Advice on starting with Home Automation - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 135 Old 06-13-2014, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Just a brief update. I added a few more z-wave micro controller/energy monitors for light switches and I changed out my front door deadbolt with a second Yale deadbolt. That one is a bit farther away from where my controller sits. I ended up needing to keep my controller plugged in near the deadbolt to finish the configuration. Updates and control of the second deadbolt was bit flaky at first after I moved the veralite back to its regular position. I tried adding in a manual z-wave route through a relay that should support encrypted protocols (which the lock will require - it won't just beam it's info to any old z-wave device or I wouldn't have any problems). That seemed to work, and then stopped working, not sure why. Perhaps I didn't set the variable up right. But after I removed the manual route control and updates from the lock started working fine. Perhaps it learned to use that route instead of trying to connect directly?

I've been looking for an "AutoRoute" variable that I read about in the forums to see what routes different devices where trying to reach the controller and how well they are working, but I don't seem to have that variable available to me. I'm going to look into how to get that information, as I'm very curious about some of the routes, and extremely curious about whether or not my front door lock is going through another z-wave device to connect to the veralite.

I setup automation such that when I enter a particular code on my front door lock it unlocks the bolt and disarms the alarm. I also have scenes the lock the house up with one touch of a button (e.g. one of them will close the garages if they are open, lock the deadbolts, arm the security system and associated motion detectors and turn all the z-wave lights off). Pretty cool.

I also added another motion/humidity/light/temp sensor.

Next up, a couple more light controllers, and investigating a few plugins. I know have over 40 z-wave devices. Maybe 50.
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post #32 of 135 Old 06-13-2014, 06:05 PM
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The micro controllers are a very fine idea, and one I did not know existed until this thread, so thank you for sharing. Have you found the best online trailer to buy these through as far as price and availability?

Again, thank you.


BT1
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post #33 of 135 Old 06-13-2014, 08:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by btinindy View Post
The micro controllers are a very fine idea, and one I did not know existed until this thread, so thank you for sharing. Have you found the best online trailer to buy these through as far as price and availability?

Again, thank you.


BT1
I've gotten most of mine off ebay from lorenzhd - making him an offer. Amazon has competitive prices too.
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post #34 of 135 Old 06-18-2014, 03:49 PM
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SmartThings for the win! I'll make you a deal, you make some videos of your micasa (so I can learn), and I'll make some with my SmartThings and then we'll both be more educated on how to compare the systems!
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post #35 of 135 Old 06-18-2014, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by longhorn85 View Post
SmartThings for the win! I'll make you a deal, you make some videos of your micasa (so I can learn), and I'll make some with my SmartThings and then we'll both be more educated on how to compare the systems!
There are a lot of vera videos (and SmartThings) already on youtube. I gave my reasons for not going with SmartThings in my first post. I've got nothing against, in fact if it weren't for mobile device only interface and it won't function properly without a stable Internet connection (cloud is needed) I probably would have gone with it.

I've had a few hiccups with vera, but I'm still happy with my decision.

Be glad to know how smartthings goes for you.
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post #36 of 135 Old 06-27-2014, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Just another update.

Had a couple of instability problems with my veralite. From time to time the engine that runs the automation (Lua) crashed. Eventually the unit would reboot itself and all was well. I decided to start monitoring the memory usage and it seemed that eventually the memory would dwindle down and cause this problem. It was able to recover memory sometimes, but others times it wouldn't. Some kind of memory leak would be my guess. Could be related to the number of devices I now have and all the z-wave traffic my energy monitors generate. I made 3 changes:

1. I now have a scheduled 3AM reboot.
2. I reduced how often my energy monitoring devices send data (KWH, Watts, etc.) to the vera.
3. I removed all plugins that I don't use.

These changes seemed to have led back to good stability. Memory usage still creeps up overtime, but the clock is effectively reset with the reboots. I still log and monitor the memory and cpu utilization in case I need to diagnose other problems.

