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Thread: HA choices for major wired rebuild/extension - thoughts welcomed

  1. #1

    Default HA choices for major wired rebuild/extension - thoughts welcomed

    Hi,

    I hope someone can help me on thinking through the options for a full-spec home automation set-up on a major refurb/extension that Iím doing. I want a pretty fully-featured set up, and the house will be fairly large-scale, but the default product set that seems to produce when I try to identify installers is super-high-end kit (Crestron, Lutron, etc) that Iím not sure is that much smarter than the alternatives and that seems to be priced up significantly for brand and convenience. I'd prefer not to pay the premium for that, though I recognise that this system will still be expensive, given the scale of the build.

    I'm particularly keen to get the views of this community given that most installers seem to specialise in a a limited number of systems, so Iíd be interested in peopleís opinion across the spectrum of experiences, even though ultimately I will be retaining a professional installater.

    My digging so far seems to have uncovered four viable options, namely:

    • Crestron/AMX, Lutron, Kaleidescape etc. Iíd rather avoid this if I can, given what I understand it costs
    • Control 4 Ė looks to cover all the bases; seems to be expensive for what it does (or that is my impression, at any rate) and to have a big premium for convenience
    • Loxone Ė currently seems the best option to me, has good reach given KNX but not sure whether it can do everything I want, particularly around heating and maybe security (as I understand it, it is a closed system as regards the logic/processing)
    • A hybrid set up, with a controller like Cytech/Comfort and then potentially other sub-systems that fit beneath it (e.g. Rako for lighting, maybe Idratek for heating/some other stuff)



    I'd like to get a sense of whether (1) this is the right list and, if it is, (2) which are the best options (including any neat subsystems to bear in mind). Given that this can often be seen as an open question, Iíve erred on the side of giving more information rather than less. Hopefully, that is the right call. So:

    • The house will be effectively a new build and nothing has been bought yet (though the architectís plans are done.) As such, Iím not tied into anything as regards wiring, plumbing. However, I would prefer a largely wired system and, as such, having lots of wireless features is less relevant for me.
    • Iíd like to control the system through wall switches and touchpads (as few of both as possible Ė where I can automate processes through sensors using logic to perform and integrate other tasks, Iíd like to do that) and also by smartphone/ipad.
    • I will also need remote access (through smartphone, I guess) to be able to control anything in the main systems
    • If voice control ever works (e.g, Apple using Siri) then that would be perfect
    • One constraint is that the house will be reasonably high-end in terms of finishes, so I donít want anything that ties me into ugly wall-plates/screens or bulky sensors all over the place
    • I want to integrate seven key systems: (1) heating; (2) lighting; (3) curtains and blinds; (4) home security; (5) AV; (6) water controls; and (7) IT/PCs.



    Specific requirements as follows:

    Heating:
    • I will have a newly-installed, wet underfloor heating through the house and the heating will also control an indoor pool.
    • I would like to run a number of zones (I estimate 13!) and want the ability for the system to compensate for weather and to set temperatures by zone (with local thermostat readings) at least based on timing (e.g. itís Friday [when I work from home] so the home study warms up during the day) and, potentially by individual locations over smartphone (e.g. Iím approaching home and itís Friday night so warm up the TV roomÖ)
    • The last of these seems to be a capability that Tado and the like has but Iím not sure it can be integrated with any of the above systems
    • The heating for both the house and the pool will be provided by a biomass boiler set-up (ETA, FrŲling or Windhager, probably Ė all of which I think have their own control systems) coupled with a thermal store. Biomass systemsí efficiency varies with how theyíre used, so a system that could cope with this and integrate with the boilerís own system (or override it) would be helpful
    • I will also probably run a ducted evaporative air chiller system to the main bedrooms and will need to be able to control that (though I suspect that is simple) and also will need to be able to control the swimming pool temperature and pumps etc



    Lighting
    • Most lighting will be LEDs (a mix of strips, ceiling-bulbs and wall-mounted units) plus some stand-alone plugged-in units. The house will have a total of 25 rooms, so this needs to be quite an extendable system
    • Controlling these to manage scenes and enabling dimming will be key
    • I will also want controllable garden lighting and security lighting that links to the security system



    Curtains/blinds
    • I will be using a mix of both blinds and curtains (some of the latter will be quite heavy) and want to be able to control these based on timing, weather/temperature and other system choices (scenes etc), as well as to adjust manually



