help choosing Control4 vs Savant - AVS Forum
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Old 08-15-2014, 08:20 PM - Thread Starter
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help choosing Control4 vs Savant

I'm looking for a home control system and think that Control4 or Savant may be the best way to go, based on information I've been able to gather online. Unfortunately I've contacted 2 dealers and I'm still having trouble on understanding the exact components I would need to make these work. Here's what I'd like to do:

1. control home theater - turn on components, including receiver, projector, motorized screen, select inputs, volume, etc.

2. control lighting and scenes - My contractor has recommended Lutron Maestro dimmers (or RadioRA2 - I don't understand the difference), but the dealers tell me that Control4 and Savant have broken things off with Lutron, and they have alternatives (what what are the?!)

3. spa control - We have an outdoor spa with an Intermatic PE653 MultiWave Controller that talks to a PE953 MultiWave Hand Held Transceiver using Z-Wave. Using the transceiver / remote, we can read and control the temperature, and turn on jets, etc.

4. video intercom - We need an intercom from the front door to 2 interior wall stations, but I think it might be nice to have an IP solution so we can connect to it remotely and/or over an iPad or iPhone interface. I understand that Savant has iPBX and C4 has Door Station C4-DSC-EN, but it isn't clear what the exact components are that I need and their cost.

5. (not a high priority) hvac - Might be nice to read, control the temperature and track energy consumption of our home. I have a radiant heating system, so I'm tempted to go with Nest since it seems to handle that, but I hear that it doesn't talk to any of these home control systems (yet?).

I'd appreciate any advice you can provide on exact components I should look at. I don't really want to install an expensive whole house A/V distribution system just for a door cam, but something IP based that I could connect to with C4 or Savant would be nice. Also which dimmers work best with these systems? Thanks!
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Old 08-16-2014, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Hmmm... I came across this system diagram for the Savant iPBX system, and it looks like you need a completely separate (second) Mac Mini to run it. That seems ridiculous to me.

http://dealers.savantav.com/portal/S...0_TechSpec.pdf
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Old 08-16-2014, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by nu77 View Post
Hmmm... I came across this system diagram for the Savant iPBX system, and it looks like you need a completely separate (second) Mac Mini to run it. That seems ridiculous to me.

http://dealers.savantav.com/portal/S...0_TechSpec.pdf
Not sure what's ridiculous about it. They use a Mac mini as the master controller. While that might seem overkill for a small system, it's not at all unreasonable for a large, complex system. My impression is that the dedicated controllers that other systems use for larger systems are considerably more expensive than a mini (which start at $600).
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Old 08-16-2014, 04:30 PM - Thread Starter
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I agree that the dedicated systems others use are even more expensive, but for a single door cam, a single Mac Mini is more than adequate for controlling that along with the functions that their "Savant Host" Mini handles. I don't think it's reasonable to have to buy more hardware just to run a second software package.
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Old 08-19-2014, 09:32 AM
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1) Control home theater - need a master controller. For C4 that is the HC250 or HC800. Then program away.


2) You can buy more hardware to make Lutron work on C4, but with the HC250 or HC800 you can buy C4 switches, dimmers, multi keypads etc and use those direct with the system (that is how I did my set up)


3) Spa control - I do not own a spa, but if its Zwave, I have to assume you can get into the C4 environment with a good installer


4) C4 has Door station - its average at best for the cost. You need either some sonos components or C4 touchscreens to act as a doorbell inside so it rings on something inside so you can hear it. You can also only see the video on the C4 touchscreens. There is something called a DoorBell Fon people use too for video or you can put a camera outside and a regular door bell by Axxess or Card Access and you can program it so when someone presses that door bell the outdoor camera takes a photo and emails/texts it to you, etc. Tons of programming options and likely the way I would have went - this allows you to get instant video of the front door too. Doorstation does not record video on movement, only displays video when button is pressed and its not recordable. your needs may vary, but several options.


5) Nest integration should be coming soon. I have 4 C4 thermostats for my various zones and I have in wall sensors, the thermostats are ugly but they are downstairs in a basement room, in the main house area its only wall sensors. And I can control my HVAC via C4 app and programming.


