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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I am building a new home at the jersey shore and wanted to install home automation but I am not having an easy time of trying to find out pros and cons of each system. I also feel like I am being taken advantage of as I have no idea what a good or bad price is.


the house is 2 floors and 3000 sq feet. So right now I am being pushed toward an amx system. I want to control the lighting, home security, hvac, whole house music. the system seems to be very expensive and I dont know if I want to spend 50-60k on it frankly (that price includes 2 -3 tvs all the speakers etc) everytime I ask about control 4 I am told I wont be happy with it but is that the truth? can amx be done for cheaper? is it really worth the extra money and if so why?


what makes matters worse is that ADT has come out with this new system called pulse that can control hvac, lights and security and I can get a full system for only 6k. I am starting to think I am better doing that and then just putting in a whole house audio through the dealer.....


sorry for all the questions but I have not been able to find any good info online. any help would be appreciated.
 

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Pulse is a very limited system. I would not call it automation at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I hear what you are saying about pulse and agree that is is barebones but fact is it lets me control my hvac, security and lights either at home or remote.


I want a more elaborate system but I am trying to figure out what is a fair price for control 4 or amx for that matter and why it makes sense to spend more....


again I am very new at this stuff so I do not really understand it all.
 

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If you want a totally integrated system and your budget is $50k and that includes all of the TV's speakers etc.. basically everything right? Including the wiring, installation and programming? Then IMO you should meet with a Control4 or Crestron prodigy dealer.


adt pulse will only give you control of subsystems. There is no integration with audio video. Only lighting climate and security. There is no way to expand on its feature set.


Having said that.. you could do adt pulse for subsystems and then pick crestron control4 or amx for audio video. Use the iPad/iPhone as your remote. Use the crestron or control4 app to control audio video and the adt pulse app to control subsystems.


You are sort of locked into using the iPad when you want control of everything but you can get a crestron or control4 hand held remote for control of audio video. Point being that some people hate holding touchpanels when watching TV. Its literally 50-50. Half the clients love touchpanels (especially the ipad) and the other half hate them and want a hand held remote for channel surfing.


I dont have an opinion about AMX. Similar in price and feature set to Crestron. Not sure if they have an entry level product that can compete with Control4 and prodigy.



Adding.. i almost forgot to mention this.. If you use adtpulse for your subsystems you cant do any cool scene/macro stuff like a Good morning button that ...."@ 6AM turn on these lights, set the temp to this and start music in the master bath and kitchen". You wont be able to adjust lights and climate with the hand held remotes while watching TV and other cross product stuff.


And about the "push towards amx". Companies usually push towards what ever they are familiar with. You may have noticed me pushing you towards Crestron by introducing it into this thread
. Sometimes the push may not be warranted but in others its because the dealer is familiar with the product and knows he can deliver the system you are looking for with it. You can usually do a 3000 sq ft house with crestron amx or control4 @ around the same price range. Control4 and Prodigy are priced a little lower on the hardware side so its easier to meet budgets with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
makes perfect sense. so i guess i need to find a good control 4 dealer at the south jersey shore. I met with one company but frankly they did not have me feeling confident about their ability. I kept going to the control website and calling them back asking why they didn't tell me about this or that. seems like in 15 minutes i knew more then they did. In my opinion that is one of the problems with this industry. You have very high end guys who are good at this stuff but when you start to move down the dealers don't seem as good. when you are spending this kind of money I think you want to have people who know what they are doing!!!!


if anyone has any referrals I would love one!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by baziado /forum/post/19513558


makes perfect sense. so i guess i need to find a good control 4 dealer at the south jersey shore. I met with one company but frankly they did not have me feeling confident about their ability. I kept going to the control website and calling them back asking why they didn't tell me about this or that. seems like in 15 minutes i knew more then they did. In my opinion that is one of the problems with this industry. You have very high end guys who are good at this stuff but when you start to move down the dealers don't seem as good. when you are spending this kind of money I think you want to have people who know what they are doing!!!!


if anyone has any referrals I would love one!

