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post #1 of 26 Old 06-10-2015, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Which Home Automation System?

Hi, new to the forum but I thought I'd sign up as it looks like a great resource.

I've just bought a house and am looking to put a bit of automation into it but am stuck on which system to head towards. My main aims are:

Blind/Shade control
Light and dimmer control
Door Lock
Garage door opening
Motion sensing
Thermostat (probably Nest)
Moisture sensor

And probably a couple of other minor bits I can't think of right now!

Most of the automation will be going into a den that will double up as a cinema area. Ideally I'd like to be able to press one button and have the projector/screen descend, shade close and lights dim. I'd also like to be able to control temperature, lights in other rooms and monitor the detached garage (along with the other bits listed above).

Now looking around there are a number of systems that may be able to do this but most are quite picky of what exactly they talk to. I'll list below what I've looked at and my current issues with each.

Logitech Harmony Home Hub (and controller - not sure which one yet) - Looks like the best option for the AV side of things, also integrates with several other hubs for the lights and shades. (I believe this will work via IR to lower a projector screen?)

Wink - Cheap, seem to have all the automation I need, works with Lutron dimmers, but doesn't work with the Logitech hub.

Smartthings - Cheap, seems to have most of the automation but doesn't work with Lutron dimmers or appear to work with any shades. Works with the Logitech Home Hub.

Lutron Caseta - Works with Lutron dimmers and the Logitech Home hub but doesn't do much other than Lutron Switches and Shades.

Insteon - The dark horse here - I don't know too much about this yet. Switches look nice (do they support LED?) and I can also integrate keypads. Doesn't appear to support connections to the Logitech Hub?

Other points to consider are that all bulbs controlled will be LED and I would like an element of ITTT. I also want to be able to install myself without too much hassle (I have a home to renovate), the system to have a good (and attractive) app, and the whole system to not cost significant sums.

I'm also looking to add a few Sonos Connect:Amps which I think work with most of the above?

Apologies for the long first post! There are a lot of choices but none are "perfect", I'm wondering if i'm missing something or if there are other benefits/negatives to them for the uses I would like.

Thanks
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post #2 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 01:38 AM
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look into Hue, has ITTT support. I just picked some up, i'm having some cxn issues but much much simpler to set up than many other systems. I've spent a ton on zWave, but Hue is certainly the much easier option. Plus the cloud support is key.

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post #3 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 07:50 AM
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You want too much You have to sacrifice something, it can't be cheap, good and easy to install.

Wink is cheap, but terribly unreliable, and has a slow and buggy app.

Insteon is better, but the app does not show actual device and scene status. Scenes are better than wink's but not as good as Lutron's.

Lutron, especially RA2, is better at everything, but it is certainly isn't cheap.
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post #4 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by IVB View Post
look into Hue, has ITTT support. I just picked some up, i'm having some cxn issues but much much simpler to set up than many other systems. I've spent a ton on zWave, but Hue is certainly the much easier option. Plus the cloud support is key.
Hey I just started looking into this myself and I think the 3 biggest questions you need to ask yourself before you go any further are

A) How much of a hands on experience do you want, do you want to do some work, no work, or all the work yourself?

B) The you want to control everything form one app or from several different app.

C) How wired is your house, are you in a position where you can wire your house for faster and better service or are you going to rely on wifi connections to automate your house.

Once you figure out these questions, then you can begin your search Young Grasshopper.
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post #5 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 12:09 PM
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Boy, I really like my Honeywell Vista system / Zwave with Tuxedo Touch controller. Use Total Connect App. Does it all and very reliable! Thermostats, lights, landscape lights, door locks. Low cost and after panel install, I installed and programmed myself.





Goodbye to a great audio and video genius and writer... JOHN GANNON. I enjoyed your friendship, wit and a nice long run we took around Indianapolis at CEDIA years back... and for buying my Runco 980 Ultra years back... you saved my ass! Rest in peace.
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post #6 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by notek View Post
You want too much You have to sacrifice something, it can't be cheap, good and easy to install.

