Did Home Automation Save You Money ?

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Ok before I get to far; to the person who started this thread: Yes you can save money if you have honest and reliable system designer. It will take about a year to pay for itself sometimes more. Make sure you hire a licensed electrician to do your work, and make sure they are Energy Star Partner. this will ensure that the design process they adhere to has been tested by others.

I beginning to see a pattern here! :p Cocoontech caters more to the DIY types. Nothing wrong with a licensed electrician mind you, but I'm not sure it is totally necessary if one takes care and acquires some knowledge with this technology.
 

Herdfan

Active Member
Back OT, at 6.4 cents/kwh (just increased from 5.9 cents/kwh) it will take a very long time to even begin to see a return on my lighting investment. On one hand, I have a programmed event set to turn off all closet lights at 2:00am every day, so worst case is they are on for a few hours and not days. Plus I have a set of outdoor lights come on at dusk and off at 11:30, so they don't get left on all night, but OTOH, they do come on every night and I don't "forget" to turn them on. So probably no savings there.

I tried CFL's, and even the n:vision soft ones were too harsh. We have become accustomed to the GE Reveals, so no savings there either. One place I am hoping to save next summer is the pool pump. I keep it running 24/7 during the season since it is hard to prime. I am going to replace it with a stronger pump, so I can put it on a controller and cut down some of the time it runs.
 

Digger

Senior Member
Last note on Cortexa.... I am not sure its prime time yet.
What about Insteon? How do you feel about the potential huge issues you may face as these devices start failing in the field?

On the SH Forum Trevor from SH just acknowledged that "improved" paddles and contacts will ship in a few months (he did not admit to the defect but I have emails from SH that do). Someone did ask about people who bought early on and whose warranty expired or will expire prior to that. I do not think they will answer that though.
 

HomeMediaPros

New Member
Last note on Cortexa.... I am not sure its prime time yet.
What about Insteon? How do you feel about the potential huge issues you may face as these devices start failing in the field?

As stated I googled this post. So sorry stepped on the domain. We get lots of question calls from DYI folks and always glad to help at no charge.

Insteon... I have to say honestly that vith v2 dimmers we have not had any issues. We probably see a couple DOA units but thats about it. Also being a dealer helps, because if he field has a failure we get RMA sent to us. Yes there is a cost of driving to customer and replacing a unit. This said most of the replacements was due to customers overloading the units with new light bulbs of larger wattage.

Why we use Insteon ? for existing homes it is better then LutronRA.

Thank you for warm welcomes


Home Media Professionals, Houston
 

Herdfan

Active Member
Why we use Insteon ? for existing homes it is better then LutronRA.
Please explain your thinking here.

Yes, there are some things you can do with Insteon (every device can act as a controller, keypads can control loads) that you can't with Radio RA, but there are also many things you can do with RadioRA that you can't with Insteon (direct IR control, RF control from visor control, RS 232 interface, no PC needed for timers (need Chronos). Plus the quality of the devices is so much higher.

I was ready to move from Insteon to RadioRA but went with its big brother, Homeworks Wireless, instead. Given the problems I have personally had with Insteon, there is no way I would install it in somebody elses house if that were my business.

Do a search here for Insteon and you may uncover more issues than you will want to find.
 

Ranger Digital

Active Member
I have NEVER EVER heard ANYONE ever say Insteon was better than LutranRA. Thats a first. Heard the opposite many times however.
I think there is more to the claim than we are hearing. Possibly not as good a relationship with Lutron? Insteon favored? Insteon paid? Something is up with that opinion, IMO, of course. lol
 

HomeMediaPros

New Member
I have NEVER EVER heard ANYONE ever say Insteon was better than LutranRA. Thats a first. Heard the opposite many times however.
I think there is more to the claim than we are hearing. Possibly not as good a relationship with Lutron? Insteon favored? Insteon paid? Something is up with that opinion, IMO, of course. lol

This is beginning to be fun. So here are the answers : Never had relationship with Lutron but had to install the products in 4 projects. We have 3 certified techs that went to their class. Insteon Favored. Maybe. We tried Control4 nice product, way to expensive and they are ignorent with customers and new dealers. So we decided to stick to Insteon for good or bad, so far more good than bad. Insteon Paid: Yes, we make money, this is why we are in business. Does Insteon pay us to say things: NO. Do we make money installing home automation (Insteon Including) Yes.

