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post #1 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Basic lighting/HVAC/audio needed-confused by options

Total home automation newbie here. Be gentle...

My future home is mostly gutted to the studs for a major remodel, and I have the following wish list for an automated system:

Sure

-Lighting: all of first floor, master bed and bath, maybe some outside lighting. ~30 switches in all. home is about 4000 sq ft. total, first floor around 2000.
-HVAC: 2 separate units and thermostats.
-Music: Downstairs and master bedroom audio. I'm leaning toward Sonos. As a non-audiophile, they have sounded fine to me at relatives' homes.

Unsure
-TV: we don't watch much TV and are happy with our current LED/soundbar setup. I don't see much need to automate anything here
-Alarm system: we don't have an alarm system at our current home, but want to install one here. Was thinking wireless. I am unsure how important integration of this system into future automation might be for me.
-Garage doors: We have a detached garage about 100 feet from the main house
-Other??? I'm open to suggestions

Now, on to my questions.

Our contractor and my limited research has led me toward control4 and lutron RA2 select systems. I need some help understanding how these systems are related to other HA technologies such as Crestron or Savant.

It seems to me that the RA2 select system is a self-contained, out of the box system that I can set up myself without programming knowledge, and a little help here or from Mr. Google.

What, exactly, are Crestron, Savant and Control4? Are they software layered on top of the lutron RA2 hardware? Different hardware altogether that controls the lutron dimmer switches? What is the advantage of using these instead of just the apps and keypads supplied the RA2 select system?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by coalcracker79 View Post
Total home automation newbie here. Be gentle...

My future home is mostly gutted to the studs for a major remodel, and I have the following wish list for an automated system:

Sure

-Lighting: all of first floor, master bed and bath, maybe some outside lighting. ~30 switches in all. home is about 4000 sq ft. total, first floor around 2000.
-HVAC: 2 separate units and thermostats.
-Music: Downstairs and master bedroom audio. I'm leaning toward Sonos. As a non-audiophile, they have sounded fine to me at relatives' homes.

Unsure
-TV: we don't watch much TV and are happy with our current LED/soundbar setup. I don't see much need to automate anything here
-Alarm system: we don't have an alarm system at our current home, but want to install one here. Was thinking wireless. I am unsure how important integration of this system into future automation might be for me.
-Garage doors: We have a detached garage about 100 feet from the main house
-Other??? I'm open to suggestions

Now, on to my questions.

Our contractor and my limited research has led me toward control4 and lutron RA2 select systems. I need some help understanding how these systems are related to other HA technologies such as Crestron or Savant.

It seems to me that the RA2 select system is a self-contained, out of the box system that I can set up myself without programming knowledge, and a little help here or from Mr. Google.

What, exactly, are Crestron, Savant and Control4? Are they software layered on top of the lutron RA2 hardware? Different hardware altogether that controls the lutron dimmer switches? What is the advantage of using these instead of just the apps and keypads supplied the RA2 select system?

Thanks!
In general, a DIY hub or a Custom install hub (Control4/Crestron/Savant) will tie various devices together. And gives you level of automation based on time of day, weather, security or any other variables you can image.

Control4/Crestron/Savant are Home automation platforms. They work with 10,000's of devices, some are their own devices, others are 3rd party devices (Lutron). As an example, Lutron sells lighting, as does Control4. So you can use either lighting within a Control4 environment. But what if you want your lights to turn on, music to go to a predefined channel, doors unlock and alarm get turned off when you press a code to enter the house. That is where larger hubs like Control4/Savant/Crestron come into play - they can take lights, hvac, security, audio, video, etc and automate it all together.

There are many posts on here about DIY platforms and DIY hubs. You can get Vera/Wink type hubs for $150 or less and those could also control Lutron lights or some HVAC applications, some security systems, etc. Just more limited in function. These hubs can be a bit more limiting when it comes to whole home audio and video. options are there, just not as plentiful.

You need to define your appetite for wanting to support/do it yourself vs having an installer/programmer you pay.


Control4/Crestron/Savant are custom install - aka you need a dealer. That said, Control4 is the most DIY friendly of the bunch. With Crestron/Savant you need a dealer 100% of the time. In Control4, you need a dealer to create your project, and you need a dealer to add new things into your project (buy a new TV, need your dealers help). But control4 sells software called Composer Home Edition. With that you can program 100% of the system. Want a new doorbell sound, you can do that. Want to add a new code for someone to come into the house and create a program upon their arrival (like i mentioned, disarm, open doors, put on music, lights, etc) you can do that in Control4 Composer HE. Want to get a text message every time something happens - you can program it on your own.

