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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am asking all the experts here the same age old question of choosing the home automation product .


I have a couple of friends who are in the process of building their houses in the Dallas area and wanted me to give some suggestions on the home automation products and I asked them to look at the Control 4 and HAI products . I even had a couple of Installers come in and give an estimate and was shocked at the quotes . the First one was 70K and the second was 100K and these homes already had the wiring complete .....


The second quote include the the new VIDABOX automation product .


isnt there a budget system to buy to control the music , video , cameras , Heating and lighting ?.....


we are currently looking at the 20K to 25K budget and the wiring is already in place . Any system that can be done us is also fine like using a URC's MX-3000 remote ....


Appreciate any help in this matter ....
 

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Ask those installers how to cut down the cost.


A good chunk of those estimates is lighting - perhaps a combination of automated and conventional switches me do the trick. Are cameras really necessary, in every location that's wired? Several different lighting manufacturers available, some cheaper than others. Is a video server required? Skip the server. How many TV locations? Can a cable box be placed at each location for now, but wire for future 'centralization'?


Keep in mind that it's a lot easier to lump the HA package in with the mortgage, than pay for it later in a single balloon payment.


Find some eager installers, if those original ones don't work out.
 

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First question/comment i have is about "the wiring already being in place". How could you possibly have guessed what wire to pull to each location if you did not have a system designed before you began pulling it. Each product uses different technology that requires different cable. Does part of the quote address this? How long did the quoting companies spend looking over what has been run? My company would bill for the time it took to trace down cables for any projects that we did not plan. Anyone who does a quick walk thru and says 'it will work' doesnt know what they are doing and cant be trusted. Assuming a wire goes back to the location someone says it does is disaster waiting to happen.


URC MX-3000 is a remote control not a home automation system. Even if you maxed out the possibilities/features of this remote with a MSC-400 (control processor) your still not in the same ballpark as any of the other products you mentioned. Im not saying that it wont work for you just that your trying to compare a remote control to a home automation system.


Would you please post your wish list. Its impossible to guess whats available to you and whether or not those quotes fit your plans. Was budget discussed with these companies during the initial visit? Seems odd to me that they would come back with quotes of 3 or 4 times the budget.


1.How many zones of audio & video?

2.How many switches/dimmers? 50? 100? Was every switch counted? Can you eliminate closets and unused rooms to cut this down?

3.How many zones for HVAC?

4.How many cameras? What models were quoted? 10 Cameras can easily cost $25000.00 blowing your entire budget.

5.How many sources? An entry level media server could cost you $3000.00. You could eliminate this with an ipod dock.

6.Did the quote include all consumer electronic products? TV's, Blu-ray, speakers, subwoofers? Your looking at $5000.00 in CE products per video zone before you even start with the control system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The wiring was done by the same installer who gave the $70K quote .

We are looking at around 6 zones of audio and 5 zones of video .


The reason I mentioned MX-3000 is how we can use it as the controller that other systems use with their own touch panel system . Correct me if I am wrong . That would save some money as some of these touch panel controllers are costing more than 2 grand each .


I guess , I can take the VIdeo option from the list and use the Receiver or a HDMI splitter to save some money over there ...


THe major inputs to the system would be an HTPC that we already have , Blueray player and security system ...
 

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If the company who wired the house came back with a quote of $70K then IMO that's what it will cost to do the job that the client told them they wanted done. Out of curiosity.. what product was quoted by the first company?


My advice would be to meet with them again, this time tell them what the budget is so that they can say yes or no to your wish list and provide a system that will get as close to the dream as possible given the budget constraints.


I'm guessing the second company added a little more to the bill because they knew they would be constrained by the wiring plan meant for the other control system.


As far as using 3rd party remotes.. unless these remotes can communicate via RF like the RTI T2-C can with a Crestron system.. you should not try to use them. IR receivers/repeaters are 1980's technology that shouldn't even be considered in a new system. And in the case of the T2-C, your still paying for an RF gateway & programming so theres little to no savings.