Right now it seems the vera3 is only a few dollars more than the veralite. I think it has twice the memory of the veralite, so it might be worth it if you are going to add a lot of devices... It can also serve as a router, and probably an access point.

I've turned an old cellphone and tablet into automation controllers that are placed around the house to control things (like from the bedroom where my wife doesn't normally take her cellphone my wife can run a scene to make sure the doors are locked, garage doors are closed and alarm armed. Or make sure lights left on in the basement are turned off. Or disarm the alarm, or...)

At some point later this year I'm going to look into iRule for my Home theater room, and integrate it with that. Don't have the time now, and I want to finish off my z-wave installation. I think I'm going to add about 3-6 more microcontrollers for switches, maybe another motion detector, maybe a temp/humidity sensor, maybe another flood detector or 3. Come christmas time I'll probably use appliance switches for christmas lights.

I'm all in at this point. I guess I have been
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post #37 of 135 Old 08-01-2014, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by newlinux View Post
Just another update.

Had a couple of instability problems with my veralite. From time to time the engine that runs the automation (Lua) crashed. Eventually the unit would reboot itself and all was well. I decided to start monitoring the memory usage and it seemed that eventually the memory would dwindle down and cause this problem. It was able to recover memory sometimes, but others times it wouldn't. Some kind of memory leak would be my guess. Could be related to the number of devices I now have and all the z-wave traffic my energy monitors generate. I made 3 changes:

1. I now have a scheduled 3AM reboot.
2. I reduced how often my energy monitoring devices send data (KWH, Watts, etc.) to the vera.
3. I removed all plugins that I don't use.

These changes seemed to have led back to good stability. Memory usage still creeps up overtime, but the clock is effectively reset with the reboots. I still log and monitor the memory and cpu utilization in case I need to diagnose other problems.

Right now it seems the vera3 is only a few dollars more than the veralite. I think it has twice the memory of the veralite, so it might be worth it if you are going to add a lot of devices... It can also serve as a router, and probably an access point.

I've turned an old cellphone and tablet into automation controllers that are placed around the house to control things (like from the bedroom where my wife doesn't normally take her cellphone my wife can run a scene to make sure the doors are locked, garage doors are closed and alarm armed. Or make sure lights left on in the basement are turned off. Or disarm the alarm, or...)

At some point later this year I'm going to look into iRule for my Home theater room, and integrate it with that. Don't have the time now, and I want to finish off my z-wave installation. I think I'm going to add about 3-6 more microcontrollers for switches, maybe another motion detector, maybe a temp/humidity sensor, maybe another flood detector or 3. Come christmas time I'll probably use appliance switches for christmas lights.

I'm all in at this point. I guess I have been
Another update. I added an evolve z-wave dimmer to my home theater room that controls dimming LED bulbs. I also added 4 more micro switches so now most the of the lights in my house can be controlled. I have automation to turn on my patio light at night and turn it off in the day time via z-wave. My other outdoor lights were already controlled by timers that have worked well, so I did not replace those with z-wave.

Next up - iRule integration when I get some time... I've never used iRule, so it will be an entirely new learning experience.
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post #38 of 135 Old 08-10-2014, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by newlinux View Post
Another update. I added an evolve z-wave dimmer to my home theater room that controls dimming LED bulbs. I also added 4 more micro switches so now most the of the lights in my house can be controlled. I have automation to turn on my patio light at night and turn it off in the day time via z-wave. My other outdoor lights were already controlled by timers that have worked well, so I did not replace those with z-wave.

Next up - iRule integration when I get some time... I've never used iRule, so it will be an entirely new learning experience.
I've got a Vera2 that I bought in 2011 or 2012, and maybe 15-20 zwave devices. I also use iRule for the theater room, and have some basic integration between iRule and Vera for light control in the theater.

I'm a little rusty but if I can help let me know. I just found your thread and read through it, I'm glad your posting this - very interesting.