Wink is cheap, but terribly unreliable, and has a slow and buggy app.

Insteon is better, but the app does not show actual device and scene status. Scenes are better than wink's but not as good as Lutron's.

Lutron, especially RA2, is better at everything, but it is certainly isn't cheap.
I don't think I am. When I looked into this a couple of years ago I was certain I would have to go with Control4 or similar and get a professionally installed hub, costing a couple of thousand before I even got to the devices (which my other half would not approve of...), however with the selection of new, much cheaper hubs around now I don't think that is necessary for my needs, if I'm willing to sacrifice a little (such as having a separate control for the Home theatre.)

I have heard some bad things about Wink and its reliability. I'm starting to move towards the Smartthings hub, especially if the V2 hub is out when I start the install because much of the work will be transferred to the hub rather than the cloud.

I do like Lutron but from what I gather it only works with their own kit, which doesn't cover much of what I want to do. Will the RA2 allow non Lutron kit to be paired?

Unfortunately I think the Hue is not a viable option as I'm looking at recessed lights in my basement, which would mean i'd probably have to get 20+ of them!

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Originally Posted by stamina1914 View Post
Hey I just started looking into this myself and I think the 3 biggest questions you need to ask yourself before you go any further are

A) How much of a hands on experience do you want, do you want to do some work, no work, or all the work yourself?

B) The you want to control everything form one app or from several different app.

C) How wired is your house, are you in a position where you can wire your house for faster and better service or are you going to rely on wifi connections to automate your house.

Once you figure out these questions, then you can begin your search Young Grasshopper.
They are the difficult questions.

I'll answer them for myself at least, it's something I've been thinking about a fair amount since I started looking.

A) I'm a fairly hands on competent person that knows some basic code, however I don't want to be spending ages troubleshooting why something won't work and having to delve into the code to do so. Physically I will (with the occasional bit of family help) be doing all the renovation work, switch/electronics installation.

B) Ideally everything from one App, however there is some leeway on that.

Ideally I'd like to be able to control everything in the Rec Room with one control, which I believe I can do with the Harmony connected to another hub. I think I should be able to use the IR to turn on TV/Projector and any motorised screen and then the hub integration to control the lights. The question I have with that is whether I can control a motorised shade, which would depend on the system I use. Alternatively there may be a IR controlled shade I can control directly from the Harmony remote - do these exist?

On the other hand I'm not worried about controlling the rest of the house with the Harmony, but I would rather do that with a single App, which I believe is easily doable by selecting the right equipment to pair with whichever hub I decide (except Lutron, which doesn't appear to support devices that do many of the things I want to do).

That should mean if i'm in the den I can control the lights with the Harmony or App and the rest of the house can be controlled by the App.

C) The basement is stripped at the moment so I have a blank slate. I plan on cabling it full of Cat 6 and speaker cable so there are no issues with accessibility, adding another cable or two won't be an issue. Most of the systems rely on wireless now as far as I know anyway?

What system are you looking at at the moment?

As I mentioned earlier I'm erring towards Smartthings, especially with the V2 of the hub. The lack of Lutron compatibility is not a killer, there are plenty of other just as capable dimmers (just not as pretty..) and it appears there are easy workaround s to connect Somfy shades (for blackout) to the hub. It integrates well with Harmony Home and there are also connections for garage door openers and plenty of security options. It doesn't seem to play nice with nest but does with Honeywell so not the end of the world.
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post #7 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 04:03 PM
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I would probably put the automation/lighting before the A/V control...it seems like you are choosing those based on their Harmony integration? My last Harmony experience was a while ago, so I can't speak to the capabilities of their Harmony Hub. Some of their older remotes left a bad taste, and I will probably never use their products again that's for sure. Unless you really want a hard button remote, you might want to look into iRule, Roomie Remote or some of the control other apps as well. Those can do all of your requirements in one single app.


