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I thought I would start a thread to find out what peoples thoughts and opinions are in relation to complete home automation or even partially automating your house.

 

Here is a list of things that can typically be automated and placed under unified control.

 

Audio

Visual

Lighting

Blinds and curtains

Alarm

Surveillance

Access control

Intercom

A/C and heating

Irrigation

 

and many more.

 

I'm wondering how much value people see in having this functionality.

 

I look forward to hearing what everyone has to say.

 

Cheers Sean

 

 

 

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I have a smart house. It was very expensive setting it all up. It doesn't add to the value of the home anywhere near what it cost to set up. Whilst it's nice to have, I could certainly live without it.

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Guest Peter the Greek

+1

 

We've looked at it 3 times now and am about to build again, we cannot justify the expense. Certainly be nice to have, but doesn't really improve things much.

 

Audio - distributed audio is simple and cheap these days

Visual - same

Lighting - our experience is if you get a professional to design lighting, their use becomes nominal. This idea of "themes" for lighting I think is BS

Blinds and curtains - I do like this functionality, but you can get timers for this

Alarm - control is more or less standard now for any decent system, integration isn't a must IMO

Surveillance - as above

Access control  - as above

Intercom - integrated into security typically

A/C and heating - no necessary is designed well IMO

Irrigation - very useful, but nothing a decent timer system for a grand or two wont do

 

If you have a HT you want a full blow control system for that room (gear, media control, lights, hvac). Now if the cost to do the rest of the house isn't much more because you've invested in this room, well that makes sense. Otherwise, good stand alone room systems aren't that expensive.

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+2

I'll add that I was keen, wife not so much.

The other thing is no way to guard yourself from obsolescence. 

If something were to crap out how can you be sure a replacement part will be available, and if its not then will you need to install a whole new system? 

Also the thought of buying something like a new blu-ray player/receiver, (which lets face it, for some of us there's a new piece of gear in the rack avery 6 months) then having to pay someone to come and reconfigure your automation shits me.

Our house (being built now) was a good candidate for CBus as just our living area (Kitchen, Dining, Living) has 5 separate points of access.

Alfresco again another 5 points of access.

Was a pain deciding how to set up the light switches etc where as a CBus type system would have made this a no brainer.

Unfortunately by the time we priced up all the control we would have liked, dimmers, blind relays, Control 4 etc etc it was approaching 40k.

And on the recommendation of the installer was basically do it all, or don't bother.

Their reasoning was it would annoy the crap out of you having a half baked system rather than having none at all for which I agreed.

Even my sparky building his own house and who is a Cbus installer couldn't justify it.

Being a double brick home (WA seems adverse to the idea that a framed building can be high quality) I am having conduit installed for all lighting wiring incase I later decide to add something in the future.  For who knows what systems will become available.

 

I guess it's really for the people who just need to have the latest toys and have plenty of money for it to not bother them, aren't technically minded so need someone to configure every little thing anyway (due to ongoing changes) as to not be bothered about ongoing costs.

Edited by todagt
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A basic CBUS installation is $30k+. Just to control lights and shutters and do other such things using fancy switches.

Exactly, and there's still the shutters, lighting etc to get after that!

Where I see the most advantages in automation is in scenarios where a controller monitor's your solar systems output and prioritizes things like climate contro, pool pumps etc. But in saying that if there is no return on investment on such a system there is no point. Unless it's all about hugging trees. Not that hugging trees is a bad thing.

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I'm a lighting designer (among other things) and have done a fair bit of work with lighting control systems.

My view is, Goodluck!

It's expensive to set up and if you want to do it properly you have to be specific with the lights you select too. I would go with Dali personally as a standard cbus dimming module is just a computerised wall dimmer basically. With Dali, each light is addressable and can therefore be switched individually.

Unfortunately Dali drivers add another $50+ to the fitting. Doesn't sound like much but when you're putting mid

Range fittings in at $50 a pop, suddenly it's double the cost.

I have a relatively small house so I can't justify the costs and time

Involved - essentially all it would offer for me is the ability to turn the lights off without leaving the lounge. I don't need that kind of laziness in my life just yet.

A much more important aspect to consider is the choice of lights themselves. I'll be damned if I can work it out but everyone buys cheap LED's with frosted diffusers, they are horrible for glare, something I don't want anywhere near my loungeroom and TV.

