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post #1 of 23 Old 07-05-2015, 05:28 PM - Thread Starter
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New Home Automation

Hello everyone, I have done as much research as I can on my own and I am hoping I can now get some specific advice. I am building a new home and would like as much home automaton as can can fit in my budget. The issue I am having is my electrician wants to use a Lutron based system and I see most people here are choosing Control4 or Savant.
Budget:$20,000-$30,000
Dream List in order of importance:
1) Lighting Controll
2) Door Locks, garage and alarm
3) Hvac
3) Window Shades
4) 3 Tv's and their devices

The basement will be unfinished at the time of possession but eventually I will build a dedicated theatre that I would like tied in.

Can anyone make some recommendations on a system to select and if my budget is even realistic based on that choice.

Thanks
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post #2 of 23 Old 07-05-2015, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cansv View Post
Hello everyone, I have done as much research as I can on my own and I am hoping I can now get some specific advice. I am building a new home and would like as much home automaton as can can fit in my budget. The issue I am having is my electrician wants to use a Lutron based system and I see most people here are choosing Control4 or Savant.
Budget:$20,000-$30,000
Dream List in order of importance:
1) Lighting Controll
2) Door Locks, garage and alarm
3) Hvac
3) Window Shades
4) 3 Tv's and their devices

The basement will be unfinished at the time of possession but eventually I will build a dedicated theatre that I would like tied in.

Can anyone make some recommendations on a system to select and if my budget is even realistic based on that choice.

Thanks
My 2 cents...

Lutron specializes in lighting and shades, not AV system control or integration. It may sound like a no-brainer, but I say that because I've noticed that for long term system stability, it's best to stick to a companies strong suite. I like Radio Ra2 for a retro-type solution, and you know it'll be around for a long time, and likely to be replaced with something backwards compatible.

I have a friend who's drinking the Control4 Kool-aid REALLY hard right now, and while I can understand part of it, there's another part of me that feels a need to draw a line in the sand. Like I said about Lutron not being an integration specialist, Control4 (and Savant, for that matter) is not a lighting/shade control specialist. My friend happily pushes Control4 lighting, and I'm sure it's great NOW, but there's no telling how long they'll support it (see what Savant did with Litetouch for an example).

So my recommendation is Lutron for lighting and shade control, and Control4 or something else for AV and just do the integration between them. That way if you have to change your AV system someday, you don't have to change you AV AND lighting control. That's the idea, anyway.

I work with Savant and I hate it. There are things Control4 does that Savant doesn't do (native Sonos control, Apple TV ip control, channel guide info on your iOS device, etc...). Savant also changes their hardware quite often, which makes me suspect that the useable lifespan of one of their systems will be significantly less than something by someone else. Control4 may be the same in that regard; I'm not sure. Control4 also seems to have a better time with the garage door control and status.

(As an aside - That's why Crestron is still my favorite - there are systems out there that are 10-15 years old, still chuggin' along. But it IS expensive and the programming issue is always a bit of a pain.)

I also like URC remotes if you don't need 2-way feedback (I think they CAN do that; my company just uses the MX-980 for that price point).
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post #3 of 23 Old 07-05-2015, 09:34 PM
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My choice would be SmartThings which can do everything on your list with integration with various services: MyQ garage, Nest/other thermostat, Somfy blinds, Harmony TV/media. I have SmartThings controlling 100+ devices in my house and everything on your list except Window shades.

While SmartThings is not perfect, with the pace of innovation of the Internet of Things and new gadgets landing every month and systems from Amazon, Apple, and Google on the way, I think those closed proprietary systems (Control4, Savant) are going to have a hard time keeping up with the demand to integrate with all these cool new products. So personally, I'd automate everything you listed for under $5k with SmartThings and use the rest to start my dedicated home theater construction early.

