Introducing Security/Automation and looking for advice

We've just begun construction on an addition along with full renovation of our existing home.  Virtually every wall will be opened up, and I'm using an electrician (licensed of course) who is very flexible in putting in what I am looking for.  He's not terribly familiar with most home automation technology, but is happy to follow my lead and install what I ask.
My needs/desires/plans are as follows:
Security:
I have 2 options and I'm looking for advice.  We bought the house 3 yrs ago and it has an existing Omni LT panel + 2 keypads and a couple of PIRs and door sensors and siren, but I'm going to have to re-install the sensors because of the new layout, and I have no idea how old they are.  I've never actually used this system.  We'll end up with 9 windows (4 zones), 3 doors (3 zones), and 5 PIRs, and I'll be putting in a cellular board for communication to the central station.
        Option 1 is to upgrade the board to an LTe, keep the keypads and refresh the sensors and battery.  I'd use OmniStats for my HVAC in this case.  I like this option because of the easy integration with the RR2, and the automation functionality.  I dislike it because the HAI apps aren't great, adding wireless receivers (security and/or z-wave) is expensive, and overall it seems like Leviton isn't putting many resources into it and in general its not a widely used system.
        Option 2 is to put in a Vista 20p, with a 6160RF keypad and a Tuxedo Touch Wifi for my other keypad, and the 4232CBM for integration with the RadioRa2.  I like this because I'll be able to easily add wireless (security) sensors and/or z-wave devices (since lighting is RR2, I'd use it for door locks and thermostats right now).  The TT would be at the main entry, which is nice because it's more attractive and 'cool' than an old fashioned keypad.  I also feel that Honeywell is very well supported and widely used and they continually put resources into their products.  On the downside, the Honeywell/RR2 integration is limited to triggering based on general alarm states and not individual zones, but it's probably sufficient.
       Cost wise it isn't a huge difference between the two, so that doesn't impact my decision.
Cameras:  Haven't decided on the exact system just yet, but I'll run Cat6 for PoE IP cameras with an NVR in the cabling room.  In theory integration with the security system sounds great, but it seems there are as many issues created with overly sensitive motion detection that a simple NVR with the ability to back view recorded data in the event of an incident will suffice, and remote access for when I'm notified of an event will be fine.
Fire:  Local regulations have us installing a hardwired 120V system.  I'm thinking that I'll put in a separate 2 detector LV system hooked up to the alarm panel for protection of the home when we are away.
Automation:
      Lighting - I'm going with RadioRa2.  I've passed my essentials training (perfectly adequate as I'm in the 30-50 device range), and am putting together my plan.  Electrician will install all the switches/dimmers/keypads/drivers as he would in a non-automated setup, and I'll do the programming.  Seems like a high WAF, and its a well supported system.
      Shades - nothing for now - out of budget
      A/V - We're not big movie watchers, so no home theatre setup is necessary.  I'll have basic 5:1 for the family room, and have a Logitech Harmony (with the base but non-touch screen remote) that I got for a great price.  We use FiOS and I'll upgrade to the Quantum TV.  That DVR will function as our 'home server' and is perfect for our viewing habits.  I don't need distributed audio - we just don't listen to that much music.
     LV wiring:  I'd like to put in a basic structured wiring setup in the basement utility room.  for most rooms I'm planning to go with 1 RG-6/ 1 Cat 5e (VoIP) and 1 Cat 6 (ethernet).  I'm going to keep the FiOS modem/router in the utility room and hook up a couple of access points for the other floors.
 
I know this is lengthy - I'm trying to cover all my bases.  Appreciate any feedback, particularly around the security alarm setup decision.
 
Thanks,
Oscar
 
 

mikefamig

Senior Member
I don't have much knowledge of Automation that'll help you but my advise is that you get an installer that has experience with low voltage wiring and home automation devices to do the work. HA involves an entire world of knowledge aside from general electrical work.
 
Mike.
 
EDIT
 
unless of course you feel confident that you yourself have the knowledge to do the design and planning.
 

pete_c

Guru
Welcome to Cocoontech oscar!
 
As Mike mentions HA is a bit beyond basic high voltage electrical knowledge.  It is a mixture of low voltage, high voltage and computer knowledge.  The HA obi wan wears many hats.  It is good that you did the RR2 stuff.
 
Here utilizing UPB for in wall switches.  They all have a load, ground and switch wires which is different than a conventional switch.
 
After installation you just put the switches in programming mode and utilize software to program them.  This is a bit beyond your electrical basics.
 
I utilize two Leviton OmniPro 2 panels.  Omnistats, Omnitouch, et al stuff.
 
CCTV can be incorporated to the Omni stuff.  Rather here the transport / connectivity to the OmniPro is secondary to CCTV which functions on its own with its own DVR. 
 
I do not see it in Leviton's future to incorporate wireless security Zigbee or ZWave devices.  I have and use Leviton standard security panel wireless devices (really in place to use but not used as the panels are all wired). 
 
Personally here while I like RF; it is the last choice only if I cannot wire choice relating to security and or automation. 
 
Plan, make drawings, plan some more, make some more drawings.
 
You know what it is you want.
 
There has been chit chat here relating to the use of Cat6X or Cat5x.  For current technologies of the network Gb networking for the home works fine for me with Cat5e (from a long time ago).  Newer HDMI to Category cable can take advantage of the specifications of cat6 cables.
 
Relating to Fire here left the 120VAC installed by the contractor system in place and added autonomous stuff to my panel.
 
