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New home automation suggestions

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Alright, they're just breaking ground on our new place so it's about time that I start making some decisions in regards to automation and wiring. I couldn't really decide on which forum to post this in, but decided I'd post in automation. The floor plan of the place can be found at http://vallagio.com/expressive_homes...s/unit_2_1.pdf . That floor plan isn't exactly right. The only thing that is different is that the basement is going to be one big open room (will be finished, but no bedroom, etc). I am thinking that we will use part of it to build a separate home theater, but that's not too important, I think.

Here's what I would like to accomplish (I already have some ideas, but am definitely open for suggestions). Whole home automation, as in security, lights, audio, and video. I have a lot of computer/programming experience so it appears that CQC would be very good for this (it's too bad crestron/amx aren't open, but thats a different thing altogether). As for locations for panels, I'm not really sure yet... suggestions here would be great. Wall mountable panels that can be removed seem like a pretty good option.

There's a few things that are already going to be implemented in the place, but I wouldn't have a problem pulling them out if it was necessary. The HVAC is a Carrier infinity system. It does have RS232 control capability so I figure I could write a driver for that. Also, the security system that they can install (if I wanted) is a GE system. I'm not sure on specifics, but I do think it would be nice to have them do all the door/window sensors and motion detectors. I assume then that I could wire them in to something like the Elk M1 panel. With this I could do stuff like turning the HVAC off if a door or window is open for more than a certain period of time, etc.

In regards to whole home audio I was thinking either Russound, Nuvo, or Niles. Really, I don't want separate keypads for audio, so something that has capability to be fully controlled by CQC would be nice. I will probably decide on a brand/range of speakers for WHA before hand and have brackets installed (unless there is a reason not to).

It would be nice to be able to centrally locate all of the video equipment in a rack. The Audio Authority Avatrix looks pretty promising for this sort of thing. But then again I could just do a matrix switch. Of course either one of these requires different prewiring, thats why I'm asking for some opinions now. Also it would be nice to have centralized access to DVD's. The klaeidescape system appears to be the best, but are there any other options which are pretty good for this sort of thing? Klaeidescape is definitely not cheap.

This is starting to get quite long hah... Anyways, for the lights I was looking at some of the RF systems. Lutron RadioRA, and then the Zwave system from Leviton. I know theres quite a few more options... any suggestions here?

I think that pretty much covers everything... not as brief as I was hoping, but that should be it. Any other suggestions for fun things are definitely welcome. I just need to figure out what the plan is now so that I can get a prewire plan in place. Especially in regards to the WHA, Video, Security, and keypads. Thanks for any feedback.
post #2 of 28
Not sure if there's any actual questions in there, here's some things that jumped out:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RRichmond View Post

In regards to whole home audio I was thinking either Russound, Nuvo, or Niles. Really, I don't want separate keypads for audio, so something that has capability to be fully controlled by CQC would be nice. I will probably decide on a brand/range of speakers for WHA before hand and have brackets installed (unless there is a reason not to).

I used to think the same thing, but prices on touchscreens, plus speed of usage got to be an issue. I put up keypads in 2nd tier locations where I couldn't justify a touchscreen (ie, bathrooms, breakfast nook) so I could quickly turn on the speakers, select a source, adjust volume. I also jury-rigged a lightswitch outside on the patio in a weatherproof enclosure, and hooked it up to an Elk zone. CQC monitors it, and flipping it automatically turns it on, sets the volume, sets source to XM channel 20. Flipping it again turns it off. It's a nice cheap way to accomplish external control. You may want to run at least a CAT5 to an external location in case you want to keep options open like that.

Quote:


Also it would be nice to have centralized access to DVD's. The klaeidescape system appears to be the best, but are there any other options which are pretty good for this sort of thing? Klaeidescape is definitely not cheap.

Sure, I use a Sony 777ES DVDmegachanger that's serial controllable that I got for $400, and ripped DVDs for other stuff.

Quote:


This is starting to get quite long hah... Anyways, for the lights I was looking at some of the RF systems. Lutron RadioRA, and then the Zwave system from Leviton. I know theres quite a few more options... any suggestions here?

I personally use zWave, works ok at the right density. RadioRA is clearly a step up, Homeworks even more so. Get the nicest system you can afford.
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
It is kind of lacking on direct questions. I got so wrapped up in giving some background information that all of the questions sort of disappeared.

Does all of the stuff that I listed above seem like it would work pretty well?

