Haven't posted in this section yet, but I'm an avid home automation hobbyist. Recently built a new house, and used that opportunity to wire up my home to the gills and prepare to put in a home automation system.
My idea was to have a master control system, similar to control 4, but one that I can install myself. I found some remote c4 dealers that were willing to work with me, but I still disliked the fact that c4 equipment was so overpriced, and any 3rd party devices required custom drivers that were not backed by the company. So on this forum I found out about allonis, and after talking with forum user
, decided to go forward with them as my control system of choice.
My current system is very bare-bones. It's just getting started. But the reason I went with allonis is because they were able to let me build my system my way. Smoothtalk gave me recommendations on what works best with their system, but ultimately I decided on what components I wanted that fit within my fairly tight starting budget. That was my primary reason for working with them. The system could do everything c4 can do, but allows flexibility of using outside vendors for products. Allonis supports certain vendors out of the box, but if you want something that isn't supported, they'll write the driver for you. It's also inherently much lower cost, because I was able to do all of the installation work myself, and only use them for certain product procurement, as well as remote installation.
So here's what is currently integrated into my master control system:
* ELK M1 gold security system
* russound MCA-88 8 zone WHA amplifier (4 zones currently in use, other 4 for future expansion)
* monoprice blackbird 4x4 HDBT A/V Matrix switch (2 zones currently in use, other 2 for future expansion)
* ecobee3 thermostat
* 2x onkyo receivers
* harmony hub
* mobotix t25 video doorbell (linked with blue iris NVR software)
* 4 phillips hue bulbs (all in master bedroom)
* 1 leviton z-wave dimmer
The system is controlled by the myserver software. You can buy a rack-mount server from allonis, or use your own existing hardware. Note that this isn't something to be reserved for that 10 yr old PC you have sitting in your closet, this is a serious system and it uses serious resources. My system is home built, but it has a i-5 6600, 32GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. I originally ran it with 16 GB of RAM, but when idle, I saw that my RAM was over 50% used up, so I expanded to 32GB. I also run a couple VMs on the machine, which allonis doesn't really recommend... but my system is powerful enough that it has the resources to do it.
So there is a lot of different devices providing different functions here. The benefit of a master control system is that it unifies all of these products into a single UI and control system. Right now, as mentioned, I'm fairly bare bones in terms of actual automation, but the system is initially set up, and working. Here's the UI:
The floorplan on the top left is my actual floorplan. I paid for the guys to develop that for me, but if anyone wants to do it themselves they can. Also, as you can see, the security system is not ready to arm. I purposely did that to show that the control system visually shows on the floor plan where a zone is active (the red line on my floorplan... my sliding door to the lanai is open). I can also arm/disarm the system using the keypad on the bottom right. The front door is my front door video doorbell. It's not a direct feed of my doorbell though, it's actually linked to blue iris. So allonis supports blue iris, but can also work with specific cameras. I opted to just use blue iris, since blue iris is capable of supporting way more cameras than allonis ever could make drivers for. So I just run Blue Iris in a VM, and allonis links up to that to see the video feed. Also, by using blue iris to handle security, I can still have it provide push notifications and record events. So really having the camera on allonis is for convenience of not having to open up the blue iris software.
You can see my ecobee thermostat, which can be directly controlled from there. I also have my local weather showing. So a pretty good "dashboard" for a control system. Below that dashboard I have zone selection and control. This dashboard was accessed from my PC. They have an app that you can configure for tablets/phones. Phone UI is more condensed to fit on a phone, but effectively the same thing. I have cat6 ran in my walls in specific locations where I will later mount tablets dedicated to running the allonis myUI app. For now, I use my phone and laptop for control.
So that's the basics, if anyone wants to see more, I can show off the system even more if you like. I will say though, by far, the part of the system that gets the most use (which was surprising to me at first) is the WHA functionality. Allonis pairs beautifully with the Russound. So via allonis, if I want to play music from my google music account in my kitchen for instance, I choose "zone - kitchen", "source - gmusic 1", and then I go to the google music interface, and hit play. If I want to adjust volume or turn the zone on/off, I click "control", and it automatically brings up the zone control for the kitchen.
Again, this was effectively a "diy" self install system. I installed all equipment myself, mounted my speakers, etc. Allonis was there to walk me through what components to buy, and then via teamviewer, they had a guy remote into my system and configure the system I wanted. The configuration took about 2 days (maybe 6-7 actual work hours?). One day for initial setup, and then another day for me playing with it and reporting bugs and any issues for them to fix. Pretty painless.
Note that this is a setup that worked for me. Not everyone is keen on spending the time mounting speakers/equipment and physically terminating and connecting all the components in a proper manner. For someone that wants something more turn-key, I am sure allonis can support those sort of customers as well, but if that is your thing, then you're likely also okay with going with something more closed like control4. But even then, I think allonis beats control4 in terms of cost and customizability.
I do have a couple things I would like to see done better with allonis though. The biggest is that it still doesn't support amazon echo (though I was told it's coming). I haven't covered lighting yet, like I said I'll cover more aspects of the system upon request. But lighting is straight-forward... You select a room, and then you have toggle buttons for turning lights on/off, and sliders for adjusting brightness. You also have access to scenes (which I haven't set up yet... again I'm bare bones to start here). Controlling lights with voice is just so natural, so I really urge allonis to support echo or google home as soon as possible. That way I can go back to controlling my bedroom lights with my voice, and it will also push me to start adding more zwave switches to my system. Right now I'm not all that compelled, since I was spoiled with voice control and using a phone/tablet to turn lights on/off just isn't efficient in my eyes. But of course, with a control system, it's all about automating lights and configuring scenes, which again, I haven't actually gotten into yet.
That's about it for now. I only covered a small portion here. I didn't want to make a huge post and let people get lost. So I figured I'd leave this here, and if anyone is interested in learning more, feel free to respond and I will show. I just wanted to start with the highlights.
... by the way, my next "big" project will be to add automated shades. Allonis does support automated shades, and I pre-wired all my windows for it. But it was too cost-prohibitive to add that now. So for now, I have manual roller shades that can be easily converted to motor shades. Once I get my automated shades up and running, I will be sure to share my experience here.