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post #1 of 35 Old 07-20-2012, 04:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello all,

Long time lurker, first time poster. We're cooking up a new home and naturally home automation is part of the recipe. In our current home we have Crestron and don't like it for a few reasons (neither or which are solely the fault of Crestron).

Firstly, it sort of sucks. We have issues with the control unit locking up frequently or being extremely laggy and the UI of the panels and remotes leave much to be desired. We know this is likely mainly the fault of the installer/coder(s).

Which brings me to the second dislike: it's closed, so I need to depend on said installer/coder(s) for fixes. What a pain. As a tech guy and tinkerer I prefer to have at least some control over my own stuff. I did manage to get the software for the RTI remotes we use and tweak the layout and code on those, but that's just scratching the surface of the issue.

Anywho, we moved on to a new dealer for our new home and they really push Savant. I told them my concerns and they stated that Savant would be cheaper and more open. From reading around here though, it seems that in some cases Savant can actually be more expensive than Crestron? I'm also not too sure on how "open".

So I guess that brings me to the question: is the DIY route any good? And if so, what's recommended? Until browsing a bit here I thought I would be forever tied to a dealer with home automation systems, but it's good to know there are options. The question is what are those options and will the headache be worth ditching the ball and chain?

I have no problem paying for help when needed, but I would like to retain some bit of autonomy after the install is done. Perhaps I can have the company do the initial wiring and I can install units afterward? I guess I'm basically trying to balance control with ease of install/maintenance -- and of course: price.

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 35 Old 07-20-2012, 04:58 AM
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Welcome to AVS

check out this related thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1365187/savant-horror-story-need-help
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post #3 of 35 Old 07-20-2012, 05:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by markrubin View Post

Welcome to AVS
check out this related thread:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1365187/savant-horror-story-need-help
thank you, will read. Also, if there are any related threads, please point me in the right direction. I'm not adverse to diving in and reading things, I just didn't find much as there's no stickies in this subforum and search doesnt seem to be enabled in tapatalk here
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post #4 of 35 Old 07-20-2012, 06:13 AM
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I've used tapatalk for other forums, and I'm not impressed. This new avs site works pretty well on android natively.

The relative problem with all HA systems is the steep learning curve, for installation and programming. If you're a DIY'er, it needs to be a hobby, and the install may take a year or more for a full system, to get to the point of 'seamless'.

Control4 marketing has been pretty annoying lately, so I'd stay clear of them. Not sure how long they'll be around, either. The owners haft
a history of cutting their losses and running.

CQC installs can rival the quality of professionally installed systems, but it can take a while, and you'll have to be the kind of person that enjoys tech tinkering.

Elan may be another system to consider.

If you're outgoing and rich, you may be able to find an installer that gives you lots of control after the install.

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 #5 of 35 Old 07-20-2012, 10:21 AM
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I went through a lot of different remote systems....

started with Crestron but soon became disenchanted with it: every time a channel had to be remapped or I bought a new piece of gear, I had to call the programmer back in and pay him: tried several other remote systems as well...

Finally I worked with a local dealer and bought an RTI system: I offered to do programming for the dealer and in return got access to the program: I still use RTI and love it: and I have become proficient at programming including 2 way drivers and RTI iPad app: I would not go back to a proprietary system I could not program myself

Crestron/ RTI systems are expensive and most dealers will not give you the program: although now they can update programs off site so it is easier to get changes made remotely by the programmer

If you can't get access to the program, consider iRule: there is a thread here on AVS about it:: it is an excellent program and relatively inexpensive: and you can do it yourself

Happy to help with any detail questions: above is my opinion only
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post #6 of 35 Old 07-22-2012, 07:11 AM - Thread Starter
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This forum definitely doesn't like tapatalk... I've been trying to post for a couple days haha

Thanks guys, going to look into CQC and see if I'm going to be able to handle this beast wink.gif
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post #7 of 35 Old 07-22-2012, 08:08 AM
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Just to be clear, CQC is designed for professional installers, but they allow DIY.

