Advice for a friend's new house... - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2 Old 12-08-2019, 10:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Advice for a friend's new house...

A friend asked me for help with some smart home devices in his new house - I have home automation experience, but not with what he's got, so thought I'd try the brain trust here to see what advice you have. (Apologies in advance - this post ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would be.)

His new place:
1) is ~3000 sq feet over 3 levels
2) has a Lutron Radio RA2 system - 3 Graphic Eye QS units and the main repeater in the wiring closet on the 2nd floor - not sure if the keypads are just the SeeTouch keypads or the SeeTouch Hybrid keypads (keypad + dimmer). I found a wireless repeater in the guest room closet on the 1st floor, and have to assume that there's one on the 3rd floor as well, but haven't found it yet. Don't see any Pico remotes.
3) has a Ring doorbell at the front door
4) has a Nest thermostat on each level (that I found); assuming that there are also some heated floors as well, but didn't dig into what's controlling that yet.
5) has a few Sonos systems throughout the house
6) has 2-3 TVs, I think all of which are Ethernet/IP only. The vendor did install coax behind the TVs, but they're not using it and it wasn't terminated in the wiring closet.
7) has an NVR in the wiring closet, but this is powered off and the only camera I'm aware of is the Ring doorbell
8) has a Honeywell alarm system
9) has a router/AP combo from his ISP (Sonic gigabit fiber) in the wiring closet on the middle level, roughly in the middle of the house - this is the only AP in the house.
10) has an 8-10 port GigE non-PoE switch; unfortunately installer didn't label any Ethernet ports around the house, but I did find a low voltage wiring plan, but no labeling on that either. In addition, they didn't install any Ethernet ports in the ceiling in central locations which would help with AP placement; instead most are wall ports behind desks and TVs, and there are jacks in the ceilings of 1-2 bedroom closets, none of which are centrally located.
11) is in San Francisco - using WiFi Analyzer, the 2.4GHz band is a congested mess; 5GHz actually looks okay

What he'd like to do:
1) Re-program parts of the Radio RA2 system
a) In the living room, the lights hum when low, so he just wants to make them a few % brighter for that scene. I'm sure there are other scenes that he'll want to modify as well.
b) He wants Home and Away functionality by the front door and garage
c) Goodnight/House Off in the master bedroom, etc.
d) Vacation schedule when they're away from the house
e) Turn off the rest of the house when everyone's eating a meal
f) Overall improved useability - tying the lighting and keypad buttons in with other subsystems
2) WiFi in the office (middle of house) and master bedroom (back of house) on the 3rd floor isn't great
3) WiFi in the garage (1st floor front of house) isn't great (somewhere between -70 and -80 or less dBm on 5GHz band, if I remember correctly) and he'd like to put a Peloton bike there - for him, not for his wife ;-)
4) Wife wants Ring doorbell on her phone (his problem to fix), and for it to ring in more places in the house

A few things I'd like to propose based on his requests, and my questions are below. One thing I'm trying to do is give him recommendations that will result in him learning how to program and manage it so that he's not calling me all the time with questions. He's a smart guy - I want to give him the tools and reliable recommendations, and then let him run with it.
1) Programming the Radio RA2 system
a) Can he do all of the programming through the Home Control app, or does he need to take the training (lutron.learn.com) and download the PC Essentials software? The training is roughly 2 hours long? Does he need anything from the original purchaser to register?
b) Can I assume that both of these tools will be able to load the current config from the running system? Or does he need to reach out to the installer to get the current running config?
2) Expanding control:
a) With Radio RA2, he should be able to do some basic Sonos control, starting with on/off so that he can turn the music on/off from a keypad button instead of the app - assuming that this can be integrated into the existing keypads and don't require Pico remotes?
b) Connect the Lutron and Sonos systems to IFTTT (I'm aware of all the issues around cloud control, but as long as he's aware of it, it gives him a place to start before he takes it to the next level.)
c) Leveraging IFTTT - there's an IFTTT rule to have the Sonos systems play a doorbell chime when the Ring doorbell is pressed. I would assume there'd be some ability to tie Nest in with the Radio RA2 system as well, but haven't looked into that too much.
d) I'm 99% sure there's a Lutron Connect Bridge installed, but I need him to verify this. Any special steps he'll need to take to gain access to this for remote access? Does the previous owner need to grant him access, or can he take control of it with only the information on the unit (serial, MAC address, etc.)?
3) Improving the network
a) I love the Ubiquiti ceiling APs - does anyone have experience with the in-wall units? I was thinking of putting one of these behind the master bedroom TV to improve WiFi in the master bedroom and office on the 3rd floor
b) There's neither Ethernet nor conduit in the garage, so I'd look to put a regular Ubiquiti AP in the guest room closet where there is an Ethernet connection - the guest room is right next to the garage and is towards the front/middel of the house. I'm not sure that the 5GHz band would be great in the garage, but 2.4GHz would likely make it through the closet door (appears to be solid wood?) and walls just fine - anyone know the network requirements for a Peloton bike? Also note that the Radio RA2 wireless repeater is in this closet.
c) Would see if he wants to upgrade to a PoE switch so that he doesn't have a lot PoE injectors hanging off of the switch to power the APs - anyone have experience with the Ubiquiti Gen 2 switches yet? Not a requirement, but would be nice. I'd also probably just leave the existing router/AP combo on the middle level for the time being.
4) Putting an iPad in the kitchen, so that they don't have to take out their phones to control the music, see who's at the door, etc. I've used the iPort iPad charging system and love it because you don't have to fumble with the charging cable - are there any better and cheaper options that you'd recommend?
5) I recognize that I'm leaving the video and security off the table for the time being, but I figure we'll start small, and then move forward once he gets comfortable with it all.

Appreciate your feedback and suggestions!
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post #2 of 2 Old 12-18-2019, 12:56 AM
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For #4 you could look at an Amazon Echo Show. It would integrate well with the doorbell I think, would give you voice control, and I would think can integrate with Sonos? Try it out and see how it works?
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