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post #1 of 32 Old 03-18-2020, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Most Affordable Light Controls for Theater

I have been reading about this all day and can’t figure out what to do...Insteon, Caseta, Hue???

I would like my home theater to be automated (hit play lights dim to nothing, pause lights up, end of movie lights up). I will have three switches - 1 for 11 lights around the room, 1 for riser lights, and 1 for LEDs in the soffit. I don’t know how to go about this but like I said have been reading all day trying to figure it out.

It seems the hue is most expensive. It looks like for the Caseta I need 2 switches (riser would just be on off) and a hub and a harmony remote and this all would work with regular lights but you don’t get the cool colored of the hue. Also how does this work with the LED lights? Is this the recommended way to go? Is Insteon the same thing? Other recommendations?
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post #2 of 32 Old 03-18-2020, 09:49 PM
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It's a simple question that has lots of legs to it.

Are you one to build a budget, a moderate or a full featured project? What's your general view of price vs. quality and features?

Do you plan or anticipate wanting to control / automate more aspects of the theater / house?

Are you looking to control just white lights or color effects too?

How many light fixtures for this initial project?
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post #3 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 12:15 AM
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I know about EVERSPRING, they have different kinds of accessories for light control:
-You can choose between In-wall switches or external smart plugs.
-A dimmer switch let you change the intensity of lights.
-If you care about knowing the power consumption you can choose a metering plug.
-A single relay switch let you control all lights in one room, while a double relay switch provides a separate control for two lights in the same room.

If you want to use wireless devices for light control, i suggest Z-Wave so that you can choose between many brands products, and they are all compatible. Just need to pay attention to the wireless frequency and the maximum power load for each device.

For the price, i think you can check on Amazon.
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post #4 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 07:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoothtlk View Post
It's a simple question that has lots of legs to it.

Are you one to build a budget, a moderate or a full featured project? What's your general view of price vs. quality and features?

Do you plan or anticipate wanting to control / automate more aspects of the theater / house?

Are you looking to control just white lights or color effects too?

How many light fixtures for this initial project?
Thanks for the response.

I need to build on a budget. If I didn’t I would go with the Hue set up.
I just want to control the three light zones in the theater. 11 lights and LEDs.
Color effects would be preferable.
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post #5 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 07:20 AM
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Put two Caseta switches in the wall and control and 11 lights (LEDs?) and the second to control the other string.
If you want to expand to automation, get a Caseta Pro Hub that allows for 3rd party automation integration.

If you want color, then Hue. Hue's hub allows for integration.

If you are running RGB strip lights, look at Qubino Z-Wave and get both their RGBW and their dimmer module for the white lights. Many Z-Wave automation controllers out there.

You can also do all of the above. A potential future automation system can then control both.

If you are technically adept (if you are asking the questions, then maybe not?) Sonoff and Shelley devices running Tasmota is really cheap. Controllable via MQTT by a number of automation systems.
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Last edited by smoothtlk; 03-19-2020 at 07:24 AM.
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post #6 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoothtlk View Post
Put two Caseta switches in the wall and control and 11 lights (LEDs?) and the second to control the other string.
If you want to expand to automation, get a Caseta Pro Hub that allows for 3rd party automation integration.

If you want color, then Hue. Hue's hub allows for integration.

If you are running RGB strip lights, look at Qubino Z-Wave and get both their RGBW and their dimmer module for the white lights. Many Z-Wave automation controllers out there.

You can also do all of the above. A potential future automation system can then control both.

If you are technically adept (if you are asking the questions, then maybe not?) Sonoff and Shelley devices running Tasmota is really cheap. Controllable via MQTT by a number of automation systems.
Thanks. Yeah, don’t know what you said there at the end but I can look into it?

As for Z-wave, are their products controllable with a harmony remote? The plan is to push play on the remote and everything dims and turns off. Will Z-wave do this?
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post #7 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 09:19 AM
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I don't know if Harmony does that on it's own.
Certainly all of the systems we are involved with have a full blown automation controller that orchestrates and integrates all of these functions.

The physical device connection, the understanding of how a device turns / on / off / dim / color, the timing of the effect (warm up the AV devices starting with the projector, then dim the lights slowly, then queue up the previews, then switch to the main movie etc.).

The sequence can easily be triggered from the Harmony button push (or by time, or by touchscreen, etc).
We don't rely on the basic Harmony capability to orchestrate "all of that".
But that's not saying it's not possible. Haven't researched it because that's not how we would implement.

