CQC is not cheap!

jarcher

Member
After all the posts about how great using HA software is, and I can see it would be, I decided to check out CQC. Wow it's expensive! At $700 it's more than the PC I would build up. Way more. What I didn't find on their web site was a list of actual features. Is this software really worth $700?
 

IVB

Senior Member
That is entirely a personal question about what $700 is worth to you.

For me, the value of a 1stop shop for back-end/front-end so no worries about who's software is at fault, all drivers free and *tons* of them, network distributed architecture was worth it.

The fact that Mainlobby/Homeseer would have cost me $1500 and still not be able to replicate that which I have made me feel good about that decision *for me*.

But, it's certainly not for everyone.
 

jarcher

Member
That is entirely a personal question about what $700 is worth to you.

Fair enough. I admit, I have not looked at all the offerings yet. Also, I have nearly 20 years in software, so I may just evaluate my needs and roll out my own, just for me. Mostly, I just want to connect events to devices and allow a device to be controlled from a touch screen interface. I realize CQC does all that, but it seems to do quite a bit more. Doing my own would kill lots and lots of time, but it might be fun as well. And then I could run it on Linux!
 

IVB

Senior Member
Well, if you just want a device to be controlled from a touchscreen interface and don't need all the other stuff, you should check out Girder/NetRemote. IIRC it's somewhere around $100 for both, and does a heckuva lot of stuff.

I myself used Girder for 2 years before outgrowing it. JohnW has a thread here somewhere on what he's done with it, supposedly the next version (V5) does quite a bit more. Could save you tons of time, plus i'm sure they'd love to have your assistance with plugins/etc to boot.
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
After all the posts about how great using HA software is, and I can see it would be, I decided to check out CQC. Wow it's expensive! At $700 it's more than the PC I would build up. Way more. What I didn't find on their web site was a list of actual features. Is this software really worth $700?

Commodity computers are a super-high volume business. Automation systems are very low volume business. Therefore the cost has to be higher per-unit in order to survive. Even if it does more than you need now, having to switch horses in mid-stream later down the line could be painful. So you should at least consider your long term view. If you really think the plans aren't going to grow down the road, then yeh, it might be overkill for you.
 

DavidL

Senior Member
"The fact that Mainlobby/Homeseer would have cost me $1500 and still not be able to replicate that which I have made me feel good about that decision *for me*."


But, what Cinemar has found is that our ala carte, buy only what you need, when you need it, pricing model meets the needs of the Majority of the customers (great majority).

As far as replicating what you have, that is debatable. If you buy a Ford, why would you want it to be like a GM. Each will have their own style, their own features, but at the end of the day, they both will get you from point A to point B for routine tasks in a reliable way.

BTW, the link you post with the MainLobby (and then CQC) pricing discussion is a little dated. You inflated your price to include Homeseer 2 software to support your Aprilaire thermostat. Even at that time, I believe Aprilaire was supported by the ELK M1, so you could have bidirectionally controlled your thermostat for the cost of the ELK M1 plugin (also included in your "estimate"). So, wipe $230 off of your estimate. I haven't gotten any further into your "estimate" to see how much else was over estimated.

For those that don't use an ELK, MainLobby now supports the RCS, Aprilaire and Proliphix IP thermostats natively with add on plugins (buy what you need, not what you don't).

Also, MainLobby's price includes all updates to those products. I believe CQC charges an annual maintenance fee. From history, this looks like this would be about $200 or so more for CQC as from history, MainLobby major versions come out about every 2-3 years. Interim updates (many, many with new features and yes, fixes) are free.

Back to the original poster Jarcher, Cinemar would also welcome your creativeness and software development savvy. There is an available plugin API that allows you to go nuts. You will spend literally years trying to home roll up to to what MainLobby and CQC and Homeseer and HAL have gotten to. You could save a ton of time (and money) and still roll your own if you start with a commercial package and then code whatever else you need. If you are a Linux maven, look at Misterhouse which runs on Linux. Speaking of which, you could build a MainLobby / Misterhouse plugin that allows you to use MainLobby's user interface with Misterhouse backend. You could then mix and match Linux and your Windows PCs. Just a thought on how to use your abilities :D
 

mdesmarais

Active Member
I did the same calculation awhile ago (before the CQC price went up). I ended up going with Housebot- my needs are similar to yours, you might want to give it a look. I couldn't justify the expense of a pro system that would have required me to get a security panel to interface to X10 (raising the price another few hundred).

I'll certainly admit that I'm having to work a little harder as I head towards multi zone media control!

I think the support and flexibility of CQC are excellent, and if I ever hit the lottery, I'd probably switch.
 

Micah

Active Member
I usually don't get into these topics because they tend to turn into a pissing match like you wouldn't believe but something that I found after I bought CQC was that my original modest wants started to grow.

I had originally been looking for a simple front end that wasn't going to go the way of the dodo like Meedio did and figured something I had to pay a pretty penny for would hopefully fit that bill.

Since I started using CQC and started understanding just everything it does and can do I've found that my grand "plan" has grown, evolved and expanded beyond what I had originally intended.

