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ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA

Best home automation standard...

Looking for opinions for the best overall home automation standard. I know of ZigBee, X-10, and Z-Wave but am wondering if there are others.

I will hopefully be starting to work on doing some remodeling this summer and want to try and layout an upgrade plan for more automation and monitoring.


lutful
... of ideas
Premium
join:2005-06-16
Ottawa, ON
kudos:1

1 edit

1] Bluetooth will most probably dominate the home automation market in a few years because of smartphone support for coolest apps.
*** »www.vesternet.com/blog/2012/07/b···collide/

2] There are several low power WiFi modules for home automation already in the market. Some use SD format WiFi card which plugs into retrofit AC outlets.


alfnoid
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-18
reply to ropeguru

I too have been looking into this and what I have learned so far is that X-10 is junk, Zigbee doesn't have a lot of products, but it is up and coming (see lowe's iris system some of which use zigbee).
Zwave has the most products available now, but controllers seem to be spotty at best. I have read about people hacking the antenna on Vera units to greatly improve reception though.
There is also insteon which seems to be more stable, but has only one company making products and doesn't have the variety of products like Zwave does.

Seems like most of the controllers are starting to use both insteon and zwave, but each one picks one or the other for primary support.

So even though this is a rapidly developing market it seems that all that is developing is choice of vendor for your equipment that may or may not play nice with your other equipment.

Competition is good and hopefully there will be someone emerging in the market soon that has a product that is easy to set up and create complex rules without having to be a programmer (looking at vera here).

I jumped on this for the router alone, but am hoping that it functions well for home automation also:
»www.kickstarter.com/projects/203···art-home



tschmidt
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join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
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reply to ropeguru

What do you want to automate?

I think Zigbee will be popular for "white goods"

I use a little PLC with web interface to automate our greenhouse and am in the process of designing a second system for our wood stove/water heating stuff.
»cainetworks.com/products/webcont···dex.html

/tom



ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA

said by tschmidt:

What do you want to automate?

I think Zigbee will be popular for "white goods"

I use a little PLC with web interface to automate our greenhouse and am in the process of designing a second system for our wood stove/water heating stuff.
»cainetworks.com/products/webcont···dex.html

/tom

Maybe autmation isn't the correct term. I am looking for a common protocol for things like thermostat, monitoring electrical usage at least for total off the breaker panel and maybe down to the outlet level and definitely at the breaker level for things like electric heat strips and well pump, usage and flow off of well pump, and maybe even a camera or alarm system.

I haven't gotten everything fully worked out in my brain yet. I think one of the main things is some sort of central interface and/or control platform for everything. I am not even sure if something like this even exists at this point that isn't cost prohibitive.


tschmidt
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join:2000-11-12
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The market is still pretty fragmented and a lot of players either do not have much in the way of networking experience or think their proprietary control protocol delivers a marketing benefit. It is also a chicken-n-egg problem. Until home area networks (HAN) become pervasive there is not much marketing incentive to may your widget network capable.

Zigbee is starting to gain traction with manufactures.
»www.zigbee.org/Standards/ZigBeeH···iew.aspx

May want to take a look at the RF4CE spec. I leave it to creative minds what the acronym means.
»www.zigbee.org/Specifications/Zi···iew.aspx

»electronicdesign.com/communicati···d-z-wave

My bet is that some form of RF technology will win the home command and control battle, both home automation and Consumer Electronics, and that energy harvesting will be adopted to power devices like intrusion alarms eliminating the need for batteries or AC power. But that is just my crystal ball -YMMV.

/tom


eagleknight

join:2002-11-08
Troy, OH

1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to ropeguru

You don't really need to tie yourself to one protocol. Many systems support different protocols that tie into a system. Check HAI site out. They have a ton of connectivity partners, which means those systems are able to interface through their system. Zigbee is an example.

Home Automation, Inc (HAI)»www.homeauto.com



cdru
Go Colts
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join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

1 recommendation

reply to tschmidt

said by tschmidt:

My bet is that some form of RF technology will win the home command and control battle, both home automation and Consumer Electronics

Way to go out on a limb there. Are you betting that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow too?

Zigbee, Z-Wave, whatever tomorrow brings...which ever one that you choose one of the other's will be the dominate one (if there ever really is one). X-10 definitely won't be the winner.


tschmidt
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said by cdru:

Way to go out on a limb there. Are you betting that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow too?

We have had multiple discussions about future proofing homes. I just wanted to make the case that for most stuff unlicensed RF is the preferred medium: not hardwired, not power line, and heaven forbid not IR - remember IRDA. I've strung a lot of LV wiring for my DIY home projects I would much prefer not having to do that.