Sounds like you are at the beginning of the Wants of a control system, without understanding it's role or capability. A Harmony is a basic control system.
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post #8 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again. How would you orchestrate all of these wants? I understand the harmony remote would just be the device that starts the process, not necessarily controls it. Yes, I am just trying to understand all of this so I have all infrastructure in place before I start to drywall my theater
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post #9 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 10:59 AM
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Here is one way:

Harmony Remote > RF > Harmony Hub <> ethernet <> Automation controller <> ethernet or serial <> Z-Wave controller <> Z-Wave light dimmer or RGBW device > Light

And optionally:

Same "trigger" invokes:
Automation controller <> ethernet or serial <> Projector On
After that
Automation controller <> ethernet or serial <> Receiver On
After that
Automation controller <> ethernet <> Nvidia Shield (and others) Launch selected Movie
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post #10 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
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What kind of automation controller do you use with Zwave dimmers?
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post #11 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 07:24 PM
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I don't understand why do you need so much stuff, once you have:

Zwave Hub > RF > Zwave controller > electrical cable > light that should be enough.

If you are afraid the RF cannot reach the Hub then you can still add additional devices as signal repeater (z-wave has mesh network) .

Most of Zwave Hub can do the job: Vera, Fibaro, Smarthings..... You can setup customized SCENES or RULES to turn on lights or electronics (you can search for SMART HOME SCENES):

Rule 1 : Turn on all the lights, turn on the television, turn on the projector.
Rule 2: Turn off every light and electronic (when you are leaving)
Rule 3: Turn on dim lights in bedroom and kitchen, then automatically turn off after 30min

You can manually activate from your smartphone or you can schedule automatic activation.

You can even set some conditions (ex: lights turn on from 7 pm to 6
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post #12 of 32 Old 03-19-2020, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leoerduro View Post
I don't understand why do you need so much stuff, once you have:

Zwave Hub > RF > Zwave controller > electrical cable > light that should be enough.

If you are afraid the RF cannot reach the Hub then you can still add additional devices as signal repeater (z-wave has mesh network) .

Most of Zwave Hub can do the job: Vera, Fibaro, Smarthings..... You can setup customized SCENES or RULES to turn on lights or electronics (you can search for SMART HOME SCENES):

Rule 1 : Turn on all the lights, turn on the television, turn on the projector.
Rule 2: Turn off every light and electronic (when you are leaving)
Rule 3: Turn on dim lights in bedroom and kitchen, then automatically turn off after 30min

You can manually activate from your smartphone or you can schedule automatic activation.

You can even set some conditions (ex: lights turn on from 7 pm to 6
Because his Want is to trigger that all from a Harmony Remote.
Yes, I understand what you are saying ie: push a button in a smartphone app.
But then that isn't integrated.
He might as well just get up and click the wall switch like we all did in the good ole days
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post #13 of 32 Old 03-20-2020, 07:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoothtlk View Post
Because his Want is to trigger that all from a Harmony Remote.
Yes, I understand what you are saying ie: push a button in a smartphone app.
But then that isn't integrated.
He might as well just get up and click the wall switch like we all did in the good ole days
I would get up to turn off the lights but I want the automated factor! And am trying to do it as entry level as possible (read “easy”). I do not have a need to automate anything else (I guess I am old school or just old). I guess I just need to get something and start playing with it.
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post #14 of 32 Old 03-20-2020, 08:50 AM
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I have had a Z-wave system for close to a decade, been on Homeseer for 4 or 5 years now. I don't really use my Harmony with my lights in my setup, though.

But I bought a Caseta hub just for the sole purpose of their Pico remotes. I do have a Pico remote in my theater that I use to control my lighting. It just sits on the table on it's little pedestal. It's simpler/cleaner than using the Harmony. I have the Harmony Ultimate in the theater, and it's a little cludgy with lights. I have an Elite in my living room, but not lighting control on it either.

My theater lights are actually LIFX bulbs, controlled thru Homeseer via my Caseta remote. The Harmony can also natively control LIFX, but I don't want that. Confused yet? I like smart bulbs for certain things, but a theater with 11 fixtures is not one. I only have 2.

I am pretty sure that you can integrate Caseta wit Harmony straight up. Using a Caseta switch for each of your circuits. I haven't actually tried this though. I am impressed with their hardware, but I don't like configuring things on phone apps, but that's just me

Also, at one time Harmony had a z-wave hub you could buy. I wouldn't like that for whole home automation, but if this was your only home automation desire, it might be the simplest? I almost bought it several times, but never did pull the trigger.

