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post #1 of 15 Old 05-18-2006, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Well I am very new to this and have many questions about home automation. Right now I am building a new house and we are about a month or two from moving in. I have already had someone prewire my house for speakers, sound control, the network, and video. I have been looking into whole house audio/video systems. Recently I had an epiphany that I am in way over my head. I have been researching this religiously every night.

Some of the questions I have are:

For lighting control, is there an special type of extra wiring that needs to be installed for each light?

Where should I begin to look for whole house audio/video equipment?

What do you think of the homelogic control system?

My dealer is recommending mostly niles equipment, what do you think of their products?

For a house that is prewired for speakers what is a ballpark estimate for a system that has speakers in 6 rooms plus outdoor speakers and is zoned, and can control some of the things that homelogic can do like audio, security, climate, lighting, video, and irrigation


If I have been to vague about things please post questions and I will check back regularly.


Thanks,
Andrew
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post #2 of 15 Old 05-18-2006, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrico4
Well I am very new to this and have many questions about home automation. Right now I am building a new house and we are about a month or two from moving in. I have already had someone prewire my house for speakers, sound control, the network, and video. I have been looking into whole house audio/video systems. Recently I had an epiphany that I am in way over my head. I have been researching this religiously every night.

Some of the questions I have are:

For lighting control, is there an special type of extra wiring that needs to be installed for each light?
Varies based on the specific type of lighting system you use. There's hardwired systems and wireless systems. If you can run wiring to the lights, and the cost is ok, definitely go that route. Those systems just work. Wireless systems will always have some level of instability to them.

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Where should I begin to look for whole house audio/video equipment?
Before looking for equipment, you should state what your zones and desired sources are, [i.e., you'll have a regular analog TV in "n" zones, HDTV in "x" zones, music, you'll have the following sources centrally located that you want to distribute, and the following sources locally]. Then, we can help you with the equipment to meet your needs.
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What do you think of the homelogic control system?
punt - i know nothing.
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My dealer is recommending mostly niles equipment, what do you think of their products?
I have Niles speakers & volume controllers, they're pretty decent. How are you planning on controlling this? Using the system that comes with your equipment? have you compared the keypads for each of these systems?

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For a house that is prewired for speakers what is a ballpark estimate for a system that has speakers in 6 rooms plus outdoor speakers and is zoned, and can control some of the things that homelogic can do like audio, security, climate, lighting, video, and irrigation
Can't help you there. I do all of that for my 7 zones, but I used a PC and did a DIY solution, and given the fact that you already feel in over your head, I'm not sure i'd recommend that to you. Here's my guestimates at my DIY costs, you should probably figure on labor costing 3x this amount as it's a TON of work.

HomeAutomation/HomeTheater PC Server: $700
2 HTPC's to act as video & audio sources, also to clean up the DirecTV signal so it looks good: $1500
A/V receivers, speakers, volume controllers: $2800 plus the HT speakers. I personally chose a 5.1 speaker system that was ~$3K, some scoff as it's too low-end, some scoff as it's too high-end.
Security & fire & Home Automation hardware: $3K [i went way overboard as I only have a 1650 sqft house, but trust me - i'm definitely covered and then some.
Climate: $700
Irrigation: $100
Lighting: Haven't bought this yet, but i'm estimating $2500 will do a portion of my house, which is what it'll take to do those bits I want it to do.

These are totally ballpark estimates that I just did in my head as I typically don't like to think about such things, but figure i'm in for ~$13K parts. I did that over 3 years, so it's not like I dropped all that cash at once.

Over 3 years, I have easily spent 1000 hours running god damn wire, mounting controls, mounting speakers, setting up system, testing it out, ripping stuff out cuz I guessed wrong. Assuming a pro would know what they're doing and could do this using a cookie-cutter in 35% of the time, and a billrate of $75/hour, I'd say you're looking at a floor of $50K to get someone to do this for you. And, if I haven't guessed right at the complexity, I wouldn't be shocked at more.

