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Struggling with controller choices

wkearney99

Senior Member
Yeah, well, Larry, not everyone agrees on what is or isn't "automation" or ridiculous.  Perhaps let's not derail the thread for that, hmm?
 
Likewise, cloud integration doesn't mean "everything" round-trips to the internet.  You know this, spare us the trolling.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I think the perception of cloud reliability depends a little on where you live. I am in a rural location with only 1 broadband provider who is about to get kicked out of the state for failing to provide decent bandwidth to rural customers. My router logs show frequent interruptions in service and the prospect of 5G wireless replacing cable is probably the better part of a decade away from reaching my area.
 
I guess it doesn't really matter how good cloud services are getting in urban areas if the same standard can't be made available to the rest of the country.
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
upstatemike said:
I think the perception of cloud reliability depends a little on where you live. I am in a rural location with only 1 broadband provider who is about to get kicked out of the state for failing to provide decent bandwidth to rural customers. My router logs show frequent interruptions in service and the prospect of 5G wireless replacing cable is probably the better part of a decade away from reaching my area.
 
I guess it doesn't really matter how good cloud services are getting in urban areas if the same standard can't be made available to the rest of the country.
 
Agreed.  I go through this with a boat setup.  I'm actively researching cell solutions and a lot of it parallels what happens for RV, first responder (police, fire, rescue) and rural networking.
 

wuench

Senior Member
There all kinds of reasons cloud solutions can fail.  When you get  to know how things are deployed  in the cloud.   Amazon lives in  3 data centers in the US on the coasts.  Azure is deployed to more major cities but still only lives in specific cities.   Amazon, Azure, and Google can and have had datacenter outages.   If you want to avoid that it is up to the solution provider to deploy to multiple datacenters and load balance between them.
 
The internet runs on fiberoptic cables that run along most major interstate highways, and need to traverse bridges, etc.   Hence a network guys biggest enemy, the backhoe.   Next time your drive across an old bridge look for conduit.  That is the internet.  Take special note of  how damaged they are....  ;)
 
If everything failed cleanly stuff would usually failover according to design, but things usually don't failover cleanly,  many times they will flap up and down requiring manual intervention.   Networking  101, if you accidently unplug something, you NEVER  plug it back in immediately.
 
Security is a huge issue, the security boundary has been pushed all the way to the endpoints, requiring everything  in-between to be routinely upgraded.   Whereas network guys like to brag about years of uptime, security guys cringe.   The days of being able to allow a network device to run stably for a more than 3 months are  pretty much over.   If I reboot a router/switch there is a delay, if I reboot a firewall/proxy etc, state is probably lost.   Applications that were written for  stable networks of  the past fail in this new world, and development techniques have not caught up to run in these environments and applications are not generally tested for this.
 
The internet is built on BGP.  BGP relies on a gentleman/ladies's agreement.   Anyone can inject an incorrect route and take down anyone else.  This happens all the time. Standards have not been followed, so attempts to secure this have failed.  DNS  is in a similar situation, hence DNS  Flag day.
 
This is all before we start to include bad actors, etc.  So it's not all just your local ISP....   Shall I go on..... :)
 

hgupta1

Active Member
yeah, yeah.   We get it... shit happens.  Internet can go down.   Don't hook grandma's breathing machine to zwave connected to smartthings
 
Point being, that with a solid internet connection, cloud based systems add a lot of features that I could only dream of when I was just doing Elk and Homeseer.   There certainly is nothing wrong with having layers.  With local level control for basic safety and security and cloud level control for energy conservation, voice control,  and convenience.   
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
hgupta1 said:
There certainly is nothing wrong with having layers.  With local level control for basic safety and security and cloud level control for energy conservation, voice control,  and convenience.   
 
Let me add, there's nothing wrong with having an evolving set of layers.
 