Just be careful with the home automation thing. My wife wanted a way to turn off the bedroom lights from her nightstand. It could have been a simple RF controller for $25 and I'd have been done. Now I have a server rack with a dedicated computer for automation, and have spent thousands of dollars over the years. It's a fun hobby, for me at least
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post #15 of 32 Old 03-20-2020, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickTheGreat View Post
I have had a Z-wave system for close to a decade, been on Homeseer for 4 or 5 years now. I don't really use my Harmony with my lights in my setup, though.

But I bought a Caseta hub just for the sole purpose of their Pico remotes. I do have a Pico remote in my theater that I use to control my lighting. It just sits on the table on it's little pedestal. It's simpler/cleaner than using the Harmony. I have the Harmony Ultimate in the theater, and it's a little cludgy with lights. I have an Elite in my living room, but not lighting control on it either.

My theater lights are actually LIFX bulbs, controlled thru Homeseer via my Caseta remote. The Harmony can also natively control LIFX, but I don't want that. Confused yet? I like smart bulbs for certain things, but a theater with 11 fixtures is not one. I only have 2.

I am pretty sure that you can integrate Caseta wit Harmony straight up. Using a Caseta switch for each of your circuits. I haven't actually tried this though. I am impressed with their hardware, but I don't like configuring things on phone apps, but that's just me

Also, at one time Harmony had a z-wave hub you could buy. I wouldn't like that for whole home automation, but if this was your only home automation desire, it might be the simplest? I almost bought it several times, but never did pull the trigger.

Just be careful with the home automation thing. My wife wanted a way to turn off the bedroom lights from her nightstand. It could have been a simple RF controller for $25 and I'd have been done. Now I have a server rack with a dedicated computer for automation, and have spent thousands of dollars over the years. It's a fun hobby, for me at least
Yes, I can see how this could get crazy expensive and yes it is confusing!

I could care less about the harmony remote. I thought it was necessary? I want to press play, pause and stop on my BD or Plex server and have the lights dim down, come up to 50% and come up 100% respectively. It seems like this is an easy thing to say but extremely difficult to implement.

I really don’t want to just get up to turn off the lights or control from a pico remote. Seems like someone should put together a system that is plug and play for this...like an all in one type of deal...
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post #16 of 32 Old 03-20-2020, 10:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Okay here’s what I have come up with. Please let me know if I am on the right track or not!

Samsung Smart things hub: Samsung GP-U999SJVLGDA 3rd Generation SmartThings Hub, White https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Honeywell Z-Wave Plus


Zwave switch for dimming lights: Smart Light Dimmer Switch, In-Wall Paddle, Interchangeable White & Almond | Built-In Repeater & Range Extender | ZWave Hub Required - SmartThings, Wink, Alexa Compatible, 39351 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B3LXZJ9..._udqDEbNX0YR5E

RGBW controller for controlling LED lights: GIDERWEL Home Smart Zigbee RGBCCT Strip Controller Compatible with Hue Bridge Amazon Echo Plus Alexa and Lightify Hub for APP/Voice Control 6 Wire RGB Cold White Warm White LED Strips https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FTD9H7T..._lfqDEbBXK52BD

LED lights: Onforu 50ft RGB LED Strip Lights Kit, 15m Flexible Color Changing Lights Strip, 450 Units 5050 RGB LED Rope Lights with 24V Power Supply for Party, Living Room, Non-Waterproof https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RT31DQ9..._hjqDEbRCNQ3N0

I guess I don’t understand how the controller gets power? Do you just get power to the controller and then it puts power to the LED strips? Aaahhhhh.....so confusing!
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post #17 of 32 Old 03-20-2020, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Claybe View Post
Yes, I can see how this could get crazy expensive and yes it is confusing!

I could care less about the harmony remote. I thought it was necessary? I want to press play, pause and stop on my BD or Plex server and have the lights dim down, come up to 50% and come up 100% respectively. It seems like this is an easy thing to say but extremely difficult to implement.

I really don’t want to just get up to turn off the lights or control from a pico remote. Seems like someone should put together a system that is plug and play for this...like an all in one type of deal...
It's not really that difficult. You just have to jump in with a budget and get going.
Now, you add Plex integration. We have that integration, unlikely many others do. So your short list of systems now got smaller, which makes it easier to decide
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post #18 of 32 Old 03-23-2020, 06:37 AM - Thread Starter
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So now I am leaning towards the Caseta system to start with. Does anyone know it you can dim LED strip lights with this dimmer or will I still need to purchase a rgbw dimmer?
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post #19 of 32 Old 03-23-2020, 06:55 AM
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If you are doing low voltage LED lights (white or RGB or RGBW) then you need a RGBW controller. I don't think Caseta has one.
This really sounds like you are leaning towards Z-Wave instead.