What would be the advantage to something like HomeWorks? It appears as though it is meant to be a standalone lighting system. Couldn't I do all the same stuff with RadioRA for a lot cheaper?

I like the idea of the light switch on the patio, that's definitely a good option. Also that is a good point on the WHA control.

What would everyone suggest in regards to video distribution? I need to decide what wiring to put in each room.

Also what about integrating the in wall speakers used for WHA with the video. This is where it appears to get a little trickier. As the control of such a system becomes a good amount more complex. Especially when using keypads from the WHA in certain places instead of touch panels. Any thoughts on how to do this, because it would be dependent on both the video and WHA options I go with.
post #4 of 28
Clearly go with RadioRA over Z-Wave if that's within your budget and you need wireless.
post #5 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RRichmond View Post

What would be the advantage to something like HomeWorks? It appears as though it is meant to be a standalone lighting system. Couldn't I do all the same stuff with RadioRA for a lot cheaper?

A lot depend on how many loads you want to control. Once you get over RadioRA's limit of 32, you need to add a Chronos. At that point, the price between RadioRA and Homeworks begin to converge, but not meet.

Homeworks allows any number of buttons on a keypad where with RadioRA you are limited to either a 2 button or a 5-button with R/L.

If you just want to do a few loads, then RadioRA is the way to go but if you are doing an whole house, then Homeworks is the way to go.
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
Wireless is definitely what I am looking for, as the builder won't install a wired system. In reality I don't know what kind of money we're talking for a lighting system like this. Looking at the floor plan, is there any possibility someone could give me a ballpark? Though, I am mostly interested in doing everything right, but sure don't want to spend more than is needed.
post #7 of 28
how many switches? RadioRA costs much more because it should cost much more - more reliable Those switches are ~$200 or more each. zWave switches are around $35-$40/each.

Biggest difference I would note is that RadioRA can have multiple repeaters to get the signal where it needs to go, in order to increase reliability. zWave is a mesh network, where each device is a repeater. This means you could go through multiple hops to get where you need to go, take longer, etc.
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVB View Post

Those switches are ~$200 or more each. .

You can find RadioRA dimmers online for about $150, keypads for $340 and a repeater for $300.

For a top of the line lighting system for a whole house, count on $4-6 a square foot on top of sparky.

One nice thing about RadioRA is that you can get the regular matching Lutron dimmers/switches for around $30-40 so it all looks the same which can be very important to the decorator police.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Alright so it looks like for RadioRA I would need an RS232 control (about $500). Then I would need dimmers/switches (call those $150 each). Say about 30 switches/dimmers... Looks like for the lighting were talking about 5-6k (without master controls). Which actually is an interesting question. Is it worth getting controls when the system is going to be controlled by a separate automation system?

Zwave we're probably talking 2k. How long are we talking on the delay of turning the lights off? I can't imagine it being more than ~1 second or so. I do understand that a Lutron system is the best, but I guess I'm just trying to justify another $3000-$4000, if not more. I suppose if a Zwave system is going to have reliability issues that answers my question. IVB, or anyone who has one for that matter, have you ever had any reliability issues?
post #10 of 28
The delay you'll see is primarily having CQC notice that a light was turned off manually, that could be 5-7s on larger installs. For outbound calls, i've occasionally noticed 1.5s delays, but usually more like 1s or less. In the grand scheme of things "very acceptable" for the ROI.

I had reliability issues with zWave until I:
1) Beefed up the mesh. Took me about 12 switches in a 1650 sqft wireless unfriendly house
2) CQC beefed up the error correction on the zWave driver to accomodate for hostile environments. I still have issues now/again with the manual controller, but almost never with CQC. I say almost because I've only had it installed for 3-4 months, too new for any long-term predictions. But, it's very very rare that CQC misses a beat, I think it happened once 2-3 weeks ago but can't quite remember details.

Also, how are you pricing it at $2K? I bought Intermatic switches from automatedoulet.com, those are $39 each, plus you'll need a USB stick and a master controller for about $100.At 30 switches, that's $1300 assuming you don't catch one of the AO 10% sales (or call them for the CQC discount - currently 10% off until end of may for CQC'ers). Now you're down to $1150.

For me personally, I decided that I was going to stick with zWave until I gut & remodel the house (2 years), at which point I will rip it all out and put in hardwired Homeworks connections so there are zero questions about anything. I didn't see the point of half-measures like RadioRA.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RRichmond View Post

Alright so it looks like for RadioRA I would need an RS232 control (about $500).......Looks like for the lighting were talking about 5-6k (without master controls). Which actually is an interesting question. Is it worth getting controls when the system is going to be controlled by a separate automation system?

