which system to use ?


;) Can anyone help a novice, i am going to build my own home, with lighting, secuirity, multi room AV, HVAC, etc. i have read 2 books on the subject and understand the basic mechanics of how it works. i am an electrician so the installation is no probs. I want to minimise the need for bridges, so a standard protocol that will work with most devices, and reliability is a must, so probably not windows based software.
1. what software should i choose to run my system and why?
2. how can i find out what about commpatabilty standards for various devices ?
3.what would be the best hardware to match the software given a budget of around £50,000 ($100,000.) for a 4 bed house :)


There are a LOT of answers to those questions. Many of those answers conflict with each other. :)
Also, they have been asked and answered many times.

I'd suggest a LOT of hours on this board to gather some input. You're likely to get some answers to this post - folks are always eager to help - but many who have the experience posted many times on these same topics and it may be best to try to find the old answers as very little has really changed in the last year or two.

You may have already gathered this from your research, but in case not: there is no SINGLE brand or protocol that bridges all the things you are looking at; there are many complimentary brands and/or technologies, so you may be best served looking for the complimentary aspects and considering all the integration and cost and other elements with "eyes wide open" on the fact that the more technologies you bring in the more complicated it becomes in an exponential rate.

Perhaps after you get a few responses and pull some more info in you may narrow it down to one or two in each category. That seems to be a good time to get "A versus B" input.

Yes, there are many threads like this, do some digging here for details. If that budget is just for your HA, A/V, etc, you can do alot.

Lighting: Hardware is best, then PLC (UPB, Insteon) or Z-Wave (wireless) (or a 'pro' wireless solution like Homeworks

Security: A good panel like the Elk M1 or HAI OmniPro (search around as there are a gazillion posts about their pros and cons) as your core, and maybe some touchscreen software like CQC or Mainlobby to complement and do A/V

Multi room A/V: Today I like the Nuvo Grand Concerto unless you need paging, then the Russound line with Compoint is good. Later this year Russound is also coming out with some new equipment that looks good. Video: Others can answer, but probably some sort of matrix switcher.

HVAC: Just put a good HVAC system like you normally would, then swap out the stats with automated ones like RCS.

Feel free to ask more specific questions after doing some research here. Welcome to CT!
first thing is to eliminate that "etc" in "lighting/hvac/etc", and map hardware to it. Come up with a full list. And, given that you're an electrician and are building your own house, i'd recommend using a hardwired lighting protocol such as cbus, centralite, or lutron so everything always works.

$100K could either be tons or not enough, based on what hardware you go with. Several brand name HDTVs, some HD distro equipment, some hardwired lighting, speakers, and the next thing you know you're out tons of $$.

FWIW, here's my cost scorecard. It's a little out of date now as I've upgraded some stuff, but still relevant.


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One obvious suggestion is that, with that budget, and with new construction, use hardwired technologies where you can. It'll be beacoup wiring back to a central control point, but it'll be worth it in the end. So something like Lutron HomeWorks or Vantage lighting systems are probably in your future. For A/V, Russound or Nuvo or Nexus, something in that range.

Windows based software is not an issue on the reliability front. As long as the automation software is solid, and the machine it runs on is locked down in the closet, it will be completely reliable.

if you don't want to go that way, given that basically all of the high end software solutions are probably Windows based, then you are probably looking at something in the Crestron/AMX area I guess. That would more likely be moving towards a non-DIY scenario, so you have to count on considerably more of the expenses going towards the hiring of a professional installer.
OK, I know hardwired lighting control is very reliable, but I actually pulled out a perfectly good Lightolier Multiset Pro system from several rooms in our house. While it never failed to work, it was darn near impossible for me to figure out a way to tie it into my automation system, and no one on the boards seemed to have a good answer, either.

So, make sure that whatever lighting system you use will tie in with whatever automation system you select - they don't all play together.

Personally, I've been a HomeSeer user for over two years, and am very happy with it. There were some rough patches when the .net 2.0 version was introduced, but those are long gone and HS Technologies really stuck with their users to get it right. For lighting, I've gone with Insteon and after an incredibly frustrating year, it's pretty well rock solid throughout the house now. I don't know if I'd pick it again, though, if I were doing new construction as I've had a large number of device failures for simple things like the mechanical action of the rocker switch. It's better now, but I'm still replacing switches here and there and their policy toward those who purchase through dealers isn't the best, in my view. It seems many people like UPB, and I've never heard anything bad about its reliability. It would probably top my list if I were doing new construction and were an electrician, as the switches are a bit large and some have reported problems with retrofitting it into standard boxes.

Finally, for HVAC, I'm a HUGE fan of in-floor radiant heat. We installed it in two bathrooms of our old house, and have it in two bathrooms of our more recent purchase. Not having it in the rest of the house is one of the only bad things about the house itself (we bought an existing home rather than building). You just never, ever feel cold with it and it's incredibly efficient. You can even tie it into solar easily if you like. For control, as others have reported, almost any decent automated stat will work. I've been using an X10 one for over two years with basically no problems at all, although for new construction I'd go with hardwire for that.
WOW, so many reply so quick, you have all been really helpfull i will investigate further and no doubt be posting again in the near future.
P.S. is cestron/AMX that difficult that i would need a professional, i have seen adverts for training courses, and if i could do it after training, would it be worth all the effort?
My understanding is that Crestron/AMX programming CAN be tricky and good programmers are always in demand.

But, since both of those products are aimed at pro installing dealers, I suspect your biggest obstacle may be obtaining hardware, programming and/or config tools and obtaining support. And I don't think either one is considered a "bargain", but your budget may allow you to consider them.
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never heard of a DIY Crestron system. Can one even buy the equipment if you're not a dealer? I've never heard anything bad about it but the cost, but I'm no expert on it by any means.
Anything and everything is for sale, the bigger issue would be the support. If you're going down an AMX/Crestron route, save yourself mucho frustration and get a pro to install it.
"is AMX software really that much better than what is available to a DIYer "
No, it is not. Quite the contrary. The PC based software (at least the leaders) IMHO are more advanced (from what our dealers have told us that sell both) Not much you can't do and with better presentation and ultimate control of both automation and media control.

AMX and Crestron are restricted dealer only sales. This fact will make it very difficult for you to build and maintain your own system unless you make friends with an authorized dealer. Getting a dealer license is also difficult. It's not just a matter of attending classes but also monetary commitments.
chevy_b69 said:
searched for IMHO and and variotions, got no usefull results, who are they and what programme is so good ? thanks
IMHO is short for In My Humble Opinion ;)

By PC based 'leaders' (including ability to create fancy front ends) I believe he is referring to himself (Mainlobby) and Charmed Quark (CQC).