular, but I guess I was confused on the Lutron site - I thought these were a shade within the Sivoia QS line of products? I suppose my statement was a bit broad, but yeah, I know it's limited to just those.

@JoelC - The interface won't matter much as I'm looking (currently) at systems with predefined interfaces - either through an iDevice app or a preset control screen with no customization possible (C4). I think your #2 is the most critical, which is why I'm interviewing at least 2 potential installers at the moment. Yes, I'm a Type A - the only reason I'm NOT doing a DIY install of CQC or the like is because I simply don't have the time - not with juggling a 50hr+ work week, a mother with Alzheimer's, a serious girlfriend, and 2 hobbies I NEVER have time for (not including this one). So while I have specific requirements, I'm also not nitpicky about some things - there's currently no Mrs. to tell me that this light or that light needs to increase by 10% every time I turn around. I realize there will be tweaks needed, and certainly, those COULD cost dealer-time on either platform. And one of the dealers I'm interviewing built my home theater, so he knows exactly what he's getting with me - a royal pain in the rear!!!

Type A - hah! You should see the spreadsheets I emailed the dealers - 3 of 'em, 1 with details on every component as to room location, network connection, a/v connections, current control connection, and best possible control (IP, Serial, IR), plus a network infrastructure map and lighting/automation spreadsheet, detailing devices, lighting loads, possible controllers, etc.. The only thing I haven't given them yet is the list of what I want to do via automation - still working through that one (which will drive the amount of custom programming required). Since I have NO automation currently (not counting the Home Depot timers/daylight sensors), I am still working through what I want to do and can do.

@hjhbrown - I agree with FCWilt - I suspect your issues with Elan may be more dealer-related. My decision to exclude them at the moment had nothing to do with perceived performance issues, but rather that I have an extensive amount of equipment, and concerns over built-in support of my existing devices, as well as lack of, and possible scrapping of, the SDK, further limiting the system. If Elan g! was more mature in drivers (and my dealer was more enthusiastic about it), I would probably still be looking at it.

I think you guys have really helped me focus my decision - I'm going to stick with the "best of breed" and go with the Ra2 Lighting/HVAC control. If the dealers balk at integrating that with C4, then fine, they can just do the lighting/HVAC and I'll come back later with another dealer to put C4 on top of that, or I'll keep looking til I find one competent and willing to do both.
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post #11 of 34 Old 04-03-2012, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mike1812 View Post

If Elan g! was more mature in drivers (and my dealer was more enthusiastic about it), I would probably still be looking at it.

Just FYI I have worked with the Elan system extensively and given a experienced and interested dealer there is very little equipment out there that it cannot handle.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #12 of 34 Old 04-04-2012, 05:23 AM
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Just a thought regarding your possible options with motorized shades. You say you spec'd a lot of wire during construction. If you ran cat5 to each window for an alarm system, you probably won't need to use each pair, maybe the remaining wires could be used for a low voltage shade?
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post #13 of 34 Old 04-04-2012, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Just FYI I have worked with the Elan system extensively and given a experienced and interested dealer there is very little equipment out there that it cannot handle.

Then I'm guessing the dealer I spoke with was not very experienced or interested!!!

A follow-on to your question - part of why I may move to an automation system is to gain advanced control - IP or Serial with feedback, not just plain ol' IR. Does your statement hold true that "there's very little equipment out there that it cannot handle" with respect to IP and Serial? I agree, I could throw in Elan g! and have it control everything by IR, but then I'm no better off than I am now in most respects. I thought it was much more limited by the lack of IP and Serial control available? Perhaps I have the wrong impression?
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post #14 of 34 Old 04-04-2012, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Just a thought regarding your possible options with motorized shades. You say you spec'd a lot of wire during construction. If you ran cat5 to each window for an alarm system, you probably won't need to use each pair, maybe the remaining wires could be used for a low voltage shade?

Ahh, tripped up by my own words. I should clarify that I spec'd a LOT of wire during construction for networking and a/v. I did nothing for windows because shades weren't even a blip in my mind at that time. They are wired for alarms, but only with alarm lv wire, which is in use by the alarm system - not cat5 there. Thanks for the idea though - something to keep in mind if I ever build another home!
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post #15 of 34 Old 04-04-2012, 01:13 PM
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Then I'm guessing the dealer I spoke with was not very experienced or interested!!!