Thanks,
Dan
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post #39 of 135 Old 08-11-2014, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhammans View Post
I've got a Vera2 that I bought in 2011 or 2012, and maybe 15-20 zwave devices. I also use iRule for the theater room, and have some basic integration between iRule and Vera for light control in the theater.

I'm a little rusty but if I can help let me know. I just found your thread and read through it, I'm glad your posting this - very interesting.

Thanks,
Dan
Thanks for the offer. I bought an IP/IR global cache just started up the 30 day trial with irule. I have just gotten started, only have a couple hours each weekend. Bit of a learning curve. I won't get into irule integration for a bit, but I'm just trying to learn how to control all the components in my home theater (IP, HTTP, IR, telnet). So far it's okay, but it is a bit tedious! But I feel confident that I am going to go with iRule.
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post #40 of 135 Old 08-15-2014, 03:05 PM
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Just finished reading through your thread. Lots of good info and advice. Those smart switches are interesting(haven't heard of those before either).

iRule recently annonunced it will introduce some basic programming logic soon. I'm sure you'll get some nice applications out of it.

Thanks for sharing!

__________

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post #41 of 135 Old 08-17-2014, 11:43 AM
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What a great thread. We're buying a new house and will be doing nearly all the same stuff you're doing here, so this is a great reference. Did you have the list of your equipment posted somewhere?

Thanks
Charlie

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post #42 of 135 Old 08-17-2014, 05:59 PM - Thread Starter
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What a great thread. We're buying a new house and will be doing nearly all the same stuff you're doing here, so this is a great reference. Did you have the list of your equipment posted somewhere?

Thanks
Charlie

I did have a lists of all my home theater equipment and my home automation equipment on AVSforum. When they upgraded the forum software both were lost and I never received any reply from support on how to get them back. It was quite frustrating. I haven't taken the time to rebuild them. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to help.
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post #43 of 135 Old 08-21-2014, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newlinux View Post
I did have a lists of all my home theater equipment and my home automation equipment on AVSforum. When they upgraded the forum software both were lost and I never received any reply from support on how to get them back. It was quite frustrating. I haven't taken the time to rebuild them. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to help.
I just finished my evaluation of iRule after a lot of learning and trial and error I was able to setup up crude phone screens that can control everything in my home theater room (MythTV, XBMC, My Denon Receiver, my projector, my blu-ray player, even my Z-wave dimmer via Veralite). I did a couple of tests on other equipment in my house a. It takes a lot of time to set things up, but now that I know what I'm doing I feel confident I can setup a nice interface for my tablet. So I will purchase for sure. Eventually I setup an interface for one of my other rooms too since everything in that room can be controlled over the network and I won't need a Global cache.
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post #44 of 135 Old 08-21-2014, 09:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csd View Post
What a great thread. We're buying a new house and will be doing nearly all the same stuff you're doing here, so this is a great reference. Did you have the list of your equipment posted somewhere?

Thanks
Charlie

If you are interested in anything I've described in the thread let me know. I can dig up the model numbers and all...
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post #45 of 135 Old 08-24-2014, 03:09 AM
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Hi Newlinux, What an interesting read ! - I am currently in the middle of building my home theatre room and have been looking for decent and cost effective system to control AV gear and lights specifically in my HT room. I have 2 options: (1) Go for the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Hub and use it in conjunction with the iOS app or (2) get the Vera Lite, iTach IP to IR, a relay switch for incorporation into a light switch and two relay switches to incorporate into wall sockets to avoid equipment from remaining in sleep mode when I'm done watching a movie. Thinking of using iRule as the control app.

Option is one is cost effective and I could probably couple it up with a Phillips Hue light lamp(s) in my HT room. Option two is pretty expensive and technical but it will allow me to learn and experiment with home automation / control. The last time I tinkered with coding is when I was in college and developing a payroll app using BASIC which ran under MS DOS I could probably learn coding but I'd rather use an easy to use, drag and drop system that has a nice GUI. Someone on this forum mentioned that Vera is about to introduce a simpler way of programming, would be nice to get details.

