Building House - Elve or Homeseer? Insteon or Zwave? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 11-27-2012, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
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I am fairly new to the home automation scene but I am doing my best to get up to speed figuring everything out. After a huge amount of research I have noticed two things - Elve and Insteon together represents the cheapest route to automating your lighting, etc. Does this follow the "get what you pay for" saying and I would be paying for junk? Does anyone have previous experience with both insteon and ZWave devices and could offer some explanation as to why almost every Zwave device (except for GE brand) seems to be twice as much as the corresponding Insteon device? Is Homeseer 4x better than Elve since it costs 4x as much to buy? Here is a list of things I would like to do int eh house>:

- Lighting (Insteon or Zwave devices)
- Home Theater (remotely control a Denon AVR-2809CI, an Epson 3020 projector, and a Cable Box)
- HVAC (2 thermostats)
- Whole Home Audio (4 zones, Sonos)
- 4x4 HDMI Distribution

After meeting with several dealers in town it became apparent i will need to DIY this thing. The Control4 dealers want a minimum of mid-20k to do everything, and the prices for other brands just goes up from there. Does anybody have a similar setup using Homeseer or Elve that would care to comment on some of the pitfalls I might face using said solutions? Is one considerably better than the other?

Thanks in advance!

DWP
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post #2 of 15 Old 11-27-2012, 02:36 PM
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Here is some of my experience. I have Control4 in my house and I have had very good luck with it but found a dealer who allowed me to install the devices myself and then he added them to the project. After that I took care of my own system with Composer HE. This has been a very good solution for me but it is more expensive than the other options you mention. If you are sold on C4 you might want to see if your dealer would work with you so save costs if you can install the devices yourself.

For a friend that wanted basic lighting control and control for a small entertainment center, (TV, RCVR, blu-ray etc) that could easily be taken with you I tried both Insteon and Z-wave. I tried Lowes IRIS (z-wave/zigbee) and it worked very well and the devices are reasonably priced but hated the fact that in order to just do basic scheduling required a $10/month. I also found the scheduler to be very cumbersome in that it was device based instead of schedule based. By that I mean you had to create separate schedules for each device even though the schedules were the same as opposed to creating a scheduling and assigning devices to that schedule. Decided the monthly fee was not worth it.

Next up, was insteon and I was somewhat familiar with this because I am old timer and used x10 way back. We needed to keep the system down in price and the goal was just about 7-10 lighting control devices so I went with a Smartlinc instead of the more powerful and robust ISY99i so if you go this way I would highly recommend going with ISY. This was installed in a small house around 1600 ft. and was very inconsistent and unreliable, sometimes all the lights would come on and go off on their normal schedule but many times they would not and it would be different lights each time. If it isn't reliable it isn't for me. I also tried troubleshooting making sure the inconsistencies weren't due to the dual-phase issue on the electrical etc. In the end, with the instability and the hassle of configuring the device links I chose not to keep this solution. In saying this adding devices is much easier using the ISY99i and may be more reliable so don't rule it out completely based on my experience.

Next up, Z-Wave with Micasaverde Veralite. Did some research and looked at the information provided on the Micasaverde website so had some idea about configuring this before I got it, however I have experience with C4 so wasn't worried about this, however, it isn't necessarily easy to use at first if you are inexperienced with this type of device but if you can spend just a little time with it you won't find it daunting at all. I had all my devices added within 15-minutes, had all my schedules/scenes defined within a couple of hours and did it a device at a time at my house prior to installing at my friends. Once I took it to my friends we registered the device plugged everything in and it has worked very well and consistently. I downloaded a very easy $4 iphone app to give me individual light and scene control and it works very well. I purchased an outdoor module to control outside lights, and had it added to the system and an existing schedule in less than 5-minutes. I programmed lights to come on in the morning to help awaken during the weekdays and since this last week was holidays, have kids at home didn't want the schedule to execute this past week, so I added a virtual switch, and when you turn this on, I wrote a bit LUA scripting to prevent the schedule from executing when the lighting was on. Turn the virtual switch off and the schedule will run and turn the lights on. My point is you can do some very complex things with this device with a bit of research. So far I'm keeping this one. I much prefer Z-Wave to Insteon, easier to configure, much faster response times, and more reliable. Again I say this using the Smartlinc and not the ISY device for Insteon.

Now to your IR control of your home theater devices. In this same friends house we installed RoomieRemote with IP2IR device and this works awesome, is easy to setup/configure and anyone can use it, it is so intuitive, and let me tell you the person who is using this was remote challenged but not so with Roomie. Roomie also natively supports the Veralite controller as well, however, I have not set this up yet, plan to do that tonight. I do believe veralite can also be configured for Home Theater control with additional hardware but chose roomie over the added complexity of going with veralite.
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post #3 of 15 Old 11-28-2012, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
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LVS - thanks for the great info! I think I may be forced to go the Insteon route due to price and cosmetics (they just look better). I think I will take your advice about using the ISY99 controller to add stability/responsiveness. I am hoping others on the forum will chime in on this subject as even though my budget may limit my options a bit, I want to make sure my solution works well. I don't need any more headaches to deal with, specially not with a new house!
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post #4 of 15 Old 11-28-2012, 11:21 AM
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i'm doing the same thing now. i'm using the roomie remote that integrates with the insteon controller or the lutron radio ra 2. decisions. the price is an issue I want to spend about 1000 for my whole system. i'm not sure if I can get my hands on software for the programming of the lutron and don't want to pay an installer so I may be going the insteon route with the controller you mentioned.
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post #5 of 15 Old 11-28-2012, 12:17 PM
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I will say there are a lot of insteon products and they do look very nice. I tried an 8-button keypad and it worked very well. I just found it to be more of a headache to deal with. It seemed like I was having to consider buying more devices just to get it to work reliably and then there was still no guarantee. If you have 2-phase wiring in your home be prepared to install a couple of these Access points that will bridge the two-phases together. Devices on the opposite bridge as the controller will typically be less reliable unless the phases are bridged. In addition to going with the ISY most people said this is the most important piece to insteon and that is insuring multiple phases are bridged.