Hopefully if neither Zigbee or Z-Wave score an outright win bridging between the two will be pretty easy. The most important issue is not the physical layer so much, though that is important, but the device control profiles.

I'm betting heavily on the sun, although the weather here in NH is pretty bad today, so it is unlikely I'll see it tomorrow.

/tom


djrobx
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Valencia, CA
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reply to alfnoid

Zwave has the most products available now, but controllers seem to be spotty at best. I have read about people hacking the antenna on Vera units to greatly improve reception though.

Zwave is a mesh protocol. You shouldn't need to mess with the antenna, just add another z-wave device along the route. I think I'm up to 30 devices. I won't say Z-wave is perfect, but it's a heck of a lot more reliable than X10 ever was. Once a year or so, some switch will fall off the network and I'll need to remove and re-add it to get it to work right again. That usually happens after the holidays when I remove appliance modules that control the christmas lights.

Vera itself is nice because it can work with anything IP, IR, or USB-Serial controllable. For example, there is a Nest plugin, so I can connect the Vera to the Nest even though it's not a Z-wave thermostat. The community writes new drivers all the time, so you aren't nickel and dimed to death as new things come to market.

On my Vera, I have:

1) Thermostat
2) Control of whole-house QuietCool fan.
3) EtherRain Sprinkler system
4) Hot tub (Heat, Filter, and Light), so I can get it hot remotely.
5) IP Camera
6) Integration with old Ademco alarm panel (Sensor input, remote alert and arming)
7) Ceiling fan (with speed control)
8) Home theater AV control (Serial TV, IP A/V receiver, IP DirecTV receiver)
9) Of course, lots and lots of light switches (30+)

I want to get motorized curtains and more security cameras next. I still haven't figured out the best solution to tap into the doorbell.

Biggest complaint is that the MCV Vera iPhone app sucks. iVera is better but it's not supported well. SQRemote is the most powerful but it's more of a remote construction kit and I just find it ugly. I really want something that supports push notifications so I don't have to rely on text messaging for alerts.
--
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alfnoid
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-18

said by djrobx:

Zwave is a mesh protocol. You shouldn't need to mess with the antenna, just add another z-wave device along the route.

This is what I thought initially when I started researching zwave and came across vera, but the more time I spend in their forums the less I believe that. Lots of people saying that devices that are less than 10 feet from vera don't respond. Glad to see your experience is different, but I question if it is robust enough for me personally...or rather the wife.

There is a reason systems like crestron are so expensive. Reliability costs money.
I do hear that insteon is pretty stable as long as you have the new(er) dual band stuff. The ISY controller is supposed to get Zwave support soon so you can add things like door locks that aren't insteon to the mix.
CastleOS seems like it has an interesting twist...you can talk to it, but they look like they are going to nickel and dime you with every plugin and they expect you to keep a kinect in every room and leave a PC running 24/7.

Lots of choices, but unless you have deep pockets expect to invest a LOT of your spare time and have some growing pains along the way.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

said by alfnoid:

Lots of choices, but unless you have deep pockets expect to invest a LOT of your spare time and have some growing pains along the way.

Sort of kills a major benefit of automation

I'll stick to programmable thermostats and light switches.

pandora
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Outland
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3 edits
reply to ropeguru

said by ropeguru:

Looking for opinions for the best overall home automation standard. I know of ZigBee, X-10, and Z-Wave but am wondering if there are others.

I will hopefully be starting to work on doing some remodeling this summer and want to try and layout an upgrade plan for more automation and monitoring.

X-10 is more or less legacy at this point. Most are migrating from X-10 to Insteon or Z-Wave. IMO the two most likely standards to use are Insteon or Z-Wave. Additional protocols are UPB, or Internet (TCP/IP).

Z-Wave is wireless, and is used by both home automation and home security devices. Insteon is almost exclusively home automation, and uses line and wireless (varies depending on a given device, some can use wireless for example, some can't). UPB is an alarm / security system protocol.

Decent home automation controllers that can trigger on events from various devices are an issue. Integration of home automation with home security is also an issue. Good controllers or control software is expensive. Blue Iris for video cameras is very good. Homeseer as a general swiss army knife of home automation is also decent, but very expensive for most homeowners.

Visit smarthome.com to see a number of home automation devices, they are biased toward Insteon but sell most things. The homeseer.com site is also useful, but Homeseer is very very expensive.

The isi99 controllers are nice are the Mi Casa Verde. However each has significant limitations on support for various types of devices.
--
"If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand." - Milton Friedman"

eagleknight

join:2002-11-08
Troy, OH
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

said by alfnoid:

Lots of choices, but unless you have deep pockets expect to invest a LOT of your spare time and have some growing pains along the way.

