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post #1 of 16 Old 07-31-2014, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Question Suggestions for Home Automation (Lighting / HVAC)

Hello,

We are building a new house with a BBB (Big Box Builder) that is almost complete. I want to do some level of home automation with out having to sell my kids, I want it to be in a reasonable budget.

Following are some details about the house
- 5 Bed / 4100 sft
- About 50 lights through out the home
- Has Cat5E cabling done to all rooms in the house
- Has Cat6 cabling done to 3 locations, 2 on first floor and 1 on second floor
- Is pre-wired for in ceiling speakers in 7 zones and will be hooked up to SONOS
- Have a 3" conduit that is run from the basement to attic for any additional cables I may need to run in future

Some things I want to be able to do
- Control lighting in various groups / scenes - both while at home and when I am about to come in to the home either from car or phone
- Have automated shade control through out the home
- Control and monitor HVAC while at home and away
- A nicety to be able to integrate Music into the system but not a biggie and I have no problem using Sonos's apps
- Do not need a central video system - will most likely play my media on 3-4 different locations using local network being served from a NAS

I have already talked to a local Crestron dealer and a rough quote to do lighting, audio, and video switching (3 TV's) came to about 25-30K. I am not looking to spend that kind of money. I have done some research and am leaning towards Lutron. Does this seem like the right option? I am reading up more to decide between Lutron Homeworks or Radio RA2 in my situation.

Suggestions are welcome and I am looking for some advice on how to approach this.
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post #2 of 16 Old 08-02-2014, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
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No replies? Nothing else to add to what I already wrote?
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post #3 of 16 Old 08-02-2014, 02:34 PM
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Most will say a system is only as good as the dealer and their ability to program the system. I have Control4 - the dealer did a poor job on the programming but I have hooked up with another dealer who is fixing all the problems and now I am enjoying the system much more.

Other than Crestron and Lutron you have Control4, Savant, RTI, URC, Elan and several others.

Most people will rave about the ones they own. Any of these can accomplish your goals of lighting, HVAC, audio and video distribution.

Sonos on Control4 is great, and Extra Vegetables just released an update to the driver to give you more functionality. For video distribution, some do it via a matrix and some put sources (cable boxes, apple tv or other wifi devices) local at each tv. Pros and cons to both set ups. Lighting - Control4 released new lighting this year which I have in my house. I have about 25 devices - a mix of dimmers, switches and multi button key pads. I got the engraved caps and they look sharp and function well.

My HVAC is controlled as well and its simple. I have sensors on the walls and my C4 thermostats are in the basement and I control everything via C4 interfaces (touch screens, remote control, phone app, etc)

Quotes will vary - if you the wiring is already done and you just need some hardware and programming, I think $25-$30k for Creston is likely a bit high but then again I've never priced Crestron hardware. What I should say is Crestron is one of the bigger more robust systems out there and they are programmed line by line for your house - so a lot of a quote has to do with programming hours. Systems like Control4 (and others) are more plug and play so they require less programming hours, but have some limitations with what they can control. That being said, 95% of residential installs are likely ok with any system from what I gather.

In the Control4 environment you still need a dealer to get started, but once up and running, you can do programming on your own - you just cannot add hardware on your own, you need your dealer for that.

Again, find a dealer you like and trust and you can see good work examples. Any of the systems I mentioned can accomplish your goals. I did not touch upon 100% DIY options as that is something I did not research when I made my decision.

Good luck
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post #4 of 16 Old 08-03-2014, 09:41 AM
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I went the low budget route for lighting (if there is such a thing), and went with Insteon for all of our lighting. We have about 30 lights that are now Insteon, and we control them with our phones and PC via an ISY994i. I am currently looking at what to use for the HVAC setup. This route has been 100% DIY.

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post #5 of 16 Old 08-03-2014, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mekatoka View Post
I have already talked to a local Crestron dealer and a rough quote to do lighting, audio, and video switching (3 TV's) came to about 25-30K. I am not looking to spend that kind of money. I have done some research and am leaning towards Lutron. Does this seem like the right option? I am reading up more to decide between Lutron Homeworks or Radio RA2 in my situation.
Are you looking to install / program this yourself, or have it done? Did you have a budget range in mind?

Lutron RadioRA2 will do everything on your list except the audio distribution. If you want a single, integrated user interface for all of those items, you'll probably at least need to move up into the Control4 realm and likely a dealer-installed system.