I had a delight of once speaking with some of the original pioneers of computer graphics.  What struck me was how much they wanted to do but could not at the time due to limitations of all kinds of technology.  But they had already figured out code and formulas for how to do it if/when the tech evolved.  It was fantastically exciting to speak candidly about what I didn't understand and being open to their advice about what they thought were dead-ends.  For example, we were trying to do something in a particular way and they'd already posited that would run into problems... of exactly the sort we were then having.  This was spanning nearly 40 years from initial idea to actual hardware that could hope to implement it.  Shame the effort never got off the ground... but maybe in another 40 years?

My feeling on the cloud integration is two-fold.  For one it frees us from the tedium of field updates.  For anyone that's ever distributed software you'll know the headaches of trying to add-on installer/updater software.  Sometimes the code to manage the update was more complicated than the update itself!  

Secondly it gives us a chance to have more flexible interconnects to find where things will work, or won't.  

I'm optimistic a lot of this will eventually spread back out to the edges once a better grasp of what is or isn't useful emerges.
 

LarrylLix

Senior Member
'Automation is a pretty simple word derived from 'automatic'. People selling products love to exaggerate their claims using the term 'home automation' to group themselves into the new world of fantasy.

But you already know this as well, so let's not derail the thread topic with insulting tones in order to push any agenda. Yeah?
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
>sigh<
 
And the point zooms right past.
 
It's not about any 'agenda' so lose that nonsense. 

It's about not getting hung up on any one thing in particular.  Use what works and be open to other solutions.  Clinging to just one thing or pedantic definitions misses a lot of potential.  Not all of it's great, or without risks/side-effects/dependencies but some folks are fine with that.
 

LarrylLix

Senior Member
wkearney99 said:
>sigh<
 
And the point zooms right past.
 
It's not about any 'agenda' so lose that nonsense. 

It's about not getting hung up on any one thing in particular.  Use what works and be open to other solutions.  Clinging to just one thing or pedantic definitions misses a lot of potential.  Not all of it's great, or without risks/side-effects/dependencies but some folks are fine with that.
It was about your patronising by the usage of ad hominem.
 

ano

Senior Member
Did you know over 50% of households don't have a landline. What if there is an emergency? What if your phone battery dies? What happens if lightning hits the cell tower?  Today MANY people use the Internet to watch TV and cable because people don't have cable with a cable.  I'm on the Internet now, writing this, what if it goes down in the middle of my message?
 
If you want to live in an underground shelter with your own generator and home (make that shelter) automation system, then be my guest, but times change and technology changes.
 
I've experienced the old (Homeseer, CQC) and experienced the new (SmartThings, IFTTT, Cloud, LIFX) and the new is much better, easier, and at least as reliable, if not more so.
 

ano

Senior Member
hgupta1 said:
yeah, yeah.   We get it... shit happens.  Internet can go down.   Don't hook grandma's breathing machine to zwave connected to smartthings
 
Point being, that with a solid internet connection, cloud based systems add a lot of features that I could only dream of when I was just doing Elk and Homeseer.   There certainly is nothing wrong with having layers.  With local level control for basic safety and security and cloud level control for energy conservation, voice control,  and convenience.   
+1
 
