Crestron ain't the answer. Yes I'll agree that it's the most advanced and slickest system out there, but it's also terribly expensive, terribly exclusive and very proprietary. Crestron and it's installers are satisfied with selling only to a very narrow part of the potential market. In fact they are so satisfied with it that they are doing virtually nothing to expand the market.
There are thousands of us out here that are waiting for guys like Dean to push things ahead to the next level. A lot of guys like Dean (and his counterparts on the hardware side) will likely take some blows to the chin while we sort out communication standards and the market comes to understand the possibilities and determines what is is that it wants technology to do, but it will be these guys that expand the market and bring prices down. It's pretty apparent that it won't be Crestron or AMX's highbrow nonsense that does it.
I don't particularly care for Dean's sales tactics (sorry Dean) but they don't offend me anymore than professional installers touting systems that can only be purchased through a fairly small group, are overpriced and are doing little to nothing to expand the market and bring down prices. Remember what started this thread? It was the ridiculous price kc51295 was quoted. At least Dean is offering the beginnings of an alternative.
I haven't bought Dean's program ...yet...but I'm more likely to buy it than Crestron anything
|Originally posted by mbrew
Crestron ain't the answer...
...for you. Just as Mercedes may not be the answer for you. It IS the answer for a lot of people.
|Yes I'll agree that it's the most advanced and slickest system out there, but it's also terribly expensive, terribly exclusive and very proprietary.
Then all someone needs to do is bring out a competing system that is not terribly expensive. Should be easy, no? Except no one has been able to do it yet.
|Crestron and it's installers are satisfied with selling only to a very narrow part of the potential market. In fact they are so satisfied with it that they are doing virtually nothing to expand the market.
What do you base that statement on? The majority of Crestron dealers also sell other products to target other price ranges. And there are probably 10 or more custom installers (addressing different budget sectors of the market) that don't sell Crestron or AMX for every one that does. Let me assure you that the moment a serious alternative, or for that matter even a half decent alternative to Crestron comes out there will be an army of custom installers waiting to sell it. Just look at mulit-room audio if you don't believe me - there are a hundred and one custom installers in most areas providing everything from a receiver and speaker selector with volume controls to higher end options.
|There are thousands of us out here that are waiting for guys like Dean to push things ahead to the next level. A lot of guys like Dean (and his counterparts on the hardware side) will likely take some blows to the chin while we sort out communication standards and the market comes to understand the possibilities and determines what is is that it wants technology to do, but it will be these guys that expand the market and bring prices down.
|It's pretty apparent that it won't be Crestron or AMX's highbrow nonsense that does it.
If I didn't know better, reading between the lines of your post I might think you have some resentment that you can't afford Crestron. Why? You confirm it again with your statement below.
|...but they don't offend me anymore than professional installers touting systems that can only be purchased through a fairly small group, are overpriced and are doing little to nothing to expand the market and bring down prices. Remember what started this thread? It was the ridiculous price kc51295 was quoted.
Are you angry about the price it would cost to tile your bathroom in marble too? Do you get angry every time you see a Mercedes drive by?
And he is assuming the price for kc51295 was ridiculous without seeing the quote or the install.
For cryin out loud, it was 40K, it's got to be ridiculous ;). Why should he need to see it ;)?
Of course, it's entirely reasonable to say 40K is "ridiculous" for lighting control if the person means "that's ridiculous for me". It's the suggestion that it's "ridiculous" period that I disagree with. Personally, I think it's ridiculous to spend 25K on a diamond ring, but if that's what floats your boat...
All of this fighting and you guys forgot the original question.
"central music, zone lighting and MAYBE climate control"
Yes, but he never showed back up or answered any question like how many zones of lighting control, how many music zones etc.
Many people here use Lightolier Compose as a cost effective lighting solution. Centralite is another one though I never see it mentioned here.
As far as multi-room audio there are a bunch of different options such as Russound, Sonance, Xantech etc...
Quite a few people here also use HAI Omni.
As far as his question of what's a reasonable budget, it's an unanswerable question based on his post.
There, I tried cmcjo :).
|...for you. Just as Mercedes may not be the answer for you. It IS the answer for a lot of people.
