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How to get started with Home Automation - Lighting, Thermostat, Locks, Cameras, maybe more.

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
An internet search for Home Automation brings up many results, but little in the way of useful guides. I understand that the simple concept is greatly complicated by the different technologies and numerous manufacturers. After countless pages of spam under the disguise of how-to's or guides and many home automation outlet store pages, I've come here hoping my fellow forum members can get me on the right track.

What I want to do now:
  • I want to be able to control lights, including automated scenes for when I'm away.
  • I want to be able to remotely control my home thermostat and program different profiles.
  • I want to be able to remotely view my door lock status and lock/unlock remotely.
  • I want to be able to view a couple of cameras, perhaps one in and one outside the home.

What I may want to do in the future:
  • Develop a deeper home security level by adding motion sensors, a dialer, and recording video feeds.
  • Expand control to other areas like irrigation.
  • Learn about other things people are doing and have found beneficial.

Which Format? I'm open to suggestions, but I'm leaning towards z-wave because of the wireless capability, number of products and manufacturers, more current than x10, and home user pricing looks to be lower than some others. If you have any thoughts on why z-wave is the way to go or why it isn't, I'd love to hear them.

Controller - I guess it all starts here, but this is where I get lost! I'm leaning towards a physical controller unit, even though I have several computers laying around. The idea of having a physical interface appeals to me for ease of use and from what I've read, any computer would have to be on 24/7 to keep the home automation network up, right? I would like to be able to interface remotely via smart phone and/or computer.

Thermostat - This looks to be the most complicated item - so many out there, talk of c-wires, Wi-Fi vs RF, compatibility and programming issues. Any advice here is greatly appreciated.

Door Locks - Schlage seems like the most popular choice here, but I've read good things about the Yale unit and my home is currently outfitted with Kwikset locks.

Lighting controllers - These look much simpler and I may combine straight up outlet replacements with wall-wart style plug ins. Any recommended brands or features I should look for?

Cameras - Another instance of so many options and manufacturers. Any recommendations on quality cameras and what to look for as far as resolution, frame rate, etc would be helpful. Zoom/Pan/Tilt might be something to consider, but they do get pricey. For now, any outdoor camera would need to be wireless and even then I have to find a way to get power to it.



Thanks for taking the time to look this over. I look forward to your feedback.
post #2 of 8
What a lot of our customers do is a hybrid system, with something like an Elk M1 or HAI Omni controller as the foundation for security, lighting, and HVAC, and then they layer a product like our CQC controller over that to hook it all together, to provide the sexy touch screens, media managerment, home theater control, weather info, etc... The stuff hooked up to the Elk or Omni is also accessible to CQC, so it can deal with those things, in addition to the things that the Elk or Omni can't understand.

Although it does require a 'computer', it can be pretty small, depending on how many touch screen clients you have, and isn't resource consumptive. It just goes in the closet, typically only accessed (other than by the touch screen clients) via RDP for maintenance, though it can have a local small display for local maintenance where that's required.
post #3 of 8
Perfect answer up above. I like HAI it is robust and cheap to get started with and is powerful. I woudl say your Home automation systems go Elk>HAI>control4>savant/crestron.
post #4 of 8
I would look into a software called "ECS software" Stands for Event control system. This software will control anything you want.

Its very easy to program, you don't have to be too much smarter then a 5th grader. Im controlling my HVAC , some lights, thermostat,sprinklers,door lock(kwikset deadbolt),motion sensors, door sensors, lots of temp and humidity sensors, CO2 and air quality sensors,Weather station, and a Brultech energy monitor.

On my HVAC system I calculate Tons/hour, Gallons/hour that is being removed from the air, Dewpoint in all the rooms, Open outside air damper when the CO2 gets to high inside the house.

With the door lock you can lock,unlock,disable the keypad, program entry codes, log who locks and unlocks the door and when, and if its upened with a key or the keypad, tells you if the deadbolt fails to lock, notifies you if someone enters the wrong code three times in a row, reports battery level.

Everything in the system can be controlled by a smart phone or any computer with internet.
post #5 of 8
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
I looked at HAI and it looks like they are geared towards contractors/installers (when I clicked "consumer", it linked me to nearby installers).

How about some DIY stuff in the likes of mi casa verde? If not them, any other recommendations for a part geek DIYer?
post #7 of 8
I am pretty sure the HAI website has three options for purchase: homeowner looking for a contractor, a contractor looking for a supplier, and a DIY option for homewoners looking for retailers who provide support, etc.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogereater View Post

I am pretty sure the HAI website has three options for purchase: homeowner looking for a contractor, a contractor looking for a supplier, and a DIY option for homewoners looking for retailers who provide support, etc.

You're correct... I just clicked on the "first correct answer", ignoring all that my teachers told me about reading all the answers first.

The DIY'er link points you to a few resellers and you can download product manuals, etc.
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