A lot of people say that the Home Centre 2 / Lite controllers by Fibaro have a better GUI but from what I've read so far, Vera seems to be quite popular, has a larger user base and decent support. Vera seems to be the safer route to take.

In conclusion, I'm trying to make a decision between the 2 options, the second one being more than twice as expensive.
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post #46 of 135 Old 08-24-2014, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Newlinux, What an interesting read ! - I am currently in the middle of building my home theatre room and have been looking for decent and cost effective system to control AV gear and lights specifically in my HT room. I have 2 options: (1) Go for the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Hub and use it in conjunction with the iOS app or (2) get the Vera Lite, iTach IP to IR, a relay switch for incorporation into a light switch and two relay switches to incorporate into wall sockets to avoid equipment from remaining in sleep mode when I'm done watching a movie. Thinking of using iRule as the control app.

Option is one is cost effective and I could probably couple it up with a Phillips Hue light lamp(s) in my HT room. Option two is pretty expensive and technical but it will allow me to learn and experiment with home automation / control. The last time I tinkered with coding is when I was in college and developing a payroll app using BASIC which ran under MS DOS I could probably learn coding but I'd rather use an easy to use, drag and drop system that has a nice GUI. Someone on this forum mentioned that Vera is about to introduce a simpler way of programming, would be nice to get details.

A lot of people say that the Home Centre 2 / Lite controllers by Fibaro have a better GUI but from what I've read so far, Vera seems to be quite popular, has a larger user base and decent support. Vera seems to be the safer route to take.

In conclusion, I'm trying to make a decision between the 2 options, the second one being more than twice as expensive.
If you are just doing one room, vera is probably overkill. In your situation (just doing one theater room) I might go with the philips and harmony solution, or get an IR controllable light dimmer/switch and control that from Harmony (depends on location of switch and hub if that will work). You could use Wemos switches/power switches, or simple power switches to stop vampire equipment from sleeping and still sucking electricity.

The vera option will work well, and will allow you to do more automation and more expansion. Irule will give you a better looking control app (with a lot of work as I'm learning) and be able to tie everything together, so you have more capability.

I've been happy with my vera. Lots of user support, strong community. Programming really isn't needed. Especially if you learn the PLEG plugin. Most of what I programmed was pretty simple (no more than 10 lines of code). All of it probably could have been done without programming with the PLEG plugin, but I used it as a learning experience.
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post #47 of 135 Old 09-15-2014, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Well - a mini update. I finished up my iRule full first interface for my Nexus 5 phone. Worked okay, but didn't get to fully test it out before I lost my phone while I was out Kayaking (long story). I bought another used nexus 5 and can just import the UI, but I will need to setup all the gateways again... Then I'll see what kind of work it takes to port the UI to a tablet (or will I have to start from scratch?).
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post #48 of 135 Old 10-04-2014, 07:51 AM
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Hi Newlinux,

I am kinda in the same boat as you and starting to looking into these z-wave product.

I have been using x10 light switches and wall outlet switches for 10 years.

Recently I bought a Schlage touchscreen lock at can support z-wave.

I am thinking hooking it up to the internet so I can lock my door when I am at work (I always forget to lock my doors).

I see you bought Veralite. I do have an extra pc lying around, so would it make sense for me to just buy the Aeon labs Z-stick series 2?

Thanks,

Sapphire
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post #49 of 135 Old 10-07-2014, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Newlinux,

I am kinda in the same boat as you and starting to looking into these z-wave product.

I have been using x10 light switches and wall outlet switches for 10 years.

Recently I bought a Schlage touchscreen lock at can support z-wave.

I am thinking hooking it up to the internet so I can lock my door when I am at work (I always forget to lock my doors).

I see you bought Veralite. I do have an extra pc lying around, so would it make sense for me to just buy the Aeon labs Z-stick series 2?