Keep in mind the Chronos (controller) has a RS-232 port and acts as a repeater. So if you only need one repeater in your setup, for a couple hundred $ more you should go with the Chronos($1200) over a separate repeater and RS-232 port.

Before I decided to do a full Homeworks Wireless system, I did my dining room in RadioRA and it is a great product. I just wanted the more robust options of the Homeworks system.
post #12 of 28
I have Lutron's Grafik Eye in part of the house and Radio Ra in another part. Just beginning to play with it all as our remodel is nearly complete. One thing I notice is that my Universal Remote will control the Grafik Eye, but not the Radio Ra. Althought the remote sends RF to its own distribution controller to convert to IR, as well as an IR signal, it cannot learn RF, only IR. I am not certain about other remote's capabilities though. If they are all like this, then I would need 2 remotes, one for Radio RA and one for everything else.

I would also suggest that you find an installer/electrician who has experience with Lutron and is very up to date on it's capabilities and how to get the most out of the system. Stay away from old school electricians. They have NO IDEA how to do this stuff.
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Alright, I think I have a pretty good handle on the lighting options.

Is there any specific window/door sensors that are required for say, the elk M1 panel? The reason I ask is that they will wire a security system for me, but it would be unnecessary if the sensors won't work. Can the M1 act as a regular security system, as in have a company monitor it? Also, I assume it is a good idea to have at least one of the Elk Specific keypads to control security, is this correct? I would prefer the minimum amount of stuff on the walls (light switches, WHA controls, Automation controls, security controls, etc). The decorator police wouldn't be happy with all kinds of stuff on the walls.

In regards to keypads for the control system, what does everyone think is a good number and locations? Any specific models that you think are good. I'm pretty new to all this and have never done such a thing, so I really have no idea where to begin? My thought is maybe all wireless to avoid wall clutter.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RRichmond View Post

Alright, I think I have a pretty good handle on the lighting options.

Is there any specific window/door sensors that are required for say, the elk M1 panel?

If you look at the automatedoutlet.com site, you'll see all the options for door/window. A regular wired door/window for any system is typically just a magnetic closure, so that'll work just fine.

Quote:


The reason I ask is that they will wire a security system for me, but it would be unnecessary if the sensors won't work. Can the M1 act as a regular security system, as in have a company monitor it?

Sure, but which company? I.E., I don't think ADT would monitor an Elk install - they'd want their own stuff in there. I went with nextalarm.com for my monitoring.

Also, as long as they pull the right wire which is the hard part, you could put in your own $20 motion sensor easily enough.
Quote:


Also, I assume it is a good idea to have at least one of the Elk Specific keypads to control security, is this correct? I would prefer the minimum amount of stuff on the walls (light switches, WHA controls, Automation controls, security controls, etc). The decorator police wouldn't be happy with all kinds of stuff on the walls.

Yep, I'd advise to have one at each major entry/exit point. That way you can arm/disarm, even if you come home and there was a power surge that took out your PC.
Quote:


In regards to keypads for the control system, what does everyone think is a good number and locations? Any specific models that you think are good. I'm pretty new to all this and have never done such a thing, so I really have no idea where to begin? My thought is maybe all wireless to avoid wall clutter.

By "control system", do you mean the CQC/HA setup, or the Security? Regardless, here's what I did:

points of entry/exit: Elk Keypad

HomeTheater: None. I use the HTPC directly against the plasma, and use an MX850 or bluetooth mouse to navigate. The PC is in the next room, but the bluetooth mouse works fine and is commonly accepted even by the non-techies. I personally dislike touchscreens while i'm watching TV/DVD.

Primary rooms (kitchen, MBR): Fujitsu 3400 touchpanel pc. Wallmounted in kitchen, docked for MBR

2ndary rooms (bathrooms, breakfast nook, office): Either a PC or Concerto Keypad
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Alright, I think I've pretty much figured out what I'll do. Just to sum it up in case anyone else reads this thread.

