Hardware or Software tutorials


hi everyone Im a newbie in the homeautomation topic and I have been reading as much as I can and learning about this exciting theme.

If anyone can help me I want to know whats the difference or adavantages in controlling a home automation with a software like homeseer and a computer or with an HAI hardware or any other kind ELM etc.

Can you achieve the same results?

Whats better?

if anyone can sugest me tutorials to read and articles to see what can I achieve with the different solutions.

If I understand correctly the difference is that with homeseer you need a pc as a server always turned on right?

Thanks for your help.
One advantage that an HAI or Elk or JDS or HomeVision panel can offer is potentially higher reliability. That is a very controversial subject and has a lot to do with what else you do with your PC.

Yes, HomeSeer or Housebot or MisterHouse or PowerHome requires a PC that is always on. And if you want high reliability, then you will essentially dedicate this machine to home automation. It will not be used for web surfing, email or running many user applications. It is OK to run long term monitoring software that you don't mess with, such as MotherBoardMonitor, some Weather Station software, etc. But even with a dedicated PC, you still have a bit more mechanical and operating system reliability risk than a dedicated panel.

HomeSeer and a JDS panel can include telephone (voice mail) support. The Elk allows telephones Interaction (I think the HAI might also), but they don't take messages.

Using a PC opens up the world of your home automation interacting with the world around it, via network or serial or USB ports. It also opens up a LOT of options for touchscreens and working with your home theater setup (if desired).

And just to confuse you, many people claim that running a PC based system AND a dedicated panel is the best of both worlds.

Even the Applied Digital Ocelot can run a house by itself, but offers a lot more when coupled with a PC.

One of the key questions to help determine your needs is to look at how you feel about a security alarm system. If that is a "must have" item and you don't already have one, then I would suggest getting a panel that can do both security and automation. If a security system is not high on your list, then I would start with a PC solution and learn from there.

And I almost forgot to say "Welcome to CocoonTech". Don't be afraid to post more questions or follow up on this thread.
thanks for your help and welcome to the FORUM.

Yes i have been reading the forum and I understand that the best thing is have a hardware controller and a dedicated pc with homeseer.

My question now, are this solutions are affordable home automation projects, how much money do you need to get your home automated??

I need to design a basic homeautomation project, but the most important thing i need is not to spend to much money.

Im making business with constructors and I need to offer a basic home automation plan to install in 20 apartments.

Thats why im looking for a basic configuration, im planning on making structured wiring.
Sounds like your best bet would be to hire a consultant as the sky is the limit when it comes to automation.

Questions you need to ask is:

What do I want to control
What do I want to offer in the way of customizing and networking, etc...
How much can I afford per apartment?
What maintenance hassles can I put up with?
Who would be doing said maintenance?
Welcome! You definitely need to make a list of what you'd like to do before you decide on the type of equipment that would best suit you.

I use both the JDS Stargate and homeseer because they serve different purposes for me. Although Wayne pointed out that the higher reliability of a dedicated panel was somewhat debateable, I would argue that it is a proven fact given that windows is so unreliable over time with memory leaks and such. I'm sure that there are servers that could go toe to toe (my windows 2003 adv. server has been extremely stable and has not required many reboots) with a standalone panel, but it's not the norm.

In my house I use the JDS stargate to interface with the phones (I do not use the messaging), automate my IR system, make announcements over loudspeakers for events, announce caller Id, connect hard wired sensors and toggles (including hacked RF remote controls for ceiling fan control and doorbell), security, LCD panel control and much more. The stargate should not be considered for web control. They have an add-on for a web interface, but it's very lame. The issue of course is that it was designed quite some time ago.

I use Homeseer for my web interface, Betabrite control and Audrey Touchscreen control. I really underutilize my installation, but plan on expanding some of the plug-ins I use. Some of the features such as the speaker announcements, caller ID and such would be served just as well by homeseer, but I let the stargate handle things.

It all comes down to personal preferences and cost. Most of us here do about the same things with different tools.
Welcome to CocoonTech, Isaac! If you just want a basic home automation setup, I would select a product such as the Elk M1 Gold, it does home automation and security, is pretty affordable, and is user friendly, since a PC requires maintenance. Also keep in mind that PC parts wear out faster than a hardware controller (i.e. the CPU/Chassis fan tend to go fast, hard drives go bad as well). If you want flexibility, then go with the PC, otherwise I would stick with a hardware controller.