Fair statement. I might debate the definition of "a lot of people" but will concede there is a market for the Mercedes. To clarify my point though, if we are going to bring automation to a significant percentage of homes (50%) I seriously doubt proprietary systems like Crestron will be the way we get there. It isn't just me these systems won't suit. Remember our thread originator? He wasn't satisfied either.
|Then all someone needs to do is bring out a competing system that is not terribly expensive. Should be easy, no? Except no one has been able to do it yet.
But it seems to me that's what Dean (and others) are trying to do. I don't know if he'll be successful, but I am watching objectively and hoping that he will be.
|What do you base that statement on? The majority of Crestron dealers also sell other products to target other price ranges. And there are probably 10 or more custom installers (addressing different budget sectors of the market) that don't sell Crestron or AMX for every one that does. Let me assure you that the moment a serious alternative, or for that matter even a half decent alternative to Crestron comes out there will be an army of custom installers waiting to sell it. Just look at mulit-room audio if you don't believe me - there are a hundred and one custom installers in most areas providing everything from a receiver and speaker selector with volume controls to higher end options.
In the late 80's and early 90's I had direct contact with several automation manufacturers. I was clearly given the impression and in some cases out right told, "that if it wasn't a 5000 SF house they weren't interested in it". I still see a great deal of that attitude. See the houses on the Vantage web site for an example. Yes, there are alternatives today, but as you stated, they are typically offered by CUSTOM installers. As long as that word custom is attached to automation, it will not be affordable. To be affordable, components and control programs will need to be available off the shelf to electrical contractors, builders and homeowners. Your multi-room audio example is a good one. The basic components are available off the shelf and it can be done reasonably cheaply. As soon as you start putting proprietary systems together with their custom installers the price goes up quickly. As to why I think that the major companies are doing little to expand the market: How many median priced homes (US figure from NOV 03 is $170,900) are you aware of that are built with any significant amount of automation or integration? How many of your friends that are not associates through your work have a significant amount of automation in their homes? Crestron and many of the other automation companies have been around for over 20 years. It doesn't look to me like they're trying to expand the market all that much.
|If I didn't know better, reading between the lines of your post I might think you have some resentment that you can't afford Crestron. Why? You confirm it again with your statement below.
|Are you angry about the price it would cost to tile your bathroom in marble too? Do you get angry every time you see a Mercedes drive by?
Please don't read between the lines. I didn't write anything there. Your analogy of the marble is another good one though. With most building materials or services, I can go to a high-end contractor or show room and I can pay premium prices, or I can go to a wholesaler and buy the materials and either install them myself or hire my own workmen to install them. I've done all the above. With MOST Current
automation companies that simply isn't an option.
The comments of studiocats and QQQ about me calling the price ridiculous without seeing the scope of work has some validity. What I think however is not the point. kc51295 saw it and thought it was "way too much". It is unfortunate he never came back to give more details. Just like QQQ I won't spend $25000 on a diamond, but I, and others like me won't pay exorbitant prices for proprietary control systems. Good luck Dean!
Good response mbrew. I'll respond if I get a chance. Unfortunately, it deserves a full response :).
I'm busy too. Your last post was a good one. I wasn't aware of CentraLite.
You guys are just too entertaining!
"...no way I am spending $40 K plus when all I want is central music, zone lighting and MAYBE climate control- any ideas ?"
The inexpensive answer would be MainLobby ($70) www.cinemaronline.com
, MP3 jukebox software (ie MusicLobby/JRiver Media center $60/$40), a server PC, client PC (ie touchscreen PCs or PDA) for each room as remote controls, for true multizone and multisource distribution, one of several mzms amps ($2500 to $5000), and for climate control there is several software choices (That I have no direct experience with) such as HAI and HomeSeer. For Lighting control I use x10 light controllers with my MainLobby system. X10 can be unreliable, but recently I bought a new product for $100 (BoosterLinc Plug-In PLC Signal Booster) which amplifies the signals. Now everything works flawlessly. X10 contollers range from $15 to $60.