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 #8 of 35 Old 07-22-2012, 07:59 PM
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CommandFusion now offers its own hardware. I have no experience with the hardware but have used CF to program my iPad for use with a Crestron system. You may want to take a look into it. There is a GoogleGroup which offers pretty good support. Perhaps somebody else around here has some experience with it and can't talk about if it would be a good DIY solution.
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post #9 of 35 Old 02-19-2013, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktrdsl23 View Post

CommandFusion now offers its own hardware. I have no experience with the hardware but have used CF to program my iPad for use with a Crestron system. You may want to take a look into it. There is a GoogleGroup which offers pretty good support. Perhaps somebody else around here has some experience with it and can't talk about if it would be a good DIY solution.

Sorry to bump this back from oblivion, but since we're finally moving on the tech end of the build process, I've been going back through this thread and researching options again (trying to find one system to rule them all... and all that jazz). I found their group and did some reading, but it seems most people just use their software to control other systems (crestron and the like). Does anyone here have any real experience with their hardware (especially from a DIY perspective)?

We looked into the XFINITY system as well, and while nice, seems a bit limited (and we'd still have to use another system for audio/video distribution).
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post #10 of 35 Old 02-20-2013, 06:00 AM
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Did you take a look at CQC? I bet they would do design work, too, to get you started.

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 #11 of 35 Old 02-20-2013, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Did you take a look at CQC? I bet they would do design work, too, to get you started.

I did, but to be honest (from my limited knowledge of course), it all looked a little haggard. Also, though I use a PC day in and day out, when I saw it was windows-based, I cringed a bit.
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post #12 of 35 Old 02-20-2013, 07:05 AM
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We looked into the XFINITY system as well, and while nice, seems a bit limited (and we'd still have to use another system for audio/video distribution).


Until Comcast (Xfinity) hires sophisticated technicians they will just be a wirepulling outfit installing home automation. And there are plenty of those out in the world.
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post #13 of 35 Old 02-20-2013, 10:54 AM
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I did, but to be honest (from my limited knowledge of course), it all looked a little haggard. Also, though I use a PC day in and day out, when I saw it was windows-based, I cringed a bit.

Windows is everywhere. With a dedicated PC, stability is (almost) a non-issue. ATMs are a good example of Windows applications. There are steps that are taken to lock the system down.

The PC communicates with the lighting controller, the HVAC controller, the irrigation controller, the CCTV DVR/NVR. The mission critical components don't depend on the PC for operation.

I suggest you take a closer look.

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 #14 of 35 Old 02-20-2013, 12:15 PM
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Wow, we've never been called 'haggard' before. Not to worry, when we deploy our new Bow-Tox technology, all that will be behind us. Could you elaborate on haggard a bit? Hopefully I can then either allay your fears, or at least book some time at the spa.

As to being Windows based, as indicated above, it's not an issue. Set up the server, put it in the closet, never used directly, if you want to get more adventurous strip it down to the bare minimum functionality. It will remain stable without problems. Lots of servers out there are running Windows. Our web site is on a Windows machine that has been shut down once in something like 7 years, and that was just to upgrade the memory.

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post #15 of 35 Old 02-22-2013, 02:39 AM
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Hi OP, decided to register to get in on this discussion smile.gif

I purchased a home to renovate a few months ago. I've been looking at the different HA systems for a few years now, and after looking at many expensive and proprietary options, decided to jump in head-first with Loxone. I dont have an electrical or installation background, but it hasnt been to bad so far. this is the stage I am at at the moment:



Pros, IMO:

- cheap. Miniserver (the main logic controller) retails for $465 USD. thats 8 digital relay outputs, and 8 digital inputs.
- robust. basically its a domesticated PLC, same as used in industrial automation
- small. DIN mounted unit that fits in a distribution board
- easy. once you get your head around how the hardware and software work together, its quite simple to configure
- scalable. if you need more inputs or outputs, or other functionality like IR control or DMX control, you add another extension unit
- good looking. the UI is clean - not a blue gradient or gaudy red button in sight

Cons:
- support. mostly in German at this stage, although there is an english forum. the UK reps are quite helpful at answering questions. For basic setup and operation though it shouldnt be a problem
- userbase. not many installations outside of the EU. what case studies they have presented look good though

Just another option for you OP. Honestly I cant see any justification in paying a company huge dollars for the hardware and then more for after-sales support.

Let me know if youve got any questions. Im not affiliated with Loxone in any way

GB
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post #16 of 35 Old 02-22-2013, 08:48 AM
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Honestly I cant see any justification in paying a company huge dollars for the hardware and then more for after-sales support.


I am really biting my tongue here...