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Originally Posted by nu77 View Post
I'm looking for a home control system and think that Control4 or Savant may be the best way to go, based on information I've been able to gather online. Unfortunately I've contacted 2 dealers and I'm still having trouble on understanding the exact components I would need to make these work. Here's what I'd like to do:

1. control home theater - turn on components, including receiver, projector, motorized screen, select inputs, volume, etc.

2. control lighting and scenes - My contractor has recommended Lutron Maestro dimmers (or RadioRA2 - I don't understand the difference), but the dealers tell me that Control4 and Savant have broken things off with Lutron, and they have alternatives (what what are the?!)

3. spa control - We have an outdoor spa with an Intermatic PE653 MultiWave Controller that talks to a PE953 MultiWave Hand Held Transceiver using Z-Wave. Using the transceiver / remote, we can read and control the temperature, and turn on jets, etc.

4. video intercom - We need an intercom from the front door to 2 interior wall stations, but I think it might be nice to have an IP solution so we can connect to it remotely and/or over an iPad or iPhone interface. I understand that Savant has iPBX and C4 has Door Station C4-DSC-EN, but it isn't clear what the exact components are that I need and their cost.

5. (not a high priority) hvac - Might be nice to read, control the temperature and track energy consumption of our home. I have a radiant heating system, so I'm tempted to go with Nest since it seems to handle that, but I hear that it doesn't talk to any of these home control systems (yet?).

I'd appreciate any advice you can provide on exact components I should look at. I don't really want to install an expensive whole house A/V distribution system just for a door cam, but something IP based that I could connect to with C4 or Savant would be nice. Also which dimmers work best with these systems? Thanks!
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Old 08-20-2014, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by nu77 View Post
Hmmm... I came across this system diagram for the Savant iPBX system, and it looks like you need a completely separate (second) Mac Mini to run it. That seems ridiculous to me.

http://dealers.savantav.com/portal/S...0_TechSpec.pdf
Is it really that ridiculous?

So your Savant system is slow or acting up. Without a dedicated Mac mini it is far easier to blame the bloatware than savant. Here only savant is to blame.

Just don't buy the top of the line. That fancy graphic card and extra storage won't get much use.
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Old 09-15-2014, 01:58 AM
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I purchased Savant. I'm disappointed in their reps and support. Savant still doesn't have Android support as of Sep 2014 which is absolutely crazy. They've been promising Android support from their reps all year long but have failed to update customers of their status.
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Old 10-02-2014, 06:13 AM
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In my opinion, you should go with control4. Because control4’s products are available at lower price points and offers a full line of automation products including thermostats and lighting control. Apart from this it offer an Android application and can be installed wirelessly.
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Old 10-03-2014, 11:51 AM
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I have Control4 for all my A/V stuff, in 5 different rooms, and it's great. You need an authorized dealer/installer to set this stuff up. The local ones, pretty much regardless of where you are, are ridiculously priced. I ended up finding all the components for really good deals on eBay and found an awesome dealer/installer who remotely set it up for me for a fraction of what a local installer would have charged.


I have Lutron's RadioRA2 system for all my lights, window shades, HVAC control, and a few other things. The difference between Maestro and RadioRA2 is that RadioRA2 uses Maestro style dimmers/switches, but adds in their RF technology that more or less makes it RadioRA2 which is what gives you remote control of everything and the ability to setup scenes once you have them synced to the main controller. You technically need a dealer to get the components and to set this up (as you won't have access to the software as a consumer), but you can easily find all components on eBay, new, for a lot less than the dealers would charge you. You can also take an hour long online course for free on Lutron's training site, then take an easy open book test, to become "authorized", which I did, just so I have access to the software and updates and was able to set everything up myself. I did the same for their triathlon shades and now that I have that authorization the shades are 40% less than the prices I was getting quoted from local installers.


I have Vera3 for z-wave to control 2 8' drapes for sliding glass doors. The Lutron tracks for these were nearly 6X more money. I also have the Vera3 controlling a few outlets in the house on time-clocks so the kids can't watch TV/play video games beyond certain times or during homework hours. It'll eventually control a few locks and my home alarm system can tie into it, but I already have that tied into my RadioRA2 anyways. The Vera3 should be able to control your hot tub since you said it's z-wave. I think I might take that idea and integrate control for my hot tub into the Vera3, thanks!