For budget, get Qubino RGBW controller, Qubino (or other) Z-Wave light switches (for traditional lights) and a Smarthings hub to begin with.
If you want to go more advanced in the future, then get a full boat automation controller and swap the hub for a locally controlled one that integrates with the automation controller.

If you know you will want to do more (automate your AV equipment, climate control, security cameras etc) then buy the automation controller up front to save the swap cost.

With the automation controller, you can use Caseta for the standard lighting, and Z-Wave for the RGB lights.
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post #20 of 32 Old 03-23-2020, 07:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoothtlk View Post
If you are doing low voltage LED lights (white or RGB or RGBW) then you need a RGBW controller. I don't think Caseta has one.
This really sounds like you are leaning towards Z-Wave instead.

For budget, get Qubino RGBW controller, Qubino (or other) Z-Wave light switches (for traditional lights) and a Smarthings hub to begin with.
If you want to go more advanced in the future, then get a full boat automation controller and swap the hub for a locally controlled one that integrates with the automation controller.

If you know you will want to do more (automate your AV equipment, climate control, security cameras etc) then buy the automation controller up front to save the swap cost.

With the automation controller, you can use Caseta for the standard lighting, and Z-Wave for the RGB lights.
Okay this makes sense. How would myserver integrate into the above when I am able to get it?
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post #21 of 32 Old 03-23-2020, 07:12 AM
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Quote:
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Okay this makes sense. How would myserver integrate into the above when I am able to get it?
Where ever you see "automation controller" replace that with "myServer"

This is why one ALWAYS picks the automation controller FIRST. Because it then dictates all next decisions.
For myServer (the system I know best) here is "what you should do"

Others can chime in for competing systems on what they know best.

Inputs:
Harmony remote > Harmony Hub > ethernet > myServer Harmony driver / myServer automation system
and
Your smartphone browser > wiFi (in home - not cloud) > myServer web server / automation system

Outputs:
myServer > myRaz Z-Wave controller > Z-Wave RF <> Qubino (or other Z-Wave) RGBW controller > RGBW LED strip lights (needs a low voltage power supply too)
myServer > ethernet > Caseta pro hub > Lutron RF > Caseta lights wired in wall to standard lighting

Other future Stuff:
myServer <> ethernet <> your AV equipment
myServer <> streaming media content player(s) > amplifier > speakers
myServer <> ethernet <> Internet <> Cloud server (like ecobee) <> Internet <> ecoBee thermostat (in home)

If you don't have an automation controller selected up front, then you will be hit and miss on what works and throwing stuff away.
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post #22 of 32 Old 03-25-2020, 08:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, in reviewing the budget, I need to limit what I am doing. Now I want to just try and get the lights to dim when playing a movie. In order to just get the lights to dim by pushing play (on BD or Plex) will I need a harmony remote to interact with the smart things hub and Zwave dimmer switch? When funds allow I will add LEDs and an automation controller.
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post #23 of 32 Old 03-26-2020, 01:05 PM
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As long as Caseta can fit your needs I would go that route. The biggest reason is its reliability. I had it at my last house and it worked great and was reliable. I know they use to have a pro hub but I don't think they offer that anymore and there is just one option. Worse case scenario buy one of their bundles that includes the hub, dimmer and a pico remote for a 3 way setup. If you don't like it you can always return it.

I would double check, someone on here may know, if they still pro hub as there were some additional features for a minimum cost
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post #24 of 32 Old 03-27-2020, 08:54 AM
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When I bought my Caseta hub (a year or so ago) you had to get the Pro to integrate with other automation systems. Or that was my understanding at least. I hadn't heard that they eliminated that, but I haven't been looking, either
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post #25 of 32 Old 03-27-2020, 09:08 AM
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Even with the caseta / pro hub...is there a native integration with Harmony? Without a control system in the middle? Not aware of that.
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post #26 of 32 Old 03-27-2020, 11:26 AM
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I have't tried it, but I have this link squirreled away in my bookmarks

https://support.myharmony.com/en-us/...-serena-shades
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post #27 of 32 Old 03-30-2020, 05:19 AM
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X10 all the way!

(runs and hides)

Yes, I'm joking, but I used X10 stuff in my dedicated HT since the late 90's through about 6 years ago. Aweful wireless over stock X10 brand RF control, but pretty good when I used IR remotes and receivers/blaster interfaces over powerline control. Had good zone control and dimming of lights for 80's tech- bought my first X10 modules and serial PC interface in the late 80's! Full GUI Mac interface way back then, too

HAve been adding in generic wifi and IR LED strips and controls past 5 years, and plan to try TP-Link Kasa soon. Maybe try Caseta stuff if the Kasa and generic wifi RGB bulbs/strips don't pan out.

