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post #1 of 7 Old 03-11-2016, 10:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Home Automation Suggestions??

I know a lot of people have been posting asking what HA they should buy for their home. I have searched them all and still having trouble figuring out what to buy. There are just too many. And I don't want to buy something that I won't like, or something I didn't want. So here's what I need. I need suggestions on what's best for me and my needs for my house. I don't want to spend over $2000 on a control 4 or some other system that I cannot do myself. I'm more of a DIY kind of guy. I already have an alarm system and I do control that with Alarm.com. It would be nice to control everything with one app, rather then having to open Alarm.com and then open another HA app. I am building a Home Theater system in my living room (since I do not have room for a dedicated HT room) so I would like to be able to control lights and HT equipment at the same time. I have looked into Smartthings, Wink, and now Vera. What do you all think would be the best for what I want to do.

These are some of the things I want to be able to control.

-Inside lighting (Dimming and non dimming, also ceiling fan control on and off and possibly controlling different fan settings)
-Alarm System (Currently using Guardian Protection Services. I don't mind buying a panel if need to. Don't really want to change companies)
-My Home Theater Equipment (Onkyo Receiver, Samsung UHD Blu-Ray Player, Oppo Players, Direct TV with DVR, Playstation 3 and 4 etc.)
-Garage Door (Maybe, still thinking about this)
-Thermostats / Climate Control
-Automatic Shades/ Blinds
-Security Cameras (Preferred wired cameras but not a must)
-Door Locks

I would like to use my Harmony remote for my lighting, shades/ blinds, thermostats, and HT system as well when I am at home so I don't have to be taking out my phone or tablet. What would be the best HA system to control all of these things. What do you guys prefer in HA? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks..
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-11-2016, 11:14 AM
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-12-2016, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozzman_8 View Post
I know a lot of people have been posting asking what HA they should buy for their home. I have searched them all and still having trouble figuring out what to buy. There are just too many. And I don't want to buy something that I won't like, or something I didn't want. So here's what I need. I need suggestions on what's best for me and my needs for my house. I don't want to spend over $2000 on a control 4 or some other system that I cannot do myself. I'm more of a DIY kind of guy. I already have an alarm system and I do control that with Alarm.com. It would be nice to control everything with one app, rather then having to open Alarm.com and then open another HA app. I am building a Home Theater system in my living room (since I do not have room for a dedicated HT room) so I would like to be able to control lights and HT equipment at the same time. I have looked into Smartthings, Wink, and now Vera. What do you all think would be the best for what I want to do.

These are some of the things I want to be able to control.

-Inside lighting (Dimming and non dimming, also ceiling fan control on and off and possibly controlling different fan settings)
-Alarm System (Currently using Guardian Protection Services. I don't mind buying a panel if need to. Don't really want to change companies)
-My Home Theater Equipment (Onkyo Receiver, Samsung UHD Blu-Ray Player, Oppo Players, Direct TV with DVR, Playstation 3 and 4 etc.)
-Garage Door (Maybe, still thinking about this)
-Thermostats / Climate Control
-Automatic Shades/ Blinds
-Security Cameras (Preferred wired cameras but not a must)
-Door Locks

I would like to use my Harmony remote for my lighting, shades/ blinds, thermostats, and HT system as well when I am at home so I don't have to be taking out my phone or tablet. What would be the best HA system to control all of these things. What do you guys prefer in HA? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks..
It looks Guardian Protection Services provides monitoring, but I'm not sure what equipment they use. Do you know what panel they use?

As far as your overall goals, they're pretty close to my own. I'm using a HomeTroller Zee S2. I'm approaching 200 Z-Wave devices, which consist of:
lighting control
ceiling fan control
thermostats
HVAC damper control
garage door control
door locks
tons of sensors
power monitoring on certain appliances (ex. send emails/SMS when washer and dryer cycles are done)

I use Blue Iris for my security cameras, and I've plugged that into HomeSeer. All of my cameras are 1080p (or better) and are PoE units.

My audio/video integration consists of putting my projector screen control into HomeSeer, so it just shows up as another device in the mobile app. I have scenes that will power the projector, lower the screen, dim the lights, and bring the ceiling fan speed down to a level that won't buffet the screen. I have 4 Onkyo receivers (1030, 809, 636, and 535) that I control through my HA, and I made a couple network controlled audio zone controllers that work through HomeSeer.