viroid said:
I started my HA project when I finished renovating my house in early 2016. I'm using an Elk M1G panel for security and core automation. Magnetic reed switches on all of the interior and exterior doors, windows, Bosch PIR's for motion, glass break detectors, GRI leak sensors, a couple of $2 chinese float sensors, and the thermostats, are all hardwired. Thermostats are OmniStat 2's, attached to a common dual zone heat pump, one on each floor in the primary space, they work fine, we rarely touch them. If I had to do it over, I might go with RCS or Aprilaire thermostats mounted in the basement near the HA equipment and distribute wired temperature probes throughout the house. I went with Simply Automated UPB gear for lighting as it is a standalone system for all intents and purposes, it does not require a hub, or the internet. The Elk simply sends on/off/dim commands via a serial UPB module. I have the M1 Touch app for android on my phone which lets me connect to my panel, I can arm/disarm, adjust thermostats, lighting, etc. I added Homeseer about a year ago so that I could play with Amazon Alexa and Google home. The UltraM1G3 plugin basically exposes the Elk panel and everything attached to it to Homeseer and thus I can use Elk components when writing events and expose lighting and thermostats to Alexa and Google. I do mean everything, security switches, thermostats, UPB lighting, etc. And you don't actually have to attach a UPB PIM to the Homeseer box to control the UPB lighting because you have access to it via the Elk plugin. ($$) I will note that Elk's support for UPB is limited, it doesn't receive updates, like the usb UPB PIM attached to Homeseer does. i.e. If I touch a switch, Homeseer will see state change, Elk wont. I tried a few different mobile apps for Homeseer, I think I've settled on the recently released Homeseer official Mobile App, decent UI and it works well enough. I didn't wire for external motion sensors when I wired the house, because I was ignorant, so after running across the Homeseer Zwave Floodlight Sensors, I added the Homeseer Zwave Plus S2 usb module to my Homeseer server. I can now get motion events, light status, and lux readings from my 120v floodlights. Also picked up a Homeseer Zwave Water Leak Sensor because the kids dump water all over the bathroom floor on a regular basis. I have a heavy duty relay that I'm planning to install on the water heater, and an electronic ball valve for the main water line coming into the house. These will both be connected to the Elk. I also ordered some $12 IR beam sensors off Amazon that I want to play with, I figured they might work well on the basement stairs to kick the light on before I get to the bottom of the stairs and trip the motion sensor. If I ever sell the house, all of the hardwired stuff (contacts, sensors) can be reused with another panel. Or they can buy the Elk panel. As UPB doesn't require a controller, they could use it with or without the Elk, for a fee, otherwise I'll just take the switches with me for the next place. Sent from my LGUS997 using Tapatalk
Thank you for the detailed response... I had to read it a couple times to absorb it all LOL
Do you have a link for the IR beam sensors?
 
 
 
 
ano said:
I've experienced the old (Homeseer, CQC) and experienced the new (SmartThings, IFTTT, Cloud, LIFX) and the new is much better, easier, and at least as reliable, if not more so.
 
Hello,
 
While I am glad to see activity on this post I would still like to hear any recommendation regarding the types of controllers you recommend?
 
Thanks
 

ano

Senior Member
Waterboy77 said:
Hello,
 
While I am glad to see activity on this post I would still like to hear any recommendation regarding the types of controllers you recommend?
 
Thanks
Back in your first post you say you have lots of things to be controlled, and you mention a few hardware technologies. Really, most controllers that can control those hardware technologies should be able to do the job. Pretty much any. No do you want a UL listed security system?  Remote access on a phone? Remote camera recording? Voice control? 
 
If you expand on the list, you'll find out its not likely any controller will be able to do all that, but by combining two, you will likely get much closer.
 
Its a catch-22 dilemma. If you don't have a home automation system, you likely don't know all you'll need in a home automation system. 
 
I'd say get a SmartThings for $50, start small and learn from it. Its cheap, and you can't find a better value. Then move from there, or maybe that's all you'll need.  You can get all you need for that at Home Depot or Lowes.  Add an Amazon Echo or two and some free open source software, and you will be very amazed at what you can do for under $75 or $100.

Do keep in mind, the biggest cost with home automation is NOT the controller, its the light switches, thermostats, locks, etc. The controller is only a fraction of these in terms of total cost.
 

LarrylLix

Senior Member
Waterboy77 said:
Hello,
 
While I am glad to see activity on this post I would still like to hear any recommendation regarding the types of controllers you recommend?
 
Thanks
Look for one that supports their product the most, the most products, and will refund your money of you don't like it after a year of trial.
Look for a unit that is compact, reliable,  and most expandable. 
Look for a system that professes to avoid cloud dependence and will not suddenly charge for the free service.
 
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