http://www.smarthome.com/2443/Access-Point-INSTEON-Wireless-Phase-Coupler-Dual-Band/p.aspx

Good luck with whatever direction you take and be sure and report back your experience here.
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post #6 of 15 Old 12-02-2012, 03:40 PM
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How do you know if you a dual phase system. My house was built in 2000 and I'm not sure if I do. That's gotten me tentative about any power line stuff.
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post #7 of 15 Old 12-02-2012, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LVS View Post

I will say there are a lot of insteon products and they do look very nice. I tried an 8-button keypad and it worked very well. I just found it to be more of a headache to deal with. It seemed like I was having to consider buying more devices just to get it to work reliably and then there was still no guarantee. If you have 2-phase wiring in your home be prepared to install a couple of these Access points that will bridge the two-phases together. Devices on the opposite bridge as the controller will typically be less reliable unless the phases are bridged. In addition to going with the ISY most people said this is the most important piece to insteon and that is insuring multiple phases are bridged.
http://www.smarthome.com/2443/Access-Point-INSTEON-Wireless-Phase-Coupler-Dual-Band/p.aspx
Good luck with whatever direction you take and be sure and report back your experience here.

Since a lot of the newer devices are dual-band this is not as much of a concern anymore.
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Originally Posted by ekkoville View Post

How do you know if you a dual phase system. My house was built in 2000 and I'm not sure if I do. That's gotten me tentative about any power line stuff.

You do. Everyone does.
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post #8 of 15 Old 12-02-2012, 06:06 PM
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Maybe you can search for local Insteon or HAI dealers in your area, and focus on a few zones.

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 #9 of 15 Old 12-02-2012, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by az1324 View Post

Since a lot of the newer devices are dual-band this is not as much of a concern anymore.
You do. Everyone does.

Are the plug in couplers/bridges linked above just as good as the hard wired ones I've seen before?
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post #10 of 15 Old 12-03-2012, 06:00 AM
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I have 150 Insteon switches from 5 years ago V.27, I lost 3 over these 5 years and I'm pretty sure it was my wiring that caused this. Because I wanted everything controlled via iPhone using iRule so it was incorporated with all my other automation I bought the ISY994i for Insteon and the system is just fantastic now http://www.smarthome.com/12237DB/ISY994i-INSTEON-Compatible-Automation-Controller-with-Dual-Band-PLM/p.aspx
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post #11 of 15 Old 12-03-2012, 06:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekkoville View Post

Are the plug in couplers/bridges linked above just as good as the hard wired ones I've seen before?

I would go hardwired if I was planning to build a larger system on Insteon. Less devices to plug in.
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post #12 of 15 Old 12-03-2012, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekkoville View Post

Are the plug in couplers/bridges linked above just as good as the hard wired ones I've seen before?

Well that depends. Again, if you are using all dual-band dimmers you may not need any additional phase-coupling. With dual-band devices spread out over the house it becomes a distributed branch to branch bridging and may have the best performance. Hard-wired phase couplers if installed at the main panel can bridge trunk to trunk but may not ensure reliability to distant, isolated or noisy branches. The plug-in repeaters will bridge branch to branch so they can provide the most improvements to specific branches but may not extend to other branches as well as a hard-wired coupler.
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post #13 of 15 Old 12-03-2012, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by az1324 View Post

Well that depends. Again, if you are using all dual-band dimmers you may not need any additional phase-coupling. With dual-band devices spread out over the house it becomes a distributed branch to branch bridging and may have the best performance. Hard-wired phase couplers if installed at the main panel can bridge trunk to trunk but may not ensure reliability to distant, isolated or noisy branches. The plug-in repeaters will bridge branch to branch so they can provide the most improvements to specific branches but may not extend to other branches as well as a hard-wired coupler.

Thank you, that makes a ton of sense.
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post #14 of 15 Old 12-11-2012, 08:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Someone on one of these threads mentioned they were having the electrician install a bridge at the panel. Anyone know if that is something I should do? Anyone know the approximate cost and benefits?

Thanks!
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post #15 of 15 Old 12-14-2012, 10:57 AM
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We have been using Insteon lighting products for a couple of years now and will second what has been said earlier, system integration with an ISY should be considered a "must".
I would also recommend the High wattage dual band switches/dimmers, in two years we have had no bad switches, failed commands or any other issues of note. We have not found a need for the Phase couplers.
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