I need a recommendation for a central control system for home automation. (retrofit) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-23-2013, 10:25 AM - Thread Starter
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First off thank you very much for your assistance. I recently purchase a short sale and am doing a lot of remodeling and while I am doing it, I figured that with the rewiring etc that I am already doing, I may as well go ahead and run additional wires and do home automation. I will basically be adding to it piece by piece over the next two years or so as I remodel each room.

I am fairly tech savy, but do not know hot to do nuts and bolts computer programming.

Features I would Like:

- The ability to add on as I remodel room to room.
- The ability to access remotely (Iphone, web, etc)
- I do want some switches like for blings but also want them to be centrally controlled.
- I want to be able to use timers for things like blinds, lights, stereos, sprinklet system, etc.
- Ideally a mesh system

Here is what I would like it to control:

1. whole house audio system
2. intercom (pauses whole house system to use)
3. lawn sprinkler system
4. Security System
- Front door security camera that shows who is at door on cell phone and televisions
when doorbell rings
- notification via text message, lights flashing, alarm sounding for security breach/fire/etc
- Door and window sensors
- motion detectors
5. Motion sensored lights
6. Blinds (I want them to be switch controlled in each room as well as timer and central remote)
7. Lighting
8. heated bathroom floor
9. HVAC
10. Garage Door
11. Home Theater
- Denon 3311
- Mitsubishi HC7800D Projector
- Dropdown screen
- Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature Series Amp (controlledthrough 12v)
- Lighting
- Led Ceiling
12. While not required, I think it would be really neat if my whole home stereo could give a room specific command at a given time (weather report and read my daily schedule)

13. Wine Celler thourmostat with humidity reading

And of course the ability to expand as I see other toys. If anyone knows of a good control system that I can likely do myself with some research that allows me to expand on. Iam cost conscious, but willing to pay a bit extra for things like expandability, ease of setup, ease of use, etc.
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-24-2013, 08:39 PM
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I am looking to do something very similar minus the blinds. I'm interested in seeing if I can buy something like a veralite or isy system or if there's something else I'll need to do a majority of what you mention.
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-26-2013, 07:30 AM
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Here's an article we wrote on Control4 vs. Savant, in case those are systems you are considering. Feel free to send me a note if you want to chat about anything else.

http://www.residentialsystemsinc.com/control4-vs-savant-for-todays-smart-home/

Travis Leo
Denver, CO
Residential Systems, Inc.

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post #4 of 8 Old 10-02-2013, 11:09 AM
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If you want to do it yourself, forget Control4, Savant, etc. (Savant just launched a consumer product for $995, but too early to tell how hobbled it is. Personally, I hate the design of their new light switches)

Main choices are:

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post #5 of 8 Old 10-02-2013, 12:54 PM
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I am building a new house and am looking hard at MainLobby. It is a software-based system like Homeseer, but I like the look of the interfaces better and it can be implemented totally DIY, totally programmed or in-between. The base systems I am going to install are;
Lutron Radio RA2 for lighting control. (This would work well for you in a retro-fit situation. I have the original Radio Ra installed now and couldn't be without it.)
Russound for whole-house audio and intercom and door camera
Elk M1 for security and automation control as well as interfacing with the lighting to flash lights, etc. for burglary and to use motions and contacts to control lighting while home (a lit path at night to the bathroom when you get up, etc.
I wanted to go with an HDMI matrix from Video distribution, but started lookign at Just Add Power http://www.justaddpower.com/home.html
to make a large matrix switch that is expandable (just what you were wanting)
I have Aprilaire automated thermostats now, so I'll probably stick with those at the new place and I'm still researching IP cameras for remote viewing and incorporation into the main system.
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post #6 of 8 Old 10-02-2013, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkarakis View Post

I am building a new house and am looking hard at MainLobby. It is a software-based system like Homeseer, but I like the look of the interfaces better and it can be implemented totally DIY, totally programmed or in-between. .

You should ask on HomeSeer forums: a bunch of people have integrated HS with ML, which suggest ML doesn't do everything it needs to do. I use HS and it works great. Very extensible with VB.net scripts (v2 supports vb and jscript, but I think everything has gone to .net in the new 3.0)

I have HomeSeer integrated with my HVAC, Security, Siri, URC system, Sonos, etc. It does real cool things like dim the lights when I pause a movie (using a standard remote), drops temp when alarm is armed, has one "bedtime" button, Bluetooth proximity detection so it knows when I'm home.

I mostly use z-wave, IP and RS232, but it supports almost everything (except zigbee, which is way to vendor specific) User interface is entirely up to you - the stock one that ships for tablets/phones is very basic, but it's real easy to build your own. I designed my own screens for iPhone, iPad and Kindle Fire (Android). You can see many designs here: http://board.homeseer.com/showthread.php?t=131697 IMHO, many of them are dreadful. Mine aren't great (but I'm not embarrassed by them), as I'm not a designer, so I have to work within my limited artistic "talents" and use stock images. The latter is the biggest problem: easy to find sets of images online with 90% of the buttons you need, but there'll be one or two (maybe a lock, or a lightbulb) that are not in the set and you either have to make it yourself (I'm hosed) or use one with a different theme (looks terrible). I do have some photoshop skills, so when I re-designed, I went with plain B/W line graphics and added the background, "glow" and the reflection myself. This way, I have a massive pool of images to choose from and can apply my own theme with a simple photoshop action. I wish HS supported 9-slice vector graphics though. It's real pain having re-res for Kindle, IPad, iPhone, etc.


The nice thing about the way I designed my system is that all my systems work perfectly standalone (Security, HVAC, Sonos, AV, so that if there ever is a server failure, I'm not without critical functions, etc. It also means I use standard controls for thermostat, alarm system, etc. and the system still reacts as if I controlled it from a touch screen. IF I want to use my touch screens, I can.

HS has a very active community and lots of good, inexpensive plug-ins. Pretty sure there are Elk and Russound plug-ins

Unfortunately I know nothing about ML, so can't comment on that.

I wrote a few articles here that may interest you, or give you a deeper understanding of HS and integration:

http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2012/12/blowing-hot-and-cold-with-z-wave-and-wi-fi-thermostats/2060

http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2013/02/siri-home-automation-integration-from-start-to-finish-brpart-1--the-basics-using-a-linux-vm/2087 (Part 3 is probably most interesting. I use the same technique to interface with several other systems (either over RS232 or IP)

http://www.hometoys.com/emagazine/2011/12/using-the-kindle-fire-as-a-home-automation-touchscreen/1485 (I've updated the screens since (now got fancy icons with reflections): http://board.homeseer.com/showpost.php?p=1058174&postcount=287


Regards

Mark
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-02-2013, 06:47 PM
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Thanks Mark. I didn't mean to hijack the OP thread. I will look into Homeseer more.
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-03-2013, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkarakis View Post

Thanks Mark. I didn't mean to hijack the OP thread. I will look into Homeseer more.

Feel free to PM me with specific questions. I could do a webex with you if you wanted to see specific things
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