What's the difference between companies like Crestron/C4 and Insteon? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 42 Old 07-25-2013, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
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I just got a quote from a Crestron dealer that is astronomical and trying to see other options. Is a company like Insteon reliable and safe? Much appreciated! biggrin.gif

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post #2 of 42 Old 07-25-2013, 09:53 AM
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Comparing Creston with Insteon is a little bit like comparing a 747 with a Kia. Can't be done as they are entirely different products doing entirely different functions.

In terms of reliability, Insteon is not at the top of many people's list, but it serves it's purpose for many.

In terms of an affordable alternative to Creston, if you'll explain a little more about what you want to accomplish, what you feel your budget might be, and if you have any DIY capabilities, you'll get some great help on this forum. You'll also be able to get some good help on Coontech.com.

I know I didn't really provide much in the way of answers for you, but I'm a DIY person, so I'll step back and let someone respond who's more up to date on alternatives to Crestron/C4, both excellent systems. I do encourage you to get some details posted in order to get the best responses.
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post #3 of 42 Old 07-25-2013, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Deane Johnson View Post

You'll also be able to get some good help on Coontech.com.

For the record, it's cocoontech.com. wink.gif

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post #4 of 42 Old 07-25-2013, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm disabled, so as much as I can be a DIYer, I need help setting all this up. My father can help, but he's not tech savvy. I have a 2,000 sq ft. condo unit that is new construction. My needs are: Security cameras (one for the entrance, one for the patio), automated drapes, lights, temp control and music. Sound quality is more important to me than design, so I prefer a floor standing system in the family room and bookshelf speakers in my room. In-ceiling speakers for the living/dining room and patio might be worth installing. Music is my favorite so I'm willing to pay for the best in that regard although price doesn't always translate quality I've learned.

I hope this information helps!

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post #5 of 42 Old 07-25-2013, 01:42 PM
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I don't know in what way you're disabled, but Chassmain, a quadriplegic cocoontech member, has documented a good deal of his new construction home.

http://cocoontech.com/forums/topic/22276-documenting-the-home-automation-technology-in-quadomated/

Link to his blog in the first post. He uses an HAI OPII controller as the main brain of his automated home. A call to a local HAI dealer may be enlightening, but you'd better believe it will be expensive (not Crestron expensive, but be prepared for some sticker shock)!

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post #6 of 42 Old 07-25-2013, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for this information! I'm a quadriplegic also with some hand function but I'm not sure if I'm as tech minded as him. I'll check out HAI.

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post #7 of 42 Old 07-25-2013, 05:30 PM
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For the record, it's cocoontech.com. wink.gif

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post #8 of 42 Old 07-26-2013, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nalamo777 View Post

I just got a quote from a Crestron dealer that is astronomical and trying to see other options. Is a company like Insteon reliable and safe? Much appreciated! biggrin.gif

What was the bid amount and what equipment was spec'd?

B.
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post #9 of 42 Old 07-27-2013, 06:32 PM
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Crestron is one of the most reliable companies in the world. It is not a DiY type of situation with them, but they offer a level of integration which can typically match whatever needs you may have. It is important to speak to different Crestron dealers though as they run through many different ranges of technical prowess and experience. Your unique situation may really require something more from the dealer, and I certainly wouldn't recommend Insteon in any critical situation.

Typically Crestron products maintain a 3-year replacement/repair warranty, which is 2 years longer than what most others may offer, and a higher level of technical support from most (not all) installers.

Now, Crestron lighting is high quality, but would be comparable to what Lutron might deliver. Not at all like the lower tiered companies. The plus with Crestron lighting is that it will more easily integrate directly with Crestron control systems which can do your audio, video, system control, etc. Which is truly their focus - they are an integration company. Not one or two systems, but every system that you can dream up, they have some way to interface with for the most part.

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post #10 of 42 Old 07-29-2013, 07:55 PM
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http://www.residentialsystemsinc.com/control4-vs-savant-for-todays-smart-home/

I've posted this before but it seems like it may answer some of the questions you may have. Good luck!

Travis Leo
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Residential Systems, Inc.
www.ResidentialSystemsInc.com
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post #11 of 42 Old 07-30-2013, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
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don't remember the specs, but the bid was $175k-$200k!

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post #12 of 42 Old 07-30-2013, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, that link was helpful! I think I might go with something simple like Insteon or Control4 for ease of installation at a reasonable price. What I'm really focused on is getting the right home theater speaker system and other essential components.