A follow-on to your question - part of why I may move to an automation system is to gain advanced control - IP or Serial with feedback, not just plain ol' IR. Does your statement hold true that "there's very little equipment out there that it cannot handle" with respect to IP and Serial? I agree, I could throw in Elan g! and have it control everything by IR, but then I'm no better off than I am now in most respects. I thought it was much more limited by the lack of IP and Serial control available? Perhaps I have the wrong impression?

Actually you have more control with IP/Serial. There is the basic serial device you can define which does two things. One it sends commands to the device just as IR does. But you can also program events to respond to strings received from the device.

For example for my projector I send a status command (after power on) which tells me the state of the projector as it is warming up. When I the projector status returns that the projector is ready I trigger the curtains (over the screen) to open. No biggy but it is does demonstrate that IP/Serial can do a bit more than IR.

You can also take advantage of an existing two-way driver Elan has and use it with other equipment - IF you are willing to buy a tiny "embedded" computer (around $200 - $300) and do some programming.

For example Elan had a driver for an older version of a receiver I was using. The newer version (from the same company) had modified the serial protocol a bit and it was no longer compatible with the older version.

The commands were identical but some data (a single byte actually) had been added to the responses.

So a little program written on this tiny "embedded" computer (running an embedded version of Windows which allowed writing the program in MS C# or VB) translated between the older protocol and the newer protocol.

So the Elan "thought" it was controlling the old model of the receiver when it was actually controlling the new model.

Yes you don't have to do this with Crestron (and others) but the approach does expand on what Elan (or any system for that matter) can do.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #16 of 34 Old 04-04-2012, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Frederick! That gives me a lot more insight into their capabilities and available workarounds. I may have to call Elan to find another dealer near me to chat with - the one I spoke to does both Elan and C4 and very purposefully steered me to C4.
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post #17 of 34 Old 04-05-2012, 11:55 AM
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I currently have an automated home that is controlled by Control4. This is my second home with Control4, and we love the system. I wanted to post to say that I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Control4 lighting. The Lutron system integrates flawlessly, but one thing we really like about our system is the ability for the LED's on the dimmers/switches/keypads to provide us with feedback. IE: if one of the gates to the backyard is open it turns the LED's on the dimmers red. Things like that. It is INCREDIBLY nice, and you lose that feature by going with Lutron lighting.

Good luck in your decision. Either way, you'll love it.

Oh yeah, with regards to Control4's interface, it's actually very customizable. This is a fairly new feature (added about 1 year ago) and they still do have their "default" interface, but you can drastically change the interface if you so desire.
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post #18 of 34 Old 04-10-2012, 02:16 PM
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"To automate or not to automate, that is the question!"

Coming to this forum and asking a question like that is like going to a strip joint and asking if you should look at the girls

Current owner of the last/best AmPro on the planet. The mighty 4600HD, and it's still running...better than Barco's, especially southern ones.
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post #19 of 34 Old 04-14-2012, 12:14 AM
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"To automate or not to automate, that is the question!"

Coming to this forum and asking a question like that is like going to a strip joint and asking if you should look at the girls



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Personally I was not convinced that HA is worth the money and the trouble. If there was a single standard and everything was "plug & play" without much additional cost then I would go for it.

Unfortunately this is not the case yet. You either need to be a DIY hobbyist (spend a lot of time) or you have to hire a company to set-up and maintain your system (spend a lot of money).

I would say that for most people the return on investment from such a system would not be positive, unless you are a hobbyist or impressing your friends is something you give a lot of value.

I do not believe arguments about "saving money" with HA systems. The investment of installing and maintaining the system (in terms of both money and time), would be far greater than any potential savings.

Personally I will just install the elements that I need and I will not worry about integrating everything under one system. This gives me greater flexibility as I will not be limited by the components supported by any specific system and it will be easier to upgrade in the future without depending on any one company to keep the system up to date. (A Home Automation company might not even be around in 5-10 years from now, and another company might not be able to fix or update your system without reprogramming everything from scratch)
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post #21 of 34 Old 04-14-2012, 10:02 AM
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I do not believe arguments about "saving money" with HA systems. The investment of installing and maintaining the system (in terms of both money and time), would be far greater than any potential savings.

JOOC on what do you base the above statement?

You are of course entitled to your opinion. I however find my HA system well worth the investment - but it has little to do with money.

For example I live on a lake. I have boats at the docks. I have cameras on the docks. When I am away I can check on the docks and boats to see if all is well. Return? Peace of mind.

I have 4 zoned HVAC systems with a total of 8 thermostats. Being able to set the thermostats locally without running all over the house is a plus. Being able to set them when I am away is a plus. Return? Peace of mind and convenience.

