I am building a new home and considering options for automating lighting, HVAC, security, and access control. One approach is to use a consumer-oriented system, like Crestron or Control4. After doing some research, I am close to concluding that commercial building management systems may actually be more flexible and cost effective. It appears that automation in the commercial space is far more common than in the home sector, and there are far more vendors servicing that market (making it possible to competitively bid a job, by the way). Interestingly to me, though, it appears that the products basically solve the same sorts of automation problems many consumers tackle with Crestron or AMX.
Let's start with HVAC. My system will have perhaps 10 zones, with a combination of forced air and radiant. Commercial systems can easily handle the coordination between the boilers, valves, pumps, and zone thermostats. You can get full PID control. With a residential system you might be able to cobble this together, using Creston to like things up, but it is not really something standard. Commercial lighting systems are commonly integrated into the building management platforms, and offer a great deal of flexibility (proximity sensing to turn lights on and off, schedules, coordinating with HVAC, etc). Security ties in are also very common. Granted, the commercial systems do not handle audio and video - but that is not really my primary automation objective. It should be possible to tie together Creston with a building system via some sort of gateway if that really is necessary.
I'm wondering if anyone here has had any experiencing going this route? One system that frequently comes up in commercial applications is the Siemens Apogee system. It's a closed architecture, with gateways to common building management protocols (like Modbus and LonWorks). Another approach is to go totally open-system, making everything in the house talk LonWorks. Various devices (like HVAC controllers, thermostats, security systems, proximity sensors, etc) would hang off the LonWorks bus and be coordinated with some central controller.
Is it sensible for me to even be thinking this way?
Also, out of curiosity, does anyone know why LonWorks seems to have vanished in the consumer product space. Ten years ago consumer grade products based on LonWorks were announced and even shipped by major vendors like Leviton, as sort of the next generation X10 style device. From what I can see these products have all been discontinued. It's also interesting to see that CEBus is dead. Both of these standards would be very useful in the home automation market today, and would promote better interoperability of components, as they have achieved in the commercial building automation marketplace.