Retrofit wireless lights/security in log cabin? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 06-01-2004, 09:27 PM - Thread Starter
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I've recently purchased a 3,200 square foot log cabin a couple hours away from my house. We've become addicted to our HomeWorks lighting system and our DSC security system at home, and I want to have similar conveniences and security at our new cabin. However, there's a catch. There can be NO drilling into the logs. There is some drywall on some interior walls where I could install control panels, and there is a closet where I could put in the "brains" for a unit or two, but otherwise essentially everything in the system has to be as wireless as possible.

Here are what we'd like from our system:

- Wireless, centralized, dimmable control of existing lighting loads. Scenes would be nice, but are not a requirement.

- Security system that can interface with lighting system (turn on all lights when alarm goes off). All sensors (motion and door/window) must be wireless and battery operated. Also should be able to be monitored, and/or phone me when an alert occurs (water pipe bursts, etc.).

- Security system MUST be able to play an audible chime when a window or door is opened in non-armed mode. We have young children, and this has been very useful at our current residence. It will be crucial at our cabin, since it is right on a lake and we want to know immediately if a young child opens a door while we're not looking and heads for the dock.

- Remote control of thermostat by phone or dial-up modem (there is no high-speed Internet at this location) so we can turn on the air conditioning or adjust the heat to be higher by the time we arrive at the cabin.

I am experienced enough to do most of the wiring and programming myself (I program my own Lutron HomeWorks system at home and have installed additional keypads and switches here), and I have an installer buddy who is willing to help. We're just looking for nudges in the right direction from anyone who has used these types of products.

For lighting, I'm considering either RadioRA or HomeServe from Lutron (I think RadioRA is more cost effective for this application). I've heard that X10 (and even X10Pro) can be unreliable.

For security and general automation, I've been checking out the HAI Omni stuff.

FYI - the cabin has a main floor with a little drywall in a couple places, a small upstairs loft with zero drywall, and a daylight basement with nothing but drywall (outside is river rock).

Any comments on what I'm considering? Anything else I should be checking out?

Thanks,

Steve

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post #2 of 20 Old 06-02-2004, 04:45 AM
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HAI Omni II would announce closing and opening of zones.
I use that now for my sons room. The system announces "boys bedroom window is opened" When he opens it. You can use voice announce for any event in HAI Omni.

I am also in the process of programming the wireless Homeworks system in my home. It seems like a very nice high quality lighting system so far.

JOE
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post #3 of 20 Old 06-02-2004, 04:50 AM
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I think you're on the right track. I recently retrofitted the radio RA system into my 94 year old house, and this is the first modern technology I've been able to retro with absolutely no roadblocks. I also live in an area near some major broadcast towers, and experience extreme rf disturbances, I can only tune a few fm radio stations. The radio Ra system seems to be completely immune to the rf noise.

I also like the HAI omni products, and will probably make that my next upgrade. I believe it will integrate well with the Radio Ra system using the rs 232 interface.

FWIW: I am a fairly new Lutron dealer so my opinions may be slightly biased.

Regards
MIke
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post #4 of 20 Old 06-02-2004, 06:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by cmcjo
The system announces "boys bedroom window is opened" When he opens it. You can use voice announce for any event in HAI Omni.
Very cool! From what source is it announced? A keypad? I'm concerned about being able to have the voice loud enough and/or in enough places to be effective.

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post #5 of 20 Old 06-02-2004, 02:05 PM
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I think you are on the right track with the RAdioRA system and add a Chronos controller for setting timed events and the RA-SCI contact interface to connect to the alarm system.
Almost all the alarms on the market can go full wireless and there are many good ones to choose from. THe HAI OMNI II would be one of the top choices for you because of availability and features. Apex Destiny 6100 and the GE interlogix would be others to look at. The Apex uses all of Ademco 5800 wireless products.
If your cabin does not have internet access, you may want to try this product. http://www.temperatureguard.com/vm501.htm
I have placed them in Boiler heat systems for cabins in Northern Michigan and I have found them to be reliable and easy to use if you have a phone line installed.

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post #6 of 20 Old 06-02-2004, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by stevejenkins
Very cool! From what source is it announced? A keypad? I'm concerned about being able to have the voice loud enough and/or in enough places to be effective.
The sound will not go to the keypads. I installed speakers under 2 of the keypads in my home. And behind the main keypad. The speakers connect to the HAI voice module board.