It doesn't really have anything to do with high end vs entry level. What product you can carry/sell is usually determined by the market/area and what peoples budgets are. Control4's popularity (and now prodigy) is because they specifically targeted a segment of the market with a product that can do most of the things people want. They were able to create an inexpensive product with a specific feature set. Now there feature set has opened up a little but once you start adding more bells and whistles IMO the cost will go up and you might as well jump into a more advanced control system like Crestron.


But... dont assume that Crestron Dealer=Quality Installation. Ask to see photos and tour existing projects. Anyone who is good will have a portfolio and previous client projects for you to visit. 2 key things to pay attention to on the tour are...


#1.Are you able to use the system without being told how to? Whats the point of spending money on integration if its not easy to use? Touchpanels keypads and remotes should be attractive and intuitive.


#2.What does the installation look like? Dont pay so much attention to the TV's and in-wall speakers. A blind monkey can make those look good. Look in the cabinets and closets and behind the racks. Does it look neat or sloppy? It takes the same amount of time to wire the racks neat as it does to wire them sloppy so there is no excuse for the jumble of cables that cant be managed down the road.


I dont know any east coast Control4 dealers. These guys are making a name for themselves http://www.audiovideoinvasion.com/ Turn your speakers down or off.. They have an annoying ass "feature" where you get some guy blaring our of your speakers when you click the About Us page. They arent right next door but they might be willing to travel or have a recommendation for someone local.


Try posting at RemoteCentral.com "looking for a control4 dealer in jersey".
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by baziado /forum/post/19513558


I kept going to the control website and calling them back asking why they didn't tell me about this or that. seems like in 15 minutes i knew more then they did.

One other thing i just thought about.. It reminded me of a conference call i took part in a few weeks ago. While its quite possible these guys didnt know what you were talking about or missed something.. sometimes the details are glossed over because they have installed so many systems that they dont think in terms of parts anymore. They say "control for home theater" but they mean "20 parts, this much wire, this many guys, this many hours....etc".


It was difficult for me to answer some of the questions being asked of me during the conference call because the issue hadn't been an issue foe me in so long that it doesn't even register anymore. The question was about system engineering and "future proofing" in terms of using the installed wiring/infrastructure with other control systems and products in the future. It was almost confusing to me because this is something we (the company i work for) addressed 10 years ago when we were selling Phast systems. The wiring scheme is so flexible that you can literally use any control system and distributed audio video product on the market with it. You can install the smallest entry level system or expand it to a full blown project because we are motivated to make future installations painless/less expensive for our clients.


As an example.. a Phast system that we installed 8 years ago was recently upgraded to a Crestron system. The rack, the wiring, the amps, the speakers all remained in place. The tv's were swapped with lcd and plasma tv's. The directv box was replaced with an HDDVR directv box. The amx-phast control system and controllers were replaced with Crestron processor and controllers. It was a painless 1 man project that took a couple of weeks with no drywall repair or wall patching or painting.


Point of this long winded rambling is that checking the website and asking questions isn't always a way to qualify a dealer. I cant tell you (off the top of my head) everything about Prodigy. This isn't because i am clueless. It is because i know that if i need an answer i can quickly locate the information or call tech support. The best way to qualify a dealer is to see the work they have done. Its one thing to tell you what they can do and another to show you what they can do.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by baziado /forum/post/19513558


makes perfect sense. so i guess i need to find a good control 4 dealer at the south jersey shore. I met with one company but frankly they did not have me feeling confident about their ability. I kept going to the control website and calling them back asking why they didn't tell me about this or that. seems like in 15 minutes i knew more then they did.

Run away from them. I have no idea why Stamp says that is not a warning sign. It absolutely is. I went ahead and started my own company because I got so tired of dealing with custom installers who knew so little. Many seem to be following cookbook classes they took on a weekend with little idea of what really goes on in these systems. If you can outdo their knowledge so quickly and easily, you need to keep searching for a more experienced company.

Quote:
In my opinion that is one of the problems with this industry. You have very high end guys who are good at this stuff but when you start to move down the dealers don't seem as good.