One other thing to keep in mind is that hardware controllers can be hidden very nicely, aren't noisy, don't generate tons of heat, and it's pretty easy and cheap to provide power backup for more than just a few minutes, unlike PC's which require big and expensive UPS devices if you want more than a few minutes of run time.
Hardware is the way to go. I'm in the process of installing/programing Elk. When the Zwave controller comes out I'm moving everything over to the Elk. The M1-Gold is around 700.00 which is similar to a pc. But it's feature packed. I just installed electronic locks and configuring ElkRP (Software) now.

It will function as a security panel which would be a Big selling point along with automation.
My own personal preference is a standalone hardware controller, for reliability. I have all the logic handled by my ADI Ocelot based system. Any connected PC is for convenient access of certain things, but nothing else is affected if a PC stops working. My Ocelot has just passed the 5 year mark without ever having crashed or anything.
thanks for all your help guys, I really apreciate it. Its hard being a newbie but Im learning fast.

What Im looking for a basic automation is lighting control, audio and video. Lets say I want to be able to control the lights of the house, control the home theatre, control music in several rooms. Lets say watch the dvd that its located in the family room in one of the bedrooms and being able to control the dvd from the bedroom.

I dont understand what is the difference between the OCELOT and elk systems or the HAI controller.

For example if you integrate one of the controllers with the homeseer software you can have control with any device that can access your wifi or structured network right?

all of my installations will have structured wiring or at least wifi.

It would be really helpfull if anyone can give me more or less the costs of some automation projects, I know it depedns in how much automation do u want, but the hype right now is that everyone is talking about affordable automation, so whats affordable??
so whats affordable??
Hehe. You've hit the crux of the problem. The definition of "affordable" depends on who's talking. Here in the DC area, an "affordable" house is anything under $400,000. If you went somewhere else (okay, just about anywhere else :D ), an "affordable" home would be much less. I once had a distributor define a affordable home theatre as "under $25,000". Unfortunately, you have to define affordable yourself. Or better yet, figure out how much you are willing to spend on HA, then reduce it by 50%, because ANY HA project will run at least twice what you estimate. ;)
What hardware would you suggest to buy




how do I know which one of this is better?

and answering on whats affordable, I know it depends where is the location of the house and how much automation do u want.

but for example can I do any decent automation with $4000 us
I don't have any of those, but if I had the money to choose one, the result would be based on whether or not I needed a security system as well.

If I needed a security system, I would go for the Gold. It is the most modern of the available panels, and most likely to grow into the newer technologies.

If I didn't want a security system, I would go with an Ocelot. It has more conventional automation features than any of the alarm panels, like InfraRed and analog inputs. It is also very expandable.

However, the security panels usually integrate well with thermostats and motion sensors, if that is your HA preference. On the other hand, they don't integrate well at all with home theater (except to set-off the alarm when someone comes to steal it). For that, I would definitely go Ocelot.
Isaac, Seems like the elk m1 gold is where it's at now. newest and probably best. $4000 would get you a nice setup if you do software work yourself. Next big decision is what type of lighting control - X10 is best value / performance. UPB is becoming available, Invisteon will be soon available and would be my choice.
Invisteon? Someone works in the car manufacturing industry ;)

Reading you original post, I don't see you mention any security features at all, if that's the case, definitely go with the Ocelot, as it can control your home theater, home automation, and still function as a basic alarm system using the SECU16 expansion modules. I have one myself, and love it!
Just to confuse you some more - if you need more flexibility than the Ocelot setup - go with a Stargate or HomeVision setup connected to a standalone security system like GE's Caddx (now Networx).

I was where you were 6 months ago, and it takes a little work to figure all the options out (I'm still learning every day). I haven't found any really good books to help - the web is your best bet. Spend some time on the various stores websites and the hardware manufacturers websites so you can learn the basics. Then start "designing" your system based on your requirements, and determine what hardware fits into your requirements. It's a lot easier once you actually start putting it down on paper (or spreadsheets) to figure out what you need based on your goals.

Finally, this forum is a fantastic place for information. Your best bet is to review the old posts when you hit a road block. I've found most of my questions can be answered without making a whole new thread... just by looking at the old posts.

Good luck! It's not hard (just time consuming) - and the results are definitely worth it!