I also have the sytem call my cell phone and announce Zone problems, events, and water temperature problems with my aquarium. You can have voice announce for any condition including a specific user disarming or arming the system. You can even turn a light on and annouce that the light is on if you wanted to. Why anyone would do that, I dont know, but it is possible.

The voice is very loud. I think you can adjust the volume as well and also send the audio to an overhead system.

It is so loud in fact, I used to have an announcement indicating "motion in garage" when system is armed in night mode. My neighbor closed the door for me and he clearly heard the announcment through the closed door and across the house.

JOE
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post #7 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 02:14 PM
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I hope this does not seem like a highjack, but I have a question that seems on line with the intial post.

I was wondering if anyone has any input on the actual integration of an Omni II panel and a lutron radio ra system. I have had both installed in my home about a year ago (I did the lighting part), but they do not currently communicate with one another. Long story, but the automation installer was no good. So anyway, I am just starting this process, have the rs232 omni board installed, but it does not seem that the two are necassarily "friendly". As far as I can tell the only way to accomplish lighting changes is to send "Messages" or text commands from the Omni to the RS232 bridge on the Radio Ra system. Is this correct. For all I know this is normal, just curious.

If you can't tell I am also pretty new to home automation.
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post #8 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't think that's a thread hijack at all. I am interested in knowing the exact same thing!

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post #9 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 05:52 PM
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I went through some training on the HAI Omni pro system a few weeks ago. One thing that stuck in my mind was that the omni pro panel was Radio Ra compatible. I'll have to dig through my notes to remember exactly what that means. Stay tuned.
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post #10 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 06:29 PM
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Okay...I think you have a couple options.

First and probably easiest would be to add a Radio Ra switch closure interface. That will give you five configurable input switch closures, and two that are dedicated to security functions - full and flash. The switch closures can be triggered by the omni and they can be programmed to turn Radio Ra scenes on or off.

Second - more complicated but also more functional would be to use the rs-232 interface module. This module allows two way communication so not only can you turn the light on but it can reply that it's on. This could be powerful for remote access where you wouldn't have the visual feedback. The rs-232 module also gives you more scenes - 15 plus all on and all off, and scurity full and flash.

When I said the omni was radio ra compatible I was referring to it's ability to interface via rs-232.

Regards
Mike
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post #11 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 06:34 PM
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I have been using the OMni II with the Dealer PC access programming software for almost 2 years. The way I see it, the designed integration with a lighting system is using X-10, which we all know as unreliable.

I just dont see any lines of programming that you can specifically use to say "turn on foyer light". That is the way it is done using X-10 with OMNI.

That is not to say it cannot be done using another lighting system like Lutron. You would just do it differently. You would most likely have your lighting system programmed to act upon an OMni relay being triggered as explained in another thread by "digiphotonerd" in this forum. So if you want all of the lights to turn off when you arm in the night mode, If you were using X-10 based system, you can just program omni as follows: When armed night, turn off all lights. And the Omni will send out several X-10 signals.

But if you are not using X-10 you would, when armed night, turn on relay 1 for 1 second. Since your lighting system would be hardwired to the omni relays output board, you would have programming lines in your lighting software to react to the relays in Omni.

JOE
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post #12 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 06:41 PM
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http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=403923

I just re-read this entire thread and it makes more sense now.
This has much more information, and explains it better than I did

JOE
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post #13 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 07:54 PM
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thanks steve, maybe we can both get something out of this

olysan, I guess then I might be heading in the right direction. I am in the process of setting up your option 2, via the rs232 interface. The reason I thought I was missing something, was as someone mentioned the Omni panel seems to be set up to easily control x10 devices. It has simple pulldown menus to select x10 light levels and times or events to go on or off.

I just wrote a long resonse on how exactly I am trying to make this work (now deleted), then read the thread from the link above. I am doing exactly what one person described as the 3rd option of interfacing, using pro-link. I feel much more confident it will work at this point. Good explination on the subject.
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post #14 of 20 Old 06-03-2004, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm tempted to at least TRY the X-10 integration stuff with the HAI controller. Is it REALLY that unreliable? The cost is far lower than the Radio RA approach, so I may just try it out. If it's too unreliable, I'll sell the pieces on ebay and upgrade :)

Steve

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post #15 of 20 Old 06-04-2004, 04:04 AM
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The other thread really does a good job of explaining it.