Well, there's my swag. Do my fellow comrades think i've guessed wrong anywhere?

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post #3 of 15 Old 05-19-2006, 10:22 AM
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I would look at Control4 (http://www.control4.com/) for your house. It will do everything you want to do and then some. It has Wireless Lighting Control, Whole House Audio Distribution (with optional Hard Drive for mp3's), Audio/Video/ Home Theater Control, Heating and Air Conditioning Control and can even interface with Security Systems.

I hope this helps,

Rob
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post #4 of 15 Old 05-19-2006, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok for the zones and sources this is how I think it will be set up.

The three central points in the house are in the great rom (all whole house A/V cables are run to this location), the storage room in the basement has all the network cables run to this location, and in the basement right below the great room is where the possible home theatre is wired for surround and projector.


The Zones

1. Great Room-has most of the wiring run to here. I think about two speakers will be in this room. The will be a HDTV, CD player, DVD player, probably a satellite radio receiver (extra antenna run up to the attic) and cable receiver. The whole house equipment will be put here.

2. Dining room-2 speakers and maybe a simple volume controller.

3. Den-two bookshelf speakers placed in the built in shelves.

4. Kitchen-speakers with keypad. Possible a fold down LCD.

5. Garage-Speakers and a keypad.

6. Patio-Outdoor speakers with the possibility of rock speakers but im not sure if the deck is big enough to justify the rock speakers also.

7. Basement-has a place in the storage room for the network, telephones, and cable connectio. Has a central hub for a possible and highly likely home theatre. Will have speakers and an HDTV plus the possible home theater.



Master bedroom-will have a HDTV

Bedroom 1-will have a computer and possibly an HDTV.

Bedroom 2-will have a computer

Other things that need to be taken into consideration.
1. heating and cooling control
2. inground sprinkler system (this is not in yet so there is great flexibility)
3. security system
4. possible video survelence
5. phone integration

I really would like to tie all this together with the homelogic controls because they look fantastic for what I want.

*all rooms are wired for the possiblity of adding speakers later*
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post #5 of 15 Old 05-20-2006, 05:19 AM
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I am having a dealer come by to my house on Monday to demo the HomeLogic system. I spent some time th other day looking at the Control4 system. Its a nice system and it does do alot for the money. I like that its IP based like the HL. seem most contro systems are heading this way. Also read my thread in this forum about HL.

I will post my findings one I see the demo.

As for Niles, I am not a big fan. I think the Russound gear is better and if you want to go one step better, look into Elan.

I know Russoound is coming out with its own RNET video Switcher in the fall. It will integrate tightly with the CAV6.6 and I know HL already had plug ins for it.
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post #6 of 15 Old 05-20-2006, 07:14 AM - Thread Starter
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I would love to hear how the HomeLogic system is because I am having a hard time finding a dealer that carries it. The User Interface on that looks very simple and straighforward.
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post #7 of 15 Old 05-21-2006, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
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I was thinking about the lighting controlled system and wondered if it was really worth it. Could some of you guys tell your experience with this and whether or not it is really worth the extra money.
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post #8 of 15 Old 05-22-2006, 03:38 PM
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I actually have a great deal of professional experience with many control systems including Home Logic.

Because of my status with these manufacturers, I am not going to post much info. If you'd like more information, I'd be more then willing to discuss this further via Private Message, e-mail or phone.

Chad

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post #9 of 15 Old 05-23-2006, 09:19 AM
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I have some good experience with AMX and Crestron. Ask what you want to know. I'm more of an AMX pereson than Crestron but one of my partners does Crestron. As far as the other control systems out there, I can't help you with.

Quote:
Because of my status with these manufacturers, I am not going to post much info.
Why not just PM him in the first place? Are you afraid the manufacturers have post police here? :confused:

Matt D. Sherer CET, CTS-I,ISF-C
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post #10 of 15 Old 05-24-2006, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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For what I posted above, with everything pre-wired what would be a ballpark for what I want? Do you prefer AMX or Crestron and what has a better value?
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post #11 of 15 Old 05-24-2006, 04:46 PM
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Andrew,

I'm not sure who your last post was directed to but I'll give you my input. I believe when you look at all factors, Crestron is probably going to be the best value. The reason is simple, they offer a very good solution for all of your needs.