Basically, the original poster asked for a way to get down the street to the store and the salesman tried to sell him a Ferrari. I was originally shown a $10G + AMX system, but due to fate, it fell through. Now I have 98% of what I need done (plus a few things I didn't know I "needed" :) ) with a MainLobby system (and some accessories) for 1/5 th the cost. And I wouldn't pay $10G to get that last 2 % either. I have 2 MainLobby systems. One for my Hometheater and lighting, and one for my main TV room AV system and lighting.
hjackson, not to try and sidetrack this tread BUT,
I have been looking into doing what you have done. I'm an EE/NE and the home automation thing does seem pretty cool...the WAF is questionable...
Anyway, how do you like homeseer? Have you tried misterhouse. Similar concept, but misterhouse is opensource, and contains a million and one sparcely documented perl scripts.
we now return to the thread in progress....
Please translate the above post for use regular guys!
Allow me to translate.
|Originally posted by Sailn
I have been looking into doing what you have done. I'm an EE/NE and the home automation thing does seem pretty cool
I've got a degree in electrical engineering and this is some bad ass sh*t.
|...the WAF is questionable...
My woman will rag on me if I spend that much money.
Note: WAF = wife acceptance factor.
|Similar concept, but misterhouse is opensource, and contains a million and one sparcely documented perl scripts.
It's some REALLY groovy sh*t.
New to the thread.
$40K for what was quoted sounds not outrageous to me. Considering it's Crestron.
Heck I spent between $15K and $20K on my central music system (Sonance products Navigator) and whole house wiring and it is not two way like Crestron and I have no upgradeability for lighting or HVAC.
If someone will do a Crestron system with the lighting and multi-zone music system, you are in the ballpark. There is a lot of time that goes into the programming.
Heck, I am thinking of upgrading my tuner ( to a Sonance Trio) adding a new Xantech LCD touchpad for the kitchen and a Sonance CD/MP3 hard drive for an additional $5K and it still isn't near the functionality of the Crestron.
$40K....sounds not unreasonable to me.....if I had to do it over again, I'd do what your thinking. You always get what you pay for.
"I have been looking into doing what you have done. I'm an EE/NE and the home automation thing does seem pretty cool...the WAF is questionable...
Anyway, how do you like homeseer?..."
I've never used HomeSeer or any other home automation software besides this simple startup kit (X10 Activehome Computer Interface Kit CM-11A at www.smarthome.com/1140.html
) which I actually bought at Lowes for about $50. I incorporated it with MainLobby so I got to use MainLobby's nice custom interface.
As for WAF, a while ago I heavily participated in thos post http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...97#post2695597
, where I outlined the pros of a touchscreen remote control GUI. These pros would apply to any touchscreen remote system including MainLobby, AMX, Creston, Elan, etc. I recommend MainLobby for those on a sub $5G budget. The other systems will start at around $5G for the touchscreen remote alone, with another $1G and up for the control devices. Installation and programing are ofcourse, extra.
"Heck I spent between $15K and $20K on my central music system (Sonance products Navigator) and whole house wiring and it is not two way like Crestron and I have no upgradeability for lighting or HVAC."
I hear you, I spent $10 G on wiring my townhome with CAT5/ethernet, 8 zones of inwall speakers, a 6.1 inwall speaker prewire for the main TV room and a 7.1 inwall speaker prewire for the Home Theater room. The Sonance 6 zone multisource/multizone distributer was quoted at about $2G and the amp at about $1G, and we haven't talked about installation fees and keypads. But subtracting house wiring costs, he can still get adequate control with MainLobby, 2 PCs, X10 products, anyone of the dozens of music distribution products (he hasn't come back to give us more details of his music needs so this discussion is really just becoming academic), 102 MBPs wireless wifi, and several available multimedia wifi receivers, for under $5G (again, depending on your music distribution product)
QQQ - you kill.
WAF is how we say "wife" down here i Jawga
Wow. Somehow I missed this thread until now... quite an interesting read! The level of school-yard sticks-and-stones flying about is a bit amusing, but perhaps obscuring the key issue here. This started with the observation that a truly integrated system, even for somewhat basic requirements, is a bit expensive for most people. $40k is certainly too rich for me at this point...