You need to post the wish list and all of the details i asked for above.... no one here will be able to offer a solution without it IMO. Anyone speculating that they can get it done for $25k without knowing the details is someone you don't want to work with. Be weary of energetic PM's. The companies who breeze thru initial visits or make bold promises up front are the ones who don't finish...ever... or the ones who hit you for another $25k at the end. They low bid their way in the door then hold you hostage at the end.
 

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For the record, I know the Vidabox stuff, i worked their CES booth, and will be working their Cedia booth. They took the CQC automation software engine and put a bunch of stuff around it, plus created some damn nice & damn stable machines to operate it. I'm there to represent the automation bit.


I DIY'ed a CQC setup using eBay parts, put considerable elbow grease into learning all the various software widgets (not just CQC) and hardware widgets work. Trust me, it's an ass-ton of work.


I agree with 39cent, no way can this job be done for $25K by a professional installer. Hell, I barely was able to buy the parts for my setup for $25K via eBay, and have put in 1000 manhours into the setup. Even at $75/hour, and who really works for that little, i'm at $100K. If I actually got a nice touchpanel or new parts, i'd be at $125K-$150K easy.


Then again, a pro wouldn't have needed 1000 manhours to do what I did. Of course, that's probably because they'd have started with that damn sexy vAutomation box to begin with and shortcut 1/3 of my issues.


I'd write more, but my used RAID hardware controller card died (only paid $700 for it), I gotta go diagnose it. I already spent a dozen hours to isolate the hard disk issue to the card, now I need to figure out what on the card is bad. Too bad it wasn't a pre-canned product (or new), I could have just called the dealer and they'd deal with it.


You can spend HOURS or spend $$, but if you're getting into HA, you will spend...
 

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Ravi,


I'm surprised your friends are turning to you for advice instead of professionals. This is a DIY-centric forum that happens to have professionals on it.


IVB couldn't have said it any better: if you want a professionally installed system with all of those features $25K isn't going to do it unless you go DIY and spend your time.


Why don't you work with the company and value engineer to match your budget? They should have the experience to match your budget to your priorities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Looks Like I Pis***d off all the installers . I didnt want to offend any one .

I just wanted to get some ideas about some Budget systems for a Home automation and looking at all the replies , I dont think there is one ..


75/Hr ?...May be i am in the wrong Career



If only someone in the future will create a budget system so that there will be a mass market instead of only the rich getting the option to enjoy the cool stuff ...



Thanks all for the great INput .
 

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that's what i'm trying to say - C4 is not going to be any cheaper.


If you're willing to DIY a whole lotta stuff, you can do what I did, and get a real powerful system. Even us poor schlubs can have systems that kick ass without spending a ton of $$, but you will spend time. You don't have to be "techie" in the classical sense of the word, ie no hardcore programming, but it does take time & effort. That's what you're paying for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am not afraid to get my hands dirty if comes down to it . I just need some instructions as to where to start .


IVB , your website looks informative and probably start there to see if I can get a push to start on this project .
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ravi355 /forum/post/16911538


I am not afraid to get my hands dirty if comes down to it . I just need some instructions as to where to start .

I got quotes of >$100k to do my project also. That figure was not in the cards, hence I am now in the middle of a DIY project. My budget is probably right around yours. Read up on the following stuff on the forums and you will be on your way. These are not your only options, just what I happen to be using:


CQC (software automation)

ALC (hardwired lighting)

Aprilaire (HVAC)

Extron (video, check Ebay)

Monoprice (cables, wiring, connectors)


Prepare to spend a lot of time reading.
 

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The pros get paid a lot because of knowledge - takes a lot of time to learn all this stuff.


Don't forget that the HA costs can be bundled into a mortgage.


A lot of people here are overlooking the fact that Home Control is a very broad term - you can install 'HA' in a house for $100, if you cut back on your needs. Extraordinarily limited, granted, but HA is not an all or none process.


If the money isn't there, just do distributed audio. Or just a home theater.


If everything is wired - pay as you go. Over the next 10 years, add distributed video, replace thermostats, add the whole-house control (touchscreen by touchscreen)...


To do it professionally, right now, it will cost a small fortune. There is no getting around that. But controls CAN be professionally installed now, at a lower price. Instead of 5 touchscreens, install 1. Skip the distributed video - add it later (if already prewired). I agree with bigpapa - they'll work with you, if you push them.
 
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