For those who are going to bark; yes there are other companies out there who are more focused on one area or another who might build a slightly better comparable component but I am talking about value here, not who's got the best "widget".

So, let's take just your 6 zones of whole-house music first_ this will be the heart of your control system. From Crestron, you can expect to spend; installed; anywhere from 5500 to as much as 8000 for a 6 zone 6 source (2 of the sources are the on-board tuners) music/control system (the AADS model). The price will vary depending on the number of keypads, type of keypads & of course the parts & labor charges by the company who provides the system for you.

You should note that this system; the Adagio system; as described above does not require a Crestron programmer to set it up. Therefore if you're a DIY kinda guy & money is a concern or you feel you might spend the money better somewhere else, if you can find a dealer who will sell you the system over the counter it isn't a real difficult install for someone who's a little savvy with AV stuff.

It's worth a try on your own, worst case scenario you don't get it working which means you just have to get your dealer to come in & bail you out...don't worry, short of blowing a channel out on it from bad connections, you can't screw up the processor_ it has a revert which takes it back to factory reset just like an AV receiver.

Anyway, anything over & above the music system features & keypads will require a programmer to get involved to elaborate on the pre-installed program.

You asked about other features which without having more detailed info I can only be very vague.

- HVAC control figure on anywhere from 800 to 1300 per zone (installed) depending on how much custom programming of crazy scheduling presets you want on the touch-panel or PC interface

- Lighting control is always tough without knowing a lot of specifics but as long as you're figuring on less then 20 loads with not a lot of 3-way switches, electronic low voltage lights & fans figure on 500ish per load/zone installed & programmed. Note, the fewer loads you have the more this will cost, the more loads you have will generally make the average price per load go down.

- Control over TV's is generally minimal (less then $500 per TV installed) excluding the cost of the user interface you choose for that room. This is of course provided you're wired with the necessary cables & are not in need of a central video matrix switch that gives you free-rain to access any video source in the home. If you dedicate certain cable boxes & DVD players to certain TV's then you'll be fine.

- Phone integration is something I'd avoid unless you want to reconfigure what I recommended above & use Crestron's separate processors & audio switchers. The Adagio is not easily integrated with phone_ how about web control via PDA browser instead?...all you need is a PDA which runs specifically a Pocket PC OS, not palm, blackberry or CE

- Security integration will depend on the security system you use. I would consult with your Crestron programmer before making a decision on the security panel. Security companies are famous for making a panel which should be automation-friendly...and it's not. Sense security systems often give programmers a little bit of headache you're better off asking your programmer which ones he/she prefers working with & offers the most comprehensive & useful feedback to the touch-panel. If this person can't give you an answer, I'd rethink whether you want to give him-her you business, this could be a sign of how little real programming experience they might have which will likely mean your job will be a year long training ground for them. You can expect to spend anywhere from 300 to as much as 1500 to have your control system integrated into a control-friendly security system. To keep the cost down, just don't get CRAZY with how much feedback info you want displayed in the touch-panel or triggered events you want to occur if the security system goes off. Remember, these features sound really great but once you have the system done, it's very unlikely you'll ever use them or have a real need for them.

- Cameras are easy; especially if you're just wanting to get video into a video window on a touch-panel. Pan-tilt-zoom isn't a big deal as long as you're using a camera which your programmer or Crestron has a control module written for (this goes for most devices you want to control). If you've got the cameras which are easy to integrate then figure on anywhere from 200 to 500 per camera. Like the lighting, if you have more cameras you should expect your price per camera integration to go down as long as you do it all at once.

