HA information

jls944

Member
I have been reading posts for about a week now and am still confused with all the different products. Is there a good post or infomrational that I've missed on the basics? PLease let me know if there are websites with information for beginners. Thank you.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Welcome to the crowd! I've been reading posts for months and still confused! :blink:

There is a lot to digest and the best thing is to break it down into manageable pieces to digest. As I'm sure you've seen, the top 2 questions for beginners are what are you trying to accomplish and what is your budget?

If just starting out you want to first choose a core to build around - something like the Elk M1. Then do sections at a time - security, lighting, HVAC, and other things as desired.

If you let us know more specifically what you are looking for we can give you better answers, but this is probably the best source of info on the net, so you already found the right website!
 

Squintz

Senior Member
Steves answer was right on. However I would like to add that it is probably easiest to automate your lights and if you are just getting started I would recommend that you start there. The second that you turn your lights on either with a remote control, computer, or system like the elk m1 I think you will understand what automation is all about. It took me a few months before I figured it out.

Basically automation is about making your home easier to live in. You will see the perks of automating the first time you realize you left the basement light on and you are already in bed. Just reach over and grab the remote and hit a button.

There is a ton of information about Z-wave and UPB which are the most recommended technologies. You don't have to pick one. Depending on which control system you go with you may be able to use multiple technologies simultaneously.(CQC, HomeSeer, HAL, Elk M1 are most popular 'brains' but others exist)

So, whip out your credit card and buy a UPB or Z-Wave starter kit and download the trial version of whatever software looks good to you and just jump in. But be warned, once you are in you can't get out.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
Steve said:
If just starting out you want to first choose a core to build around - something like the Elk M1. Then do sections at a time - security, lighting, HVAC, and other things as desired.
Of course if choosing a core to build around is the problem you are trying to resolve then here are some additional things to think about:

There are basically two types of core controllers; PC based (Homeseer, CQC, ECS, MisterHouse, etc.) and dedicated hardware platforms (Elk M1, Homevision, Ocelot, etc.) If your not sure which is right for you, just ask that specific question and you will likely get lots of views and input.


There are also two philosophies about subsystems. One camp feels that critical subsytems such as security, Home Theater, HVAC, Telephone, etc. should be stand-alone sytems that will continue to function even if the HA system is off line. They are enhanced by being attached to a HA system but do not depend on it. The other side wants the central brain to control everything. In the second scenario you might. for example, have a voice announcement to tell you when there is a phone call instead of a phone ringer. If the HA system is down, you don't know when a call comes in (but the rest of the time it is pretty cool). Again, if you don't already have an opinion ask the specific question and see what feedback you get.

Another consideration is whether or not you want your controller to have a primary focus or bias. In my religion a Home Automation controller is essentially a Programmable Logic Controller with pre-defined I/O interfaces for use in home automation applications (lighting, ascii serial, contact closure, analog measurement, etc.) but no initial bias towards Security, Energy Management, Home Theater, or anything else. Others like systems that have one of these functions at their core with the option to add other functionality. You will have to decide what would work best for you.

A fourth consideration when picking a core controller is what it takes to program it. I prefer menu driven code builders because it lets you focus on the logic of what you are trying to code without getting distracted with syntax issues. A lot of folks here are programmers by trade so they prefer to work in some generic language that they are already familiar with. It pretty much depends on your background and what kind of learning curve you are willing to take on.

If you can define a preference in all four of these areas it should be pretty easy to identify the core controller that is best for you.

Hope this helps.
 

elcano

Active Member
jls944 said:
I have been reading posts for about a week now and am still confused with all the different products. Is there a good post or infomrational that I've missed on the basics? PLease let me know if there are websites with information for beginners. Thank you.
You see? All the responses are excellent, and I;m sure you are not out of your confusion. That's part of the fun! :lol:

First thing to tell you: This is the place you are looking for.

Nowhere else you are going to receive more complete information. Other forums might give you simple plain advise to buy the system that they advocate. No confusion at all, right? But have you learned anything? No. Are you buying what is best for you? Most probably not.

At the end, the importance is that you learn the pros/cons of everything and then select what you judge is better for you. I could not avoid smiling when I read your first sentence above. A week? I spend months reading this site and making questions, challenging suggestions, observing the different questions made by new people over and over again. All the time I learned something new. I changed my mind several times in this period. After six months I decided to place my first order: and Elk M1G used mostly for security (biased, just like upstatemike said). Two months later I got another controller that competes with the M1G in some areas, but complements it in other areas (Ocelot biased for IR automation). In contrast, I have not spent a cent yet in lightning systems (X-10, UPB, Z-Wave nor Insteon). I dont even have a desktop PC, so no option for PC based HA system yet.

In the other hand you have Squintz's advice, which is different, but excellent too. That involves a little more risk, but more rewarding that what I'm doing (read 'fun').

Probably you can do both: buy a few lightning devices and continue reading. You will not find the absolute divine thruth in home automation in this site, but you will learn enough to be satisfied with you decisions (while still a little confused :) - just kidding ;)).
 

Guy Lavoie

Active Member
Another worthwhile question is this: do you want to do this just for the convenience and end result, or do you also want to get into it as a hobby? There is no wrong answer here, but it is important that you determine this for yourself because some solutions (especially those involving multiple components and especially a PC) will take a lot of time to get to do exactly what you want but can also be the most versatile and fun as you dig into it.

Home automation is a particularily fertile ground for experimenting and tinkering because you are linking things that have no relation to each other in a regular un-automated home. If you really want to get into it as a hobby, I suggest that you start slowly and learn one thing at a time. A good starting point is lighting control or security, with a controller like an Ocelot or a Elk M1. If you plan on controlling lights that use Insteon, Z-Wave or UPB, then the M1 might be a better starting point because the Ocelot doesn't support any of those at this time. On the other hand, the Elk costs more then an Ocelot and is less versatile in terms of conditional logic, although that should improve with the new firmware updates that will come out in the future. There is nothing wrong with at least starting out with X10 just to find out if you actually enjoy this as a hobby. X10 can still be viable for lighting although I wouldn't use it for anything else such as HVAC or security. It can at least allow you to get started with minimal initial expense.
 
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