I use Insteon and the ISY994 w/ Zwave for lighting and HVAC control. Both have been rock solid - the ISY is very capable. Want basic Sonos control on a keypad? Not that difficult. Insteon works fine with LED lights, and the keypads are nice. I also wouldn't exclude the Vera (Zwave)from your list either.


Can't speak for the others since I've never used them. The Wink Relay looks pretty neat though.
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post #8 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notek View Post
You want too much You have to sacrifice something, it can't be cheap, good and easy to install.

Wink is cheap, but terribly unreliable, and has a slow and buggy app.

Insteon is better, but the app does not show actual device and scene status. Scenes are better than wink's but not as good as Lutron's.

Lutron, especially RA2, is better at everything, but it is certainly isn't cheap.
Most Insteon devices report their status. Might want to clarify which controller or app you are talking about.
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post #9 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 04:16 PM
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Oh it's not too much by half. I built out a far larger system by '08 which is still in use. I use a software based controller (commercial no programming needed) sitting on top of an Elk automation controller. I did a webinar a few months back, I'll post the slides in a bit but it's a little much for someone just getting started.
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post #10 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 04:20 PM
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On phone not sure this'll work. Can embed slides here tonight.

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post #11 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I would probably put the automation/lighting before the A/V control...it seems like you are choosing those based on their Harmony integration? My last Harmony experience was a while ago, so I can't speak to the capabilities of their Harmony Hub. Some of their older remotes left a bad taste, and I will probably never use their products again that's for sure. Unless you really want a hard button remote, you might want to look into iRule, Roomie Remote or some of the control other apps as well. Those can do all of your requirements in one single app.


I use Insteon and the ISY994 w/ Zwave for lighting and HVAC control. Both have been rock solid - the ISY is very capable. Want basic Sonos control on a keypad? Not that difficult. Insteon works fine with LED lights, and the keypads are nice. I also wouldn't exclude the Vera (Zwave)from your list either.


Can't speak for the others since I've never used them. The Wink Relay looks pretty neat though.
I wouldn't discount something based on lack of Harmony support, that's why I still have Wink in there, but I do think it is one major positive if it does interact. Thanks for the other recommendations, I will look in to all that and see if it suits my needs.
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post #12 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 05:50 PM
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Most Insteon devices report their status. Might want to clarify which controller or app you are talking about.
Sure. Insteon Hub with "Insteon for Hub" app. Compare it with RA2 or even Caseta (it gained scene status in recent releases).
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post #13 of 26 Old 06-11-2015, 06:01 PM
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I have heard some bad things about Wink and its reliability. I'm starting to move towards the Smartthings hub, especially if the V2 hub is out when I start the install because much of the work will be transferred to the hub rather than the cloud.
Wink (and I think Smarthings V1 hub as well) has so much of the processing in the cloud, it is ridiculous. Even scheduling is in the cloud. In your shoes, I would wait till Smarthings/SamsungV2 hub is released and check it out before committing to it.

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I do like Lutron but from what I gather it only works with their own kit, which doesn't cover much of what I want to do. Will the RA2 allow non Lutron kit to be paired?
Lutron systems can be integrated with many security or home automation systems, I think including that Vista mentioned above. Harmony, too, recently added integration with Caseta.
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post #14 of 26 Old 06-12-2015, 06:51 AM
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I don't think I am. When I looked into this a couple of years ago I was certain I would have to go with Control4 or similar and get a professionally installed hub, costing a couple of thousand before I even got to the devices (which my other half would not approve of...), however with the selection of new, much cheaper hubs around now I don't think that is necessary for my needs, if I'm willing to sacrifice a little (such as having a separate control for the Home theatre.)

I have heard some bad things about Wink and its reliability. I'm starting to move towards the Smartthings hub, especially if the V2 hub is out when I start the install because much of the work will be transferred to the hub rather than the cloud.

I do like Lutron but from what I gather it only works with their own kit, which doesn't cover much of what I want to do. Will the RA2 allow non Lutron kit to be paired?