Sort of kills a major benefit of automation

I'll stick to programmable thermostats and light switches.

Sounds like what I found out when I started to do research a few years ago when I was remodeling my house. I only opted for a Proliphix thermostat, which I can control from the internet, but nothing more at this point. If I ever build a house I want to integrate home automation, but for now in my 1961 house I didn't feel like it was worth messing with.


fluffybunny

@teksavvy.com
reply to ropeguru

only go with open standard stuff not reliant on any company.
wifi is the best bet with open protocols. the stuff i have is :
3M-50 wifi thermostats with web interface.
APC PDUs with ethernet wired into the home LAN for power control (these also get hooked up to ventilation, garage door opening and lighting - they have 8 ports each and a web interface which can also be scheduled with a desktop pc). i bought them used from a dot bomb company bankruptcy for 25$ each. i have 4 with 32 power outlets total all controlled from a web browser.
elocksys with PC interface for opening/closing/double locking the garage door.
honeywell vista 20p alarm system with ADS2USB usb+ethernet interface. i can switch on/shut off my alarm remotely through a web interface+ it has the X10 add on board.
electronic front and rear door locks (schlage) with hookups to the alarm system. i can lock/unlock remotely even through a phone browser.
neato robotic vacuum - this is the only one not connected to the web but it schedules and runs itself.
X-10 garage lighting controlled through the vista add on alarm board, scheduled for 30 min auto off from switch on.

basically everything in the house is automated (short of the dishwasher and washing machines). all cheap automation (nothing over 70$) and wifi+ethernet/web based interfaces with no proprietary crap.



PhoenixDown
FIOS is Awesome
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Fresh Meadows, NY
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reply to ropeguru

Interoperability is a concern for me too.

Way back in the day when 56k was considered speedy, we installed a lot of remote controlled light switches that worked through the power system. On the remotes you'd have to hit something like D15 to for the unit you wanted to turn on/off, dim, etc.

It was good enough.

Now I just installed a Nest. Reports and data look good from what I've seen on the site and on a friends unit but it made me ask the fundamental question, how many sites/apps do I want to use to monitor all this stuff and what if I wanted to to easily compare A to B?

Home automation will be a huge market and I think we'll see more synergy in this area going forward but I wish we had it today.
--
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aroberti
Sarcastic? Me? Never
Premium
join:2000-12-21
Norwalk, CT
reply to alfnoid

said by alfnoid:

said by djrobx:

Zwave is a mesh protocol. You shouldn't need to mess with the antenna, just add another z-wave device along the route.

This is what I thought initially when I started researching zwave and came across vera, but the more time I spend in their forums the less I believe that. Lots of people saying that devices that are less than 10 feet from vera don't respond. Glad to see your experience is different, but I question if it is robust enough for me personally...or rather the wife.

It is true, but there are a few caveats:

•Not all devices act as repeaters. Anything that operates on batteries, for example, does not.

•Some devices require something called beaming. Not all repeaters support beaming, and as such, things like door locks that require it may need to be closer to your controller if there are no beaming-enabled devices in between.

•Your z-wave network must be healthy (optimized). This is how devices learn with which other devices the can communicate with. Disconnecting a device without properly removing it from the system can have detrimental effects, as other devices believe it's there as a repeater even if it isn't.

That's all that comes to mind at the moment, but there may be more.


djrobx
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My Z-wave door lock is 75 feet from my Vera.

Maybe people are referring to the fact that many devices require you to be in close proximity of the controller when you add the device to the network.

On my Vera 1, the Z-wave controller is a removable dongle that I can take to the device. With newer Veras you have to "bring the mountain to mohammed" if the device isn't close enough, which is why they include a battery pack.

I do know that Vera 1's Z-wave dongle has some sort of routing bug, which is probably why I have issues when I remove the holiday lights. This was supposedly corrected by the time Vera 2/3 came out.

I'd worry less about Z-wave reliablility (really, it's very solid if you leave it alone once working), and focus more on the quality and prices of the light switches you're going to replace. I bought the cheapest ones I could find (lots of Radio shack GE stuff). Some of the appliance (non-dimmer) switches are getting tired after 4 years. Getting good quality light switches was an issue with X10 back in the day as well.

Another fun subject is getting dimmers that work well with dimmable CFL or LED lighting. Some of my LEDs flicker at certain brightness levels.
--
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Rethink Billable.



ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA
reply to ropeguru

Thanks all. Info posed here leads me to think things are just quite ready for what I am looking to do without, possibly, having to merge different protocols.

It does give me a great starting place to work with some initial items for monitoring and management.