Insteon is probably the newest and most used (before you throw flames on this quote read on). What i mean by most used, lots of end users bought it, hence larger market share, hence small problems were more exposed because larger group of people are aware.

And as you noted. this is one's company opinion, and in this case ours. This is emerging field, there will be hundreds of vendors, some good some bad. All i was trying to do is shed some light on the info in press release and how we arrived to these results.

Home Media Professionals
 

The Pod

Active Member
Insteon... I have to say honestly that vith v2 dimmers we have not had any issues. We probably see a couple DOA units but thats about it. Also being a dealer helps, because if he field has a failure we get RMA sent to us. Yes there is a cost of driving to customer and replacing a unit. This said most of the replacements was due to customers overloading the units with new light bulbs of larger wattage.
HomeMediaPros, Just curious how long you've been installing Insteon dimmers for customers? Mine lasted almost two years without any issues or problems when all of a sudden over a 4 week period I had 5 of them go dead. Luckly they were still under warrenty and I was able to RMA replacements, but it still costed me shipping. Now that I have the replacements, I don't think I'll be installing them in my home again. Two of the 5 were slaves in virtual 3-way setups so there was NO LOAD applied to them at all. All of the switches seem to have died while they were off or not being used. I'd walk into a room with the switch and notice there were no LEDs lit on the switch and pressing it did nothing. ;)

The Pod
 

murphy

Member
IMHO, it is completly wrong, having only an eye on the power-bill. If it saves some kWh or even a lot of energy.

There is a more important point of view: Safety and security. Of course this sector is difficult to measure. At what probability you avoid a burglar and his damage? Nobody knows an answer, even if you have some statistical values about the crime-rate in your area. However I think, this safety aspect by itself makes a HA & security-installation a good investment.

Let me tell you a story: ones upon a time ...

I bought my 30 acres in NE-Texas and build a small house, only during some free time. Because normally I was working in Germany. Now I'm only living half the time in Germany, because I'm retired. But the problem is the same: how control your property from a distance? Indeed someone -probably a kid- burglared my new build home at this time. There was not too much damage and I missed only a bottle whisky, a package of condomes, a roll of toilet paper. Sure a special guy from the neighorhood, who helped me before building my cottage and moved later. Well, - just a kid...

At this time there were only Commodore Computers as the C128. 2 MHz CPU, 64K RAM for Data, 64 K RAM for programms, etc. A friend of mine wrote a BBS-programm for this maschine which worked excellent, - of course for this time. And we extended the Basic-program to write a file with timestamps and the condition of the gameport. So I had 5 digital inputs and 2 analog (8bit) inputs to note. For the analog inputs I used a LDR (light dependable resistor) and an NTC-resistor to note the temperature. The digital inputs were a door-contact, a moving sensor, tamper, availability of power (it had an UPS for some hours) etc. Once a week I called the file from Germany (with 2400 Bd!) and analyzed it.

One day I called my neighbors in Texas and asked them to pick me up the next week when I was returning to my farm. And BTW I also told them: I'm curious what happend to my computercontroll in the meantime because I saw light during all the night and an open door etc and because that is impossible, there must be any mistake with my super-system. .. After all I remember that it was rather quiet at the other end. After my neighbors picked me up I also knew why: At this time the son of my neighbors celebrated his graduation in a party all the night on my farm! If a picknicktable gets brocken, you can estimate that this was a remarkable party. And my C128-system noted at least the light and the door.

OK, the times of a C128-BBS are gone. This era was followed by a 2-Atari-system (which was great) and several PC-solutions (which were poor). Today I have an ELK-system which is a "little" better. But after this incident I pronounced to all my neighbors, how good my security-system is working. I even told this story during the time between the C128 and the ELK-time now, when I tried some other remote solutions and the security-system was not workable, not ready, which was more than a complete year.

At least I never had any burglar again. Toi toi toi - knock on wood.
 