What's really frustrating is that it's all about integration. The actual, physical hardware isn't all that expensive (comparatively) when you break it down. The problem is that it becomes extremely complicated to get all these various pieces working together. Even with the right interfaces to get everything "connected", (A/V, IR, RF, network, serial, X-10, phone, HVAC, security, etc...) you still need software smart enough to bring it all together. And those interfaces can get pretty pricey themselves...
I worked for a dozen years or so in industrial process control, and built some touch-screen control "systems" which were way more expensive than Crestron's. :) (of course, this is mainly because there were very few sold - custom built robotics). Part of the value of something like a Crestron system (from what little I know of them) is bringing everything together - compatibility with all the gadgets out there - into one unified, consistent UI. Doing that with a closed, proprietary system for a niche market is not cheap. I would imagine that a significant chunk of their revenue goes into keeping up with the latest greatest toys...
That being said, with the declining hardware costs for key ingredients (snazzy touch panel displays, ethernet-capable micro-controllers, analog & digital IO, ...), the value of an integrated system relies increasingly on the software tying everything together. An effective, "open" software solution has the potential to be every bit as capable as the current high-end "closed" stuff for a fraction of the total cost - with one little catch. Making it easy to set up, and having reliable built-in support for a sufficiently broad selection of hardware, will require either significant $$$ up front or a well-established user community willing to contribute their efforts to improving the product.
In reference to Dean's project, I don't know how well he handles business and marketing. He may come off as overzealous. But I've spent some time researching some of his earlier projects, and if Dean's moved into this space, well, IMHO that definitely bears watching. From what I've seen, Dean is capable of some pretty incredible stuff. Most of the people I have encountered who can achieve that level of performance are driven by a combination of creativity, intelligence, and a relentless, obsessive fixation on doing it "right". That tends to be great for building things, but less than ideal for selling them and dealing with "those who don't get it". Fortunately, finding people who can do marketing adequately is a piece of cake compared to finding developers who can put together something truly worth marketing. From a technical perspective, it looks like CQC has a lot of potential. It is extremely adaptable and has a solid architecture. It appears to be already building a user community and they are contributing to extend the hardware it supports - which, IMHO, is far more important long term than how many "sales" have been made at this point. If this thing reaches critical mass, the number of sales won't be a problem (except, perhaps, for Crestron and the like... ;)
There are other "open" projects out there. MisterHouse looks interesting. I'm even considering writing some of this on my own. I could have done that ten years ago (actually did, for industrial stuff), but the cost for the necessary interface hardware to get your home system talking to the outside world was a bit expensive back then. I'm in the midst of having lots of HVAC upgrades put in (filtration/humidity control/mechanical exchange), and what you do with $100 these days for environmental monitoring is amazing. So, we'll see... one more project to deal with.
Thanks for those kind words :-) I assume that one of the previous projects you refer to is my CIDLib C++ Frameworks? If so, be assured that it still lives. A vastly improved and expanded version of it underlies CQC, and is why CQC is really a platform as much as a product, and will be capable of supporting a lot of features moving forward.
I do recognize I'm no marketer, and I'm working to deal with that. I've been talking with a number of folks about getting some help on this front. I had a nice meeting yesterday, with a company you'd all recognize, about a possible project based on CQC which would address many of the concerns that have been expressed in this area.
|Originally posted by mbrew
I wasn't aware of CentraLite.
Not many people are -- I can't figure out why they're not marketing it more heavily. However, I can say from personal experience that Centralite rocks!
When we were building our house, Lutron, Lightolier, Vantage, etc all cost far more than we were willing to spend for lighting control. Just when I was about to reconsider X10 (after swearing it off a few years earlier), I came across a newsgroup post mentioning Centralite.
Being an engineer, I *really* liked Centralite's design -- instead of putting a network interface into the light switches and charging $150 for each one, they use simple contact closure switches connected to muxes that debounce the presses and translate them into press/release events sent to the central controller. Cost per switch (1-4 buttons with engraved labels and feedback LEDs): ~$20.
That's cheaper than a decent single-button X10 switch! Granted, you still have to pay for the muxes, the central controller, and the home-run dimmer panels, but the bottom-line price was still about half that of a comparable system from Lutron et al.
