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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone! I'm new to the forum and home control in general. Just a little on my background...I have an aas in industrial electronics, some various certs in personal computers and networking, and pretty familiar with electrical working in general. However home automation is new to Me. I've been looking at different systems / controllers and devices etc. I like control4 simply for ease of use for the wife and child, but also due to fit and finish. What I do not like about it is of course the whole dealer only install and expansion. I like tinkering with these sorts of things and can usually figure out just about anything electronic or electricAl given enough time and resources such as this forum. I basically wanted all of your opinions on control4 and what options would offer something similar but user installable and expandable, but with the nice things like in wall touch screens etc. Basically I would like to Control lighting, hvac, garage doors, and home security. I would like the user interface to be simple and the system to be reliable, so recommendations as to system as Well as protocol are welcome. Thanks in advance and I look forward to learning! BTW I am in the process of building this home so, it would be new construction install.
 

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Control4 is a mixed bag. It is dealer centric for sure. That being said, you can buy a copy of Composer Home Edition which basically lets you do everything EXCEPT add new devices/hardware. So you can buy the hardware, do the physical install, get a dealer to add the device to your project, and off you go. You have to buy some Control4 branded gear through a dealer, but you can find used gear on forums, new stuff on ebay (or used) and some dealers will sell over the internet forums (they just dont make it public knowledge).


There are dealers that also work remote over the internet. They could easily add devices for you (obviously for a fee) and you can program/tinker with Composer.


I have Control4 and really like it. Though I used to be more DIY, I have less and less time, so I actually appreciate the dealer model, so I have someone to call to assist. I may research what I want, but I lean on the dealer to install and get the framework of my programming up and running.


I use C4 for HVAC, lighting, alarm, security cameras, video and audio distribution. Its a great environment, but like any product, it has its pros and cons.
 

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What about Z-Wave or Insteon and a Vera Controller which can do both as well as X-10, or an Insteon Hub or ISY994i which also does both. You can go the ELK M1 Gold route as well, and have everything including Zigbee. Then there is the Revolv Hub or even Smarthings or Staples Connect which do WIFI Zwave and Zigbee. There are a ton of options out there for DIY nowadays. I think Vera is probably one of your best bets especially with your background in tech because of its configurability and it can pretty much do anything you want with no monthly fees and is totally compatible with iPhone and Android so you even have remote access handled.


Z-Wave just celebrated their 1000th device a few months ago with the Linear Z-Wave Garage door opener and a bit before that BRK came out with a smoke and CO detector. There are more and more wide range devices coming out every day for z-wave. I just started talking to a company that makes zwave devices and they have a native z-wave curtain and blind motor controller out now.


A ton of options for you in DIY. A ways to go integration wise but DIY is coming along very rapidly, it is a niche that will never go away and is settling in as a very competitive and cost effective alternative to installed systems.
 

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I can only second with Greenbone.  I too am an IT guy and just by chance went the Loxone route. Like the original poster is seeking, I ended up controlling HVAC, some lighting, garage door, some cams and some LED lighting.  It works like a charm and does not burn a hole in your wallet.  I have enough experience with Loxone now that to say.  I want to expand my system, and I have no problem recommending to others.  They have a Youtube channel that is really helpful to get an idea of what it can do and how to configure.  Check it out  https://www.youtube.com/user/LoxoneUS  
 

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There are quite a few DIY options out there now days that will do what you want. Cocoontech has quite a bit of info and links as well as a good community for DIYers.


If you're not opposed to a PC running 24-7 you might check out CQC from Charmed Quark . It'll do everything you want, has a completely customizable UI, & is very DIY friendly. Dean Roddey - the guy behind CQC - is a regular here on AVS as well as over at Cocoontech & always seems to be very responsive with any questions or issues.
 

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Yes C4 has 4Sight, their mobile app. If you use it on your home wifi network, no charge. If you want access when you leave your house (cellular data, outside wifi, etc) then yes there is a cost. $100/year. You get a free 90 day trial and when you buy Composer home edition (editing software) you get a free year. So you get 15 free months basically. Gives you full access to everything. As someone above mentioned Z-Wave just hit 1,000 items, Control4 boosts over 7,000. That said, there is a cost premium and its not 100% DIY.
 

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C4 can be very expensive though... It cost like 10k to do light switches. I installed all the in ceiling speakers myself and i wish i did all the speaker wires myself too.


Did motorized shades (18) with lutron stuff and again install cost from the dealer is pricey.


The biggest concern: resale value of all this stuff is almost zero. They dont include it in appraisals much in my area. ONLY put this stuff in for a permanent home where you will enjoy the C4 for about 15yrs more.


The good news is that once you pay for a majority of the hardware such as shades and doorknobs and light switches... The control4 main control can be easily upgraded or swapped out in the future.