Spend a little bit more on the lighting, get something of a better quality and use the wall dimmer.

That's my 2c

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theres cheaper choices than cbus and dali for lighting control. 

 

Why people talk to their electrician for this ill never know - most electricians dont have a clue about anything beyond power points and switches and even if they will install it they will charge like wounded bulls because they are now "specialists"

 

Being an installer of all the things mentioned sure even i tell my clients that i dont see the benefit of everything. to me one of the most important parts of home automation isnt "awesome this controls itself" but in the living room there isnt a intercom station next to a security keypad next to a light switch next to an AC controller next to a switch for the blinds next to 5 remote controls for all the devices for your TV next to an ipad to control your distributed audio system.
 

We have so much going into houses these days that it can get pretty crowded and its nice to have something that you can use to control all of the individual systems in your house and make them work in harmony.

 

in summer you can set your a/c to come on when it gets to a certain temperature or have a page where you put in what time you are coming home from work and the a/c switches on  a few hours before that - and while that happens the shades go down etc.

 

if you have speakers in  your room you can use an automation system like an alarm clock every morning so that you cant smash the snooze button! at the same time the blinds come up and the lights turn on in your room.

 

there are a heap of fun things you can do with automation!

 

somebody mentioned that if a particular part goes out of manufacture you are stuffed. that couldnt be more wrong. a good designer will use parts that it doesnt matter if that one item craps itself - it can be replaced with anything.

 

For instance i never use built-in keypads for control because sizes ALWAYS change so what will you do down the track when you need to replace a touchscreen but theres no replacement at the same size? you are stuffed.

 

as with all things - if you have a good installer then it shouldnt be a problem

Edited by BaileyAV
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theres cheaper choices than cbus and dali for lighting control. 

 

Dali is the only one that offers widely acceptable addressable dimming.

1-10v is the other mainstream lighting control system, (its average), the rest are just integrations with phase cut dimming :)

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The problem with most things you can "home automate" is how many times a day or hour do you need to do it? Curtains, lights, door, alarm, airco, etc, how many time do you change a setting. The other extra's that home automation can give is usually already build into most stand alone units.

 

I would be much more interested in a fridge that can create an automated shopping list.

 

It wouldn't take to long before this market bust right open with all the internet commands, wifi or blu tooth, and companies like Apple working with consumer product manufactures as the next thing on your mobile phone. a Home Automation protocol standard would be a logical next step up from dlna.

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On a much simpler and cheaper note, Opensprinkler is a fantastic cheap and tcpip-accessible sprinkler control system for less than 200 bucks as a turnkey system. It just works and works well. It started out as an open source project and now has got legs. Highly recommended.

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Guest Peter the Greek

It will be a lot cheaper in five years time.

 

I'm not so sure about that. Dynalite cost about the same 5 years ago as it did 10 and I reckon it'll be on par when we look at it again

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The lighting controls won't get cheaper. The technology isn't what's expensive, it's the licencing. Phillips owns DALI so they take a chunk of every driver you make.

Regarding lutron, wouldn't really recommend it to anyone. It's not widely used.

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Why people talk to their electrician for this ill never know - most electricians dont have a clue about anything beyond power points and switches and even if they will install it they will charge like wounded bulls because they are now "specialists"

 

 

 

I never did speak to an electrician regarding my install in my new build.

 

It was came up in a casual conversation with him while he was doing work on a property I was having renovations done.  And yes he was Cbus installer but I would never have used him for the exact reason you mentioned.  :D

 

At around $20k it would be a no brainer, but approaching $40k I couldn't see it improving my life that much.

I would rather put the $$$ towards AV gear, landscaping or even one hell of a holiday.

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to me automated lighting on its own doesnt have that many merits apart from when you have a large amount of switches for a single light like has been mentioned in this thread. 

 

i think it pays off when you cleverly integrate it with other automated solutions.

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I used a Ness M1 system. Allows me to control things via relays and software, and gives access to the alarm system over Internet.

It's not the full blown automation stuff like cbus, but no where near the cost.

I have control over irrigation, aircon, garage door, ventilation system. I use those functions.

I use a PC and Philips hue for home theatre automation.

I find this combination meets my automation requirements. All up cost would be a few $k. Wiring is probably the biggest cost, which I did myself during the build

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Hi mate,

I ll give you my insight in the world of automation.