I have the lights on a schedule so I never come home to a dark house. If I hear something during that night that is unnerving I can press one button and all the lights in the house (and outside) come on. If the kids leave the lights on outside or somewhere inside I can check on that and turn them off. Return? Peace of mind and convenience.

I have the A/V gear in the public areas tied into the system. If left on I can turn if off from where ever I am. If someone unfamiliar with the gear needs assistance I can do so from where ever I am. Return? Convenience.

The security system is tied in to the HA. I can set it when I am away if I forgot. Return? Peace of mind.

The HA system is configured to email and text me when certain events take place. Return? Peace of mind.

Now some of these abilities can save money but that is not the reason I wanted the HA system.

I should point out that money wise the actual HA system I chose is a small part of the whole - most of the money goes into the gear the HA system controls and that gear would be there anyway. For example the HA central processor was less than $1500. The total of the HA system specific hardware, compared to the cost of the house, was insignificant.

Also if for some reason the HA system died and replacement was not an option because the company had gone under the existing gear would almost certainly work with a new HA system.

Just my 2 cents.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #22 of 34 Old 04-14-2012, 08:48 PM
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Personally I was not convinced that HA is worth the money and the trouble. If there was a single standard and everything was "plug & play" without much additional cost then I would go for it.

Unfortunately this is not the case yet. You either need to be a DIY hobbyist (spend a lot of time) or you have to hire a company to set-up and maintain your system (spend a lot of money).

I would say that for most people the return on investment from such a system would not be positive, unless you are a hobbyist or impressing your friends is something you give a lot of value.

I do not believe arguments about "saving money" with HA systems. The investment of installing and maintaining the system (in terms of both money and time), would be far greater than any potential savings.

Personally I will just install the elements that I need and I will not worry about integrating everything under one system. This gives me greater flexibility as I will not be limited by the components supported by any specific system and it will be easier to upgrade in the future without depending on any one company to keep the system up to date. (A Home Automation company might not even be around in 5-10 years from now, and another company might not be able to fix or update your system without reprogramming everything from scratch)

You've obviously had a bad experience, if your research for equipment/quotes/installers was done the same way you came to the above conclusions I understand why you feel this way. Btw this is an assumption that's no better than your post but come on now.

If a person bounces from house to house than you need to evaluate the cost/benefits, however if a persons home is of value an automation system usually pays for itself a few times over. How much so depends on luck, nature, lifestyle, etc.
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post #23 of 34 Old 04-15-2012, 05:29 AM
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Eventually I'll HA my whole house, but in the beginning I'm going to automate all of my lighting as that seems to have biggest immediate effect, especially outside lighting if you don't live in a big city. It will be nice to come home with he lights already on from the driveway to the garage, and have the garage lights already on. Also automating lighting can be used for security too so you would be killing two birds with one stone.
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post #24 of 34 Old 04-15-2012, 09:08 AM
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fcwilt, so it seems you agree with me that Home Automation can not save you money.

Beyond that, what you consider as offering to you "peace of mind" and "convenience" is something relative.

Most people can have peace of mind without any of those things and if something is needed (e.g. cameras) can be easily done without being part of an integrated HA system. For example in my home I will install IP cameras which can be accessed from any place in the house through the home network (or over the internet if i so choose). This can be done by using standards and without any proprietary solutions, programming fees and dependance on any company.

I accept HA can offer certain conveniences but from my perspective those conveniences are really not that great and do not justify the cost. The cost is not just the HA hardware. All the other equipment you buy has to be compatible, and this often means having to buy more expensive equipment, as cheaper equipment, which could otherwise be sufficient, would not be fully compatible with the HA system. Then there are also the programming costs. And these are costs you incur every time you want to change something (e.g. if you buy a new A/V receiver).
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post #25 of 34 Old 04-15-2012, 09:19 AM
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It will be nice to come home with he lights already on from the driveway to the garage, and have the garage lights already on. Also automating lighting can be used for security too so you would be killing two birds with one stone.

We have something like that for my apartment building. It is just a few sensors tied to the lights. No need to have a whole house automation system for this.
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post #26 of 34 Old 04-15-2012, 01:20 PM
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fcwilt, so it seems you agree with me that Home Automation can not save you money.

No I don't - I mentioned they can save money - I was also saying that is not why I installed the HA system.

The devices that are controlled by the HA system are not special in anyway - they are devices that would have been purchased for their intended use. A/V gear, thermostats, camera, etc. They are all name brand devices - Denon, Sony, Samsung, Yamaha, Axis, Lennox, Carrier, WaterFurnace, etc, etc.