Last edited by ezlotogura; 04-06-2018 at 10:51 AM.
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post #3 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ezlotogura View Post
In general, a DIY hub or a Custom install hub (Control4/Crestron/Savant) will tie various devices together. And gives you level of automation based on time of day, weather, security or any other variables you can image.

Control4/Crestron/Savant are Home automation platforms. They work with 10,000's of devices, some are their own devices, others are 3rd party devices (Lutron). As an example, Lutron sells lighting, as does Control4. So you can use either lighting within a Control4 environment. But what if you want your lights to turn on, music to go to a predefined channel, doors unlock and alarm get turned off when you press a code to enter the house. That is where larger hubs like Control4/Savant/Crestron come into play - they can take lights, hvac, security, audio, video, etc and automate it all together.

There are many posts on here about DIY platforms and DIY hubs. You can get Vera/Wink type hubs for $150 or less and those could also control Lutron lights or some HVAC applications, some security systems, etc. Just more limited in function. These hubs can be a bit more limiting when it comes to whole home audio and video. options are there, just not as plentiful.

You need to define your appetite for wanting to support/do it yourself vs having an installer/programmer you pay.


Control4/Crestron/Savant are custom install - aka you need a dealer. That said, Control4 is the most DIY friendly of the bunch. With Crestron/Savant you need a dealer 100% of the time. In Control4, you need a dealer to create your project, and you need a dealer to add new things into your project (buy a new TV, need your dealers help). But control4 sells software called Composer Home Edition. With that you can program 100% of the system. Want a new doorbell sound, you can do that. Want to add a new code for someone to come into the house and create a program upon their arrival (like i mentioned, disarm, open doors, put on music, lights, etc) you can do that in Control4 Composer HE. Want to get a text message every time something happens - you can program it on your own.
Thanks, ezlotogura, that clears things up a bit.

At the moment, I don't think I want/need the orchestrated automation options you are describing, i.e. lighting, alarm, music, shades with the touch of one button. What is most important to me if the coordinated lighting schemes for the main living areas, such that I can set a scene in a room or the whole downstairs with the touch of a button or voice command. I don't mind having to use a separate app or voice command for music, etc.

With that in mind, could I get away with just purchasing a RA2 select system? It's unclear to me how easy music and HVAC would be to control the Lutron app, but they do claim compatiblity with several thermostats and Sonos.
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post #4 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by coalcracker79 View Post
Thanks, ezlotogura, that clears things up a bit.

At the moment, I don't think I want/need the orchestrated automation options you are describing, i.e. lighting, alarm, music, shades with the touch of one button. What is most important to me if the coordinated lighting schemes for the main living areas, such that I can set a scene in a room or the whole downstairs with the touch of a button or voice command. I don't mind having to use a separate app or voice command for music, etc.

With that in mind, could I get away with just purchasing a RA2 select system? It's unclear to me how easy music and HVAC would be to control the Lutron app, but they do claim compatiblity with several thermostats and Sonos.
http://www.lutron.com/en-US/Products...tegration.aspx

looks like these items will integrate.
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post #5 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by coalcracker79 View Post
Thanks, ezlotogura, that clears things up a bit.

At the moment, I don't think I want/need the orchestrated automation options you are describing, i.e. lighting, alarm, music, shades with the touch of one button. What is most important to me if the coordinated lighting schemes for the main living areas, such that I can set a scene in a room or the whole downstairs with the touch of a button or voice command. I don't mind having to use a separate app or voice command for music, etc.

With that in mind, could I get away with just purchasing a RA2 select system? It's unclear to me how easy music and HVAC would be to control the Lutron app, but they do claim compatiblity with several thermostats and Sonos.
Without a home automation platform, everything would just standalone, which might be perfectly fine if that's what you're looking for. Lutron has some lite integration into some audio systems, but you would still be using the standalone music app in most scenarios. In this situation I would recommend Lutron thermostats so that they are integrated into your Lutron app.

So, what are your standalone solutions? Of which you are sure you can do the following:

Music: Autonomic Media Controls (Mirage), or Sonos - I really like the mirage system. If you're doing more than 5 rooms there's not a terrible premium on it either.
TV: Factory Remotes - For a TV/soundbar setup you can just use the cable box remotes
Lighting: Use regular RA2. You can get the software if you take their class, it's not that long and it's online.

Of which you are unsure:

Alarm: Most companies will have a standalone app
Garage Doors: Standalone myQ App, or Vera w/ Linear Controllers (Like $250 for two garage doors)

Get your prewire right, regardless of what you do. You can self contract the prewire if you're getting charged a premium from the Control 4 guy. I bet they want $15k, but you could do it for much less.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a firm believe in full scale premium systems, it's what I do for a living... but it seems like you're maybe interested in exploring a less robust option that's solid and you could manage yourself. I would ask for a demo so that you could see if it's something your interested in. You can try my system using the link, but please don't turn on the patio speakers too loud . System name JBDemo, pass 3526.

