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Best value option for A/V and Automation in a condo? Control 4 with some receiver control app ?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I am renovating a new condo that I am moving to, and I like to do A/V dist and lighting automation but do it with minimal cost. Here's what I am thinking of equipment:

- Pioneer Elite SC-67 as main Receiver. It has its own app for input control.
- 5.1 wired to Receiver
- Second Zone wired to Receiver via Sonos! (Sonos takes singal from Receiver, sends to 2 Play 1 speakers)
- Third Zone via Sonos, but NOT wired to Receiver (so would only play Sonos apps stuff)
- Air Play
- HD Box connected to Receiver
- Blu-ray
- 6 lights controlled via Control4 modules?
- Control 4 center console (not sure which model)
- 1 iPad mini in Kitchen to control: Receiver, Sonos, Control 4?
- 1 iPod Touch in entrance to control Receiver, Sonos, Control4
- 1 Harmony remote for extra control

Now, this is a bit of a hack job I guess... as I wanna skip a big control 4 controller purchase and use supplied free apps on Pioneer and Sonos to do some of the controls, and then use Control 4 primarily for lighting... I am just not so sure how they all could nicely integrate together and be wife friendly in terms of use.

Any other ideas, or suggestions are welcome.
post #2 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexb76 View Post

...they all could nicely integrate together and be wife friendly in terms of use...

And that's why you spend money on Control4, Savant, AMX, or Crestron (or the host of others).

Another option could be any of the app based remotes out there, but some people hate channel surfing with a touchscreen remote. And you have to set it up yourself
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks,with C4, can I just by the components on eBay, program it myself, and then use an iPad for controlling it? Like if I got HC-250, and a few light fixtures... is that DIY that way?
post #4 of 26
Control4 is not really DIY friendly, at least not at the start.

You can buy components on ebay or forums, but you need a dealer to install it on your "project". Once the hardware is installed, you can program it on your own. The software is called Composer. The version dealers have allow them to add hardware to your "project". The version you can buy from a dealer (I think its $100) allows you to do all the programming you want, you just cannot add hardware. So if a dealer sets up your project with 6 lights, you can program them however you want. In 2 months, you want 4 new lights, regardless of where you buy them, you need the dealer to add the new light switches to the project. Want to add sonos hardware, need a dealer. Want to program sonos, you can do that on your own.

There are remote dealers that can sell you hardware, remotely tap in and program your system and project, or you can deal with a local dealer. There are pros and cons to each way you go - I went with a local dealer myself.

People sometimes knock the dealer mode, it has its pros and cons too, but if you are looking for wife acceptance factor, sometimes its better to pay someone to do the work, so if something goes wrong, she cant point the finger at you :-)
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks... so do you think if I started just buying the equipment myself on eBay and got all the HW that I needed, is it then possible to just call up a dealer and have them come, install, and program it? or that's not allowed? or dealers wouldn't entertain that since it eats into their profit?
post #6 of 26
It eats into the local dealers profits. There are online programmers who can assist you. Visit the control4 user forms and post in the "find a dealer" section. You may find a local willing to work with you or find a remote guy who can support you over the internet. If I were a local dealer, I may not turn up my nose, hoping to forge a relationship to maybe earn your business for the next wave of your installation. I decided to use a local installer, I paid a bit more, but I also had a ton of wiring that needed to be done (HVAC, lighting, AV wiring, ethernet runs, etc) and there was no way I could tackle it all.
post #7 of 26
It's not just that it "eats into our profits". You buy protected equipment like C4 on eBay and I come program it--what happens when something doesn't work right? I shrug my shoulders & say I didn't provide this gear; meanwhile you argue that you paid me to make it work right. It's a recipe for disaster. I wouldn't even consider getting involved in a situation like that.
post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cshepard View Post

It's not just that it "eats into our profits". You buy protected equipment like C4 on eBay and I come program it--what happens when something doesn't work right? I shrug my shoulders & say I didn't provide this gear; meanwhile you argue that you paid me to make it work right. It's a recipe for disaster. I wouldn't even consider getting involved in a situation like that.

This is what the installer told me today, he said he wouldn't do it.

