Need help with Choosing system

ccap

Member
Hello all, first time poster. Love this site. I have beating my head against a wall with what is the best cost effective system for my house. I currently have an HAI Omni, which I will be upgrading because I am adding an addition to my home. I use it as a security system and a couple x-10 lighting controls.

What I would like to be able to do over the long term is to have touchscreen control for lighting, hvac, security, audio/video with HD, hard drive servers for things such as movies, music, pictures. Even have the interface on the tv to choose from there

Cost is obviously the issue. The A/V company that I am using is going to help me with my dedicated theater that is part of the addition. I might use crestron there

Anyway back to my question for whole house control. I have looked at Crestron, but its expensive and I can't work on it myself. Home Logic I saw for the first time and It was ok but nothing special. I think NetStreams looks great, but I cannot get anyone to call me regarding the system JEESH. I liked the Cenimar Mainlobby, but I am not sure I can handle the programming because of time. I just noticed the Homeseer and Cortexa. I like Cortexa because it uses the MCE interface and it look easy to set up and configure. However it does not offer a plug in for Russound CAV6.6 which I have and Video Switching including HD would be a big plus.

I have a meeting this week with lifeware and I am excited to see it in action, but I heard the cost are up there.

I know this is a loaded question but to get some user experience on some sytems would be great.

Thanks and Happy New Year
 

Rupp

Senior Member
You should check out HomeSeer it's a highly customizable back end for home automation and there's a new Russound plugin that's in beta.
http://board.homeseer.com/forumdisplay.php?f=849

There's also an HAI plugin as well.

If you like working on the system yourself HomeSeer also offers a free SDK to develop any plugin you need/want but to be honest there are so many that it's doubtful one doesn't already exist.
 

ccap

Member
WOW!! You guys are awesome..you reply sooo fast! One other question is what is the best lighting control I should be leaning towards.

Again I have an Omni and some x-10 stuff, but for example my a/v guy is pushing crestron and there wireless lighting switches. He said they are always reliable and 2-way communication which is nice, but again its crestron.

what about Insteon, Vantage, Radio RA. What has the best in reliability, 2-way communication and most cost effective.

Thanks again for your help
 

ccap

Member
One other thing is I really like the MCE interface. If I wanted to go that route, which product would anyone recommend? I would want to use touch screens in the different rooms and use zones, etc.

Thanks
 

Rupp

Senior Member
That's a touch question. There's nothing wrong with X10 but all of the newer technologies are must better but they do cost more. In order of price there's X10, Insteon, Z-Wave, and UPB. I use all of these and I'm slowing migrating to Z-Wave mainly because it's a wireless protocol and seems to have the most "backers" than any other protocol. The HomeSeer forum has a lot of information on each of the protocols ( http://board.homeseer.com ) and it seems Insteon has the most posts and most configuration problems. This is because of a lot of reasons but the biggest being the firmware in the switches and controllers kept changing in the earlier switches. Z-Wave gets a lot of traffic as well and UPB doesn't get a lot of posts but one of the reasons for this is - it works really well and it's more expensive and this chases a lot of new users away. I would read and read and read a bit more and ask questions and then make up your mind. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with crestron, it's just expensive and there are so many other "devices" in the other protocols.

As far as touch screens goes a very common combination is using Main Lobby as a front end to HomeSeer and there's also the new plug-n-play Maestro front end as well. There's also the free Touchpad interface but it's not the best but works in a pinch.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
Keep in mind that the 'good' Z-wave hardware is as expensive, if not more, than UPB hardware.
 

ccap

Member
can you point me in the direction of some z-wave and UPB products??

Also are there any screen shots of the MCE plugin and the Russound plug in?

