Getting Nervous!


Active Member
I'm about to venture into a remote whole house automation project. Min. of around $10,000 for products. With future houses as it's in a subdivision.

I finally got them talked into Elk M1 but he wants to stick to SwitchLinc's. I've also got them on HS rather then Hal.

It's the first project I've actually been involved with directly so I'm trying to make everything go great but with so much it's difficult to remember everything. It's alot different installing at my own house rather then someone else's.

Any advice rather then take is slow? He wants it in 4 days so not much time there.

Any cocooners in KY? :)
What are they planning on automating? Unless the builder is designing and building the homes with it specifically in mind (if that's even possible), I would stay away from X10. It will probably come back to haunt you. If it's a from scratch scenario I would heavily consisder either hardwired or a very reliable PLC like UPB. It may cost a little more but it will save you and the builder headaches you don't need. If I bought a house advertised as having automation capabilities, I would expect it to work. Reliability is key in this scenario. My $.02.
Well, you could buy me a bus ticket to KY. It's not far from MD and if you pay my sallary for missed work time I would be more than happy to come help out for 4 days.

What all are you doing in these 4 days and how much of it are you doing and how much is the builder doing? Just to give you an idea... This job I started about 3 weeks ago is still going on. It was supposed to be done in 5 days :). All the electrical was roughed in and all we had to do was go in and add fixtures, outlets, and switches. Turns out the the kitchen was all on one circuit so we ended up having to fish two more feeds. Then we found out that about 1/3 of all the connections made by the previous electrician were wired ass backwards and we ended up spending about a week just tracing out his wires.

So if the walls are closed up I say either run or double your price and ask for about 8 more days. Don't be afraid to ask for extra money when the builder trys to have you do extras. If a switch is already put in and he agreed to put it there and decides he wants to make it a dimmer instead. That cost extra.

Other than that... Take lots of pictures and share your experience with us so we can learn from your mistakes. :)
BrianD, Are you from KY?
No, he's not. He's also not within communting distance of there.

Reliability is key in this scenario. My $.02.
I couldn't agree more!!!!! When installers don't put in the most reliable stuff, the warranty work will kill you. I would also strongly think about whether or not you want to have a PC running anything in there as well. What are you going to have the PC doing that you can't do in the Elk?
I live in Missouri but I may plan a trip to KY if it's worth my time, my time is pretty cheap for a trip. :)

I tried to push UPB, they said no but will go with UPB for the next house. I don't use X10 myself but that is what he wanted. Maybe I'll go with Zwave when Intermatic Pro/ Leviton products pour out.

The reason for computer is webserver/camera's/way2call/HS2 for VR.

They are doing everything I'm more like a consultant (much more then usuall). He says I want this to happen and I walked him through everything. I'll ask them for pictures.

Is there any thermostat that can control an whole house mister and hook into the Elk? I haven't been able to find one but I've been running pretty crazy these days.

I'll also post a list of whats being installed.

Squnitz, I'll keep you in mind if they want any custom programing.

Here is one of the largest single product
I tried to push UPB, they said no but will go with UPB for the next house. I don't use X10 myself but that is what he wanted. Maybe I'll go with Zwave when Intermatic Pro/ Leviton products pour out.

Seems like there was plenty of budget. It's a shame they insist on x10. I have a suspicion this will only help you when things go wrong since you suggested otherwise. You really should consider hardwire for future homes, it is the most reliable you can get. Next I would choose UPB followed by Insteon (if they get their act together soon). Not sure about ZWave, I'd just be cautious with wireless. At least typically it has not been as reliable as required here.

I'm not a professionial installer, but wow, using HS2 for VR?

Who is going to support this setup?

Like most HS2 users, I can only keep a stable system running with just minimal tasks, (the good ol' stand alone Ocelot does most of the work) and I don't think I have read where anyone has VR working relialably with HS2 yet. Are they using open air mics or telephone?

It seems each "build" fixes something and breaks 3 things that were working. I had build 1972 running for about 45 days, then only last week, went to build 2003. Based on the threads on the HS board, and Skibums thread here, I'm skipping build 2014 for sure. Heck, even Rupp hasn't switched to HS2 yet at his house!

Good luck and keep us posted, this will be an interesting installation to follow.
I totally missed the idea of using HS2... Now that is just crazy! Who is asking you to do this install? If you go using all this unreliable stuff you are bound for many many problems and the builder may never want to attempt to automate again.
Well it's not really up to me. I don't have full control of it otherwise I wouldn't do VR with less then a 2-3k setup.

I also wouldn't install X10.

It was either HS or HAL and I suggested HS. I still think HS2 is better then Hal regardless of what I think of HS.
From what I hear, HAL is better when it comes to VR, but this is something I will have to verify myself. But I assume there is a reason that you keep hearing about HAL on TV shows.
Rupp said:
HS 2.0 on the pro 100 controller would seem like an excellent fit to me.
Rupp, I assume you have actually seen and tested the Pro100? Or know somebody that has purchased one and tested it?
Well, IMHO VR (at least open air mics) as a standard automation option is just plain not a good idea. You need really high quality mics and proper setup for room acoustics. Of course, phone based VR is a bit of a different story. Either way I believe HAL is the best choice for VR (based on my limited testing experience and A LOT of reading).

I also feel compelled to add that while my core is the Elk M1, I am looking at a pc based system to complement it. So far I have looked at HAL, Homeseer, CQC and MainLobby. I can tell you even without much experience with it, I would stay away from HS simply from all the posts here and the HS forum. Regardless of how well the product may or may not work, it just does not seem like the kind of company I would want to do business with at this point. And forgive me Rupp, I really don't know much about you but I have to be honest in saying that you come across as a paid cheerleader for HS. Even if you are passionate about the product, it seems as if everyone else who complains is wrong and HS is always good or right. Please understand I am not trying to start any flames or anything, just being honest as a 3rd party saying that at least IMHO your constant defense of the product and company is rather tiring and actually puts me off on the product even that much more. I am passionate about many things and several products but I either tell it like it is or keep it to myself if I can't be honest. I'm sure you're a great guy and have a lot of knowledge to offer, just please lighten up a bit.

HS may have been and may again be the Ultimate HA software, but at this point in time is not the right answer for a system that needs to be rock solid.

Brian, It sounds like they are asking you for input and then doing what they want anyway. Usually those relationships don't work out very well for either party. They need to have a very clearly defined plan for what they are trying to accomplish, who their customer is and then listen to the consultants that they ask for help. Again, IMHO putting any PC based system in a home as part of an automation system is just not a good idea. If you don't know who is going to buy the house or how it will be used, there are bound to be support issues or even nightmares.
Again, IMHO putting any PC based system in a home as part of an automation system is just not a good idea.

Amen! If you just put the computer in there with nothing on it and you are on the hook for support it is not worth it (not even taking into account whichever automation server). If it is not a knowledgeable person buying the house then it is going to be trouble for you. I know this one myself rather well (surprising what people can do to a computer) although not with an automation server.

If I read that right and you are not local, that could make it even harder.

If it is new construction, its a surprisingly high bar for an unsold house (if I hear this correctly). VR for example, won't be seen as a bonus by all.

Just things to consider, Steve makes a real good point there.