It sounds like you would need one of the IR sender/receiver units that can tie in with HA. They are pretty easy to set up, and will let you automate your existing IR devices. If your Harmony remote is IR, then you should be able to use it to drive your scenes in your HA setup as well. I was going to go that route, but decided to tap into the RS-232 interfaces for the projector and projector screen instead. I'm not sure what you'll need to do with your PS3/PS4, as those use RF remotes. I would imagine that there's something similar to the IR units for RF applications, but I've never looked into it.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-15-2016, 10:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoustonOkie View Post
It looks Guardian Protection Services provides monitoring, but I'm not sure what equipment they use. Do you know what panel they use?

As far as your overall goals, they're pretty close to my own. I'm using a HomeTroller Zee S2. I'm approaching 200 Z-Wave devices, which consist of:
lighting control
ceiling fan control
thermostats
HVAC damper control
garage door control
door locks
tons of sensors
power monitoring on certain appliances (ex. send emails/SMS when washer and dryer cycles are done)

I use Blue Iris for my security cameras, and I've plugged that into HomeSeer. All of my cameras are 1080p (or better) and are PoE units.

My audio/video integration consists of putting my projector screen control into HomeSeer, so it just shows up as another device in the mobile app. I have scenes that will power the projector, lower the screen, dim the lights, and bring the ceiling fan speed down to a level that won't buffet the screen. I have 4 Onkyo receivers (1030, 809, 636, and 535) that I control through my HA, and I made a couple network controlled audio zone controllers that work through HomeSeer.

It sounds like you would need one of the IR sender/receiver units that can tie in with HA. They are pretty easy to set up, and will let you automate your existing IR devices. If your Harmony remote is IR, then you should be able to use it to drive your scenes in your HA setup as well. I was going to go that route, but decided to tap into the RS-232 interfaces for the projector and projector screen instead. I'm not sure what you'll need to do with your PS3/PS4, as those use RF remotes. I would imagine that there's something similar to the IR units for RF applications, but I've never looked into it.

Thanks for the replay HoustonOkie. Yeah I saw your other responses about that HomeTroller Zee S2/ HomeSeer. I barely started to look into it. I noticed that it is Linux OS based. I have never used Linux, I am more of a Windows guy. Would I need to purchase a Linux computer to program this? And is it hard to do?


My alarm system is guardian and I do already control it using alarm.com. So not being able to control it with the HomeSeer is not a big deal to me. The new LCD touch panels are Z-wave compatible (I think from what I read).


If you have no issues with this system and no delays what so ever, I wouldn't mind getting this system. Let me know what I would need to do first. I don't mind purchasing a Linux computer to get started. Thanks
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-15-2016, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ozzman_8 View Post
Thanks for the replay HoustonOkie. Yeah I saw your other responses about that HomeTroller Zee S2/ HomeSeer. I barely started to look into it. I noticed that it is Linux OS based. I have never used Linux, I am more of a Windows guy. Would I need to purchase a Linux computer to program this? And is it hard to do?


My alarm system is guardian and I do already control it using alarm.com. So not being able to control it with the HomeSeer is not a big deal to me. The new LCD touch panels are Z-wave compatible (I think from what I read).


If you have no issues with this system and no delays what so ever, I wouldn't mind getting this system. Let me know what I would need to do first. I don't mind purchasing a Linux computer to get started. Thanks
Really, your only exposure to the HomeTroller Zee S2 is through a web browser. The administration of the device all takes place in their web interface. The mobile interface (via Android or iOS) is probably how you'd actually use the system day-to-day. If you really get into the VB.NET programming on the HomeTroller you will use SSH to get the files across, but there are Windows apps for that, like PuTTY. There should really never be a time when you are exposed to the Linux OS, since it's basically an embedded device.

Just to clarify, the HomeTroller Zee S2 is just a Raspberry Pi 2 with the HomeSeer 3 software and a Z-Wave interface all wrapped up into a package that's smaller than a pack of cards. You don't have to provide any other equipment, aside from your Z-Wave devices. It doesn't have (or need) any active cooling, and it only draws a few watts of power. The included copy of HomeSeer 3 is a little crippled, but mostly just from the standpoint that Z-Wave is the only interface supported (as opposed to PLB, X10, etc.). Since it is running on Linux, the selection of available plugins is also reduced a bit (though I haven't needed anything that is only available for Windows).

