Getting Started - Newbie Questions

Acropolis

Member
Reading through many of the posts on this site, I am certain that I can accomplish the home automation system I desire, but I am just not certain of which components would be best.

I am looking to develop a fully integrated system that utilizes these core features at a minimum:

security (with notifications)
video cameras
lighting controls
thermostats
whole house audio/video distribution/control
remote access/monitoring of entire system via internet
touch panels on each level
keypads/touch panels in each zone to control audio/video

I am leaning towards the HAI omni pro II series with a software package like ML or CQC.

The following are some of the questions I am not clear about:

1. Am I required to use the HAI thermostat with the Omni Pro? I want a thermostat that can monitor humidity and turn on a humidifier (without heat) if the humidity goes outside of a set range (and temperature is within set range).

2. I want to monitor video cameras inside and outside the house real time and have the capability to record time laps to a computer.

3. I'm not sure about integrating with a whole house audio/video system. I want the ability to distribute MP3s from a server/SAN to any room in the house and have the information displayed on a touch screen or TV. I have run speaker wires and cat5 from a central location (server room) to ever room in the house so that I can run audio and control panels. I am just not sure what would be needed to integrate with a central system. I would like to use multi channel amps in the server room to output audio. Can ML or CQC control this type of system from a touch panel?

These questions will get me started. I am just trying to decide on the core system and then expand from there. It appears that my first choices are the core system (HAI, Elk, etc.) and then the control software (ML, CQC, etc.). Is this assumption correct?

Thanks in advance,
Acropolis
 

IVB

Senior Member
2) That's a function of the camera software, check that out thoroughly before you buy.

3) Not sure what the actual question there is, but sure, that's no problem with either CQC or ML. Best case is to use an RS232 controllable hardware switcher, such as a Xantech ZPR68/MRC88, Russound CAV66, Extron, etc, and use that to take multiple inputs and send to whichever zones you want. If you get amps that are signal sensing or have 12V triggers, you won't have to worry about leaving them on 24x7. BTW, the reason I opted to not use multichannel amps is so that I could have room level control.

It appears that my first choices are the core system (HAI, Elk, etc.) and then the control software (ML, CQC, etc.). Is this assumption correct?
There's no "one right answer", but that's about as legitimate as any other path.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
Acropolis said:
Reading through many of the posts on this site, I am certain that I can accomplish the home automation system I desire, but I am just not certain of which components would be best.

I am looking to develop a fully integrated system that utilizes these core features at a minimum:

security (with notifications)
video cameras
lighting controls
thermostats
whole house audio/video distribution/control
remote access/monitoring of entire system via internet
touch panels on each level
keypads/touch panels in each zone to control audio/video

I am leaning towards the HAI omni pro II series with a software package like ML or CQC.

The following are some of the questions I am not clear about:

1. Am I required to use the HAI thermostat with the Omni Pro? I want a thermostat that can monitor humidity and turn on a humidifier (without heat) if the humidity goes outside of a set range (and temperature is within set range).
**** If you use a software package like HomeSeer you can use any of the newer thermostats and not be tied to an HAI thermostat. You could even use one of the one-wire HomeSeer plugin packages to monitor humidity a control the humidifier seperately if you desire.

2. I want to monitor video cameras inside and outside the house real time and have the capability to record time laps to a computer.
****Using one of 2 HomeSeer plugins you can do this as well. They are the WebCam Plugin and the Hauppauge Capture plugin.

3. I'm not sure about integrating with a whole house audio/video system. I want the ability to distribute MP3s from a server/SAN to any room in the house and have the information displayed on a touch screen or TV. I have run speaker wires and cat5 from a central location (server room) to ever room in the house so that I can run audio and control panels. I am just not sure what would be needed to integrate with a central system. I would like to use multi channel amps in the server room to output audio. Can ML or CQC control this type of system from a touch panel?
****Using the Russound HomeSeer plugin you can control the hardware from any touch screen via MainLobby.

These questions will get me started. I am just trying to decide on the core system and then expand from there. It appears that my first choices are the core system (HAI, Elk, etc.) and then the control software (ML, CQC, etc.). Is this assumption correct?

Thanks in advance,
Acropolis
See coments embeded.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Acropolis,

Welcome to CocoonTech! Your decision is not unlike many a pioneer before you ;). You mentioned security is a part of this, so you you 2 choices essentially - a security/HA panel with software that complements it, or a basic security system that works with software.