Control4 plays ball with denon/marantz/integra/onkyo really well .
 

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Somfy works with Control4 (and other systems) and you can buy their blinds online at www.AVOutlet.com instead of going the dealer route.


There is a very active Control4 forum too and 95% of the people on there are big into the DIY approach (where possible) with C4


Yes lighting can be expensive, depending on your dealer price switches range from ~$110 - $200. but the new products are very sleek and the engraved buttons really look sharp. I saw the demo, and my buttons are coming in the next week or so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I agree with ezlo, none match ctrl4 lighting. They look super custom. But I wonder if some of that stuff might be to complicated for the wife and kid. I'd kinda like to keep most of the switches regular rocker switches, up and down, on and off. I wanna do a couple touch panels for scenes, events, etc and of course have the phone/tablets around in multiple rooms for scene control. I've looked at a lot of systems and it seems I keep going back to the control4 as my number one pick (if I can buy the equipment and run the cables myself and just have dealer add the devices, and then I could use composer he for scene programming etc), and the other more DIY option I keep going back to is the ISY controller for insteon devices. I've watched tutorials on programming using composer and the ISY software and both look super simple. Now I'm sure you can get into very complex events etc but to do the things I want to do, I don't think it'll be a problem, and if so I'm sure there are resources here and other forums where I could find the info I need.


I do have one question for the loxone guys. Does the mini server habe RF capabilities or is strictly a hardware system? I like the way instep wires up as far as utilizing normal household wiring standards, that way I can put in cheap switches, outlets etc in areas where I'm not yet automating and later change them out without having additional wire behind the wall or trying to coil it up in the wall box or whatever. Loxone looks like you have to basically terrier everything you want to control into their miniserver and that's exactly what I DON'T wanna do. Control4 I understand, you can wire your house normally as with insteone and add RF capable switches and other devices as you go. If you guys can confirm my info I'd appreciate it.


I keep going back to, I love the look and end user simplicity of control4 but I don't know if I can find all the components I need without having the dealer install them. If you guys know a dealer or can point Me to a dealer that will sell the components to Me, let Me wire them up and then have them add them to the system and possibly install any of the stuff I don't feel comfortable with please let Me know.


My hesitation on the ISY controlled system is when I get ready to say integrate the home theatre part of it, as Well as the security system. I want it all on one interface like a tablet or touch panel. I know elk has a system for security but it looks like they are an automation system in and of itself. Can you interface it with the ISY controller so that you can arm/disarm and control the security system with the insteon app?
 

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no native RF capability on the loxone miniserver, but they do sell several extension modules available that add wireless capability.


supported protocols are enocean, IR, and theyve just released a proprietary wireless standard, loxone air, marketed towards retrofits



as youve correctly pointed out, the wiring is non-standard ... cat5 (or any 12v cable) from the switch to the miniserver inputs, HV power cable from the miniserver ourputs to the light / power outlet
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OK. So I have found a guy on eBay who is selling some control4 stuff and he has offered to include composer pro as well as he with one of the things I'm looking at buying. He says they are full versions, what kind of verification does the software require? If anyone knows I'd appreciate it. Basically asking will I be able to use the software or will I need some kind of verification code or serial number. I've asked the seller But I wanted to be able to verify the information here. Thanks a bunch guys, you all have been and continue to be a great help!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
And Just as an observation, the Loxone system is basically a PLC. In operation at least. It may use a different programming language but same basic principle. Whoever came up with the idea of making an inexpensive, average user friendly PLC is a very smart individual. If I wasn't concerned about resale issues with my home, I would definitely consider it. Or I might Just use an Allen Bradley micrologix : )
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
OK so this is what the guy says about the software he has. Do any of you know if what he says is accurate?


The reason all my hardware is still the old v1.7.4 is because the higher versions of the software made changes that I didn't approve of (ie. zigbee pro) and C4 wanted some ridiculous amount of money to upgrade to 2+. I've never installed the 2.x packages, so if it requires serial numbers then those would come from somewhere else. I only ever used the hardware with v1.7.4 which doesn't require activation. Naturally your controller would have to be v1.7.4 or earlier for the v1.7.4 software to access and program it. 1.8 doesn't require activation either but upgrades the system to zigbee pro which can't be undone. I merely provide the software because I have it and someone smarter than me might be able to make good use of it.
 

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jasonmxer,


What he is saying is accurate. However I would be cautious if he is not providing a controller that is on version 1.7.4. Also it sounds like the version of Composer Pro software that he has is for 1.7.4 and it is true you do not have to have a licensing/dealer key to use it but all the devices and controller must also be running version 1.7.4.
 

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I would not heavily invest in 1.7 Composer Pro or 1.7 hardware. Big changes since then. If you had an older system and needed a piece that is one thing, but I wouldn't go "all in" with stuff that is end of line/not supported.
 
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