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post #13 of 42 Old 07-30-2013, 09:09 PM
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Insteon is a lighting company, while Control 4 is home automation. It really all depends on what you need and if you need any level of customization which can't be achieved through the Control 4 system. It certainly is one of the cheaper custom installed solutions, but it isn't as robust as other systems may be.

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post #14 of 42 Old 07-31-2013, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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I need control of a couple of security cameras, my drapes, lights, temp and audio. Right now I'm thinking of hiring someone just to hook up and control my AV equipment throughout the house. When you say "it isn't as robust as other systems," what do you mean by that?

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post #15 of 42 Old 07-31-2013, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
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I just met with the Crestron dealer again (Advanced Home Theater) and he brought the bid down to close to $100k. I've been reading so many reviews my eyes are bleary! I'm sure when installed properly, C4 can be a good product. But the trend seems to be that Crestron is a more reliable company with a more reliable product. Not final on my decision but that's where I'm leaning right now.

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post #16 of 42 Old 07-31-2013, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nalamo777 View Post

I need control of a couple of security cameras, my drapes, lights, temp and audio. Right now I'm thinking of hiring someone just to hook up and control my AV equipment throughout the house. When you say "it isn't as robust as other systems," what do you mean by that?
Control 4 and Savant are companies which use modules and a GUI which is written by the manufacturer. While it is far more than a basic universal remote, it remains a template based system with very little true customization available and can present as a real headache if there is something about the product which does not meet your needs. I will say that I expect them to maintain a solid architecture towards the future which will make both good long term products and reliable products...

But, companies like AMX and Crestron are incredibly long term companies with a system which is typically 100% custom to your needs. This is why they carry a higher price tag. They don't have any part of their system which is not customizable to your needs or any product they won't typically work with unless that product is proprietary. Crestron arguably has the best HDMI distribution systems on the market right now, which is nice if you can use them, but they are happy to work with almost anyone's product. Their track record for their own product support is phenomenal as well. They have products which go back over 15 years which are still 100% supported by the latest control systems that have come to market. So, as homes upgrade, their legacy gear doesn't require an upgrade if it can be used elsewhere or for another purpose. Most of all, AMX/Crestron are large, long term companies with a history to match. Control 4 and Savant, are both relatively new to this arena, and while it is nice to think your $50,000+ investment will be supported in 10 years, there is no guarantee of this from any company. But, Crestron and AMX have both stepped into the digital switching arena big time, which has significantly increased their revenue stream, while we don't see that level of product from either C4 or Savant and we have seen over the years, some control systems which have just simply disappeared from the market. Heck, even companies like Russond put out products which they maintain for a few years then promptly replace with a new model and no support for the old product.

It doesn't make C4 or Savant bad or poor or anything else, they simply aren't as robust as AMX/Crestron, and for that you get some price savings and more of a canned system which may or may not meet your specific needs.
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post #17 of 42 Old 08-03-2013, 02:17 PM
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INSTEON is all 99% of users need. Crestron and C4 are the old industry model - professional installers, proprietary products, lock in, need to be trained to program system, etc. The industry has moved past this with INSTEON, Z-Wave, and others. Unless you have a massive mansion and want a status symbol, there is simply no reason to get Crestron. I think you'll be very happy with INSTEON.

Founder for the CastleOS Home Automation System, featuring Kinect integration www.CastleOS.com
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post #18 of 42 Old 08-03-2013, 02:36 PM
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Well, it's more than just having a way to turn lights off and on with a remote control or tablet. Insteon and Z-Wave are only the plumbing, basically invisible wires. It doesn't get you that much closer to actual automation than the visible wires you have now. Real automation is about integration of things into a single system, many of which are not at all related to either Insteon or Z-Wave, and which therefore cannot be controlled by them. Even better, automation is about 'activity oriented' interfaces, in which many devices are coordinated based on a current activity the user wants to do. This is far beyond what just installing Insteon or Z-Wave devices gets you.

And I don't say that as a Crestron or C4 advocate of course, since I sell a competing product. If you want to do real automation, you need something above and beyond the invisible wires, and that either requires a fair bit of time investment or hiring someone to do it for you, if you want a high level of integration. That doesn't have anything to do with whether it's a proprietary/close system or an open one.

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post #19 of 42 Old 08-03-2013, 05:45 PM
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When a thread poses a question like this, it seems to attract a variety of answers from fairly objective to fairly biased.
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Originally Posted by ChrisCicc View Post

INSTEON is all 99% of users need. Crestron and C4 are the old industry model - professional installers, proprietary products, lock in, need to be trained to program system, etc. The industry has moved past this with INSTEON, Z-Wave, and others.
I've been hearing statements like that on this board for over 10 years now, but it seems to be more wishful thinking about the way some people want the world to be, than the way it actually is. Like most analogies, this one is far from perfect, but it's sort of like proclaiming that Windows and Mac are the old industry model and the industry has moved on with Linux. Wishful thinking aside, Crestron, C4 and a few others like them are the dominant industry players, while Insteon based products barely represent a blip on the radar.

