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Discussion Starter #1
I am in the planning stages of possibly building our new home in the near future, and a total home automation/integration system has interested me for the last year or so. I am very new to this stuff, and will probably look to contracting the work out, but I may do it on my own to cut costs, and have a pro do the initial set-up.


First off, what are some good books for a newbie to read with as much info as possible in relation to automation/integration?


What I'm looking to do is, well, pretty much everything. Lights, HVAC, A/V, security, internet, etc. I would like to keep it to as few systems as possible, if not just one, for controlling everything. What are some suggestions?


I've just looked over the Kaleidescape site for the A/V part, but that leaves out, as far as I could see, some sort of power source for the speakers. Unless the system has enough power to support all of the zones I would want.


For security, we are using ADT currently, so I wonder, if we stay with them, what we could use with their system.


As for the zones we would have, there would be probably around 16-20. My family loves their music and movies, so the more places they can have access to it, the better. I guess this would go back to the Kaleidescape. I would need audio in all zones, and video in just about every zone except bathrooms(6), dining room, and mud/laundry room.


I may only be scratching the surface, so and tips in the right direction would be great.


Thanks!
 

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For pro-installed systems that are simple, Crestron/AMX/Control4 are the big dogs on the block. There's also Convergent Living, AnthonyZ here is a pro who installs that, but I don't know nuthin there.


There's DIY/pro-install & you DIY extensions too, but that's more for folks looking to do mix & match to get best-of-breed rather than a single system. I went that route, and it was a crapload of work, but I now have a custom-fit setup that does some serious stuff.


For Security, you're SOL on integrating ADT. I went with an Elk-based system, but re-used all my ADT sensors. I swapped out some of the motion sensors as the ADT ones were butt-ugly, and Bosch had some really nice Blue-line sensors.


My suggestion is to start with one of the systems in the first paragraph, price those out to see if it's within your budget parameters, and go from there.


If you're really bored, here's some info on my path, some PDFs, recordings of webinars for the DIY stuff. The "Intro to HA" PDF may interest you, even if you get a pro-installed system, as it'll show you some of the basics.

My personal website with my integrated HT/HA system

Videos:
CQC-101: Intro to HA video recording(90MB) .
CQC-201/202: Interface Editing/VariablesDriver/AutomatedEvents video recording.(109MB)
Note: You must install the www.gotomeeting.com/codec in order to view them.

PDFs:
Intro to HA pdf file used in the webinar.
Interface Editing/etc PDF file used.
Intro to Security Systems
 

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Kaleidascape is a source, not a control system. Find your nearest, best Crestron dealer and call them. Then get ready to write many really big checks.



Seriously, Crestron is really the only end to end system that will handle what you are talking about. Crestron will provide all your lighting control needs, all of your A/V distribution needs, most of your source needs and can control every other subsystem in your home, including security, irrigation, draperies, pool and spa, gates, you name it.


Don't bother with ADT. They don't sell security systems, they sell monitoring contracts. In a home like you are describing you need a real security system designed by a real professional. And guess what, your Crestron dealer will most likely do this part too, or at the very least have it subbed out to a competent scurity dealer.


And I was serious about the writing checks part.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the info! It'll be a decent start on my research. I know I should just search this forum for my answers, but sometimes I need to ask the same question in my own words to get a better answer lol.


As far as the Kaleidescape goes, what attracted me to it was the ability to store all of my DVD's and CD's in one central location and be played anywhere in the house, and the way it was organized. I haven't had the chance to look at info on Crestron, but is it capable of doing the same or is it just used for everything but the storage? If I can use a server tower for my storage, and do it that way, that would be fine. But I would still want the ability to play music or movies in one room, and play a different movie or music at the same time in another room or rooms.


If/when we build our new house, we will probably get something other than ADT since we've been having issues with the system, but then we are completely wireless, so that's probably part of our problem. And living in the sticks lol.


From what I gather, Crestron (or something similar?) will be the best solution for an "all-in-one" system, correct? I'll do some research as soon as I can. I'm still working on the floor plan and prints, so I have a while before construction begins.


Thanks again!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fletch999 /forum/post/14257982


Seriously, Crestron is really the only end to end system that will handle what you are talking about. Crestron will provide all your lighting control needs, all of your A/V distribution needs, most of your source needs and can control every other subsystem in your home, including security, irrigation, draperies, pool and spa, gates, you name it.

AMX can handle it all as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JGMConstruction /forum/post/14265505


I haven't had the chance to look at info on Crestron, but is it capable of doing the same or is it just used for everything but the storage? If I can use a server tower for my storage, and do it that way, that would be fine. But I would still want the ability to play music or movies in one room, and play a different movie or music at the same time in another room or rooms.

If a device can be controlled by IR, RS232 or contact closure, AMX or Crestron can control it. If it provides feedback by RS232(such as a song title), the systems can display it on a touchpanel.


Crestron has more branded parts (ie distribution amplifiers) than AMX, but either can control as much 3rd party gear as you would want or need.


Again, with either system, get ready to write a big check. And check out Lutron for lighting control and shading solutions.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I looked at some sites last night, about 25, for different components and now my head hurts, lol. What prices that I could find are pretty close to what I imagined. Unfortunately, according to most of the sites, the closest installer or dealer is 2 states away on average. So, no chance of a quick stop to any showroom to look things over.


