Home Automation Hardware Company


New Member
Hi. New to the Forum. I just renovated my house and had some grand ideas about home automation, but think I need a little help in figuring out what would be best for our house. I would like something that is upgradable over time, that provides most if not all of the features I am looking for, and that I dont only have to rely on a tech to make additions to or change/fix something to the system. I have already pre-wired my house for security and with enough Cat5e/Cat6 and speaker wire to each room than I really know what to do with. Everything terminates in a 7x3 closet. My idea was to have security, climate control, lighting control, and multi-room audio. I had hoped to have a single system that would cover everything. My idea of security was a reliable solid system with multiple key pads, hardwire trips, motions, smokes/co's. Future postential for security cameras or compatible with an existing DVR company that uses hardwire cameras and comunicates with HA system and provide video to each tv. Climate controls for 4 zones that I monitor for temp/humidity/external temps and humidities. Multi-room audio for backround music that can be controlled from each room for 8 or more zones 12 preferable. I would like to have all my cable boxes (4) in the equipment closet and have some sort of repeater system maybe built into the audio keypads if audio key pads come with the system to control equipment in the equipment room. I would like the ability to control lighting and fans, and lighting through the motions of the security system. I think having a gui that I can control the functions through my TV would be great, similar to the Control4. I was told by more than one installer that I should get a separate security system that is RS-232 compatible with the HA system rather than use one that is incorperated with HA as a precaution. I was also told to go with a separate multi-room audio system, like Russound for example, for the very same reason instead of like the HAI HI-FI module. Am I asking too much so far? Would love to hear some feedback on systems that are out there that are solid and whos companies are reliable and support friendly, please.


Senior Member
Welcome Smokey,

What you're asking for isn't out of reach at all.. but what you'll typically find is that there isn't a single system that does it all - but there is generally a way to tie the different systems together with a single controller.

How much of this do you want to DIY vs. self install? I ask because the Control4, Colorado VNet and Elan systems are great looking systems - but they're not intended really for any DIY (but I'd bet if you installed the HVAC, lighting and security already, they'd come in and just tie it all together - saving you a bit on the install). This forum is mainly DIY so you'll see people here tie things together with software like CQC, Elve, Homeseer, etc. It also depends on how much time you want to spend making screens to have total control, or if you want systems that are more out-of-the-box.

This is such a complex topic - there are millions of ways to accomplish what you're after - and completely different methods for doing so. Some would go HAI Security and use HAI's HiFi and their touchscreens and have a pretty simple out-of-the-box solution that already integrates pretty nicely. Others may go for a simpler security system that allows integration with a hardware or software controller. Some people hate the idea of relying on PC's in general; others hate Windows and want to use Linux or Mac only... Personal opinion comes in a lot here.

As far as the recommendation to avoid an all-in-one, I don't really buy it. These systems are all modular by nature - but they can work separately too. Even with an HAI HiFi, it can work with standalone keypads - and if the software or hardware controller providers make a driver, they can integrate it with anything. Many of the people here use either Elk or HAI (HAI has only recently become DIY-friendly so it's a newer option). The Elk is an awesome controller - and what I personally use... and with it I have security, lighting, thermostat, sprinkler and other controls all in one; It'll be easy to tie in either Russound or Nuvo or even HiFi when the time comes. It controls my lights based on time of day, doors opening/closing, etc. And because it's the main controller, I only need software that controls the Elk to control everything the Elk talks to (eK+ for the iPhone). I prefer having 90% of my system all hardware based with only the nice-to-have automation running on a computer - stuff I could go without for a couple weeks if I ever had to.

When it comes to controlling lighting and thermostats, pretty much either way you go you're going to be working with one of the common standards. With lighting, it's either Insteon, UPB or ZWave. With Thermostat's, it's Z-Wave, Serial, or WiFi (that's by no means all inclusive - but the most common it seems). There are other hardwire lighting technologies but they don't seem to have as great of support in this market because retrofit is the larger market so it gets more attention.