Thanks,

Sapphire
That was an option I considered as I have multiple servers running at home (all Linux though). I decided I wasn't confident in any of the software packages that I looked into that cost less than the veralite so I went with the veralite. My only real complaint about the veralite at this point is every so often I need to reboot it.
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post #50 of 135 Old 10-07-2014, 10:24 AM
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In your travels, what alarm systems might you have come across that could potentially integrate more easily / more inexpensively than your PowerMax system? I have an alarm system already in my home (wired) but the brain seems fried. I am considering bringing it back to life with a brain that can also accommodate wireless devices, but an integration with MiCasa seems like MiCasa could monitor the sensors and possibly communicate with the alarm system?

I will almost certainly never hook up to a monitoring service for the Alarm and would use it only to have an overall better level of control over my house (including alerting ME in the event of a state change of something).

I'm currently using three WeMo switches that are very so-so. They will be pulled and replaced with Z Wave switches and I am also actively seeking a mortise lock controller as my two primary doors are mortise locks.
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post #51 of 135 Old 10-07-2014, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
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In your travels, what alarm systems might you have come across that could potentially integrate more easily / more inexpensively than your PowerMax system? I have an alarm system already in my home (wired) but the brain seems fried. I am considering bringing it back to life with a brain that can also accommodate wireless devices, but an integration with MiCasa seems like MiCasa could monitor the sensors and possibly communicate with the alarm system?

I will almost certainly never hook up to a monitoring service for the Alarm and would use it only to have an overall better level of control over my house (including alerting ME in the event of a state change of something).

I'm currently using three WeMo switches that are very so-so. They will be pulled and replaced with Z Wave switches and I am also actively seeking a mortise lock controller as my two primary doors are mortise locks.
Honestly integrating the powermax with Vera wasn't hard or expensive. I had to buy a cable for my alarm system and a usb to serial adapter (I think total cost was about $30-40, maybe less) and then my existing alarm was integrated and I could monitor and trigger events off sensor status with vera, and also alarm and disarm the alarm through Vera. A lot more work has been put into plugins for DSC alarms with vera and those seem to be well supported. ELK security systems can be integrated with Vera as well. I don't know much about them because I haven't used them. I've only used the powermax with vera.
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post #52 of 135 Old 10-09-2014, 04:25 PM
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I just wanted to thank you for sharing and please continue.. Good stuff..
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post #53 of 135 Old 10-10-2014, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I just wanted to thank you for sharing and please continue.. Good stuff..
Glad it's helpful! I'll keep updating if there is anything to update. My only plans now are to get back to iRule at some point, install Vera Alerts so I have more control over text message alerts, and buy a couple more indoor and outdoor z-wave appliance modules to control the Christmas lights I'll be putting up in a little over a month.
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post #54 of 135 Old 10-12-2014, 12:18 PM
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Have you done anything with door locks? I've been searching for some options that would work with my existing mortise locks, but am striking out pretty hard. I'm considering a lock for a standard entry door, but it seems they all have deadbolts. Are there any out there that are just a simple lock/unlock of the handset without a deadbolt?

EDIT: I actually just found the installation instructions for a Yale lock that looks like it's a direct replacement item for a standard handle and lockset. The only thing I'm not particulary keen on is that it comes with a Kwikset lock cylinder by default, and there appears to be no way to request the Schlage cylinder from most of the on line retailers.

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post #55 of 135 Old 10-12-2014, 01:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by meburdick View Post
Have you done anything with door locks? I've been searching for some options that would work with my existing mortise locks, but am striking out pretty hard. I'm considering a lock for a standard entry door, but it seems they all have deadbolts. Are there any out there that are just a simple lock/unlock of the handset without a deadbolt?