    Security
    • I imagine this will all be wired except for some wireless window sensors
    • I will want the alarm to integrate into the core system (my current, stand-alone alarm, doesnít fit my needs in this regards because of its inflexibility, being either on or off and not configurable for zones)
    • I will need a mix of sensors (motion, vibration, window/door opening) triggering a combination of CCTV recording, lighting response (indoor and outdoor) and audible alarm and will want decent CCTV recording capability (on to a large hard disk, with overwriting capability) and the ability to be phoned automatically and to review and reset the system remotely
    • For recording, I expect to use IP CCTV for outdoors (probably 6-8 cameras with low-light capability but not IR, running 24/7) and a more restricted number indoor (if I can find any that look okay) that are only triggered in the event of an alarm event
    • Smoke and CO sensors to be integrated into the system
    • Floodlights will need to be linked to the system as will the sensors
    • I will also want to be able to manage access control to multiple house doors (4 external doors, preferably with biometric locks), double garage doors and two electric gates around the perimeter
    • Some combination of intercom capability and being able to open the gates for deliveries or rubbish collection etc would be helpful



    Audio/visual
    • I will run some combination of video from Apple TV, Sky HD, TV streamer and a NAS for ripped DVDs/Blu-Rays into 5-6 zones (in my current home I run this using a simple HDMI matrix into 3 zones)
    • Audio will need to be into 12 zones (probably ceiling speakers), pulling from a single NAS-based storage system but with 4 different user profiles (in my current home I run Nuvo off a WMS/WHS set-up into 6 zones)
    • On top of the above, the cinema room will need to link through Ďstandardí AV kit (dedicated blu-ray and receiver) and, given this room will double as a sitting room, the screen and projector will need to drop from the ceiling (which Iíd want to be able to automate)



    Water
    • I will be running a rainwater harvesting system with an underground (at frost-proof depth) tank that will need pump control. This, supplemented by an existing onsite well (again, with a pump) will supply water for most grey-water compatible appliances and loo flushing etc
    • It will also feed an irrigation control system (three loops) covering some of the most thirsty parts of the gardens



    IT
    • Just the usual home network (currently running WHS and a series of PCs and media-servers off that)



    Other
    • My wife would love a system that would automatically run the bath if such a thing were possible...



    Any views on the systems that would be best to make this work would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    simon

  2. #2

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    Hi Simon

    Welcome.

    That's a huge list of systems and controls required. You have some good names there already - check out this page for more options too - http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/home-...nology-choices

    I'd say that the higher you go (price wise) the more reliable and integrated your system will be. Conversely the cheaper you go the less reliable it will become and the more faffing about it will require to get things to work together - and keep them working. You picks your budget and takes your chance.

    Loxone is a good mid-priced system as you suggest.

    Good luck and keep us informed on your progress.

    M.

  3. #3
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Loxone will do heating, they have some good tutorials on their website.
    Audio visual have a look at XBMC this is a pretty good all round system also the Sonos stuff is very good but a little pricey.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  4. #4
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    I run Comfort in parallel to my home automation. Comfort can talk to various products (Rako, Zwave etc) via bolt on modules, although I have heard mixed stories about the durability of the Rako switch pads...

    As for Bio-Metric door security, have a look at Inotherm / Inokey.

    My setup does include voice control (always active), using boundary mics, however this is still an emerging technology and careful consideration needs to be made regarding installation and technology used.

    Vangelis

  5. #5

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    Thanks. Will take a look at XBMC, though it looks at first glance more like a software system - as such, I guess it would need to integrate with a broader HA system.

  6. #6

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    Thanks, Vangelis. What other HA system do you run Comfort in parallel with?

    Also, thanks on the tip for Inotherm/Inokey (I'd heard it referenced on another thread somewhere so will definitely investigate further) and interested in your boundary mic solution - which of your kit does that talk to (excuse the pun)?

  7. #7
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    I run Indigo on a Mac Mini for Home Automation. This has a LightwaveRF and ZWave module to control lighting and sensor inputs.

    For the voice control I have an Intel NUC platform (had this before the Mac, but you could run a virtualised Win instance on the Mac if you want), running VoxCommando and EventGhost. I have Boundary Mics in the ceiling (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/like/28113...13=80&ff14=108) these have XLR connections (with Phantom power) back to a Shure SCM410E Intelligent Mic Mixer.

    This mixer is really important as it is gated and has logic out for active mics which is used to drive Sonos, so that the audio feedback (Speech / Music) is sent to the room where the person is speaking and not to every speaker

    All the systems can talk to each other over the network (via TCP broker), so the Home Automation can see alarm events, and the Voice Control can turn on lights etc, but it does require some networking knowledge.

    I heard about the biometrics (InoKey) over on the AVForum channel, however I use a Schneider Electric Fingerprint Reader connected to an Electronic Deadbolt (that doesn't require a door loop).

    It's all still a work in progress as we are still changing things in the property, but it is ultra-configurable and has plenty of interfacing options to Mainstream systems.

    Vangelis

  8. #8

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    Thanks for that. sounds like a neat set-up - I will take a look at the various components, and also at the SE Reader.

    Best regards,

    Simon

  9. #9
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    The SC readers are scarily expensive (got mine off ebay for a fraction of the price). An InoTherm door with reader was I think 800 Euro's but they might have been given discount. Have a look at Toca EKey as well.

    Vangelis

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