There is also nothing whatsoever that stops a Crestron system from being used with products such as Insteon other than whether that would be a questionable design move wink.gif.

I've also seen the "99%" argument used many times, whether it's "it does 99% of what Crestron can do" or "it does what 99% of users need" wink.gif. But for some reason the number is always 99% wink.gif. I guess at least that's some type of painful acknowledgement that maybe it doesn't do everything, but it's only 1% less wink.gifbiggrin.gif. I wonder if when you go to car forums there are people arguing that a Ford Fiesta is all 99% of drivers need?
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Unless you have a massive mansion and want a status symbol, there is simply no reason to get Crestron. I think you'll be very happy with INSTEON.
I always get a kick out of it when someone who wants to criticize products such as Crestron tries to do so by making out that people buy them to have a "status symbol" or try to to work the "massive mansion" line into it biggrin.gif. It makes me wonder if they've ever had any actual experience with Crestron systems or Clients, my guess is they usually haven't. I've been involved in the integration industry for 20 years now and not once have I seen getting a status symbol to be the primary motive driving anyone to buy a Crestron system. The thread starter is a perfect example, he's doing research and trying to figure what he'll be happiest with in the long run. I suspect the last reason in the world he/she is going to spend 100K (or whatever he ends up spending) is so they can have a status symbol for a high-end automation brand that most people will never have heard of!

Please note, I am mainly debating some of the points here, not telling the thread starter to "buy Crestron", that's a decision only they can make. And I think it's great to see small companies like Chris' Castle OS bring products to market, I've been cheering on CQC and others like it for a long time.

Full Disclosure: my company uses Crestron for most of our integration work.
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post #20 of 42 Old 08-05-2013, 07:02 PM
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Good points noted above. Most of the homes I install Control4 in are far from "mansions". The majority of our automaton customers are the middle- and upper-middle-class.

And I've only come across a customer or two who may have gone with an expensive system as a status symbol. That's just absurd. Sounds like envy to me; that's what German cars are for.
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post #21 of 42 Old 08-05-2013, 08:26 PM
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Whether you call it 99%, the 80%/90% split, or whatever else, there is no denying the fact that the vast majority of users can have their automation needs and wants met without spending six figures on a system.

Dean you are correct, but that's where our software and your software and others come into play. Crestron is an all in one shop, INSTEON needs it's central controller sourced separately. I know there are some people on this board that want to keep getting paid to program Crestron systems, but to me that's crazy talk. You don't call a professional to program your DVR, and automation should be the same.

And yes, I'm very familiar with Creston, having first worked for a Crestron installer over a dozen years ago. The paradigm has shifted in my opinion. When the home automation market grows over the next five years, who do you think will be driving it? Crestron? Or INSTEON, Z-Wave, SmartThings and other startups, etc.?

Founder for the CastleOS Home Automation System, featuring Kinect integration www.CastleOS.com
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post #22 of 42 Old 08-06-2013, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cshepard View Post

Good points noted above. Most of the homes I install Control4 in are far from "mansions". The majority of our automaton customers are the middle- and upper-middle-class.

And I've only come across a customer or two who may have gone with an expensive system as a status symbol. That's just absurd. Sounds like envy to me; that's what German cars are for.

I'm certainly not looking for a status symbol. I need certain automation because of my disability. I don't have the know how to program/install/maintain my own system, so I want to find a reliable product with a solid installer that will help me if something goes awry.

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post #23 of 42 Old 08-06-2013, 09:36 PM
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Chasmain, in the linked article above, uses our CQC product, or he did the last time I looked. I'm not sure who he got to set it up, but you might ask him about it since knowing about your particular needs may be as important as knowing the installation bidness.

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post #24 of 42 Old 08-06-2013, 11:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nalamo777 View Post

I need certain automation because of my disability.
It seems to me that no one has asked the obvious question here, which is what do you need/want your primary methods of interaction with the system to be? I read earlier that you said you have some hand function but I don't want to assume I have a clue what that translates to. Will you be able to use handheld remotes? Touchscreens? Are you trying to achieve voice control? Will you be the person interfacing with the system?