That's my opinion because I don't mind doing the technical work to set up everything on my own. I understand why many would rather pay a full service outfit to setup and maintain it on your behalf.
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post #4 of 23 Old 07-06-2015, 06:20 AM
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Agree with what the others say - how much do you want to DIY v hire someone? I went the C4 route, you can probably accomplish what you want in your given budget (not sure how many shades or lights you want to control). If it is a new house and being built, you can even do the C4 panelized/centralized lighting. C4 has done a good job of supporting legacy hardware for several years even when the refresh their line up (new lighting came out ~18 months ago but the old lighting is still supported). Unlike some of the "closed" systems, C4 will give you some power to program your system, you cannot add new hardware without dealer support, that's all. Get yourself a good dealer and its a trivial point.
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post #5 of 23 Old 07-06-2015, 10:30 AM
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It's also a bit concerning, wrt the 'Internet of Things', that the companies seem to be going away almost as fast as the gadgets are showing up. Given the time and money investment involved, there is something to be said for going with products that have more of a track record.
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post #6 of 23 Old 07-06-2015, 10:49 AM
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I agree with what Dean is saying too - peterfram mentions the pace of releases. Homekit was announced a year ago - and what are they showing, some a sensor, a smart wall plug and a Insteon bridge? I would not call that fast paced. And lots of small companies raise capital, release a product and never support it and fail. The push to go with a C4, Savant, RTI, etc is that they can automate 1,000s if not 10,000's of devices. So if someone goes out of business, you can pull that piece and replace it and keep cruisin'
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post #7 of 23 Old 07-06-2015, 11:53 AM
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I would go even further and say that product like ours, which is completely hardware agnostic, is even safer, since you can replace all of the hardware if you need or want to at any point.

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post #8 of 23 Old 07-06-2015, 05:05 PM
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I install the URC systems for a living and you would do well to check out a Total Control system. Fraction of the Crestron cost. Controls everything, Remote support. Check it out
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post #9 of 23 Old 07-06-2015, 05:49 PM
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Lutron lighting with C4 control would be fine. I'm a big fan of C4's lighting though. You'll be able to do quite a bit with your budget.
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post #10 of 23 Old 07-06-2015, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your replies. I don't want to do DIY so my electrician will look after it all. I will look at all the suggestions since I am not familiar some of the brands.

Would it be a option to use the Lutron system to control the lights, 6-10 window shades, door locks and garage doors. And then could I pre wire and add control 4 for the av system at a later date?
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post #11 of 23 Old 07-06-2015, 06:42 PM
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Your electrician isn't going to be able to advise you much on home automation. You really need to consult an integrator if you aren't going to DIY. Shoehorning door locks and garage doors into a Lutron system is also going to require a lot of DIY. You have plenty of budget to get a single, fully integrated system.
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post #12 of 23 Old 07-06-2015, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post
Your electrician isn't going to be able to advise you much on home automation. You really need to consult an integrator if you aren't going to DIY. Shoehorning door locks and garage doors into a Lutron system is also going to require a lot of DIY. You have plenty of budget to get a single, fully integrated system.
I should note, my electrician also does home automation for commercial and a lot of high end homes so he has experience with this.
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post #13 of 23 Old 07-09-2015, 03:55 PM
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If your electrician is going to be your integrator, then tell him what features you want to have and let him propose an integrated solution. If he is a control 4 dealer he will propose C4 if he is a savant dealer etc etc. Lutron and C4 work well together. If he is not a dealer for any of those then you need to find an integrator and get a proposal.
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post #14 of 23 Old 07-18-2015, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone, one more quick thing. For a lighting, hvac and blinds system, what is the difference between a system like control 4 and Lutron Caseta? It seems like the Caseta does everything but is a way similar system.
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post #15 of 23 Old 07-18-2015, 05:34 PM
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Talk to someone who designs Lutron systems, e.g. lighting designer, for guidance. He/she may be able to design a RA2 (or Caseta) system, which your electrician installs. Your electrician may already use or know this person, if he does a lot of Lutron.

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post #16 of 23 Old 07-18-2015, 07:25 PM
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Luton controls lighting. Control 4 can integrate/control lighting, AV, alarm, etc.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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post #17 of 23 Old 07-18-2015, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tokead View Post
Luton controls lighting. Control 4 can integrate/control lighting, AV, alarm, etc.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

So with 3rd part software, can Lutron not control alarms, doors and AV?
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post #18 of 23 Old 07-19-2015, 06:49 AM
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Lutron has Homeworks QS. I have no first hand knowledge or know people who have it. The marketing info says it has all those control features, yet on the website I see only HVAC hardware, nothing about locks, alarms, A/V (mentions those terms, quick search didn't say what hardware).