RadioRA2 you can completely DIY if you take the online training courses and are comfortable replacing light switches. WHA / music distribution can be accomplished separately (and DIY) with a number of systems - with a tradeoff of keypad/mobile functionality vs. cost.

Jeff

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post #6 of 16 Old 08-03-2014, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies folks.

- The 25-30K quote from the Crestron dealer included the hardware and AV equipment as well. The dealer suggested I get the equipment (speakers, tv's receviers etc) that he recommends as it is easier for him to program and also he knows how they function due to his prior experience. However, he was open to work with others
- Some of the things I got to learn were 1.3K for audio controller with 4 zones and 2.6K for 8 zone audio controller, 1K for programming touch panels per interface (iPad, Crestron remote etc)
- I want to keep the budget under 8-10K for any programming and the platform devices (such as the central unit, light dimmers etc). I am not counting any surround receivers, speakers etc
- I don't want to do any kind of video distribution and may want to just have separate boxes at each TV. I will have 3 TV's and they will play content off of a NAS

Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post
Are you looking to install / program this yourself, or have it done?

Lutron RadioRA2 will do everything on your list except the audio distribution. If you want a single, integrated user interface for all of those items, you'll probably at least need to move up into the Control4 realm and likely a dealer-installed system.

RadioRA2 you can completely DIY if you take the online training courses and are comfortable replacing light switches. WHA / music distribution can be accomplished separately (and DIY) with a number of systems - with a tradeoff of keypad/mobile functionality vs. cost.

Jeff
- I am very unhandy and have never really done any switch replacements etc. I am looking to have this installed by a dealer or a qualified professional.
- I want something that will allow me to grow and add on as the budget allows

Last edited by mekatoka; 08-03-2014 at 05:16 PM.
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post #7 of 16 Old 08-03-2014, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mekatoka View Post
- I am very unhandy and have never really done any switch replacements etc. I am looking to have this installed by a dealer or a qualified professional.
- I want something that will allow me to grow and add on as the budget allows
Then the most important thing will be to find a dealer/installer that you trust and will work with you into products within your budget range (or position the system such that you can add on over time).

A competent installer can make any of the major manufacturer's gear work, so which system you choose is not as critical - you go with what the best guy uses on a normal basis and will support easily.

That said I would still consider Lutron gear for lighting, as the protocol is well known and understood, so it can be easily integrated into any of the automation systems. Then at least the lighting subsystem could survive a swap/change of the automation gear years from now.

Jeff

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post #8 of 16 Old 08-08-2014, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ellisr63 View Post
I went the low budget route for lighting (if there is such a thing), and went with Insteon for all of our lighting. We have about 30 lights that are now Insteon, and we control them with our phones and PC via an ISY994i. I am currently looking at what to use for the HVAC setup. This route has been 100% DIY.
I don't want to hijack this thread, so have you detailed how you set all this up in another thread?
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post #9 of 16 Old 08-08-2014, 10:49 AM
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I don't want to hijack this thread, so have you detailed how you set all this up in another thread?
PM'd

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post #10 of 16 Old 08-21-2014, 01:35 PM
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PM'd
I am interested in Insteon as well! The big box stores that they are supposedly sold though haven't been much help.
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post #11 of 16 Old 08-22-2014, 02:35 PM
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I am interested in Insteon as well! The big box stores that they are supposedly sold though haven't been much help.
Not surprised, both Microsoft and RadioShack (as of yesterday) now sell Insteon in their brick and mortar stores - I would bet you will get almost zero help or support from them. We are an Insteon dealer and I have personally been using Insteon devices since the day Smarthome started selling the technology over 10 years ago! What questions do you have regarding Insteon and how can we help?
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post #12 of 16 Old 08-22-2014, 04:07 PM
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Not surprised, both Microsoft and RadioShack (as of yesterday) now sell Insteon in their brick and mortar stores - I would bet you will get almost zero help or support from them. We are an Insteon dealer and I have personally been using Insteon devices since the day Smarthome started selling the technology over 10 years ago! What questions do you have regarding Insteon and how can we help?
If nothing else, I'd love to see a user manual. That's usually the first place I turn to answer most questions I have (be it a TV, or camera...etc). From what I understand, you replace the regular light switch which acts as the receive/transmitter for all of the insteon lamps. Could I then establish groups of lamps? Is there an insteon outlet (from which I would control a rope light, for example)? Is insteon only smartphone/app based, or could I set up IR control?