Hmm, even if I could get just the controller cheaper, that'd be a big help, or get the switches brand new at discount somewhere?
post #9 of 26
I dont know of a source to get new stuff at a discount. And as cshepard said, if the gear does not work, he does not want liability. Control4 has different versions of its software, I think they are up to 2.5.2 now or something. If you got switches from say a 1.7.x project, it would not work or give the installer fits.

Cannot say there is a right or wrong answer, if you want to get it done, you can get it done. Personally, I like a local installer, rather talk/see someone, let them come over and get the job done, show me other products, discuss new software or hardware releases, someone who knows best practices, etc. I used to be a DIY kinda guy but as I've gotten older, I do not want to have to worry and research and tweak a system that is running my entire house (I have HVAC, security, lighting and A/V running through Control4).
post #10 of 26
Your other option, use Sonos to distribute audio and look at Lutron Radio RA, I know there are places out there where if you buy enough Lutron equipment they will get you signed up for the software to program it. Control 4 is not in anyway a DIY solution.

I know in the past I have turned down multiple jobs that the client had gotten hardware from somewhere else and wanted me to program. Its just a headache, you never know what condition the equipment is in, what version of composer or zigbee the stuff is running and what should just be a simple programming job turns into a huge headache of upgrading light switches and troubleshooting defective equipment.

If your controller or a light switch is bad who is responsible to make it work and who's fault is it in the first place. If I sold you a switch and it was bad, I can exchange it for you and deal with C4 to get the product replaced. If you end up with some gray market stuff and I swap it, its going to be headache for me.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewaves View Post

Your other option, use Sonos to distribute audio and look at Lutron Radio RA, I know there are places out there where if you buy enough Lutron equipment they will get you signed up for the software to program it. Control 4 is not in anyway a DIY solution.

I know in the past I have turned down multiple jobs that the client had gotten hardware from somewhere else and wanted me to program. Its just a headache, you never know what condition the equipment is in, what version of composer or zigbee the stuff is running and what should just be a simple programming job turns into a huge headache of upgrading light switches and troubleshooting defective equipment.

If your controller or a light switch is bad who is responsible to make it work and who's fault is it in the first place. If I sold you a switch and it was bad, I can exchange it for you and deal with C4 to get the product replaced. If you end up with some gray market stuff and I swap it, its going to be headache for me.

Thanks, I wish you guys or C4 was a bit more reasonable, specially for renovation projects where a few thousands is a lot harder to swallow than a new build, it would probably bring more customers in. ANYONE I've talked to, says, oh, automation... that's thousands upon thousands and many don't even bother looking... I am also in Canada, and priced quoted here are much higher for some reason.

What program or app can control those Lutron? Does it come with an app?

PS. If someone had a brand new HC-800, you wouldn't use that for an install? how could it be faulty?
post #12 of 26
Any product could be faulty out of the box, you can walk down to your local store pickup a new anything and it could be bad out of the box. Biggest issue is going to be what version of firmware it has on it, it can seriously take a long time to get the firmware updated so all your equipment is on the same build.

Lutron has their own app, I haven't looked into it a couple of years, I was thinking about doing it in a home I was in and moved so I never started the project.
post #13 of 26
Control4 does not have to cost "thousands upon thousands". An HC 800 + a 6 switches may set you back $3000 if not less (depends on what type of switches, switches or dimmers or dimmer + keypad, etc). For something that simple, someone should not be charging $1,000's to program it. If that is what they want to program it, move on and find another dealer. Sonos can be added to your Control4 set up for the price of a driver (I think about $200-ish) then a few hours of programming. You can add the other stuff when you are ready.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ezlotogura View Post

Control4 does not have to cost "thousands upon thousands". An HC 800 + a 6 switches may set you back $3000 if not less (depends on what type of switches, switches or dimmers or dimmer + keypad, etc). For something that simple, someone should not be charging $1,000's to program it. If that is what they want to program it, move on and find another dealer. Sonos can be added to your Control4 set up for the price of a driver (I think about $200-ish) then a few hours of programming. You can add the other stuff when you are ready.