3 systems with 3 different technologies...pain in the ass to manage? No, I do it all through Control4, though it's easy enough with their individual apps too if you want to keep them separate for any reason. Lutron and Vera3 integrate into Control4 with no issues, so I have all 3 technologies working with my Control4 system and it's all pretty seamless. Where did you see they broke things off with Lutron? Just wondering.
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Old 10-03-2014, 10:17 PM
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I'll second what Howie said - C4 is a great product line at a very attractive price point with integration options that are nearly endless.

While it is a requirement to have an authorized dealer do the heavy programming for you there is a trimmed down version of the software used to program the system available to system owners.

There are several Control4 dealers here (myself included) who design, program and support systems that are entirely remote - in fact it's a very common thing for us because of the geographic size of my home state of Montana.

You asked for some specific equipment recommendations and I'd be happy help if you like - shoot me a PM and we can discuss.
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:06 AM
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I did the same for their triathlon shades and now that I have that authorization the shades are 40% less than the prices I was getting quoted from local installers.
If you don't mind me asking, how did you take the triathlon training? I've taken the RadioRA 2 BLAST training, but I don't see anything available for shades.
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Old 10-09-2014, 08:12 AM
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If you don't mind me asking, how did you take the triathlon training? I've taken the RadioRA 2 BLAST training, but I don't see anything available for shades.
If you have access to the Lutron LCI, login and go to Learning Plans and Triathlon Shades Essential Qualification is listed and you can do that as a self-paced online course/exam. Also, it says the final requirements is purchasing a demo kit and 2 shade books. I e-mailed them after I completed the course and told them a friend of mine went out of business and gave me his books and demo and they said that was fine. Having the demo and books is what they are looking for, not making sure you actually buy them. Hope that helps.
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Old 10-13-2014, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by howieumd View Post
3 systems with 3 different technologies...pain in the ass to manage? No, I do it all through Control4, though it's easy enough with their individual apps too if you want to keep them separate for any reason. Lutron and Vera3 integrate into Control4 with no issues, so I have all 3 technologies working with my Control4 system and it's all pretty seamless. Where did you see they broke things off with Lutron? Just wondering.
Trying to wrap my head around all of the components and design process for a complete home automation system, so bear with me. Did you use the Lutron and Vera for lighting and other components because it was less expensive than Control4 components? Said another way, is Control4 capable of doing all of those things natively just at a higher cost?

Maybe it's just my inexperience but the home automation world seems like a hodgepodge of many different standards, protocols and systems. I can usually research something over a week or two and come away with a decent architecture and high level understanding of cost. That is not the case with home automation.
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Old 10-14-2014, 09:05 AM
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Home automation can be custom to each install which is why it is hard to find a one size fits all solution/price.


Control4 has its own lighting switches, dimmers, keypads, etc. They may cost a bit more than Lutron or Vera, but since I did a clean install from square 1, I went with the C4 products.


In general, Control4 sells hardware (light switches, amps, video matrix, etc) but more important, they sell a platform that takes all those different standards/protocols/systems that you mentioned and have them talk to each other. I have Sonos for music, Kwikset for locks and DSC for alarm. When my housekeeper comes over, she puts a code in the front doors. Lights turn on, music goes to her favorite channel, door unlocks and alarm turns off. All from just a code she puts into the keypad on the door outside.


Most of the larger systems can handle various hardware, but for simple home set ups, Control4 has one of the largest lists of compatible hardware/protocols.


These are custom installer options, C4 allows some DIY once it is set up but you need a dealer.
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Old 10-15-2014, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Shiltsy View Post
Trying to wrap my head around all of the components and design process for a complete home automation system, so bear with me. Did you use the Lutron and Vera for lighting and other components because it was less expensive than Control4 components? Said another way, is Control4 capable of doing all of those things natively just at a higher cost?

Maybe it's just my inexperience but the home automation world seems like a hodgepodge of many different standards, protocols and systems. I can usually research something over a week or two and come away with a decent architecture and high level understanding of cost. That is not the case with home automation.
It does seem like a hodgepodge of different standards and protocols. And now that everyone and their brother is offering some form of control of some sort, it only makes it more widespread, where you need an app for the lights, app for the locks, app for the music, app for the HVAC, etc.

With C4 you eliminate the need for all those apps and can tie them all into a single solution, where they are more of a software company than a hardware company. Though they do make some nice hardware.
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