- Other costs you may have to pay for is design fees for any of these added features. Just make sure you're not paying for design but getting nothing more then a proposal. There is nothing at all wrong with paying for good design, just make sure it's going to include drawings, schematics, functional spec's, etc.

- When deciding on keypads or user interfaces for the system look at how many rooms you need touch-panels for & do your best to keep them similar in size. By keeping them similar in size you'll hopefully be able to negotiate with your integrator on one of those nasty programming secrets we don't want you to know, similar panel sizes & graphics engines means we don't have to make up a new panel design for every panel; we just limit access to controls which don't pertain to the area you're in or level of control required for that environment.

Your programmer may already figure on this so don't bust his balls if he tells you the programming cost are not flexible. If you are dealing with a company that charges a flat rate per panel for programming (in addition to charging for programming of each subsystem); lots of companies will charge 500 to 1000 per panel to make quoting easy; then your should demand they not bang you for 5 panel programming charges if you have 5 panels. It is work involved on each panel, don't get me wrong, if they charge by the panel I'd negotiate with them, say 100% for the 1st panel & 25% to 50% of that flat-rate for each additional panel.


As for AMX in all this; AMX's business model is different then Crestron's. AMX is in this world to give the customer a way to make 2 devices talk to one another who could not talk otherwise. They are not in any other business but that.

Crestron of course is in that business too. They came from that business and are still in that business. Crestron has been around for roughly 30ish years; more then double the number of years AMX has been here. Oh yeah, AMX hasn't; necessarily been here for that long, the name AMX has been around. AMX has been out of business & re-invented a number of times.

I feel like contrary to what some die-hard AMX guys might say, the only reason we haven't seen AMX introducing systems in-house is because they just don't have as much consistent time in the marketplace.

I don't think we'll see AMX creating lighting anytime soon, especially after the last lighting they did with their old nemesis project; PHAST but AMX's parent company is positioning the company to be able to provide more then just control processors & panels to their dealers, even if it's not an AMX product they are certainly looking into purchasing companies & then offering those companies systems through AMX distribution channels. If they are going to compete in the Residential market where they are much weaker then Crestron they will have too. Dealers are demanding it.

Some say that Crestron shouldn't be everything to all people or that Crestron is lower end then AMX. That isn't true. The differences are this:

- Crestron isn't necessarily trying to take over the world & be the Sony of automation. They are in fact answering the calls of dealers who want integration to be easier & more affordable for the end user. So, if they are able to build in house, or have a product OEM'd by a great known manufacturer of a certain piece of hardware & have it become part of the Crestron Cresnet network, it not only makes programming easier (meaning less expensive) but it also gives us a lot of exclusive control & feedback we can't generally get from trying to talk to a 3rd party piece of hardware. It can mean that instead of me having to sell someone a 4000 processor because I need 12 RS-232 ports to operate all the 3rd party devices I instead only need a $1200 processor & a $300 Cresnet splitter to run the same components if it's all Crestron. It means that when there is a strange problem which occurs at random I can easily retrieve a log rather then hoping I happen to be on sight when the 3rd party device has the problem. As far as I'm concerned; especially for residential use; the ability use one product if it stands on it's own among other 3rd party products vs using 10 different sources makes much more sense to me, at least for my clients.

- AMX is more expensive then Crestron because the AMX line is more limited then Crestron's, not because they're better (come on people, price doesn't always mean better_ at can often times just mean more expensive). Crestron has systems which cost as much & in fact much more then AMX. the reason one might say Crestron is less expensive is because especially in a residential application, there isn't a heck of a lot of need to sell someone the same control processor being used to run 230 rooms at a local university. The other big reason AMX is generally more costly when comparing even apples to apples in terms of equipment cost is because AMX programming for the most part is still all hard-coded Microsoft C++ script. AMX has an easier tool coming but that too, has been coming for 3 years & there dealers still don't have a good version of it. Crestron programming on the other hand is based on Crestron's own language of Simple+. It's similar to C++ but it's much more reliable. If you're in question about this think about it the next time your PC or Microsoft application crashes. At any rate that is a different conversation, while Crestron's backbone language is Simple+ they have a programming tool which isn't a wizard (which they have many of those which aren't so great) but allows us to program without have to write hard code. This is generally faster which means we are more efficient in not just writing the program but debugging it. When you make a mistake in the "Simple Windows" programming suite it's easier to track your mistake then it is reading through 400 lines of script for one device.