Also if you use mainlobby, which BTW I like the interface how does it tie to the Hoomeseer. Actually, if you had ML, why do you need Homeseer becaue you can get the plug ins for HAI, Russound, Lighting etc

Boy this get confusing. Thanks Again
 

Steve

Senior Member
I would simply build on the Omni. It's a nice panel. In that regard I would very strongly look at UPB. It integrates beautifully with the Omni and as electron said, is can definitely be LESS expensive than the good Zwave stuff. I also don't particularly like wireless. Of course besides true hardwire, ala Centralite anything can have issues. If its a new addition I would consider hardwire, especially if you will have alot of lighting and a theater.

If you don't have time to tinker and you have the funds, Creston is a solid system used in many high end homes. Its just expensive (and pretty much closed to tinkering) for what you get. If you do have time to tinker and want complete control of the system I would look carefully at Charmed Quark (CQC). It's target market is basically a less expensive alternative to Crestron, albeit not as complete yet. With it you can build custom touchscreen interfaces for your theater, distribute audio and HA functions.
 

ccap

Member
oops one last thing. I was also thinking of using Centralite bother there wireless retrofit and the new construction stuff. Is this a good choice for lighting control???
 

Steve

Senior Member
can you point me in the direction of some z-wave and UPB products??
Automated Outlet

Also if you use mainlobby, which BTW I like the interface how does it tie to the Hoomeseer. Actually, if you had ML, why do you need Homeseer becaue you can get the plug ins for HAI, Russound, Lighting etc
Keep your primary control in the Omni. Use software to provide the complementary functions. ML and CQC are competitors. Personally I like CQC better but it is a highly personal decision. With the Omni and CQC you are pretty much set and would not need anything else. Imho, if Homeseer had a robust engine for touchscreens, it would be a better fit.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
ccap said:
can you point me in the direction of some z-wave and UPB products??

Also are there any screen shots of the MCE plugin and the Russound plug in?

Also if you use mainlobby, which BTW I like the interface how does it tie to the Hoomeseer. Actually, if you had ML, why do you need Homeseer becaue you can get the plug ins for HAI, Russound, Lighting etc

Boy this get confusing. Thanks Again
Here's the main MCE screen.
http://store.homeseer.com/store/Windows-Me...g-in-P71C6.aspx
There are others posted in the MCE forum on the HomeSeer bulletin board.

Link to Z-Wave devices are here as well as other vendors:
http://store.homeseer.com/store/Z-Wave-C8.aspx

UPB here as well as other vendors:
http://www.hometech.com/control/upb.html
and
http://www.automatedoutlet.com/home.php?cat=128
 

SkyBolt

Member
For what is worth, I have X10 working flawlessly. It did take a few filters though. Use a Powrlinc not a CM11A, don't amplify, clean up the siganl.

Keep in mind that most RF based devices will have a noticable lag, maybe not what your looking for with lighting. I have found that each technology has it's purpose and a non wired HA system will take many technologies to get things the way you like. - Take your time and read as much as possable.

-Skybolt
 

AnthonyZ

Active Member
Welcome CCAP! I'm also a new "cocooner" but I respect these guys here and in short order. I think you've come to the right place.

It sounds to me that in your OP, you've basically described an HAI/Home Control for Windows Media Center install. I am 2 weeks away from installing my own HTPC that will run the software so I must state that I can't yet comment on relaibility, speed, etc. (anyone else?) of this combo. But, at least in theory, it will cover all of your desires and still leave room to grow. I currently run my HA via Convergent Living C8,an MX3000 and Snaplink. All work. All "look" different. All have pros and cons. I am looking forward to putting in the HTPC with the Home Control. The only drawback to this setup, so far and as I see it, is the lack of a custom GUI. But it sounds like you dig the MCE GUI anyways.

As for UPB. Well, it rocks. It's a fraction of the cost of a Lutron Homeworks or Crestron install, UPStart is super powerful software and it WORKS.

Are you going to do the bulk of the HA work or is a CI doing it? Are you a tweak? What's your budget? Answers to these questions may help others here steer you in the right direction.
 
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