I started slow and very small..

I was originally looking for a universal remote control but the more I looked into it, the more I could see the benefit of going a home automation.

Yes you, are right, it can be very expensive but you don t have to Fido it all at once. My dealer told me that and reckons it s a good way to start as it gives you a very good understanding of the system and you can get exactly what you need.

As such, I started with a second hand control4 hc200, purely as a universal remote for one zone. I was so happy with it, that I bought a second controller for my theatre.

Remember at this stage, was only using it as universal remote, it never missed a beat, lightning fast.....

Kid friendly, ease of use. My 3 and 5 had no problem turning to or Apple TV on, guest only had to press 1 buttons to watch tv...

Then when we started building I decided that I would eventually venture in automation. I always thought that having lighting part of automation was for lazy people. How hard or lazy do you need to be to switch a light in/off.

Now that the house is build, I am going back on my words. Lighting is probably the best thing about automation.

I have a control4 system and love it, it s allowing me to declutter my AV rack and simplify it.

I am selling my sonos because the new controllers are able to stream directly as an example.

As for lighting, well, I now can control the whole house,either via the remote, the iPad or switch.

Control4 has what they cal pucks, which is basically a wireless relay that you put behind you light switch and wire it in series with it.

It means that your switch is always on and you thus control your light remotely, you can even wire a gpo to it if you want to turn device on/off.

Alternatively, you can fit a control4 light switch that will act in 2 ways, being like a normal switch or remotely.

But,and this is a big deal for me, they also offer a wireless multi button switch. It means you can basically control all associated lights that are programmed for that multi keypad. I chose a central location in the house and install 2 x 6 keypad and able to control every thing from it.

As an example: from that central location, I can turn the kitchen light on, lounge, hall way, upstairs, garden floodlight, dining. One of the button is even programmed to turn to on, so when I get home I just unlock, disarm alarm and press the to button and lights I need.

My wife, was not really in favour for automation, but now she loves it due to the safety aspect of it.

When I am working night and she comes home with the kids at dark, she can have all the lights turn on as she drives down the driveway..

When m away, it s also able to mimics my normal day to day routine and will turn to on, lights....just as if somebody was home..

I am selling my current hc250(x2) hc200-300 as I am upgrading to the newer and more powerful controller as I want to add camera, security......

Now for the cost of it..

Well my hc 250 controllers were $1500 each, light switches and pucks are about $250 so definitely not $30000 plus.

Remember, you can build slowly..

Hope this helps..

Regards

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It's great to some interest in this space.

 

Something that seems to be mentioned a lot is the cost involved with automation.

 

There is no denying if you want to have the complete solution you are going to spend quite a bit of money. Depending on your product of choice you can gradually add zones, switches and many other things as mentioned by Jean.

 

Control 4 in particular has become quite cost effective and flexible allowing you so start with a single room solution including remote control of your A/V and even lighting for around 2k.

 

There are lots of great automation products around that give you app control over lighting, security, A/C and A/V products. However there aren't many that do all of it from the same app. This is where you need to look at a more serious product and being a user and reseller of Control 4 has shown me the many ways we can implement it's technology to make life easier, safer and more fun.

 

As mentioned above if you want to start small you can. Single room and remote programmed for around $1500. Add lighting to that $200-$500. Add multi room audio and control it seamlessly room by room. the list goes on and on.

 

Something else that is improving compatibility is companies releasing wireless connectivity for their products like Daikin A/C, Rachio irrigation and multi room music products.

Most of these items can integrate with ease now. This makes the automation path a lot cheaper and easier to implement in the future.

 

With lighting most people view it as a fancy light switch. In some cases this is true. Used to it's full potential that multi button switch can be a powerhouse of functionality. You can do things like music control to it including volume and track selection. You can even program it to select your favourite Pandora station with a single press. Have a single button to close blinds, turn off lights and arm the house. This is where automation becomes very useful.

 

Something a lot of my clients are chasing from Control 4 is the safety features and functions. Check if someone is home with motion sensors, If you forgot to arm the house you can that remotely. You can lock and unlock remotely or view your cameras to check on things. I am aware that a lot of these things can be done with stand alone products but none of them can tie it all together and control it through one application.

 

Again it's great to see some interest in this space. I think it is something that is only going to grow.

 

Cheers Sean

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