I have noticed that if you want Intercom it seems to really limit your options - I think HAI and OnQ are the only ones who integrate it into a nice touchscreen - but the OnQ doesn't do all the other stuff I need personally... and for Video you just need to figure out which platform you're going with and find out what integrates nicely. There tends to be compatible cameras and/or camera servers that integrate with these packages.

My best advice is to read around as much as you can - read about products and drill in to find out more about them; post questions as they come up (generally more specific - a post on a single topic will get far more detailed responses than a giant post about everything); then start narrowing down your priorities and find a good starting point - either your hardware or software controller - then find out what they're compatible with - and you should be able to start seeing your whole package come together. In my case I started with the Elk, then found compatible thermostats, then compatible lighting system, then audio, etc. The possibilities really are mind-boggling.

Also - set a budget for yourself... tell your wife a number that's half that, and prepare yourself to really spend double ;)


New Member
Thanks Work2play,
I did do a little research and I was sort of liking the HAI. I like the idea of an Out-of-the-Box kind of situation and the cost wasnt too outragious and I'm so burnt from the renovation that I almost dont have the energy to even install it myself. What made me look elsewhere was when I saw the Control4 tv interface with remote. I really liked that feature and thought something like that might allow me to put the basic keypads where I need them and not have to spend so much on the lcd displays. Also, accessing the HA from the TV would allow more flexability. The only thing was HAI doesnt seem to have this feature. Correct me if I'm wrong. The other thing was whether to intergrate a separate multi-room audio system with the HA. Should I go with the HAI Omni Pro II and Hi-Fi 2 or would connecting a Russound or Nuvo be that much better? Will I be missing something if I go with the all-in-one direction? I would definately like a hardware based system out of the box that is easy/easier to install and user friendly, but I dont want to get in over my head. I would like the all-in-one situation, but is there a system that will measure-up? I want a stable system that i wont hopefully have to mess with too much when it comes to trouble shooting. I would love to know what you think the best scenario would be? I'd like to avoid computers and software and the like if I can. I like all the features that I listed in my last post, though I could go with a separate video DVR that is compatible with the HA too.


Senior Member
Smokey - I used my TV for a control interface many years ago with my HomeVision system. It was a text only screen back then and not the pretty graphics like a C4 or others, but it did control pretty much everything in the house. However, I quickly found that I didn't like having to interrupt viewing what was on the TV to turn a light on or off or control something else. Having a Tivo tempered that since I could pause what I was doing, control something, then come back to the show, but all in all, it was always a pain to interrupt viewing for control purposes.

I think you'd be much better served using an iPod touch, iPhone, iPad or other mobile control interface instead of relying on the TV screen.


Senior Member
HAI, Elk, and many other systems have applications that run on computers, touchscreens, and handheld devices. What this means is that you can always view one of those interface screens by plugging your TV into a computer. So, in short, I would not look for something that plugs into your tv directly, there is no need for it and furthermore you will be restricted to the built-in interface. I have the ability to see my HA system on the TV, but am pretty sure I have never done it. I usually use my laptop or my iphone. Switching over while watching tv is rather disruptive. I actually have programmed my TV remote to control all of the things directly that I might want to do while watching TV. This is done via IR through my ISY and allows full control of many lights as well as arming of the alarm (Elk m1g) and limited control of the whole house audio (mostly I use the remote to shut off the whole house audio since I usually want it off while watching TV).

Work2play gave you a nice run down. Personally I have Elk M1G, Insteon, and ISY99IR pro. I use onQ for my intercom but don't like it (at least the model I bought). I have a channel plus unit for my whole house audio which I like except integrating it with other stuff was a pain. I also have a Global Cache itach unit which converts network commands into IR commands allowing pretty much everything to send IR commands.

I like the modular nature of the Elk and the rock solid performance. The programming interface is mediocre so I mostly write programs in ISY. ISY is an incredibly powerful tiny little thing that uses next to no electricity. The company has awesome customer support and is constantly adding new features.