Originally Posted by rtbatch
Folks, great, great discussion. My number one design criterion is reliability. My philosophy is my home must function electrically if my HA goes off line. I am installing a transfer switch and a modest sized generator.
Therefore, I'm looking for "kick the plug" reliability - and IMHO, that should be intrinsic to HA as "table stakes," and not something that should be custom engineered in at great cost. If power's on / restored it should start / restart. If the HA doesn't start / reset, the house should function.
You can hope all you want here, but the reality is that bringing what can be hundreds of individual devices from tens of manufacturers back to an operational 'ready' state after a power failure requires a custom engineered solution. This is of course dependent upon the system's complexity, but you will not find any plug-n-play, turnkey HA solutions of even moderate size.
My second criterion is the finished system controllers must be usable by an 8 year old. No, I don't expect someone that age to customize / tweak the set-up but he / she should be able to run any av config or turn on any lights an adult can. No robo house for me, or future buyers ;-)
You're going to have to decide between two conflicting ideologies here: Ease of use + 100% reliability or low cost--you will not find both together. This is particularly important when it comes to resale value.
If something can't be done via Cat6, then it needs to be re-engineered. I can accept 2 Cat6 runs for Component as an interim measure until IP home video distribution grows up. Any comments on that technology?
I'm not certain when UTP became a universal, do-it-all cabling standard, but this kind of thinking is unrealistic. For example, you cannot carry significant low-voltage current to end-devices over UTP, especially outside a limited point-to-point topology.
IP video distribution is in its infancy. It will be some time before there are dedicated ICs that can encode high bit-rate content in real time without significant compromise. HDMI version 1.3 has a 10.2Gbit/s bandwidth specification and is a highly protected content pipeline, and Digital Content Protection, LLC would prefer to keep it that way. IMO, the next step is direct to the display, web-based content delivery, but that is a ways off.
Wireless (Z-wave / Zigbee) is that unreliable / interference prone, really? Hard-wired lighting control still feels stone age. Lutron certainly is not worth the premium. Proprietary, plus pure price gouging.
The vast majority of Z-wave and Zigbee devices operate within the 2.4GHz unlicensed ISM band, not exactly an area of the RF spectrum which could be considered uncluttered and interference-free.
Hard-wired = "stone age?" This is dangerous thinking for someone where reliability is priority one, and it will burn you down the road. Which is more reliable, Ethernet (802.3) or WiFi (802.11)? Why are the critical trans- and inter-continental SONET/SDH communications links over fiber optic cables and not SatCom/Microwave/Other RF? Cost, bandwidth, and reliability
I find it rather odd that you despise "proprietary, price gouging technology" after showing so much admiration for Apple. I can say, however, that every well-engineered, hard-wired Lutron Homeworks system I've worked with has had 100.00% operational uptime, something not even Google can claim. You can whine about price premiums and value-cost till your heart's content, but I assure you that you'll whine even more when your lighting system malfunctions. Lutron carries a premium cost for a reason, and along with Crestron and Vantage are the only lighting systems that can be considered consistent value-adding investments rather than something you'll be forced to take with you after resale.
I do really enjoy electrical work, so this will be a pleasure. when it's not a pain in the butt.
By the way, I'm not a Mac bigot. I just consider Microsoft to be the GM of software. Even with their stumble, I'll take Toyota (actually Lexus) any day. I could have chosen BMW or Mercedes, but the Lexus quality / TCO is better.
Not that I care, but require Apple's OS X to have the universal hardware support and backward compatibility of Windows and then we'll call it an even fight.
So, what's the Toyota of HA?
Apples to oranges comparison, akin to asking in what factory your house was made. Best I can do, and this is by no means all-inclusive:
Lutron/Crestron = Lexus/Toyota
Z-Wave/Zigbee = Kit Car