I always suggest people start with a scope of work, a written list of the system capabilities they want when the system is finished. The control guy should be fitting a system to your scope of work, not fitting your scope of work to his system... and if the latter is happening it's usually pretty obvious.

James Babin - System designer myEasytek
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post #6 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Get your prewire right, regardless of what you do. You can self contract the prewire if you're getting charged a premium from the Control 4 guy. I bet they want $15k, but you could do it for much less.
I had planned for our subcontractor electrician will do all the wiring. I'm not sure what you mean by "prewiring." The walls are open and any wiring should be straightforward, so I certainly want to do it right now.
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post #7 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 12:22 PM
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I had planned for our subcontractor electrician will do all the wiring. I'm not sure what you mean by "prewiring." The walls are open and any wiring should be straightforward, so I certainly want to do it right now.
Yeah, that's what I meant. Wiring before the walls are closed is called a prewire. You're on the right track.

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If I am able to purchase the appropriate parts, can a RA2 select system be installed fully by me and a licensed electrician? Or will I need a local dealer to install, or at least supervise?
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post #9 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by coalcracker79 View Post
If I am able to purchase the appropriate parts, can a RA2 select system be installed fully by me and a licensed electrician? Or will I need a local dealer to install, or at least supervise?
You can install it all yourself with an electrician. Look in this thread for posts from a dealer that will sell to you: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/162-ho...-radiora2.html
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post #10 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 07:49 PM
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If the whole house is down to the studs, do not plan on using wireless anything. Run low voltage wires to the doors and/windows you want monitored, put network and coax drops all over the place. Wireless should only be used for mobile devices or as a fallback when hard wiring isn't easy or aesthetically possible.
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post #11 of 15 Old 04-06-2018, 10:25 PM
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You are in a great position going down to the studs. Plan to wire now, while you can. Wireless is for when it's too late and you don't have a choice. The exceptions to that would be RA2 and Sonos, which are excellent.

2 CAT6 and one coax to each main living area, each bedroom, study, garage, etc. All back to a central wiring closet. This buys you options down the road, and you will be glad you did it. You can contain all of this in a nice box that fits between the studs. Your electrician can help you out here. The security system should definitely be wired, as much as you possibly can while you can. This is for aesthetic reasons and so you don't have to deal with dead batteries on 30 devices.

You can add on Crestron or Control4 type automation on top of all of this, but from what you described, it doesn't really sound like you need to.
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You are in a great position going down to the studs. Plan to wire now, while you can. Wireless is for when it's too late and you don't have a choice. The exceptions to that would be RA2 and Sonos, which are excellent.

2 CAT6 and one coax to each main living area, each bedroom, study, garage, etc. All back to a central wiring closet. This buys you options down the road, and you will be glad you did it. You can contain all of this in a nice box that fits between the studs. Your electrician can help you out here. The security system should definitely be wired, as much as you possibly can while you can. This is for aesthetic reasons and so you don't have to deal with dead batteries on 30 devices.

You can add on Crestron or Control4 type automation on top of all of this, but from what you described, it doesn't really sound like you need to.
Thanks for the tips so far. Super helpful.

Just so I am clear: running CAT6 and coaxial cable is for some future...what...TVs or receivers that I might place in those rooms? Apart from that, what else might I use them for?
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post #13 of 15 Old 04-07-2018, 09:18 AM
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Get RA2, then layer our CQC platform over it. It's a perfect combination. Both are commercial grade, both are DIY friendly if you want to do that. Since this separates hardware substrate from automation system, it also means you can get help with the hardware installation but do the rest yourself. And it means that, should you move, you don't have to rip everything out. Just leave the RA2 system as a standalone lighting system, and take your automation system with you. CQC provides the higher level functionality that RA2 doesn't, so they complement each other very well.

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post #14 of 15 Old 04-07-2018, 11:03 AM
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Just so I am clear: running CAT6 and coaxial cable is for some future...what...TVs or receivers that I might place in those rooms? Apart from that, what else might I use them for?
Computers, printers, streamer boxes, game consoles, Wireless access points, IP cameras. Lots of things.
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post #15 of 15 Old 04-08-2018, 08:06 AM
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Coax is pretty much just for cable, satellite, or antenna. It can be used to run other things through a balun, but it's cheaper and easier to do that over Cat6.

Run as much Cat6 as the budget will allow. Twenty years ago, we were running Cat5 just to network computers. Since then it has become the standard for wiring pretty much anything through cheap, easy converters (if it can't be run directly on the copper). Nobody could have predicted that we could run HDMI over Cat5 with a $40 converter box back then, when 10BaseT was the use for the cabling. So you'll be future-proofing yourself with extra drops.
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