I like IR control for reliability, though recent wifi stuff is pretty good if you add wifi extenders/access points as needed for coverage. Have some dead spots in my basement HT without wifi extenders/boosters/added AP's.

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post #28 of 32 Old 03-31-2020, 08:02 AM
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post #29 of 32 Old 03-31-2020, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smoothtlk View Post
Even with the caseta / pro hub...is there a native integration with Harmony? Without a control system in the middle? Not aware of that.
I question the need for a dedicated control hub for routine home control, ie most DIY'ers and common HT's.

With recent vintage direct wifi and bluetooth control, plus powerful IR blaster hubs like the Harmony and other wifi IR blasters/IR ubs, your home wifi router and smartphone are the "hubs". If you have range/reception issues over wifi, use addon wifi accesspoints/range extenders/repeaters from TP-Link or similar.

The principal is to use stock, standard wifi, Bluetooth and IR infrastructer for control, avoiding proprietary control systems that lock you into a restricted ecosytem.

Last edited by Rgb; 03-31-2020 at 08:25 AM.
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post #30 of 32 Old 03-31-2020, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Rgb View Post
I question the need for a dedicated control hub for routine home control, ie most DIY'ers and common HT's.

With recent vintage direct wifi and bluetooth control, plus powerful IR blaster hubs like the HArmony and other wifi IR blasters, your home wifi router and smartphone are the "hubs". If you have range/reception issues over wifi, use addon wifi accesspoints/range extenders/repeaters from TP-Link or similar.

THe principal is to use stock, standard wifi and Buetooth and IR infrastructier for control, avoiding proprietary control systems that lock you into a restricted ecosytem.
hmmm, well...
"most DIY'rs / common HT's"...yes. Most don't need anything. Just a standard IR remote control.
Once your system grows (as an "advanced" DIY'r or as one who like to add more toys that require control) then it starts becoming the "drawer of IR remote controls" problem that existed before the "universal remote control" came out.
What further creates this control problem is not all devices are IR.
As a general statement, IR is the worst control system to implement. No status, line of sight, reliability issues (both mechanical - emitters falling off of hardware and devices not "seeing" the IR). There are definite reasons IR isn't used on any commercial quality implementation. When the ability to control the system affects the business.

The common paradigm is "remote control". Automation is another level of capability not understood or implemented by most. Just the "advanced DIY'rs" and pros. If the control system is living on your phone - how does the automation work when you leave for work?

Most control systems bridge across many of the proprietary device and communication methods (WiFi / Bluetooth / Serial / IP / IR / Zigbee / Z-Wave / X10 / Insteon / UPB / DMX / MQTT etc) so the end user doesn't need to understand any of that technical doo dads. The days of a control system ONLY working with it's own hardware / services is pretty much gone now. Certainly the bigger players (google / Nest, Amazon, Crestron) continue to try to force one into their ecosystem and keep them there. But there are plenty of alternatives that are more open.

Using a smartphone as your "hub": how does that help anyone else in the house? You have a party, stream music from your phone and then get a call...kinda annoying for your guests.

Just from a definitions perspective, a Hub is really an automation controller. It typically includes communication radios (several), Rules processing, User interface support, variables for status, security, external access rights.

A User Interface device can be a handheld remote control, a wall switch, a smartphone UI, an on wall touch panel, a PC desktop UI, a Voice to Text to Natural Language Processor integration, etc.


A dedicated control system is just another piece of sophistication and advancement.
The evolution: Local device control - no integration, handheld remote control (IR and other), Universal remote controls, smartphone app that controls it's stuff (Denon Heos, Sonos etc), smartphone app that controls several groups of stuff (iRule and others), Basic hub (SmartThings, Vera, ISY others), Dedicated Controllers (Vantage, Homeworks), Full featured automation and media control (myServer, Crestron, Control4, Homeseer, Savant, CQC, etc).

Nothing wrong with any of these levels. Each meet some needs, each has a complexity and cost. Generally the more stuff that needs to be orchestrated (like in a Sports Bar or higher end home), the more need for a more capable control system that works 24x7x365 with no trendy phone to rely upon. No different than people's definition of a "home theater". Some think a BestBuy box system is great, others pay $hundreds of thousands on just the construction aspects...



I see you are SE Michigan- so are we

Last edited by smoothtlk; 03-31-2020 at 08:59 AM.
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