I was quoted:
$1000 for HC250
$200 for remote
$225 for each C4 Adaptive Dimmer (X 9)
$325 for each C4 Keypad dimmer (X 3)
$1440 for install
$140 for software

Total: $5800+tax=$6500... even if I cut the dimmers to 6, it'd be $5,000+!
post #15 of 26
Well that is 9 switches, not 6 :-) And you added in a remote too. And the software (assuming so you can program at home). And its dimmers and keypad dimmers, which are more expensive than switches. I think I paid about the same for the dimmers, and a bit less (maybe like $50 each) for the keypad dimmers - so not a huge difference. I paid less for the HC250 but more for my remote, pretty much evens out.

I could not tell you about install prices because I had an extensive installation process. Are they installing the light switches too - if not, you'll need to hire an electrician to do that. Programming include any media scenes, modes, LED light changes, etc? There are so many variables. I'd get 2-3 quotes, dont always pick the cheapest one, but the installer you like/trust the most. Ask for referrals or demos of their work. The greatest HA system is garbage if the installer is not a good one and cannot program it well.

You can get less switches now, and add more in the future. It is a very scalable system.

And end of day, if its too much money, you can find a DIY solution too and if you have the knowledge and time to tinker, you can get something up and running as well.
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks... if I started small and added later, wouldn't that AGAIN require installer visit? I can't simply change another keypad and add it to the loop, can I?

DIY... what are the options if any? I haven't been able to find one.

Dimmers... what's the difference between the 4 different models? and is there ANY better looking ones out there? They look really really ugly to me!!!
post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
Anyone knows if the older C4 Dimmers are compatible with the latest Controllers? I see many C4-DIM1-Z, or LDZ-101P10-W, models available on eBay... are they obsolete now?
post #18 of 26
I don't understand why you are looking at Control 4 just for your lighting, and want to use the Pioneer and Sonos apps. Kinda defeats the purpose of spending all that money for Control 4? Maybe I'm misunderstanding you.

If you want automated DIY lighting, look at Insteon with ISY99 or Zwave w/ MiCasaVerde. Insteon dimmers are $50, and the keypads are $80 on Amazon.

I use iRule (which is DIY) for control of 4 rooms with 20+ devices. They have a module for ISY and Zwave, which gives you fancy dimmer graphics with feedback for your lights. They also have a Sonos module.

I use the ISY + Insteon and love it, as it's been rock solid. All of this has a learning curve, but there's tons of info out there for the DIY type. Since you are cost conscious, might be worth looking into.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexb76 View Post

DIY... what are the options if any? I haven't been able to find one.

Right now, I'm doing a DIY install at my house. Doing everything except distributed video.

Using vera lite for the zwave controller (lights, locks, security) HTD Lync for the whole house audio controller, and Roomie Remote to control everything.

Theres other options out there but thats what I'll be doing. Hope to have everything up and running in a few months.
Edited by bdizzle - 2/13/14 at 8:55pm
post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eatenbacktolife View Post

I don't understand why you are looking at Control 4 just for your lighting, and want to use the Pioneer and Sonos apps. Kinda defeats the purpose of spending all that money for Control 4? Maybe I'm misunderstanding you.

If you want automated DIY lighting, look at Insteon with ISY99 or Zwave w/ MiCasaVerde. Insteon dimmers are $50, and the keypads are $80 on Amazon.

I use iRule (which is DIY) for control of 4 rooms with 20+ devices. They have a module for ISY and Zwave, which gives you fancy dimmer graphics with feedback for your lights. They also have a Sonos module.

I use the ISY + Insteon and love it, as it's been rock solid. All of this has a learning curve, but there's tons of info out there for the DIY type. Since you are cost conscious, might be worth looking into.


Well, good question. Maybe I don't need to... my Receiver has an app, Sonos has an app, and I also have a Harmony Remote. I do like the lighting, and thermostat automation, but then again might be using Nest. I am just not aware of any other systems apart from Crestron, and some other expensive solutions.

Can you point me to the direction of ISY, iRule, etc... so I get a better understanding of my options?
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexb76 View Post

Anyone knows if the older C4 Dimmers are compatible with the latest Controllers? I see many C4-DIM1-Z, or LDZ-101P10-W, models available on eBay... are they obsolete now?