EDIT: I actually just found the installation instructions for a Yale lock that looks like it's a direct replacement item for a standard handle and lockset. The only thing I'm not particulary keen on is that it comes with a Kwikset lock cylinder by default, and there appears to be no way to request the Schlage cylinder from most of the on line retailers.
I haven't done anything with door locks, but I did replace my deadbolts with z-wave Yale locks. I think there are quite a few z-wave door locks on the market. Schlage makes some if that's what you are looking for.
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post #56 of 135 Old 10-12-2014, 02:27 PM
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The Schlage ones don't talk much about the standardized Z Wave functionality - they tend to focus only on THEIR automation solution. So, I'm leery of jumping on that bandwagon because I don't want to get burned.

The other issue that I have is that there aren't many mortise locks compared to the standard locks. And, the mortise locks only support deadbolts in the US with a Schlage deadbolt. My mortise locksets are Corbin Russwin.
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post #57 of 135 Old 10-12-2014, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
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The Schlage ones don't talk much about the standardized Z Wave functionality - they tend to focus only on THEIR automation solution. So, I'm leery of jumping on that bandwagon because I don't want to get burned.

The other issue that I have is that there aren't many mortise locks compared to the standard locks. And, the mortise locks only support deadbolts in the US with a Schlage deadbolt. My mortise locksets are Corbin Russwin.
Schlage's protocol is based on z-wave. Check your controller for compatibility. Many people with veralite's use Schlage locks.
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post #58 of 135 Old 10-12-2014, 02:52 PM
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Schlage's protocol is based on z-wave. Check your controller for compatibility. Many people with veralite's use Schlage locks.
Interesting that it's "based on Z Wave". Why couldn't they just implement the standard and be done with it? I like Schlage locksets, I hate when vendors "Microsoft" things by trying to out think the rest of the world and modify a standard after it has been widely accepted.

I'll take a look anyhow as the Veralite is the direction I'm going.

Thanks.
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post #59 of 135 Old 10-12-2014, 02:54 PM
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And if you have any solid pointers for a tech savvy person that's just getting started into this stuff, I'm all eyes.

I have a couple of Linux servers in the house, including a multipurpose one (DHCP, DNS, firewall, web server, file server, etc.) and one that's just a media server (DVD images of my discs - similar to how most folks set up their HTPC environments). I'm comfortable with scripting, including things like bash, curl, php, and perl.
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post #60 of 135 Old 10-22-2014, 05:46 PM
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I inadvertently was thrust into looking for a Z-Wave controller when I bought a set of uber-expensive Cooper Aspire RF9540/RF9542 Z-Wave dimmer switches. I was remodeling my kitchen/family room area and went with Cooper Aspire switches and outlets. Since I installed recessed LED ceiling lights, the only LED-compatible dimmer switches in the Cooper Aspire line were the RF9540/42 system. After installing, I didn't realize that a Z-Wave controller is an absolute must as the Aspire RF remote switches do absolutely nothing other than send out RF signals that have to be intercepted by intermediary Z-Wave controller that in turn must be programmed to target the master switch to perform the desired task; there is no way to manually pair them to a master switch for simple 3/4 way operation without involving a controller. Ugh.

So here I am perusing the internet to help me decide between the Vera3 (stand-alone controller) and Indigo (software controller that must be running 24/7 on a Mac; I purchased the Z-Stick and am using the trial version of Indigo 6). With $40 already spent on the Z-Stick, the combined cost with the Indigo software puts it at almost a hundred dollars more expensive than a Vera3 (Amazon prices), and I'd rather run a dedicated hardware device instead of relying on my Mac Pro to be up constantly (although it always is, and has never crashed over the past 6 years running 24/7/365). I do like how easy it is to identify new permanently-installed devices with the Z-stick.

But I've read about stability and reliability (in regards to command processing) issues with the Vera3, which you have posted a few experiences yourself. This is my number one concern. Also, UI6 seems to be universally loathed by most, but the beta UI7 looks to be promising.

Still on the fence line but appreciate your little running thread that you've updated from time to time with your Vera3 experiences...
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