AVS Special Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Give a monkey a brain...
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The major players for DIY home automation:
1. Elk M1
2. HAI OPII
6. Universal Devices, Inc (ISY99 controller)
8. Premise (it's free)
If you need an alarm, pick #1 or #2 to start with. #4, #5, and #8 are PC-based. The others are hardware controllers.
IMO, it's best to choose everything before you buy a thing, to make sure everything is compatible (read online, don't be a guinea pig). But, that's a lot less fun.
Most of these have dedicated forums (Elk, HAI, and Premise forums at Cocoontech.com). Personally, I've never used any of them, but I have an Elk M1 in my shopping cart.
Many other whole-house controller options are available for DIY, including several new companies. Pro-install options include Elan, RTI, Control4, URC Total Control, Savant, and Crestron. Claire (sp?) Controls is a new pro-install system that uses a Mac-based platform.
Lighting control systems include UPB, Insteon, Lutron Radio RA2, z-wave, Control4 (not DIY) Centralite, LiteTouch/Savant (not DIY), Crestron (not DIY), and Vantage (not DIY).
Basically, if DIY, find someone experienced, and with similar needs, in a forum, and try to copy what they did. For pro installation, find a great company, and use what they recommend, given your budget.
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