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Thread: Wireless setup / retrofit - where to start? Is Z-Wave alive?

  1. #1
    Automated Home Lurker
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Wireless setup / retrofit - where to start? Is Z-Wave alive?

    Hi - I'm in the process of buying big old house and would love to get some basic HA setup. Money's a bit tight, so need to go for a wireless system I can add to as and when. I have a couple of PC's, an AV setup, my stereo, and a Nevo SL - I figured on running something Homeseer compatible?

    I suppose my question is, what pitfalls am I looking to avoid? I liked the look of X10 until the two-way Z-Wave looked better and more flexible in terms of remote management and heating etc. I've searched the forums however, and I'm getting the impression that if Z-Wave is available, it's a bit of a let down too! Is there anything out there which will let me tinker to my heart's content, will let me upgrade and combine with other systems, and won't make me rip the place apart?

    Thanks in advance for any excitement you might be able to inspire!


  2. #2
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Near Alicante Spain

    Default Re: Wireless setup / retrofit - where to start? Is Z-Wave al

    Be vary wary with going completely wireless. Especially if all the systems are on the same range of frequencies. 2.4Ghz is used for most WiFi connections. And it is also used for all DECT phones, Video senders and wireless media players.
    I know a lot of people say X10 is unreliable but a well designed system can be very reliable. Mine is. With Z wave still up in the air as to its longevity in the HA arena I would possible think about a basic X10 system may be a few lights. Something small to start with. I started with 2 plug in modules and now I've got about 14 then at Christmas this goes up to 15 or 16. These modules vary from Din rail mounted for lighting, to inwall modules also for lighting, to a couple of aplliance modules. X10 is quite cheap to play with. And is a very good introduction to HA. And works very well with Homeseer.
    The other thing with wireless especially if you want multimedia streaming access, is that for high quality video you can forget it. I have a Pinnacle 1000g Showcenter. Which has a wireless g link as well as the normal ethernet socket. On the wireless link I would quite often get 34 to 40Mbps but give it a DVD to play either from the disc or one thats been backed up to the hard drive and the speed dropped to anywhere from 5 Mbps to 25Mbps on a good day. This varying speed resulted in very jerky DVD play back and also on a lot of my Divx encoded films as well. Connecting via the ethernet cable and its excellent.The Showcenter can also cope with HD and Digital audio.
    For music look at the Sonos system .
    Something else to think about, even though the range of a WiFi router may be 30m you are not going to get that in the average house. I'm lucky to get 10m. I bought a Linksys range expander. When it works it increases the range to about 20m which I think is excellent. But it invariably drops the link and then needs to be unplugged and plugged in again and if I'm lucky may reconnect. I would say it works about 40% of the time. So its not really worth the money. Also the manual is terrible.
    Hope this helps you and gives you some food for thought.

  3. #3
    Automated Home Jr Member Jimll's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Portsmouth, UK

    Default Re: Wireless setup / retrofit - where to start? Is Z-Wave al

    I think Z-wave will be a big player in the UK automation market. I have an extensive Z-Wave setup with 34 modules and 5 motion sensors. In the most part it is more reliable than X10 and is much faster but there are some big Buts at the moment.
    1. Severe lack of hardware in the UK (I have done some mods to get mine to work)
    2.The only range available in the UK at the Moment is from ACT I have found there products to be of poor quality 4 of my plug in modules have blown in 2 years!!!. (Never a good idea to get the first release of anything!)

    3. With Z-wave I would say that you would need at least 5 modules to make it reliable as a start you could then expand it's range from that.

    4. Lack of diagnostic hardware. Z-Wave is amazing when it works but when a unit blows or there is a problem with the mesh network it is a nightmare to find the source of the problem. (Saucepans were my last issue but that is another story.)

    I would have to agree with Toscal at this point in time. For all of it's flaws X10 is still the best starting point.
    What it gives you is a easy learning curve and together with flexible software like HomeSeer you can have a reliable system.
    This will allow time to see where Z-Wave and any other technology is going. Your money will not be wasted on X10 as your HA system expands you will end up with a mixture of different hardware that will work together. I still have about 20 x10 modules and about 25 X10 sensors.

    Best advice I had at the begging that I did not listen to was start of slowly...


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