This is my first post to AVS and i thought i would share the install i did for my house. I spent a lot of time researching products for whole home audio and home automation and came up with a pretty good solution, although not perfect by any means in my opinion, but I’ll get into that later.
What made this process easier for me was i was able to start from scratch. I bought my house as a foreclosure and my plan from the beginning was to gut it out and start over. This allowed me to not limit my choices and really open my mind to what was out there. Sometimes the hardest part of installing something new in your home is finding out what is even compatible with your situation. Another added bonus was that i was doing all the work myself. From installing the equipment, to framing the walls, i was the general contractor for my house. It really helps to know every stud and nail location within your home.
From the very beginning, the biggest concern I had was future proofing my install. That is why I made the decision to not install a video distribution solution. The technology in my opinion just isn’t there for the consumer. However, I do believe the future of audio/video will be Ethernet which is why I ran over 5,000 feet of it in my 1400 sq. ft. house. The argument can definitely be made that eventually Cat6 will be replaced by something greater, but I’m banking that for audio/video, it will provide enough bandwidth to accomplish the task. I just hope industry moves in the way of IPTV or something even greater for the future.
The video solution I did implement was a central repository of media that is distributed to XBMC clients. I built a separate HTPC for each tv in the house and it works very well.
All in all, I ran over 9,000 feet of low voltage wire to include Ethernet, 14/4, 22/2, 16/2 and 18/4(I’m sure there were some others, but I can’t remember at this point). I took the time to research each kind of wire and made sure that I got the appropriate wire for the device. For example, all my smoke, CO, and gas detectors are fed with Red Riser-rated PVC: FPLR 18/4.
I decided on the HAI OmniPro II for my home automation controller. The basic reasons for choosing this controller was it has been around for years and has a good community following. This has allowed me to troubleshoot issues with relative ease. For the whole home audio, I went with the Nuvo Concerto. I wanted something that was hardwired in the house and is relatively easy to use. Nuvo for the most part fit that bill.
What really makes the system good is the central repository of media. I installed a Synology DS1812+ with 24 TB total and 16 TB usable after fault protection. The DS1812+ is gold standard for my media. The devices do not actually connect to this device, but rather all the data is replicated to a VMWare ESXI 5 server with ~10 TB of storage running 5 VM’s.
-Music Server (Windows 7 and Itunes)
-XBMC server (Ubuntu 12.04)
-Firewall/Router (pfsense 2)
-File Server (Windows Server 2008)
-Web Server (Ubuntu 12.04)
The music server feeds the Nuvo system by syncing my music library in itunes to the music port elite using the Nuvo client. I wanted a separate VM for this task because I have a very large music library and didn’t want other programs on the OS to mess with the process.
The XBMC server contains the MySQL database for the central media libraries.
The File Server is responsible for syncing data between the Synology DS1812+ and ESXI server. Also it has network shares setup so all the devices can access the data.
The Web Server hosts intranet webpages on how to use the system. It’s a rather complicated system so I developed tutorials on how to use it. Anyone who is connected to my network and goes to http://home/
will get a webpage with howto’s for the system. Believe me, if you don’t educate your family on how to properly use the system, the whole concept is pointless and a very expensive boat anchor.
It’s a fairly complex setup, so I don’t really want to go into the details of how it all works together, but hopefully this will give you some ideas of what is possible.
Now I want to talk about the negatives of this system. The major complaint I have is with Nuvo. I purchased the Concerto because it was their top of the line solution. Since I have installed the system, I have gone through 2 RMA for the Music Port Elite. I have a very large music library and the previous 2 units failed during the syncing process. I will say their support has been excellent. I had to do everything through my dealer, but luckily I have an awesome Nuvo dealer(who btw supported me installing the system myself which I know is rare due to Nuvo’s ridiculous policies). The other major complaint is no Android support. I don’t like apple and I’m stuck with using an iPad to control my system. For the Concerto being the top of the line product from Nuvo, it is unacceptable that they are unwilling to support Android. I have contacted them and I got response back that says they are currently not planning to support it either. I also think the keypads are useless, I don’t know if I have big fingers or what, but it never seems to respond to my touch. So they have become more of a fancy room clock more than anything. On the HAI side, I’m disappointed with the lack of style in their devices. For example, the Omnistat2 Thermostats looks horrible mounted on the wall, but they do the job very well and for the most part I’m happy with them. But that can be said for most of HAI’s interfaces, to me, it looks like they were built in the 80’s.
I don’t want to list every piece of equipment I installed, but if you look at the pictures, I think you’ll see 90% of it. All in all, I’m very happy with how it works. I use the iPad to control XMBC, Nuvo, and HAI (with 3 separate apps, XMBC Constellation, Nuvo App, and Haiku). The app switching is kind of annoying, but is manageable. I’m really hoping Nuvo gets some common sense and supports Android.
The next thing I’m going to work on is installing a RadioRa system. Hopefully it does what I want I want it to do.