I did pay more than I would have for an X10 system, but what it bought me was discrete reliable
control over almost every light in the house (minus a few closets), with full two-way RS232 control. I can configure any button in the house to cause any light (or set of lights) in the house to move to ANY dim level (1% increments), at virtually ANY ramp rate (255 rates ranging from 0s to over 10 minutes).
The "Sleep" button in my son's room turns on his bathroom vanity toe-kick lights at 20% (so he can find the bathroom at night ;-), ramps his overhead light to off over 5 minutes while I tuck him in, ramps the rest of his lights to off over 15 seconds, and sends an event to the music system to start playing lullabies. When I arm my security system to "night" mode, it tells my Crestron processor, which then tells Centralite to dim the basement and garage lights to "off" over 90 seconds (in case someone's down there).
Sorry for gushing/bragging, but I *really* like this system. My only connection to Centralite is as a customer (who can't figure out why more people aren't using Centralite).
|Originally posted by digiphotonerd
Not many people are -- I can't figure out why they're not marketing it more heavily.
Not to nitpick, but they have actually sunk quite a bit into marketing and have promoted the system quite heavily.
|Sorry for gushing/bragging, but I *really* like this system.
Good to hear the positive feedback.
|My only connection to Centralite is as a customer (who can't figure out why more people aren't using Centralite).
This is a pretty hard market to break into as it is as. It's even harder for a new manufacturer such as Centralite because most established dealers are scared, for very good reason, to take a chance on a new product as all encompassing as a lighting control product. There's nothing worse than selling that type of system and having the company disappear a few years later. Lots of times companies such as Centralite spend there first several years having to be satisfied selling to small dealers that cannot gain access to the better known lines. If they make it through the first few years, they may start to gain access to some of the larger dealers. Just explaining how it works to those that are interested.
Centralite also has pricing listed for several packages on their web site for those interested.
Lets keep in mind that Crestron has virtually doubled its annual sales every year for the last four years in a row. I think that speaks to the expansion issue.
Crestron is really not that expensive when one factors in the costs associated with top level R&D, Tech Support, Training, Tradeshow presentations and sales support. Yes, they may not be as flexible as some newbie startup outfit, but I'm pretty sure George Feldstein isn't going to stand by and let Bill Gates take over the automation industry.
Lets wait and see before we prognosticate over the demise of Crestron and AMX.
George will be happy to hear of your support, Barry. Keep in mind part of Crestron's strategy, in my opinion, with respect to the coming IT revolution, is to offer an entire Home automation system that does not require the software entanglements that custom drivers entail. Additionally, his (Crestron's ) user interfaces are vastly superior to IP solutions currently available. His (Crestron's ) products will be compatible with those new networked systems. And 3k for a single room system with Ethernet, IR, serial, relay status sensing and a ergonomic RF remote that can be expanded infinitely while not inexpensive hardly brakes the bank. Finally, no Windows OS will be as reliable as any non-Windows OS. As though networks do not need constant tweaking, too
I received the CD Rom from Lightolier explaining their "Compose PLC". Installation appeared not overly complicated. Checked components at a Home---
online supplier. For lighting control in a 3000 sf home doesn't appear all that expensive. Wonder what some of the members thought and what experiences they may have had Compose. I think some members may just want to control their lighting with scene puchbuttons!
Compose is X-10 with what Lightolier calls a "fire wall." It is a back box with filters in it to prevent all of the nasty occurrences that usually occur with X-10 systems. It is solely a new construction product as every feed and switch leg must come in or out of this "fire wall."
There are two kinds of keypads; house keypads and room keypads. House keypads are for house wide event and room keypads obviously control individual rooms. So one keypad cannot control both local rooms and global scenes. Moreover, it is a very slow network. Room keypads update fast enough but house keypads can take up to 5 minutes to update LEDs. That said, it is not a very expensive product relative to other lighting systems and it does work. But I would never place this in my own home, irrespective of whether I was in the lighting control business or not. If you must use power line why not use Power Line Control? They are not inexpensive but they seem to work and have none of the problems traditional X-10 or power line control products have.