Want to Learn about HA - Few Questions

Louise

Member
Hi All,

I have been lurking and reading and reading and reading. Although I am fairly fast to catch on I have a few questions that I am hoping will be answered here.

I am in the process of finalizing new home construction plans and would like to include home automation, security and surveillance.

I have been reading about prewiring and also about the Z-Wave products that seem to be expensive but effective. I have been toying with the idea of ordering some modules and playing with them in my current home to get an idea of how this all works.

As a beginner I am trying to take it all in and I want to be prepared before construction starts.

What parts should be hard wired? I've been told by a friend to hard wire the security cameras. But I like the idea of controlling the HA through my dedicated PC. I've been playing with the HomeSeer software and it looks to be the way to go for now. Would you start out with X10 or go to Z-Wave or mix the two? Also, I don't care for the plug in wall units and prefer the actual receptacles that are wired into the receptacle box. Will the X10 modules work for this? The Z-Wave are so expensive.

I've also read about the ELK M1 and wonder about how that all fits into HA.

Thanks for reading and I would appreciate your expertise in getting started.

Louise :D
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
If you dont like plug-in modules, consider using wall switches to control some outlets instead of using receptacle type modules. I don't think it will cost you any more to wire things that way and that method will work with any home automation switch technology you choose.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
You most definitely want to hardwire your potential camera locations. Wireless cameras are just not good. Even the most expensive ones. When you hardwire these locations include a CAT5 in case you decide to use ip based cameras.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Hi Louise, welcome. IMHO hard wire everything you possibly can! You only have 1 chance building a new home to get it exactly right and even if you have to roll some extra costs into the mortgage it will be well worth it. Security and cameras are absolute musts to hardwire if you have the opportunity. You also want it to be at least perimeter protection (doors, windows, etc) with indoor motions and glass breaks as a backup. If you have been following other threads, you will see for lighting your best option is also hardwire. If I had the chance to do it again, I would hardwire lights in a heartbeat and roll the cost into the mortgage where it would have a negligable impact on the monthly payments. Any other system you will likely have some tweaking, troubleshooting, etc to do. Now if its just a hobby and you don't mind lights or devices turning on/off by themselves or not at all, or living with some of the idiosyncracies of each protocol, then you can save some money up front (but you will likely tire after a while and wind up throwing that much or more money into it after the fact). Nothing beats the reliability of a dedicated copper cable! Good luck..
 

Louise

Member
Ok, hardwiring makes sense and I've been looking at Homeseer and wireless. What would you guys suggest for a controller and software.

What you are saying is to hardwire all the light switches and windows/doors and control them from the main box, right? What equipment would be required.

Gosh, that just confuses me more.....thanks for your opinions.

Louise
 

Rupp

Senior Member
Louise ,
Not many DIY users use hardwire lightning systems. Don't let a few posts make your choice for you. I would suggest reading around and getting other opinions. There are several of us still using X10 and it works perfectly. I have a hybrid system that consists of X10, Z-Wave, Insteon, and UPB and they all have their strong points and weak points but a combination system allows you to use the best devices from each of the manufactures seamlessly. I use HomeSeer with this setup and it runs perfectly and has for years. HomeSeer just released it's 2.1 version as well so it's a perfect time to try out that software package. There's also a ton of information at the HomeSeer forum here on all the technologies. http://board.homeseer.com
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
While I like the idea of hardwired systems I don't think I could bring myself to running only low voltage wire to my switches. If something cool comes along in a few years that is designed to work in the retrofit maket, i.e. high voltage switches with conventional wiring, I would be out of luck if I wanted to change.

If you go hardwired, do one of the ones that uses home run high voltage from the switch back to the breaker box so you can change your mind down the road if you want to use conventional wired stuff.

I would start with the idea that you are going to use Z-Wave and plan your wiring around that. Then get some Z-Wave stuff and try it out. If you decide you don't like it and want to try X-10 or UPB or Insteon, your wiring plan does not have to change.
 

Louise

Member
Gosh, so many option and opinions. I have so many more questions but I will continue to research and read. Would you suggest a structured wiring system regardless of anything else to organize the phone, cable and maybe even sound into one area?

Thanks,

Louise
 

Rupp

Senior Member
Louise said:
Gosh, so many option and opinions. I have so many more questions but I will continue to research and read. Would you suggest a structured wiring system regardless of anything else to organize the phone, cable and maybe even sound into one area?

Thanks,

Louise
If you have a dedicated area where this wiring comes together then absolutely yes.
 

royalj7

Active Member
Louise said:
Gosh, so many option and opinions. I have so many more questions but I will continue to research and read. Would you suggest a structured wiring system regardless of anything else to organize the phone, cable and maybe even sound into one area?

Thanks,

Louise
I would say it's a must with new construction. There are so many benefits to a SW system and hardly no drawbacks...even the price difference is nominal. Go with a system from Leviton, OnQ, Channel Vision, etc and you will have the infrastructure to do about anything in HA down the road.

--Jamie
 
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