Bringing this up again... with some remote programmers available, I can probably get this done within my budget now. The BIGGEST cost seems to be using all of those C4 dimmers around the house at $225 ea. Question is, the older style C4 controllers like this one, http://www.electronichouse.com/slideshow/category/524/93 , can it be used now with the latest HC800 controllers? or do they use a different zigbee system or something that make them obsolete? If not, then maybe I could find these at $100 ea. and cut the costs down.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexb76 View Post

Well, good question. Maybe I don't need to... my Receiver has an app, Sonos has an app, and I also have a Harmony Remote. I do like the lighting, and thermostat automation, but then again might be using Nest. I am just not aware of any other systems apart from Crestron, and some other expensive solutions.

Can you point me to the direction of ISY, iRule, etc... so I get a better understanding of my options?


I wouldn't want to use multiple apps for anything, especially with cheap solutions like iRule or Roomie Remote. There's a giant iRule thread one forum up in the remote control section. Bring a sandwich because it's a huge thread. Also, their support is pretty responsive.

ISY -> https://www.universal-devices.com/

You can check out all the Insteon stuff at smarthome.com

You would need ISY994 and Insteon serial PLM. Then start adding whatever Insteon devices you want. My entire house is Insteon; keypads, dimmers, motion sensors, open/close sensors, etc, for a fraction of what you were quoted for 12 C4 switches.

Zwave is similar to the Insteon stuff, and worth looking at as well.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexb76 View Post

Well, good question. Maybe I don't need to... my Receiver has an app, Sonos has an app, and I also have a Harmony Remote. I do like the lighting, and thermostat automation, but then again might be using Nest. I am just not aware of any other systems apart from Crestron, and some other expensive solutions.

Can you point me to the direction of ISY, iRule, etc... so I get a better understanding of my options?

You can control your nest via a zwave controller like vera lite. Roomie and iRule more than likely can control your avr too.

Check out videos on YouTube to learn more about them.
post #24 of 26
Are you sure about controlling the nest via zwave? Everything I've read read is to the contrary.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexb76 View Post

Bringing this up again... with some remote programmers available, I can probably get this done within my budget now. The BIGGEST cost seems to be using all of those C4 dimmers around the house at $225 ea. Question is, the older style C4 controllers like this one, http://www.electronichouse.com/slideshow/category/524/93 , can it be used now with the latest HC800 controllers? or do they use a different zigbee system or something that make them obsolete? If not, then maybe I could find these at $100 ea. and cut the costs down.

Not sure - I'd go check out the c4 forums and post, or if you've contacted a remote installer for a quote, ask them about the compatibility.

There were some mentions about the Nest on here - they just opened the API and did a press release with Control4 that C4 will be one of the first to release integration with Nest products. So stay tuned on that front - you can get C4 now, Nest now, and integrate down the road
post #26 of 26
Control 4 is definitely not a DIY product. Yet. They want it to be eventually, but most reputable C4 dealers WILL NOT touch equipment that you bought elsewhere. And i doubt C4 would warranty any equipment purchased this way.


Personally, for your needs I would quote something all together different. But based on what you have up there.

Just use Sonos for your audio. You can plug in a Sonos Connect into an input and output on your A/V receiver if you want Cable box audio through your sonos units. For this you just use the SONOS app. Easy peasy. DIY.

For the lighting forget the C4 lighting. there are plenty of DIY lighitng out there. I'm not a fan, but it's out there. If you go Pro a Small Lutron RadioRa2 system would work perfectly. Use their app for that. Install shouldn't be expensive. There Dimmers are $200 and 3way dimmers are $40/$50. Multi-button dimmers are $400. Controller is $600 I think... (or is it $500 or $700... I can't remember right this second.) With the RadioRa2 you can do one dimmer then add more later.

I am not a fan of the harmony remotes but it's a DIY solution to your surround sound control. I use URC remotes myself.


If you want everything fully integrated in one app and the ability to expand later on for things like thermostats, door locks, surveillance cameras, shading, etc you'll want to go with a C4 or similar system. I'm partial to URC's Total Control System over C4 or RTI. But these are all reasonably priced Home Automation Systems. If you want a DIY system, Insteon is available and I'm sure some of the cheaper Mobile App only systems will let you do it yoruself, but they are limited with no hardware available.
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