My frustration was with the largest and most successful in our area! So that is not reserved to lower end companies. In general, it is so easy to get into this business that more people are in it than they should be.

Quote:
when you are spending this kind of money I think you want to have people who know what they are doing!!!!

Absolutely right. And they better be able to justify the value of the system and not have to have you come here trying to figure that out
. This was the second reason I started my own company. I couldn't get them to tell me what all that money was going to bring me in comfort and features.

Quote:
if anyone has any referrals I would love one!

Owners of this forum operate in your neck of the woods and are one of the largest system integrators there. I am not sure of the quality of their work but would be worth a call: http://avscience.com/category/services/
 

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If your gawking at 50-60k then you really need to readjust your level of control or quality of equipment. There are many lines out there that can do what you need, Crestron, AMX, Control4, Elan, HAI. All are right in your price range, you need to go to the websites and check for the dealers in your area.


If I were you I would write a letter with the basics of your house and what you want, maybe a photo of your blueprints, and send it to many dealers in your area and see what each comes up with for you. They will have different brands and different systems to sell you but each should be able to explain their systems within 10-15 minutes, so with an 2 hours worth of work you can vet 5 or so dealers. Thats a pretty good selection and odds are a few of them are worthwhile. You'll know by doing what Amirm said and looking at pics and, customers willing, go to a house they have done. Then as what TECHNICIAN did that installation and request that one.


The ADT Pulse system is limited and also requires a $50+ monthly payment so you have to take that into consideration, hell if you wanted to pay me $50 for the rest of your life I'd give you a break too. Though I do not know how long they will make you pay, they are not in my market. You can have 2 systems, AV and Systems integration that does not include AV, many people with limited budget end up with 2 systems that "kind" of integrate together.


You can also look for a consultant in your area as well, pay him a couple hundred bucks and he should be able to point you in the right direction as well as offer guidance.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm /forum/post/19517720


Run away from them. I have no idea why Stamp says that is not a warning sign. It absolutely is. I went ahead and started my own company because I got so tired of dealing with custom installers who knew so little. Many seem to be following cookbook classes they took on a weekend with little idea of what really goes on in these systems. If you can outdo their knowledge so quickly and easily, you need to keep searching for a more experienced company.

My reason for saying it isn't a warning sign is that i don't think that your dealer needs to know everything so long as they know how to gather the information when they need it.


What i mean is that i cant meet you on the subway and design a crestron system on a napkin without forgetting important details. What i can do though is discuss the project with you on the subway and sit down in front of a PC where i have D-Tools installed and quickly design your system properly. This is because i have invested the time required to make it easy for me to properly engineer a system this way.


IMO It is an absolute impossibility to A. Know it all and B. Access all of the information during a conversation where no preparation has been made.


If you were discussing system engineering with me you might feel like i am leaving things out when the reality is that the perceived issue is a non-issue for me because its a hurdle i addressed 10 years ago. An easy example would be use of an AV rack. This is a non negotiable issue because every system HAS an AV rack. Why? Because it is a required piece of the puzzle if you would like for us to work for you. Another example is the ago old question of "what if i decide to use AMX next time will the wiring work". My answer to that is YES because more than a decade ago we created a wiring standard that will work with any and all control system brands. I have upgraded plenty of Phast systems to Crestron using the decade old wiring standard without any issues.


So if you met with a dealer who didnt always have the answer right away.. but had the portfolio and recent projects to visit to backup his claims.. IMO it shouldn't raise a red flag. Obviously.. if you aren't getting answers and they don't have proof (portfolio/existing projects) that they know what they are doing.. you should do as Amirm says and "run away" from them.
 

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Also sent PM. We only sell the best. Give us a call and maybe we can help.
 

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With a $50k-$60k Budget you can easily get into a Lutron HomeWorks series 8 system which IMO is the hands down best lighting control system today.


Then Look at the Savant system

savantav.com


Look at the Lutron Sivoia QS or QED shades


The Aprilaire 8870 t-stats


for $50k-$60k a competent dealer can put together a system using these components that can give all the control you can ever use...

Mike
 
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