But as said above, Control4 offers both hardware (lighting, Video distribution, sensors, relays, etc) but it also offers an integration platform for 10,000's of devices. Lutron lighting being one of them. Quick example - I have sonos music, kwikset locks, DSC alarm and Control4 lighting. When my housekeeper enters a code in the kwikset lock, the door opens, DSC Alarm goes off, Sonos radio goes to her favorite channel and the lights go on. When she leaves lights and music turn off, alarm turns on and door locks. It integrates hardware from various parties.
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post #19 of 23 Old 07-19-2015, 06:41 PM
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No one supports tens of thousands of devices, unless perhaps you include simple, one way IR control, which I don't think most folks would count. And of course if you do, then any other product with IR control (most any) could make the same claim.

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post #20 of 23 Old 07-22-2015, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help, I think I am close to finalizing. Right now I am thinking Lutron Caseta Dimmers, Kwickset locks, wifi garage door motors, Lutron Blinds and Honeywell Hvac. In the media closet I will do a 4X4 or 6x6 Matrix with all my equipment. Now here is the question. Is it worth it to spend the money on a Savant controller to have everything in one place or just buy a hub to control each item? I guess I could also rely on each individual app to work each item.
Also, is there a different Lutron Dinner I should look at with a Savant Control system?


Thanks
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post #21 of 23 Old 07-23-2015, 09:32 AM
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Camsv - keep in mind if you want these devices to talk to each other, you need a centralized hub. Savant, Control4, Homeworks QS, etc. all centralized hubs have their pros and cons.

for instance, if you had a centralized system (Savant, C4, etc) when you watch a movie through that 4x4 matrix the blinds can close. without a centralized system, you can use 1 app/remote to turn on the movie the another app/remote to close the blinds.

There is a difference between automation and smart devices. Automation makes smart devices work in sync together. Automation is not the ability to open/close a shade or turn a light on/off via an app. That is just controlling a "smart device".

Your needs will determine what you do.
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post #22 of 23 Old 07-23-2015, 10:58 AM
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FYI Vantage Controls can operate all items on your wish list, with their Equinox73 app.
You can add audio also.
Obviously, depending on the size of your home, the budget is attainable.
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post #23 of 23 Old 07-25-2015, 09:42 PM
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For things like garage doors and door locks, you might also consider something like Elk or similar programmable and extendable alarm system, and then lutron for lights and shades. Elk has a fair number of available add ons, and can be programmed to do a host of things like have a "open garage door and turn off alarm" or "bypass alarm zone and open skylight when temperature > 80 degrees". There's a lutron RA 2 module as well. It's just a way of having each module (lighting, and perimeter) take care of their own domains.

With respect to ease-of-use, most of these stand-alone solutions can be made to communicate with each other in a limited fashion. All can be controlled with your phone or an iPad, and they all come with traditional proprietary wall mounted control interfaces if that is preferable. It won't be as sexy as Control 4, but you can always add that later if you find you need more control (so long as you Prewire for it).

As for AV, my own previous experience as an end user suggests that it can be preferable to not control AV with a single master home control program. AV is the piece where components are swapped out the most regularly, unlike things like lights, shades or garage doors. Ergo- unless you have access to do all the programming yourself, you'll have to pay someone (and wait for them to finish the work) before you can use it. I had a whole home Crestron system once, and the system never failed in 12 years, but I was hopelessly tied to using components from specific manufacturers, so the IR codes would work. The system was outdated by year 5, and I could either junk it and get an updated version, pay big $$ just to recode the legacy system to work with new AV equipment, or be stuck with what I had. I chose to be stuck. At the rate AV is evolving today, I would expect the same to be true. So here, if you plan on keeping your AV system up-to-date with new advancements, I'd advise to use a self-contained AV-specific control system, which primarily deals with AV.

Last edited by xs10shl; 07-25-2015 at 10:09 PM.
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