I don't know if I'll ever get to the point where I'm completely happy with my setup but I would warn you not to discount software just because it's expensive. Be it CQC, Mainlobby, Girder or something else, remember that this will be the backbone of your automated home and it isn't something you should skimp on based on price alone. If the less expensive alternatives do what you want then awesome, go for it and I look forward to seeing your progress but be sure that you get at least what you need so it doesn't come back to bite you later down the road.

Also keep in mind that advice is worth exactly how much you pay for it; mine included. So take that for what it's worth.
 

IVB

Senior Member
BTW, the link you post with the MainLobby (and then CQC) pricing discussion is a little dated. You inflated your price to include Homeseer 2 software to support your Aprilaire thermostat. Even at that time, I believe Aprilaire was supported by the ELK M1, so you could have bidirectionally controlled your thermostat for the cost of the ELK M1 plugin (also included in your "estimate"). So, wipe $230 off of your estimate. I haven't gotten any further into your "estimate" to see how much else was over estimated.
Please do not disrespect me by falsely accusing me of inflating and overestimating my price. I started the thread with "DavidL - is this correct?" as I wanted to know if it was correct, and reviewing that thread shows that Cinemar never even bothered responding. A user had to respond with "This is correct".

And btw, I've evolved my system past what was priced there, but there's no need to get into that. It's already over $700, so the point is moot.
 

DavidL

Senior Member
Micah, yes, good suggestions.

What Cinemar has found is that there are relatively few folks like yourself and IVB (and myself) that expand their systems. MainLobby grows with that need. What we have really found is that the great majority do not. It's just a matter of interest and time dedication. IVB has posted great details on how much money and time investment he has put in, and it is very signficant. The software end of it is about the cheapest part. It can be the most time consuming though. Most people just don't want to put that level of investment of time / money in as they are only interested in something much simpler. MainLobby's pricing model accomodates this reality. What is skewed is that the DIY'rs that DO expand their systems to great ends (like IVB and many other that post here and on Cinemar's forum and CQCs and Homeseers) also do that most amount of forum posts. This tends to distort the picture of reality that the masses don't do these signficant systems (and don't want to) AND don't take the time to post their situation (it's not as much a hobby for them).

Now the products themselves might lend to a unique profile of end user. Cinemar has spent a LOT of time to make installation and configuration of the key reasons someone might purchase a media / home control system easy. Maybe that makes it more appealing to those that only want a relatively simple system. Homeseer and CQC apparantly take a bit more effort to setup initially. Maybe that's why their customer base might be more skewed towards the "everyone does everything" part of the population. The pricing strategy might have something to do with this too. Why would someone want to "buy it all" if they KNOW they only want a single, simple, but cool portion of an extravagent sytem? Either way, the systems mentioned can all be used simply or with complexity, depending on how much time and money someone wants to invest.
 

samgreco

Active Member
jarcher,

I think that one important fact that no one has mentioned yet is that the price(s) should probably be compared to hardware solutions like Crestron and AMX. That is the real market for which CQC and Main Lobby are targeted. This market, the DIY crowd are a bonus, as it were. And that is not to say that CQC and Main Lobby don't take that market seriously, but it's not what the pricing model is based on.

The integrators that use these products are installing them into homes with system installs into the 6 figure range. We DIYers are just lucky bystanders. I know I couldn't afford a 6 figure install, but I can afford a few hundred bucks. Well, soon anyway :D

Also - IVB - Is the pricing structure on Girder/Netremote that you mentioned only for one CPU? I think the whole house licenses bring it closer to $400.

Sam
 

IVB

Senior Member
Also - IVB - Is the pricing structure on Girder/Netremote that you mentioned only for one CPU? I think the whole house licenses bring it closer to $400.

Sam

Holy cow - Girder/NR is now $400 for a whole house license? It was $150 (admittedly back in Aug '05).

then again, CQC went from $200->$700 in that same timeframe, so I guess that's to be expected.
 

samgreco

Active Member
Oops, I just checked and it's actually $349.00 for both. But they have some pay for plugins, like Insteon.
 

bingl

Member
Money and value is a very personal issue. I have owned my own home for over 20 years with NO stereo system, no DVD player (the VCR died years ago). In other words, low tech and low needs. Then, I went "down a rabbit hole" with this HA stuff. If $700 is a lot of money, don't do it. "You can't eat just one". "Ignorance is bliss". I have the custom installer proposals and DIY receipts...WOW (a lot of money).

But...this "wonderland" is amazing and awesome. I can't wait to do more (buy more).

This is my purely personal observation, views, and thoughts from a bonafide newbie and non-computer person.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
Looking through this thread going back and forth about price structures etc, I don't see anybody mentioning that you should evaluate which software actually does what you want to do. When I was comparing HA software I made a list of critical items the software must support (Control Insteon lighting, ability to page over my phone system, ability to accept data fom my weather station via VWS, support all aspects of my RCS thermostats including the ability to trigger actions on manual setpoint changes, hard wired motion sensor inputs). I also listed Nice to Have items that would be a bonus but only if all the critical pieces are there (touch screens that can also display IP cameras, media room and whole house audio control, security system control).

Some of the packages I looked at were useful only for my low priority items and supported few or none of the things on my critical items list. After going through this exercise it was a lot easier to evaluate my options because I had narrowed the field to the very few choices that could actually work for me. I suggest a similiar approach before going too far down the road of comparing license fees and plugin costs.
 
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