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

Re: Best home automation standard...

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



djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO

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.
--
AT&T U-Hearse - RIP Unlimited Internet 1995-2011
Rethink Billable.

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.

eagleknight

join:2002-11-08
Troy, OH

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.

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
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO

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.
--
AT&T U-Hearse - RIP Unlimited Internet 1995-2011
Rethink Billable.