Unfortunately I think the Hue is not a viable option as I'm looking at recessed lights in my basement, which would mean i'd probably have to get 20+ of them!



They are the difficult questions.

I'll answer them for myself at least, it's something I've been thinking about a fair amount since I started looking.

A) I'm a fairly hands on competent person that knows some basic code, however I don't want to be spending ages troubleshooting why something won't work and having to delve into the code to do so. Physically I will (with the occasional bit of family help) be doing all the renovation work, switch/electronics installation.

B) Ideally everything from one App, however there is some leeway on that.

Ideally I'd like to be able to control everything in the Rec Room with one control, which I believe I can do with the Harmony connected to another hub. I think I should be able to use the IR to turn on TV/Projector and any motorised screen and then the hub integration to control the lights. The question I have with that is whether I can control a motorised shade, which would depend on the system I use. Alternatively there may be a IR controlled shade I can control directly from the Harmony remote - do these exist?

On the other hand I'm not worried about controlling the rest of the house with the Harmony, but I would rather do that with a single App, which I believe is easily doable by selecting the right equipment to pair with whichever hub I decide (except Lutron, which doesn't appear to support devices that do many of the things I want to do).

That should mean if i'm in the den I can control the lights with the Harmony or App and the rest of the house can be controlled by the App.

C) The basement is stripped at the moment so I have a blank slate. I plan on cabling it full of Cat 6 and speaker cable so there are no issues with accessibility, adding another cable or two won't be an issue. Most of the systems rely on wireless now as far as I know anyway?

What system are you looking at at the moment?

As I mentioned earlier I'm erring towards Smartthings, especially with the V2 of the hub. The lack of Lutron compatibility is not a killer, there are plenty of other just as capable dimmers (just not as pretty..) and it appears there are easy workaround s to connect Somfy shades (for blackout) to the hub. It integrates well with Harmony Home and there are also connections for garage door openers and plenty of security options. It doesn't seem to play nice with nest but does with Honeywell so not the end of the world.
At the moment, I'm looking at Loxone. It's pretty much a DIY, but you get tons of support if needed.
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post #15 of 26 Old 06-12-2015, 12:56 PM
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Sure. Insteon Hub with "Insteon for Hub" app. Compare it with RA2 or even Caseta (it gained scene status in recent releases).
Never used the Insteon hub or their app so I'll take your word for it. Pretty dumb if that's the case. Thankfully you're not limited to using their app or hub. RA2 seems like a silly comparison given the price difference no? An ISY + Insteon is more flexible than standalone RA2, at significantly less cost.
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post #16 of 26 Old 06-13-2015, 09:41 AM
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Never used the Insteon hub or their app so I'll take your word for it. Pretty dumb if that's the case. Thankfully you're not limited to using their app or hub. RA2 seems like a silly comparison given the price difference no? An ISY + Insteon is more flexible than standalone RA2, at significantly less cost.
It's actually quite pathetic experience. Imagine that you got water leak sensor and paired it to the hub. You launch the app, navigate to the water sensor screen, and you see (if i recall correctly) gray circle which means that no water detected. Next, you put the sensor in the water. You stare at the phone screen, but nothing happens in the app - ever. You do get notification email, so this part is working - but nothing on the app screen changes.

I agree that RA2 is more expensive, but for various reasons I think it is worth it. With RA2 you always get immediate feedback about state of all devices and scenes in 100ms, 500ms tops. Would ISY work similar to RA2? What apps do you use with it?
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AMP34 which shades are you looking at? Need to get some installed in my house and was looking at getting them integrated into some kind of automation but when I brought it up with my wife she just looked at me funny and said she just wanted blinds.
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post #18 of 26 Old 06-14-2015, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
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It's actually quite pathetic experience. Imagine that you got water leak sensor and paired it to the hub. You launch the app, navigate to the water sensor screen, and you see (if i recall correctly) gray circle which means that no water detected. Next, you put the sensor in the water. You stare at the phone screen, but nothing happens in the app - ever. You do get notification email, so this part is working - but nothing on the app screen changes.