From a reliability standpoint I can't say much for any newer product. I had horrible luck with their stuff years ago_ supposedly those issues are for the most part handled. The only thing I suppose I can say is I know the processor chips in most Crestron processors are faster (Adagio processor isn't any faster then AMX) which frankly means very little because both systems are fast & you wouldn't notice a difference until getting into very large systems.

The other thing is that on AMX, the core OS & the program is stored on the same cache'. On Crestron, the OS is on one cache' & the program on another. This could potentially make the Crestron processors argueably run smoother. What is not up for debate is the fact that if a Crestron has a bad cache, the likelihood that both cache's go bad are slim. Because of that; if needed; during a field service call we can dump the OS & program noth onto the good cache' to wake the dead so-to-speak. Why is this a big deal? The processor is still bad & has to be returned...Ah yes it does, the difference being that when your Crestron processor takes a dump the Thursday night before the big family event at your home, if your dealer doesn't have a spare processor lying around to swap out (which most dealers don't keep lying around) he can still come out on Friday & potentially get the system up & running , where it will almost certainly remain functioning until your advanced replacement gets in the following week. If that happens to your AMX processor, you'll have no tunes & possibly no lights depending on your lighting system for the whole weekend & into the following week.

Anyway, that was I'm sure way more info then anyone here needed. You should also note that I'm sure there are people out here who've got a lot more recent AMX experience then what I've got so it certainly can't hurt to hear some of their feedback. One last thing I'll note that AMX guys are generally quick to point out is that if you go with all/mostly Crestron vs using a lot of 3rd party stuff if your Crestron system goes down you won't be able to use anything. My response in advance because I used to say the same thing to Crestron when they first began going down this road years ago. If your Crestron or AMX system goes down, whether you have a proprietary system or not, the likelyhood of a client attempting to use the front-panel (if there are any) controls of a piece of controlled hardware are VERY SLIM. In the rare event I've had a Crestron system go down the client tells me they didn't even want to think about touching anything in the rack. And lets face it, if you're using AMX panels & keypads to control your music system, what are the chances your going to have an optional way to control those zones if the AMX system does go down? NONE so really, there is no advantage of using a lot of 3rd party systems. If you're savvy & patient enough to make all your subsystems run with the control system down you didn't need to spend the money on AMX or Crestron in the first place.

HOLY CRAP! The End

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post #12 of 15 Old 05-24-2006, 05:59 PM
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I believe when you look at all factors, Crestron is probably going to be the best value.
If you have some computer/hardware skills,you dont need to be a programmer or a hardware specialist but you have to be savvy computer person.....

If you enjoy hobbies and want to get your hands dirty......

If you complete projects successfully........

Then DIY is your best value period because you will have exactly what you want, you will be able to tweak as you want, you will be able to expand as you want and you will cut your costs easily by more then half.

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post #13 of 15 Old 05-25-2006, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by C.Shell
Andrew,

I'm not sure who your last post was directed to but I'll give you my input. I believe when you look at all factors, Crestron is probably going to be the best value. The reason is simple, they offer a very good solution for all of your needs.

<snipped all the good stuff>...


HOLY CRAP! The End
Excellent, very informative post! Thank you!

My new speakers have True Cognitive Dissonance Technology (tm).

"They'll always sound as good as you think they should!"
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post #14 of 15 Old 05-25-2006, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DWScott
Excellent, very informative post! Thank you!
I kind of feel guilty that he typed all that for the question I asked. Extremely informative, THANKS!
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post #15 of 15 Old 10-01-2006, 05:04 AM
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Thanks for the great info!
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