The X-10 stuff definitely has it's place (they call it hobbyist level for a reason). If you're willing to spend the time you can probably make it work. It's that "probably" that keeps me away. As I get older (pushing 40)I've realized that I'm much happier when I chose the option I know will work the first time. (Sorry to get all philosophical).

I would challenge you on the cost. My perception is that the X-10 stuff can add up if you want a solid system. You start buying power conditioning, filters etc. it kind of nickle and dimes you, not to mention the time required.

I bet someone will jump in on X-10 vs Radio Ra. I imagine that horse has been beaten pretty good around here.
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post #16 of 20 Old 06-04-2004, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by stevejenkins
I'm tempted to at least TRY the X-10 integration stuff with the HAI controller. Is it REALLY that unreliable? The cost is far lower than the Radio RA approach, so I may just try it out. If it's too unreliable, I'll sell the pieces on ebay and upgrade :)

Steve
If you do go with X-10, I would suggest using the higher end switches and using a repeater/coupler. I just pulled all of my PCS smartswitches and other X-10 devices in exchange for the Lutron wireless Homeworks.

JOE
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post #17 of 20 Old 06-06-2004, 06:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Cool - I'm PM-ing Joe to see if I can provide a new home for his old stuff...

In the meantime, got another question. I just got back from a trip to the cabin to spec out all the alarm contact areas, and I discovered that the fire alarms in use are all interconnected. They are Firex brand, and the number on them says "120-5388." I'm assuming the 120 means 120V (they are hard wired) and the 5388 is the model number. I think the house was built in 1997, which may be to old to find any info about that model with Google, as I'm not getting any good search hits.

The detectors are three wire (black for hot, while for neutral, and yellow for interconnect). Does anyone know if there is a way to connect the yellow wire to an HAI Omni system so that if the detectors go the systems knows about it?

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post #18 of 20 Old 06-07-2004, 04:06 AM
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I dont think so. I could be wrong but I think you either need 2 or 4 wire smoke detectors. Additionally, some installers recommend updating your smoke detectors every 5 or so years with new models.

JOE
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post #19 of 20 Old 06-07-2004, 08:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Hehe.. of COURSE some installers recommend that. That way, they can sell you something new every 5 years :)

Seriously, tho - it sounds like a good idea. Are there wireless smoke detectors that can be monitored by the HAI Omni system? I don't think I'll be able to run wires from their current locations. Those pesky logs are so much harder to patch than drywall. :)

Also, I've decided to go with the nicer X10 switches (NOT the X10 brand, but PCS and/or stuff like it), and I'm wondering what people's experience has been with wireless alarm sensors. Any to steer clear of? Any you have had good experiences with?

Thanks to all who have been pitching in with ideas and feedback. That's what makes this BBS so great. Please keep it coming!

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post #20 of 20 Old 06-07-2004, 08:47 AM
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After a little research I found out it is suggested that they near the end of their life after 10 years


"Smoke detectors that are 10 years old are near the end of their service life and should be replaced. A smoke detector constantly monitors the air 24 hours a day. At the end of 10 years, it has gone through over 3.5 million monitoring cycles. After this much use, components may become less reliable. This means that as the detector gets older, the potential of failing to detect a fire increases. Replacing them after 10 years reduces this possibility"

Yes, I have a wireless smoke detector talking to my HAI OMni. It is a standard X-10 smoke detector running a 2 9 volt batteries.

I have been using the same wireless trasmitters on my doors and windows for more than 3 years. I only recently replaced some batteries. I use the Caddx transmitters, but I think HAI has there own wireless transmitters now. YOu might want to check with homeauto.com on the best compatibility.

Quote:
Originally posted by stevejenkins
Hehe.. of COURSE some installers recommend that. That way, they can sell you something new every 5 years :)

Seriously, tho - it sounds like a good idea. Are there wireless smoke detectors that can be monitored by the HAI Omni system? I don't think I'll be able to run wires from

Also, I've decided to go with the nicer X10 switches (NOT the X10 brand, but PCS and/or stuff like it), and I'm wondering what people's experience has been with wireless alarm sensors. Any to steer clear of? Any you have had good experiences with?

Thanks to all who have been pitching in with ideas and feedback. That's what makes this BBS so great. Please keep it coming!

JOE
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