I honestly wish you the best, please keep us posted with your progress and update once you go live.
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post #17 of 35 Old 02-22-2013, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K Shep View Post

I am really biting my tongue here...

I honestly wish you the best, please keep us posted with your progress and update once you go live.

ok, an addendum; I cant see any justification in paying a company huge dollars for the hardware and then more for after-sales support, if you are reasonably comfortable with the basics of HA and are willing to put in a little time with the config software, because I cant see anything this system cant do that the expensive ones can

GB
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post #18 of 35 Old 02-22-2013, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi greenbone, what are you doing for control? Programming remotes? iPads?

As an aside, why did the owners of this forum install tapatalk if pretty much everything is broken or disabled?

*edit* not seeing much about video distribution, though I guess that could be handled on its own.
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post #19 of 35 Old 02-23-2013, 03:27 AM
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i guess you could split my installation into 4 areas of input - pushbutton / switches, ipad and iphone, sensors, and IR

any switch capable of closing a 24v contact can be used for digital input. so the switch you have on your wall now is probably compatible. the miniserver works by recognizing pulses of closed / open contact, so pushbuttons are preferred. examples of pushbuttons i have tested

clipsal impress, rrp around $14



pdl pushbutton, about the same price per module



im using a couple of these in the bathroom - ip68 pushbuttons, $5-10 each. one in the shower for music control



there are plenty of options. the idea is to reduce inputs on the wall switch - so instead of having 4 and 6 gangs each for individual functions, you can program a button to recognize double-clicks, triple clicks, push and hold, or any combination of each. these can be assigned to different functions. for example single push for lights on / off, double click for music on, push and hold for dimming.

sensors are similar, as long as they have a NO / NC relay output capable of 24v they can be used. im using a couple of these paradox ceiling sensors from dx.com, $10 maybe



again there is lots of options here

switches and sensors are wired back to the inputs on the miniserver with cat 5.

the IR extension module can be used to consolidate IR commands. for example you can program the IR signal from the nice looking apple remote to control lights, blinds, a combination of functions. just a matter of piecing the program blocks together in the config

video distro - i have no idea about really, but im sure you can work a third party into Loxone, in a similar way that they support Casatunes for multi-room audio

the ipad wallmount that Loxone produce is really nice, i have one in the kitchen. the ipad is one of the best looking and best functioning touch interfaces around, of course that is what you want mounted on the wall, not some big-bezzled beast that cost 4 times the price and lags out when you operate it
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post #20 of 35 Old 02-23-2013, 06:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback. The openness is a huge plus. I'll continue to look into it
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post #21 of 35 Old 02-23-2013, 07:28 PM
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Greenbone, where do you live? UK?

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. -Fishbone
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post #22 of 35 Old 02-23-2013, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Just saw on their blog luxone is coming to the US. Might be great timing.
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post #23 of 35 Old 02-23-2013, 10:03 PM
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I think you should post some more information on what you are doing, ie size of home, controls for A/V, alarm, temperature, lighting, etc. Do you want touchscreens, ipads, smart phone controls. Do you care if you use 2 or 3 apps or does one app need to operate all systems. Do you care if there is 'wall clutter', or do you want single 4-8 button keypads in each room?
One thing I would suggest is to use a system where the company has been in business successfully for at least 5 years, new companies seem to come and go.
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post #24 of 35 Old 02-24-2013, 01:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Greenbone, where do you live? UK?

I live in New Zealand
Quote:
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Just saw on their blog luxone is coming to the US. Might be great timing.

For a young startup they seem to have solid financial backing .. new headquarters in Austria and big pushes into the UK and now US
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post #25 of 35 Old 02-24-2013, 07:50 AM - Thread Starter
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I think you should post some more information on what you are doing, ie size of home, controls for A/V, alarm, temperature, lighting, etc. Do you want touchscreens, ipads, smart phone controls. Do you care if you use 2 or 3 apps or does one app need to operate all systems. Do you care if there is 'wall clutter', or do you want single 4-8 button keypads in each room?
One thing I would suggest is to use a system where the company has been in business successfully for at least 5 years, new companies seem to come and go.

I guess I should back it up a bit. I've spent the last week or so getting more organized with what we want to do, so it's time to start locking in options.