That's what I can think of off the top of my head.
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post #13 of 16 Old 08-22-2014, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnstownFlood View Post
If nothing else, I'd love to see a user manual. That's usually the first place I turn to answer most questions I have (be it a TV, or camera...etc). From what I understand, you replace the regular light switch which acts as the receive/transmitter for all of the insteon lamps. Could I then establish groups of lamps? Is there an insteon outlet (from which I would control a rope light, for example)? Is insteon only smartphone/app based, or could I set up IR control?

That's what I can think of off the top of my head.
Yes you are correct, basically once you replace a standard switch with an Insteon one, you have now induced the Insteon control signal into the load you wish to control. Insteon devices are peer-peer now which means they are both receivers AND transmitters but more importantly they communicate directly with each other without the need for a controller at the basic level. They also use both RF and Powerline signals so are inherently more reliable than a powerline only protocol like X-10. Once you install a few switches controlling a few different lights, now you can "pair" them to each other and when one switch is turned on, all the other switches that are paired together will be turned on immediately.

Yes there are Insteon Outlets, in fact they make both dimming outlets and relay/appliance outlets - dimming outlets are unique to Insteon as far as I know.

Insteon can be controlled directly via software from Microsoft (coming soon) to Windows Phones, or via any Android/iPhone/PC if you get an Insteon Hub. Insteon devices can also be controlled via IR as well, just get an Insteon IR Receiver.

Here are some manual PDF's for you to read...

Insteon SwitchLinc On/Off Switch (Dual-Band) (White) #2477S (Manual - PDF)

Insteon SwitchLinc LED/CFL Dimmer (Dual-Band) (White) #2477D (Manual - PDF)

Insteon OutletLinc Remote Control Outlet #2473S (Manual - PDF)

Insteon Hub - Item #2242-222 (Manual - PDF)

Or you can go to our Links page.

Hope this has been of some help to you! Post back if you need additional assistance.
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post #14 of 16 Old 08-22-2014, 05:44 PM
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Yes you are correct, basically once you replace a standard switch with an Insteon one, you have now induced the Insteon control signal into the load you wish to control. Insteon devices are peer-peer now which means they are both receivers AND transmitters but more importantly they communicate directly with each other without the need for a controller at the basic level. They also use both RF and Powerline signals so are inherently more reliable than a powerline only protocol like X-10. Once you install a few switches controlling a few different lights, now you can "pair" them to each other and when one switch is turned on, all the other switches that are paired together will be turned on immediately.

Yes there are Insteon Outlets, in fact they make both dimming outlets and relay/appliance outlets - dimming outlets are unique to Insteon as far as I know.

Insteon can be controlled directly via software from Microsoft (coming soon) to Windows Phones, or via any Android/iPhone/PC if you get an Insteon Hub. Insteon devices can also be controlled via IR as well, just get an Insteon IR Receiver.

Here are some manual PDF's for you to read...

Insteon SwitchLinc On/Off Switch (Dual-Band) (White) #2477S (Manual - PDF)

Insteon SwitchLinc LED/CFL Dimmer (Dual-Band) (White) #2477D (Manual - PDF)

Insteon OutletLinc Remote Control Outlet #2473S (Manual - PDF)

Insteon Hub - Item #2242-222 (Manual - PDF)

Or you can go to our Links page.

Hope this has been of some help to you! Post back if you need additional assistance.
Awesome! Thank you very much...your website is now bookmarked under my ever-growing 'Home Theater' folder. One of these days, maybe tonight, I'll stop being lazy and put out my plans for the basement in the general theater forum. I'll be sure to have you take a look to see what I want to do is feasible.
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post #15 of 16 Old 08-22-2014, 07:37 PM
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The dimming outlets are nice too... I am using them for my rope lighting. The only thing is they will not turn a LED off as they let a little AC through to light the switch. I took care of that problem by getting this item and then using a cheater plug to adapt it to the Insteon dimming outlet.
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post #16 of 16 Old 08-23-2014, 07:27 AM
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Awesome! Thank you very much...your website is now bookmarked under my ever-growing 'Home Theater' folder. One of these days, maybe tonight, I'll stop being lazy and put out my plans for the basement in the general theater forum. I'll be sure to have you take a look to see what I want to do is feasible.
You are most welcome! Look forward to seeing your plans.
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