And in the end, when the time comes to build and get to the point of wiring, I might just do everything myself. Plus by then, I may have read and observed enough to do a DIY system, or buy one brand of components and install it all myself. I just have a problem or concern about any programming, if any. I would imagine if the majority of the components are of the same brand, they would be pretty much "plug & play". And I think someone already mentioned that.


I've been in the construction industry for about 15 years total, automotive for about 14 and now work in a shop that designs and builds machines. So I figure, with experience in those areas, I could manage doing the install myself. But if I have to have an installer do it to get support, or even get my hands on the equipment, I guess I'd have to go that route.


Honestly, now that I have a long list of websites, and this forum, to look over, I think most of my questions have been answered. Except one, if anyone knows, what is the model number for the Crestron video server? I saw mention of it on thier site, but couldn't seem to find it to look at the specs and details.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGMConstruction /forum/post/14268647


And in the end, when the time comes to build and get to the point of wiring, I might just do everything myself. Plus by then, I may have read and observed enough to do a DIY system, or buy one brand of components and install it all myself. I just have a problem or concern about any programming, if any. I would imagine if the majority of the components are of the same brand, they would be pretty much "plug & play". And I think someone already mentioned that.


I've been in the construction industry for about 15 years total, automotive for about 14 and now work in a shop that designs and builds machines. So I figure, with experience in those areas, I could manage doing the install myself. But if I have to have an installer do it to get support, or even get my hands on the equipment, I guess I'd have to go that route.

Dunno the answer to your video server question, but I will say that if you're serious about the DIY: I know of multiple folks that have pretty much taken my parts list (confirming with me that I haven't changed it), bought mostly the same stuff, and used my CQC templates to seriously cut timelines. Takes some, but not all, of the guesswork out of this.


I'm not sure how much money it would save versus DIY'ing a Crestron system, but Crestron/AMX aren't setup to be DIY-friendly. It may take the same amount of time given the rampup with either path, but you'd have a lot more support structures in place for that.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JGMConstruction /forum/post/14268647


Unfortunately, according to most of the sites, the closest installer or dealer is 2 states away on average.

There are some good shops in Columbus that do Crestron/AMX/Lutron.

http://www.progressiveaudio.com/ does AMX and Lutron.
 

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It really depends on what you want, how integrated you need things, etc. I wouldn't rule out everyone except for creston,amx, etc yet. It really depends on your needs...if I were you, I would compile a list of everything you want the system to do, then try to find a system that meets your needs.


If you want to look for something less expensive than crestron, and includes security, see about researching HAI controllers. HAI supports lighting, HVAC, etc, and HAI has a line of controllers, switches, touchscreens. Crestron and amx both will integrate with them if you decide to upgrade in the future.


Aaron
 

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There are also PC based solutions. Notable examples are MainLobby / Homeseer (including those two seperate systems combined) and CQC. Not much you cannot do with one of these solutions. Talk to most of the popular home control and media subsystems. Can be installed by a pro, or installed by you (or just tweeked / updated / extended by you).


There is also a blended environment like HAI or ELK security / automation panels AND one of the PC based control systems. The security system has the hardware interface to door / window / motion switches and the PC software has full two way control and updating and brings it's very considerable control and features to the complete automation and media control system.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by herdfan /forum/post/14269480


There are some good shops in Columbus that do Crestron/AMX/Lutron.

http://www.progressiveaudio.com/ does AMX and Lutron.

There is also a great company in Kettering close to where he is located.


Audio Video Design Group

Lee Howell 9374399373 Crestron, K-Scape, and various others, and they do very very good work.


http://www.av-dg.com/
 

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It appears that you've received a lot of great feedback regarding your question. I feel that you're on the right track based on the products you appear to be considering.


The one thing I don't see mentioned which I generally advise to folks is arguably more important then the products... it's the way you approach your system.


As the consumer; I suggest you focus more on the 30,000 foot view & less on the components. You might consider retaining a consultant to really scope out the project & get a real grasp on a functional specification which fits your needs & budget. What you need to be doing is thinking more about what you feel is important when you walk into a room & interact with a keypad or touch-panel. You'll likely be far better off in the end staying focused on the functions to be delivered and not getting consumed by whether or not you should be using Somfy or Lutron blinds or Crestron vs AMX for control.


I'm not saying the products are not important, they are. The issue is this, most of these products are only as good as the programmer...otherwise they are dumb boxes waiting for brains (certainly if yo're looking at Crestron or AMX). If your system isn't designed properly or if the programmer doesn't truly understand how you want certain buttons to operate it won't matter that you have the best you could buy...you're system will be constant trouble.


Think of it this way, you would not put a BMW transmission on a Mercedes motor_ even if it would bolt up. Not only do you have to understand how all devices interact with one another but you also have to make sure that the folks responsible for bringing this system together to operate in a reliable manner are comfortable with integrating all systems. Just because a product has the ability to be controlled does not mean that it can be done reliably...these are the things that you just can't determine from spec's or talking with anyone except a professional who understands the products being specified.


I'll be more then happy to discuss this topic with you further. If you want to reach me I ask that you send me a Private Message or e-mail. I'm not trying to be private but I don't visit the sight very often (as I'm generally too swamped with work) & due to feedback overload I tend not to subscribe the threads...therefore it could be a month or more before I visit the sight again to see that someone wants to discuss things with me further. I have my private message set up to e-mail me when I receive a message.
 
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