The house is medium to large sized, bout 6500 sq ft IIRC. We'd like to have touchpanels in the walls where it makes sense, and would prefer to use iPads in docks (I saw some of savant's flush docks, they're amazing) with a single application running. We can lock the iPads to just that app. Since there are no ethernet solutions for the iPad yet, what is everyone doing? Wireless access points nearby? If I go with loxone, I suppose it can be any device locked to the web control panel.

We've mapped out the first floor so far, and it's mainly light control, audio distribution (speakers in the rooms with zones) and some video distribution. What I've found is that the video distribution seems to be a separate beast from the other home automation stuff, am I right on that?

I did look into loxone and, company age and stability aside, it does look pretty functional. I think I'll need to call in contractors to do the actual wiring, but the programming looks straightforward, and I like that it's open and DIY-encouraged. Being able to tweak and make changes on my own is huge for me. Their app isn't bad looking either, which is a plus, because one of my criteria was to have a control system that I could build my own interface for.
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post #26 of 35 Old 02-24-2013, 05:09 PM
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since the post-install tweaking is a major factor in your decision, I would recommend downloading the Loxone config software and having a play .. there is a testing mode so you can try out different program structures and how they will operate without having any hardware connected

its really simple and quick to get basic functionality. when you begin it starts with a blank miniserver, with 8 ins and outs listed. so you drag out an input into the work area (ive used the first input, I1)



drag in a program block. ive used a push button here



drag in an output from the miniserver, here ive added the first relay Q1 (relays are labled Q1 - Q8)


connect them up



and thats it. when you turn on the test mode, clicking on "input I1" would light up output Q1, clicking on the input again turns it off. if you were happy with that, you would save the config which then gets flashed to the miniserver. after that, any pushbutton input on the physical input I1 would open and close the Relay Q1. repeat for the other 7 ins and outs

obviously with lots of other program block types, timers, analogue inputs and logic gates it can be as complicated as you need it to be
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post #27 of 35 Old 02-24-2013, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks greenbone. I did actually watch a bunch of their videos, and it seems simple enough. For me, the hardest part would likely be wiring it all up. I've dropped them a line with some questions and will take it from there.

I spent some time today researching video distribution, and it seems pretty straightforward. I read a few guides explaining how to do things with coax, and then I went and took a look at my own current setup. Only our theater (projector) has multiple inputs, and it looks like that's controlled by a video switching unit that the crestron unit controls with inputs from our remotes. As for "distribution", only our bedroom receives video from the kaleidescape (though audio is played throughout the home), and it looks like they didn't use coax.

Behind my TV is one of these units (that we actually had to replace not too long ago): http://www.keydigital.com/items.asp?ItemCode=KDGDCVSTB&Company=KEY

From what I gather, it pretty much just allows you to send video over Cat5. You send in audio/video through standard component cable, and it's sent via cat5 to the other end, where component cables are again used to plug back into the TV. Is this the preferred method these days? It would seem a bit limited since it's one source to one destination. If I wanted to have that kscape player able to send its video to the bedroom, living room or play room, I'd imagine it would be a different story, no?

Thanks for everyone's help so far. I know it can be tiring guiding a n00b, but the learning process has actually been pretty fun and enlightening.
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post #28 of 35 Old 02-28-2013, 04:28 AM
 
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Hey guys this thread has been brought to my attention and if you guys have any more questions about Loxone products I can help you out with them. We are opening up our US location and soon will be offering seminars and training on these products but as of right now we just have our normal support.
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post #29 of 35 Old 11-18-2013, 05:30 AM
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Hi Lexone,
I am interested. We are currently looking at upgrading our very old and frustratingly bad AMX system. Right now, we are looking at Control4, but due to security issues (no outside access allowed on our systems - work requirement), coupled with the fact that ANY hardware changes require a visit (and charge) from a technician, I want to find something else. Can you PM me?
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post #30 of 35 Old 11-18-2013, 11:56 AM
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Not to sound defensive or anything, but it's important to understand that setting up something simple quickly often isn't ultimately what you need. If you are getting into this to do your own solutions, a product that will let you do whatever you want may not get you to the 'happy clappy demo' stage as quickly, because it requires more investment in understanding, but it will not end up limiting you as your understanding grows and you want to do more and more.

Anyway, given that the software you choose will end up becoming the center of your HA universe, and will define what you can and cannot do, it's something to consider. As with many things in life, you get back out proportionally to what you put in.

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