One thing that concerns me here (and I'm not telling you anything you don't know) is that since you won't be able to work on this yourself IMO you really need to choose both a service provider and a product, whatever that is, that you can count on being able to provide responsive ongoing service. If you choose a brand that has one dealer in the city you're going to be up the creek if you aren't happy with your provider because no one else is going to want to support it. You're lucky to live in NYC so if you go with an established brand there should be many dealers.

Of course there's nothing wrong with going with a smaller brand, just as long as you're OK with the risks.

For lighting it is my opinion that you should probably go with a hard wired lighting system, I would not go with 100 miles of Insteon. There are several that are rock solid, Lutron, Crestron and Vantage are the main three. For wireless, Lutron is a rock solid option.

You may also want to see the "who owns the code" article in my sig to inform yourself about another issue to consider as you make a purchase. I did not address it in that article but I would also make sure you get provided with all documentation on the system, and I don't mean manuals, I mean the wiring documentation that any company doing this work should produce when they do a project.

I hope this helps.
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post #25 of 42 Old 08-07-2013, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Haddad View Post

It seems to me that no one has asked the obvious question here, which is what do you need/want your primary methods of interaction with the system to be? I read earlier that you said you have some hand function but I don't want to assume I have a clue what that translates to. Will you be able to use handheld remotes? Touchscreens? Are you trying to achieve voice control? Will you be the person interfacing with the system?

I can use remotes and touch pads. I'd rather use my hands than do anything voice controlled as sometimes I don't have a voice! (I have a trach)

I need controls for the door, drapes, lights, temp, and at least 2 cameras (one for the front door and one for the patio). I have a 2,000 sq ft apt in a newly constructed condo unit.

I asked for references from the dealer who quoted me for a Crestron system. He says they've been in the city for years, but I haven't seen any reviews and they're not registered with BBB. I asked several AVS members from nyc if they know anything about them. Is it alright to include the actual proposal? I'm trying to edit the PDF where I can cut out the first page which has my address.

I'll check out your code article. Thanks so much for your input!

Nicky

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post #26 of 42 Old 08-07-2013, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nalamo777 View Post

don't remember the specs, but the bid was $175k-$200k!

There must be something missing...based on the few items you say you want to control and the size of the place I'm not sure how you are getting up to $200k!? or even $100k?

B.
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post #27 of 42 Old 08-07-2013, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Crestron Automation Proposal_08-01-13.pdf 161k .pdf file
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Originally Posted by Brian B View Post

There must be something missing...based on the few items you say you want to control and the size of the place I'm not sure how you are getting up to $200k!? or even $100k?

B.

Attached is the latest proposal with specs after dropping about $80k. The total is $97,857
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Crestron Automation Proposal_08-01-13.pdf (160.7 KB, 61 views)

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post #28 of 42 Old 08-07-2013, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nalamo777 View Post

Is it alright to include the actual proposal? I'm trying to edit the PDF where I can cut out the first page which has my address.
That is your call but I recommend taking your address out as well as all the dealers info out.

Be prepared for an onslaught of DIY folks to tell you how you are being raped no matter what's in the proposal wink.gifbiggrin.gif. And pro's to tell you it's fair wink.gifbiggrin.gif.

I will take a look at it later and let you know if anything jumps out at me or if I would ask them any questions. I am sure some others will comment in the mean time. Good luck!
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post #29 of 42 Old 08-07-2013, 08:23 PM
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Put 2 speakers or a dual voice coil (DVC, single stereo speaker) in the master bath.

Price seems kind of high, for the residential network component. But, I don't know how expensive commercial grade equipment runs. And, I don't know what the going rate of configuring the network would be. I imagine that's about how much it would cost a business to have it installed professionally, in NYC.

Why are there 'for future installation' notations in the quote? I would get everything done now. It will cost more later, and nothing will change in 2 years.

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post #30 of 42 Old 08-07-2013, 08:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nalamo777 View Post

Crestron Automation Proposal_08-01-13.pdf 161k .pdf file
Attached is the latest proposal with specs after dropping about $80k. The total is $97,857

Ahh, now I see. We aren't talking about $100k in Crestron, we are talking about EVERYTHING including shades, lighting dimmers, a DVR system, home theater setup, etc. I'm not expert, but most of the gear makes sense. I don't know that you need the 300W power supply, but...?

The big question is the ~$30k in labor. You'll probably want to get more input from someone who works in the area (and specifies labor) often to let you know whether this is high or "in the ballpark."

Lastly, everything is at retail from what I can tell. I don't know how you feel about asking for an equipment discount, but this is an option if you feel okay about it.

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