I will grant you that budget level gear may well lack the capabilities to tie into a HA system but I don't buy that kind of equipment - it will be lacking in other features/capabilities that I want.

As far as "programming" costs go - you don't have to go with a system that requires that - there are system that are not programmed so much as they are configured and these you can do yourself - if you want to.

If you don't want to install an HA system - that's your call but you don't need to try and justify your decision.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #27 of 34 Old 04-15-2012, 04:46 PM
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The big benefit of an auotmation system really is the integration. Most folks are wanting an automation system so that everyone in the family (or guests) can operate everything without themselves having to be integrators in their heads every time they want to do something, and so that pre-desired limits can be set on what can be done, so as to avoid mishaps. You are still having to 'integrate' when you use separate systems, you just have to do it manually every time you want to do something, and you have to explain it to everyone else that you have to take these steps on these separate programs or remote controls to achieve X.

Our customers generally want the opposite of that. They want to have a screen where you press 'Watch TV' and everything that is required to watch TV happens and you are automatically taken to a screen where you control playback of the source and so forth. And they want to tie the lights to the security system so that they come on automatically when violations occur, or the front hall lights come on automatically when the front door is opened and the security system is armed away. Or for the lights to come on when they open a closet and go off then they close it. Or to have weather alerts spoken to them over their whole house audio system.

It's that kind of stuff that makes automation helpful and that makes the system easy for everyone to use, and provides the real value.

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post #28 of 34 Old 04-15-2012, 07:01 PM
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If you don't want to install an HA system - that's your call but you don't need to try and justify your decision.

Why not? I think it is appropriate considering what the topic is.

I don't know what you mean by "budget level gear". A standard thermostat or a standard light switch (even brand name design ones) wouldn't work while for other things I was told that gear with specific features would be needed or be much preferable.

I understand that you can DIY Home Automation and avoid the programming fees, but in that case you spend a lot of your own time, and "time is money".

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The big benefit of an auotmation system really is the integration. Most folks are wanting an automation system so that everyone in the family (or guests) can operate everything

Why would I want my kids and guests to control the lights of the whole house, change the temperature in any room of the house apart from their own, mess up with the security system or remotely control the house over the internet?

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They want to have a screen where you press 'Watch TV' and everything that is required to watch TV happens

You can do that with a relatively cheap universal remote.
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post #29 of 34 Old 04-15-2012, 07:02 PM
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In my area using a setback thermostat with alarm or automation will pay for itself in 5-8 years all on its own, weather hits -45 every year. Average 1500sqft house uses 100 amps just for heating, a current install has over 200 amps just for heat. Factoring in these "current" requirements it's obvious to the cost benefits.

Some communities I work in have expensive insurance costs due to distance from fire hydrant/fire departments, these customers all have alarms because the 15% discount equals 750.00/year savings. Once the system is in the customers usually want to exploit the features just because of the benefit/convenience.

Garage doors being monitored to make sure there not left open overnight or when away.

Lighting for that lived in look while on vacation.

Water heaters and water supply turned off while away, reduced damage potential if there is a pipe leak.

Sump pit monitored for overflow, makes sure pump is keeping up.

Low temperature monitor to prevent freezing.


S**t happens, not guaranteed however expensive homes aren't cheap to repair. The damage by any of the above would pay for the automation system 10 fold, never mind the fact that it has paid for itself a few different ways already.
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post #30 of 34 Old 04-15-2012, 07:09 PM
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Why would I want my kids and guests to control the lights of the whole house, change the temperature in any room of the house apart from their own, mess up with the security system or remotely control the house over the internet?

You can limit any given room to what you want them to be able to control, and you can expose what you want to expose, and of course you can also prompt for passwords for things that you want to make available to blessed users from any screen without exposing them to others.

But the point is it only allows *correctly coordinated* manipulation of multiple devices as a whole, to whatever degree you want to make available. No one has to know that if you select this on device X, then you need to select that on device Y or it won't work. The automation logic can handle those types of things.

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You can do that with a relatively cheap universal remote.

Not really. Only in the simplest sort of way, nothing like what an automation system can do for you. If you think that, you really can't have been exposed to any good quality automation of a home theater. With our product you can let them browse media on the touch screen, get preview information on the movies, and when they choose one, you can start up the theater, automatically select the source that the the movie is on, automatically do any source selection and audio mode setup on the audio processor and projector, automatically adjust for aspect ratio, set volumes, and so forth.

It would be a pretty trick to do that with a remote control.

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