I agree that RA2 is more expensive, but for various reasons I think it is worth it. With RA2 you always get immediate feedback about state of all devices and scenes in 100ms, 500ms tops. Would ISY work similar to RA2? What apps do you use with it?
All of my Insteon devices report status immediately to the ISY. I use iRule and Mobilinc for control. ISY is pretty open via REST interface, so anything can send commands and query feedback from it.


I thought RA2 was exorbitant for what it does, but I'm obviously not the target market for it and understand dealers need their margin. It has no conditional logic out of the box, and it was around 3x the cost per switch/keypad etc.
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post #19 of 26 Old 06-15-2015, 10:20 AM
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What you buy with something like RA2 is pretty much exactly what you two are discussing, or I guess not that. With consumer level systems, the experience will vary tremendously, as you can see from reading any thread on any of them. Some will have no problems, some will have niggling ongoing issues, and some will never get it to work at all. Since many consumer systems are mesh network based, you can't actually really know if you are going to have issues or not until you commit to a sufficient extent to get good mesh coverage throughout the area you need covered. So you can't really just put in a few and see how it does and expect that to reflect the performance of the subsequent full installation.

The other difference is that, though you might not have issues at first, the situation can just suddenly change for no apparent reason and you start having problems. This you can also see discussed plenty in any thread on any of them (that have been around long enough for their long term performance to be known, which is often not the case these days.)

With a system like RA2, though you pay more up front, you know it's going to work, and that it'll remain solid. Yes, there could be some highly pathological scenario that comes up, but it's not very likely. Those types of systems cost more because they are 'overbuilt', so that they are not on the edge under optimal conditions. It costs more to do that, but provides the margin of error required to be sure you will have a solid, positive experience with them.

Not that I'm against consumer level products. but you do get what you pay for. It's not just a matter of shopping based on price, you should shop based on expectations as well.

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post #20 of 26 Old 06-15-2015, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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AMP34 which shades are you looking at? Need to get some installed in my house and was looking at getting them integrated into some kind of automation but when I brought it up with my wife she just looked at me funny and said she just wanted blinds.
There seem to be three shades that work with a automation systems, depending on which system you go for.

With the Smartthings hub the best option seems to be Somfy, with the addition of a ZRTSI II controller that lets the hub speak to the shade.

There's also Bali and Lutron (Serena) that work with Wink and their Lutrons works with their Caseta system. All are Z Wave but don't necessarily work with all hubs. I think I'll just end up getting the one with existing compatibility to the hub I end up getting.
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post #21 of 26 Old 06-15-2015, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
What you buy with something like RA2 is pretty much exactly what you two are discussing, or I guess not that. With consumer level systems, the experience will vary tremendously, as you can see from reading any thread on any of them. Some will have no problems, some will have niggling ongoing issues, and some will never get it to work at all. Since many consumer systems are mesh network based, you can't actually really know if you are going to have issues or not until you commit to a sufficient extent to get good mesh coverage throughout the area you need covered. So you can't really just put in a few and see how it does and expect that to reflect the performance of the subsequent full installation.

The other difference is that, though you might not have issues at first, the situation can just suddenly change for no apparent reason and you start having problems. This you can also see discussed plenty in any thread on any of them (that have been around long enough for their long term performance to be known, which is often not the case these days.)

With a system like RA2, though you pay more up front, you know it's going to work, and that it'll remain solid. Yes, there could be some highly pathological scenario that comes up, but it's not very likely. Those types of systems cost more because they are 'overbuilt', so that they are not on the edge under optimal conditions. It costs more to do that, but provides the margin of error required to be sure you will have a solid, positive experience with them.