- Use an Elk Panel for security
- Put elk Keypads at front door and garage entry
- Get some type of Wireless lighting system (Most likely Lutron RadioRA)
- Get a whole home audio system (Most likely either Niles ICS, or Nuvo Concerto)
- Put WHA keypads in all zones so that control of the system is simple
- Use CQC to automate lighting, security, HVAC (Carrier Infinity), WHA, and the basic home theater in the family room and MBR.
- In kitchen/living room and MBR use portable touch screen PC's for control (Possibly Samsung Q1 or Viewsonic). Create interfaces to control televisions, receivers, video sources, etc in these two rooms. To actually be able to control the devices in these rooms I will use something like the Global Cache gc-100, which allows me to connect IR/serial control to the CQC PC over the network. This way I won't have a bunch of remote controls in these rooms, only the touch panels and WHA keypads.
- In other areas (Loft, bedrooms, etc) use the in room PCs for Automation control. Television will be controlled by their own remotes and WHA can be controlled by either the automation software on the PC or by the WHA keypad. CQC will not control television in these rooms, as it will only be a television, and possibly a cable box. I can get touch panels for these rooms later, if desired.

Thanks for all of the help everyone. If theres anything I should change/add just tell me.
post #16 of 28
If you're using a PC for TV DVR, you could always use the $100 (for SDTV) MediaMVP's in those 2ndary loft/etc rooms. That way you can at least gain access to your recorded TV/ripped DVD library.

Plus the SageTV driver writer is currently researching whether he can control the MediaMVP remotely. The SageTV guys think he should be able to, but he's still trying to understand if/how. Not sure what he'll be able to do or how it'll help how, but it can only add value.
post #17 of 28
I would check and make sure that the Carrier Infinity is really the HVAC control system you want, and become familiar with its limitations when it comes to home automation.

That brings up another question, Has anyone integrated CQC and the Infinity already?

jcmitch
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
There isn't much of a choice it seems when it comes to hvac. Also, the infinity system is very nice. That being said I probably am going to have to write a driver for it.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcm View Post

I would check and make sure that the Carrier Infinity is really the HVAC control system you want, and become familiar with its limitations when it comes to home automation.

That brings up another question, Has anyone integrated CQC and the Infinity already?

jcmitch

I'm 99.9% sure no one has. My Carrier Infinity thermo didn't have RS232 capabilities and at the time carrier didn't seem to make an RS232 thermo so I replaced it with the Aprilaire 8870.
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
They make something now called the System Access Module (SAM) which has an RS-232 port on it. The protocol is also open. I had found the information on it, but can't seem to right now. I'm going to call Carrier this afternoon to get it. I'll post it once I have it to get some opinions on how hard this is going to be.
post #21 of 28
AFAIK,

"Open" is a relative term w/ Carrier, the protocol can be difficult to obtain. Feedback is not event driven, it must be polled for data. Each data point must be polled separately. Too much traffic causes commands and requests to be ignored. Polling respnse time is 1 second per request. The control set is quite limited.

Fun stuff.

jcmitch
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RRichmond View Post

There isn't much of a choice it seems when it comes to hvac. Also, the infinity system is very nice. That being said I probably am going to have to write a driver for it.

Why is there not much choice? It took me all of 15mins to take out my Carrier Thermo and put the Aprilaire in, and control my Infinity furnace.

Not trying to talk you out of it, just making sure you realize there's an easier path.
post #23 of 28
Aprilaire cannot always be substituted. My HVAC guy tells me its because of the proportional dampers and humidity control, but there may be some other reasons.

jcmitch
post #24 of 28
Thread Starter 
Well they are going to install a full carrier infinity system. My assumption was that Aprilaire wouldn't be able to control all of the separate zones, humidity, etc.
post #25 of 28
Oh, as in more than just a thermo, but also remote sensors/etc?

I just had a thermo in my install.
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcm View Post

Aprilaire cannot always be substituted. My HVAC guy tells me its because of the proportional dampers and humidity control, but there may be some other reasons.

jcmitch

I don't know the all the details of your HVAC system, but I know that Aprilaire won't work with my system either. I have a modulating furnace and I'm not aware of any third-party communicating thermostats that will work with this type of system. It provides great comfort so I'm going to live with it not being part of my HA setup.
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RRichmond View Post

They make something now called the System Access Module (SAM) which has an RS-232 port on it. The protocol is also open. I had found the information on it, but can't seem to right now. I'm going to call Carrier this afternoon to get it. I'll post it once I have it to get some opinions on how hard this is going to be.

Please post what you find out about this.
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm working on trying to get the protocol documentation right now. Jcm was definitely right, this isn't easy to obtain.

*EDIT*
Just talked to the carrier dealer who actually called carrier. Carrier is going to e-mail it to him and then to me. I'll post it when I have it.
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