Here I still utilize internal resources for streaming media (media on Blue Ray / DVD is no longer utilized) and external a la carte streaming services.  I have FIOS / Broadband cable.  I understand the vendor push of fast big pipes; but really you do need it as the bottleneck is always the router to your network and the transport to the provider of streaming services.  The size of the pipe really doesn't matter much.  It sounds good though on the advertisements.  It really is the QOS of the provider to the end user and the broadband providers will always take care of their own stuff as a priority.  The ISPs are hurting these days as many folks are just doing a la carte entertainment.
 
Irrigation is automated but not connected to the OmniPro 2 panel.  Rather I utilize automation software with a connection to the panels.  Each automation piece of hardware compliments the other or runs by itself.
 
Really too it depends on what levels of control you want.  Today many like to utilize their smart phones for remote control.  That said here the house takes care of the automation with no dependencies on external resources or consoles.
 
IE: the Omnistat thermostat is looked at temperature wise but I never really change the automation settings. 
 
Relating to HA in general I like the long math way which does typically a wired infrastructure built for whatever suits your fancy.  
 
Keep asking questions.  Many Cocoontech users have DIY'd their stuff and documented their endeavors right here on the forum.
 
Thanks for the feedback.  I'll be planning and programming low voltage and automation components.  The electrician will run the wire, and for the lighting he'll install all the switches, dimmers and keypads.
Perhaps I'll move my question about the security system to another forum.
 
Yes.  By adding the 4232CBM board and connecting to the RR2 main repeater it integrates with the RadioRa 2.  It's for security, not automation purposes - so it will trigger a lighting/shade scene based on alarm states - (Arm/Away, Arm/Stay, Disarm, Intrusion Alarm, Fire/Emergency).  So it won't do things like open window -> disable HVAC.  That's the attraction of the Omni option.  But the more I think about it the more I can't really find reason's to do that.  And if I really want to get deep into automation I imagine something like Homeseer or CQC or Indigo can integrate with the Vista 20p.
 
drvnbysound said:
Just want to leave this here: :)
 
http://www.elkproducts.com
Thanks.  I've read about the Elk but it is overkill (both functionality and price) for me.  If down the line I want to expand my capabilities I can always go with a software based product like Indigo, Homeseer, CQC.  Right now I'm leaning towards the Honeywell solution - it will certainly it fit my security needs, and the integration with RR2 for lighting and its limited z-wave functionality is fine as well.  And I think it will all be rather easy for my family to use as well.
 
Honeywell is going to be the RMR model. You're going to have recurring charges to do a lot of what you want to do.
 
You can get comparable by downsizing the M1 to an EZ8 and then add what peripherals you want.
 
Don't get me wrong, I've installed a few THOUSAND vistas (seriously, 1-2 a day for over a decade) and a bunch of M1's and EZ8's. When you price out a 20P with the bells and whistles, the cost difference between the two compared to capabilities....night and day.
 

drvnbysound

Senior Member
emrosenberg said:
Thanks.  I've read about the Elk but it is overkill (both functionality and price) for me.  If down the line I want to expand my capabilities I can always go with a software based product like Indigo, Homeseer, CQC.  Right now I'm leaning towards the Honeywell solution - it will certainly it fit my security needs, and the integration with RR2 for lighting and its limited z-wave functionality is fine as well.  And I think it will all be rather easy for my family to use as well.
 
What am I missing? In the original post above, Option 1 was an HAI system, Option 2 was Honeywell. How is Elk overkill vs. a HAI system? Elk and HAI are VERY comparable in terms of overall functionality and price. Many people split hairs to choose between the two... or just flip a coin :)
 
drvnbysound said:
What am I missing? In the original post above, Option 1 was an HAI system, Option 2 was Honeywell. How is Elk overkill vs. a HAI system? Elk and HAI are VERY comparable in terms of overall functionality and price. Many people split hairs to choose between the two... or just flip a coin :)
Yes they are.  The difference is that since I already have the existing keypads for the HAI it would be cheaper.  Additionally, the HAI has built-in compatibility (just a serial connector) to the Lutron Main Repeater.  As far as I can tell the Elk would require an M1XSLU which runs another couple hundred dollars, which is double or triple the cost of a similar board for the Honeywell.
 
As far as the RMR for the Honeywell, it ends up running about $5/month if I want remote control for the automation components.  I'm not really sure I even need that.  I can get remote control and notifications for the alarm states for $100 one time with something like the envisalink, and the Lutron has remote control apps for the lighting.  And of course, isn't the whole point of home automation that it is automated, so I shouldn't need to remote-in for control?  Lighting system can be programmed for away and vacation.  Ditto Thermostat.
 
Anyhow, I agree that I'm foregoing future growth potential for current savings.  But I'll be using wired sensors and lutron for the lighting, so in the future if I want to upgrade to a more capable system those components will transfer.  And with the new build we are trying to focus on spending money in areas where we can't easily upgrade later on (for automation that's laying wire), or quality insulation, efficient ducting, etc.
 
DELInstallations said:
Honeywell is going to be the RMR model. You're going to have recurring charges to do a lot of what you want to do.
 
You can get comparable by downsizing the M1 to an EZ8 and then add what peripherals you want.
 
Don't get me wrong, I've installed a few THOUSAND vistas (seriously, 1-2 a day for over a decade) and a bunch of M1's and EZ8's. When you price out a 20P with the bells and whistles, the cost difference between the two compared to capabilities....night and day.
As I've said elsewhere...key is scalability and system architecture. The M1 has a more flexible layout that allows you to get serial ports in locations easier if you plan accordingly. HAI...you've got to go back to the main panel.
 
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