HomeMediaPros

New Member
Insteon... I have to say honestly that vith v2 dimmers we have not had any issues. We probably see a couple DOA units but thats about it. Also being a dealer helps, because if he field has a failure we get RMA sent to us. Yes there is a cost of driving to customer and replacing a unit. This said most of the replacements was due to customers overloading the units with new light bulbs of larger wattage.
HomeMediaPros, Just curious how long you've been installing Insteon dimmers for customers? Mine lasted almost two years without any issues or problems when all of a sudden over a 4 week period I had 5 of them go dead. Luckly they were still under warrenty and I was able to RMA replacements, but it still costed me shipping. Now that I have the replacements, I don't think I'll be installing them in my home again. Two of the 5 were slaves in virtual 3-way setups so there was NO LOAD applied to them at all. All of the switches seem to have died while they were off or not being used. I'd walk into a room with the switch and notice there were no LEDs lit on the switch and pressing it did nothing. ;)

The Pod

Pod, see my previous post. They have made much improvements in v2 models. To answer your question over a year with Insteon, but worked with almost every product prior to narowing down to Insteon and Control4. *see my post on Control4*. Before RMA have you tried factory reset ? Have you tried adding load while reseting ?. I know it might be late but there are a fiew field things we learned that might help out.

HomeMedia Pro's
 

huggy59

Active Member
I have seen no savings in doing DIY HA. Just the opposite. That said, I think the average DIYer is actually adding to their stable of devices and and equipment, and therefore adding costs, not actually taking away or saving anything. Let's look at it this way: a normal wall toggle switch consumes NO power when off. The load is diconnected. When replaced by a PLC switch, the switch draws power for its circuitry - albeit low, it's still more than the toggle switch - and the load is actually live in some situations due to the leakage current for the switch power (in cases where the PLC switch uses no common), which draws a little more power.

Then you add a PC and/or alarm panel running 24x7, charging a battery, blinking LEDs, running a panel, wallwarts, UPS, etc. Yes, all marginal, but MORE power. Now, how much do all those little quiescent power drains add up to? Yup, MORE then a toggle switch that completely disconnects the load!

Now subtract the savings due to turning down/up the thermostat, turning off lights, water temps down, etc. Also marginal $$$ in most HOME settings, and in many cases I believe it is difficult at best to have active circuitry that saves that much power to actually pay for itself.

Add costs of software, systems, upgrades, downtime, personal elbow grease, etc.

Total is (in my case) MORE than standard switches, no PC or panels, no wallwarts, etc.

But hey, I like the savings in other areas mentioned above, like bar tabs, etc... an ounce of prevention... hehe but htey don't apply to me.

Now I'm going around and replacing standard light bulbs with CFs, but not the dimmable kind. So no need for dimmers any more. If I'm interested in bright light, I turn them all on. If I only need mood lighting, I turn on a lamp or two, or only a couple low-wattage CFs instead of all of them. I'm hoping I'll see some notable difference on next month's electric bill.

My one gripe about CFs is the sensitivity they show to voltage fluctuations on the line. I live in the country and line voltage does ripple and fluctuate from time to time. Every little blip makes the CFs flicker noticably - incandescents didn't flicker as noticably. Then again, these are (relatively) cheap GE CFs.
 

Ranger Digital

Active Member
homemedia, your right, its fun. LOL

I just like gettin the pot a little stirred. LOL

did you just say control4 didnt,,,,oh nevermind! hahahahahah
 

Herdfan

Active Member
They have made much improvements in v2 models.
Yes they have.

However, when faced with a number of devices that needed replaced I had the option of 1) replacing my devices with newer V2's via the RMA process (IOW, SH would bear the brunt of the cost and I would just have to replace and reprogram the devices) or 2) finding a new technology and eating the entire cost.

In my own house, where my income would not be affected, I could not stick with Insteon. So if you are willing to bet your livelihood on Insteon, you have bigger onions than me.
 

AutomatedOutlet

Senior Member
Good thread!

Couple of comments:

1) Welcome to the board HomeMediaPros! You bring up some very good points and a great viewpoint for people. I do agree though with a previous poster that you must have some very big "onions"! Have you looked at UPB?

2)
can you imagine insteon in a commercial environment?
Insteon has no solution for 3 phase electrical. I'm assuming that you just put all devices on the same phase.

3) IVB
Looking at it that way, I'd say it took me 6 months for a 100% ROI, and from hereon out, HA will actually be SAVING me $1,570 EVERY SINGLE MONTH! ($2000/month on old bad habits minus $430/month currently), which is also $19K/year. With a 5 year/20% per year depreciation rate on goods, that's an NPV of positive $47.5K!
I can relate! Love your math.
 
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