I am a fan of the former. The Elk M1 is very popular around here for alot of reasons. The main reason to choose HAI over Elk imho is if you need tighter integrated video and basic audio. HAI does have a dedicated video board and a distributed music system. The flip side of that is you can really do video and music with anything else. I would suggest calling Jim at Automated Outlet and discuss the Omni vs the M1. Either one is a good unit. The Elk support HAI, RCS and Aprilaire stats, but humidity is also available as standalone devices that than work with anything.

Both ML and CQC are very good complementary packages for touch screen control and the pros and cons of each can be hotly debated as they have been before. You will have to trial both and use what you are comfortable with.
 

Acropolis

Member
Thanks for all of the replies. So do I understand correctly that if I am really only using the HAI for security and automation (lighting and HVAC) and a 3rd party software package for an interface that I may be better off looking at separate packages for each?

I know that I will be looking at audio solutions besides Russound, so I probably won't be directly integrated with HAI for that. I also know that there are other security and HVAC solutions available, but will they each require their own hardware to control them? I have seen many references to Elk. Does it have the same lighting controls available that HAI has? I am also assuming that I can get video integration similar to what HAI offers through other packages. Is this correct?

Again, one of the main reasons I am looking at a 3rd party software package for the interface is so that I can integrate multiple technologies into a single solution. I am not stuck on buying everything from a single vendor, but at the same time I don't want to buy a bunch of overlapping products that in the end cost me more.

With that said, Am I better off looking at individual solutions, or are most people starting with a single solution and expanding it? (sorry for all of the "stupid" questions - I want to make sure I invest in my solution wisely).

Acropolis
 

Steve

Senior Member
As discussed here before, the HAI line is really marketed toward pro installers and it is a bit tough to get the programming tools and support if you are not an installer. Elk is better suited toward a diy'er. That said, HAI is more complete in the area of A/V integration, but if you are not going to use those features then you have more choice. I still like a hardware panel to do the security and bulk of critical HA supplemented with a good software system to do the other functions. While HAI is more complete in A/V, Elk does have camera support running thru their TS07 touchscreen but there are some limitations. You can always just have camera stuff as a separate function with a dedicated pc/dvr, etc and just display the streams.

The Elk touchscreen includes their RM software which is a good basic interface for your touchscreens, but if you use something like ML or CQC you can run on any touchscreen and build your own robust interfaces.

Personally I use the Elk M1 and CQC and there is virtually nothing I can't do. Of course a robust camera/DVR solution would be separate but can be incorporated to the system.

And yes, Elk supports pretty much all the same HVAC, lighting, etc that HAI does. See this page for all the Elk partners.

And I would still recommend giving Jim or Martin at AO a call to discuss the options. They are expert at both systems and can help guide you to the best system for your needs.
 

Acropolis

Member
Steve said:
And I would still recommend giving Jim or Martin at AO a call to discuss the options. They are expert at both systems and can help guide you to the best system for your needs.
Thanks Steve. I gave Jim a call at AO and he was a huge help in better understanding the systems. The key thing for me is going to rely on the hardware for primary control of the system and to use software for secondary control in other rooms. I am probably going to start with a base system that does lighting and temperature and then expand it from there. This will allow me to get it up and running and then expand it as needed.

Jim also mentioned that HAI is going to be coming out with some new touch screens and video devices early next year. I want to wait and see what they have before making a purchase of any video equipment.

Now back to reading the forums to get more ideas...

Acropolis
 

bfisher

Active Member
Just throwing in my 2 cents... add Homevision Pro to your list of units to consider. Very powerful, excellent AV/security/phone/touchscreen/HVAC/lighting integration, and strong programming capabilities. Use a Caddx (Networx now) system for security. The two integrate tightly together.

My opinion (outsider, no real experience with HAI or Elk) is that the all-in-one solutions are good - but they are not quite as powerful as seperate systems integrated together. If your automation needs are average, they may be sufficient. If you have a lot you want done - go for something with a lot of horsepower.

I use the HV-XL software (free with Homevision or Pro) for my touchscreen interfaces. Overall, it's a very slick solution, very powerful, and I have yet to run into anything I've wanted to do that I can't. Integrates to my IR system, my Audio and video systems, my phones, my HVAC 3 zone system, internet web control, touchscreens, UPB lighting...

I think it may cost more than the all-in-ones but it's a great solution. My signature takes you to what I've done with it (I need to update it to add all the new stuff I've added but you can learn a bit about it)

Good luck and have fun! For the most part, you can't make a wrong decision - they all do a great job... just have some minor differences in how they do it.
 
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