Not that I'm against consumer level products. but you do get what you pay for. It's not just a matter of shopping based on price, you should shop based on expectations as well.
That's a lot of anecdotal data RA2 is a locked down dealer product - I'd say that greatly improves the chances of having a decent install right off the bat. Yes, I know you can also DIY RA2(I took their course maybe 2 years ago?) I can only imagine how much user error enters the equation in Insteon or Zwave install and the product gets blamed. Mesh network is no cure for not doing your homework.




Lutron has that brand cachet that they can charge for, Insteon will never have that. Some of it their own fault due to poor QC in the past. I can only speak for myself - I would gain nothing switching to RA2 since ISY/Insteon/Zwave has been rock solid for me, at a fraction of the price. From a functional standpoint, RA2 would be going backwards without ponying up for a controller that can do conditional logic (unless that has changed, I don't follow the product.)
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post #22 of 26 Old 06-16-2015, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Amp34 View Post

There's also Bali and Lutron (Serena) that work with Wink and their Lutrons works with their Caseta system. All are Z Wave but don't necessarily work with all hubs. I think I'll just end up getting the one with existing compatibility to the hub I end up getting.
Just to clarify, Lutron is not Z-Wave, it is Lutron's proprietary Clear Connect standard. Z-Wave is good to 30 feet in good conditions, where I have seen a single Lutron controller cover a 7500 sqft house with zero issue.
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post #23 of 26 Old 06-16-2015, 08:32 PM
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I have a Wink hub that I got free buy purchasing 4 Cree Conect light bulbs and the Quirky-GE propane tank gauge. Wink was very buggy but seams to be improving. I am building a new home that is almost done, I already have installed z-wave on/off light switches, 2 x 2Gig z-wave thermostats and 2 GE z-wave ceiling fan controllers and a Linear z-wave Garage door controllers. I will likely get a Vera Edge as my main controller and using my Wink as a bridge for the Cree Zigby bulbs and adding Lutron Casita dimmers and as a 2ndary z-wave controller. The Vera has had its problems but nothing in its priceera range is a versatile as the Verra and has a large and active comunity developing apps that expand its capacity. I can also integrate the Harmeny home hub with it too, which are in my future plans. Also if I decide to dump the Wink I can add a Lutron hub for the Casita dimers and a hue hub for the light bulbs, Vera has apps do do this and more, all these things can be integrated and controled on a single Vera app for I-phone, and Android. And several Verra apps to choose from.
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post #24 of 26 Old 06-30-2015, 12:38 PM
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For what it's worth I just pulled out my Nest Thermostat and went with a Honeywell Prestige IAQ 2.0. The Nest was great at making the control of the system simple but it wouldn't support my whole house humidifier or fresh air intake damper. The Honeywell was more expensive the Nest but the control I get keeps my house much more comfortable. I've got DeltaT probes that I installed on my main trunk and my return air, two remote sensors to get the correct temps from the second floor of my house and an outside temp sensor. I added smartphone control with a Honeywell bridge although I don't find that I use it much.

The only thing I miss from the Nest is the ability to see how much my A/C or Heat ran over the last 7 days and the energy use e-mails Nest sent out on a monthly basis.
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post #25 of 26 Old 07-03-2015, 05:22 PM
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Control4, with home edition you can program all the extras you want.

All these diy self systems look and sound great but in 6 mos you'll be unable to use and unhappy. Buy quality equipment.
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post #26 of 26 Old 07-03-2015, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siordia View Post
Control4, with home edition you can program all the extras you want.

All these diy self systems look and sound great but in 6 mos you'll be unable to use and unhappy. Buy quality equipment.
That's an overly broad statement. Presumably you mean the hardware, in which case there's high quality hardware available to DIYers if they choose to do so, e.g. Radio RA2, C-Bus, Centralite, etc... And there is high quality software available to DIYers that integrate with these products, resulting in a system that, though available to DIYers, is very robust and often used by professionals as well.

Just making it clear that not all of the systems available to DIYers are low-endy or unproven stuff.

Dean Roddey
Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systems, Ltd

www.charmedquark.com

 

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