If you are a DIY kind of person like I am, you may find yourself writing a bit of VB.NET to make everything work perfectly. The built-in event builder is fine for most tasks, but I've done a bit of custom programming to make everything work together - this is especially true of my non-Zwave items, like my Onkyos and some speaker zone controllers that I made (to turn my Onkyos into a full house audio solution). While VB.NET is native to Windows, the Raspberry Pi uses Mono which allows .NET Framework programs to run on Linux. It all performs extremely well... and worlds better than my old Vera 3. Off and on I've been tempted to build a mini-ITX PC and load HS3 Pro, but I haven't really had a good reason to do so.
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post #6 of 7 Old 03-16-2016, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HoustonOkie View Post
Really, your only exposure to the HomeTroller Zee S2 is through a web browser. The administration of the device all takes place in their web interface. The mobile interface (via Android or iOS) is probably how you'd actually use the system day-to-day. If you really get into the VB.NET programming on the HomeTroller you will use SSH to get the files across, but there are Windows apps for that, like PuTTY. There should really never be a time when you are exposed to the Linux OS, since it's basically an embedded device.

Just to clarify, the HomeTroller Zee S2 is just a Raspberry Pi 2 with the HomeSeer 3 software and a Z-Wave interface all wrapped up into a package that's smaller than a pack of cards. You don't have to provide any other equipment, aside from your Z-Wave devices. It doesn't have (or need) any active cooling, and it only draws a few watts of power. The included copy of HomeSeer 3 is a little crippled, but mostly just from the standpoint that Z-Wave is the only interface supported (as opposed to PLB, X10, etc.). Since it is running on Linux, the selection of available plugins is also reduced a bit (though I haven't needed anything that is only available for Windows).

If you are a DIY kind of person like I am, you may find yourself writing a bit of VB.NET to make everything work perfectly. The built-in event builder is fine for most tasks, but I've done a bit of custom programming to make everything work together - this is especially true of my non-Zwave items, like my Onkyos and some speaker zone controllers that I made (to turn my Onkyos into a full house audio solution). While VB.NET is native to Windows, the Raspberry Pi uses Mono which allows .NET Framework programs to run on Linux. It all performs extremely well... and worlds better than my old Vera 3. Off and on I've been tempted to build a mini-ITX PC and load HS3 Pro, but I haven't really had a good reason to do so.


Hmm. Sounds very interesting. And sounds like something that will fulfill all my needs. Especially if I can control other items that are not Zwave like my Onkyo and Home Theater equipment. So you are saying that it is indeed better than Vera, SmartThings, Wink, and some of the others floating around in your opinion? And you are saying that it is all web based? Are you affiliated with HomeSeer or HomeTroller, or you are just a customer like me?


So all I need to do is buy the HomeTroller Zee S2 and it comes with everything I need to get started? Of course I have to buy the Zwave devices separately. Anything else I need? And how do I know what is compatible with HomeTroller? Is there a page on their site that has compatible devices? I wouldn't wanna buy something that is not compatible. And can I contact you by PM with questions instead of on here? Thanks so much.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-16-2016, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ozzman_8 View Post
Hmm. Sounds very interesting. And sounds like something that will fulfill all my needs. Especially if I can control other items that are not Zwave like my Onkyo and Home Theater equipment. So you are saying that it is indeed better than Vera, SmartThings, Wink, and some of the others floating around in your opinion? And you are saying that it is all web based? Are you affiliated with HomeSeer or HomeTroller, or you are just a customer like me?


So all I need to do is buy the HomeTroller Zee S2 and it comes with everything I need to get started? Of course I have to buy the Zwave devices separately. Anything else I need? And how do I know what is compatible with HomeTroller? Is there a page on their site that has compatible devices? I wouldn't wanna buy something that is not compatible. And can I contact you by PM with questions instead of on here? Thanks so much.
My previous experiences have been with X10 and Vera - I have no personal experience with ST or Wink.

As far as the administration of the HomeTroller Zee S2 goes, it's all web-based (or at least that's the way I use it). I use the app on my phone and tablets. I'm not associated with HomeSeer in any way. I bought my Zee S2 after a number of bad experiences with updates on my Vera.

The HomeTroller Zee S2 comes with a power adapter (just a 120VAC to 5VDC micro-USB adapter). I think it came with an Ethernet cable too, but I'm not 100% sure on that. The Z-Wave controller on the Zee S2 supports Z-Wave+, so there's not really much out there that doesn't work with it.

As far as some of your non-Z-Wave devices are concerned, some of what you may want to do will be covered by plugins that are available for HomeSeer. The HomeTroller Zee is limited to five Linux plugins. I'm only using a single plugin (for my alarm).... everything else I handle with little VB.NET programs that I've written. You can PM me if you have any questions.
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