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Thread: Home Automation Newbie. Time to start! But what protocol??

  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Default Home Automation Newbie. Time to start! But what protocol??

    Hi,

    Now that I have almost finished building my false wall for all of my AV equipment, I would like to investigate the possibility of adding home automation to my flat. Off the top of my head, I would like the following:

    1. Automated/voice controlled blind opening/closing; horizontal blinds.

    2. Remote controlled/voice activated/motion lights; I have LED GU10 bulbs throughout my entire flat except for the kitchen and bathroom which are BELL 2D ENERGY SAVING FLUORESCENT TUBE Lamp / Bulbs. My spotlights can all dim although I have no setup to do so.

    3. Video streaming; Using my unRAID NAS which is in my office. I will be using a combination of Plex/XBMC [on my dedicated media centre] and I am also looking to use Raspberry Pi 2's to stream media to my bedroom and office. [Done]

    4. Energy/water monitoring; energy/water waste is my biggest bug bear; I want to be able to monitor my energy usage, so that I reduce it as much as possible.

    I have underfloor heating throughout my flat; I have now been told is one of the most non efficient forms of heating? I am hoping to lower my consumption by using home automation (maybe using some sort of weather/inside temperature monitoring?). I am hoping to monitor my water as well

    5. Heating management; Exact temperature control via a calibrated setup that can have morning, day, night, summer and winter programs. Each of my rooms excluding the bathroom have individual thermostats.

    6. Security Monitoring; I live on the ground floor of a block of apartments which has a camera entry system; I'm hoping there a way to get this camera feed on to my TV? To allow me to view who is at my door and to enable me to release the outside door (magnet lock I think). Currently it's a push unlock button on the telephone entry system which is made by 'urnet'

    7. Shopping management; when I run out of a item of food I add it to a shopping list straight away via a old HP TouchPad tablet that runs Android. I currently use 'Out of Milk Pro' for this job [Done]

    9. Bathroom - I want to be able to access the news etc while I am in the shower. Any ideas?


    There maybe more but I cannot remember, what system would you advise I purchase? A starter kit would be great but I want a "future proof" one.


    Max budget is around 800 for everything. Any advice is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Automated Home Legend paulockenden's Avatar
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    Apple is about to launch HomeKit shortly.

    I know that a) it won't do all that you want, and b) will almost certainly break your budget, so it's probably not the product for you. However, chances are it WILL shake up the home automation marketplace, such that in a couple of year's time it'll look very different to how it looks today (a bit like what the iPhone did to the mobile phone marketplace).

    Worth bearing in mind before you splash any serious cash. I'd be tempted to stick to low-cost lash-ups for a year or two, before the market starts to mature.

  3. #3
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    I don't touch Apple products but you make a valid point. What would you suggest?

  4. #4
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    Cost is an important factor as 'Ask' is quite high....First of all is to choose your protocol - My advice would be ZWave as this gives 2-way comms.

    Next is Automation Engine. You can either go Dedicated (such as Loxone / Fibaro / Vera) or Software (you could potentially run a VM on your NAS, or do something such as OpenHAB on the Pi)

    Voice Recognition will be a tall order as if you go for an 'open mic' system you will blow your budget on boundary mics and mixers alone. Take a look at the Win7 VR engine as it's pretty good. Then decide if you want an open mic system or don't mind pushing a button on your phone / remote before speaking.

    Energy monitoring. Some of the new ZWave module include the ability to give Energy metrics (such as Qubino via Vesternet). These can control blinds / lights etc.

    Heating - There are many to choose from. Have a look for one with an open API that your automation system can hook into. Trend now is to go for room control (as opposed to Zone) via Electronic TRVs. There is a dedicated sub-forum for heating on this board with alot of users experience with different products.

    Bathroom Audio - Have a look at AirFoil or Squeezbox (if they still exist). You can plumb in a small class-D amp along with a ceiling speaker and Talk News to obtain what you want.

    Shopping - Not really played with this as I actually like going to the shops. Chedck out the new wave of Amazon Tabs (Tags?) which are basically selfcontained widgets that you stick to say the washing machine that you just press to re-order Soap Powder (they are 99cents each)

    Hope this helps a little

    Vangelis

  5. #5
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vangelis View Post
    Next is Automation Engine. You can either go Dedicated (such as Loxone / Fibaro / Vera) or Software (you could potentially run a VM on your NAS, or do something such as OpenHAB on the Pi)
    Which would you choose and why?

  6. #6
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    I currently run Software Automation on a Mac Mini - This gives me the flexibility to tweak things and also there is a great Plug-In community to support external hardware such as Sonos / Nest, which is always evolving


    For your requirements (and to keep costs down), I would explore OpenHab (on a RaspberryPi or RazberryPi). You can then invest in lighting controllers etc. If you are starting out in home automation the support you get from the forums can be just as important as the product you choose.

    Vangelis

  7. #7
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    I would go for Loxone, their new Air system is ideal for retro fitting, the plugin modules can also monitor power consumption. They are introducing new air modules all the time. Its also a very modular system, so you can start off small and expand when time and funds allow. There is no need to have a PC running 24/7, as its all self contained. The only time you need a pc is when you need to program the system via the config program which is free as are the apps for iPhone and Android, which is another plus.
    The controller has its own built in webserver, and this is set up automatically when you do the configuration.
    Customer service is excellent, which in my book is very important.

    I don't know what voice control is like these days, but when I tried it a couple of years ago using Homeseer, it wasn't that great. I did find out you needed a decent high spec pc and if there was a lot of background noise it took several attempts. It also took a few hours to teach the system your voice. I know some TVs and smartphones have voice controlled apps, but these rely on third parties to process a lot of the speech via the internet, not an ideal situation in my mind, too many possibilities of a link being broken and then the voice stuff doesn't work.

    Bathroom I am sure if you Google Voice RSS readers you might be able to get one that could read the news aloud to you while in the bathroom, or stream BBC World TV via FilmOn to a suitable device.
    Last edited by toscal; 25th May 2015 at 10:20 AM.
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