Some thoughts on home automation


Old 12-15-08, 09:06 AM
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Some thoughts on home automation

I am just starting out with some ideas for home automation. I have been reading many posts here on this site, and have visited some of the manufacturers to get a "feel" for what their products do.

It is difficult with SO many posts to weed through at first to try to make a decision on what to start with. I want to start small and use what I buy to get a "feel" for the capabilities of this type of system. My home is 15 years old, and I have pretty clean power. I also have cable based Internet, a wireless N+ network with 1 GBit wired, (I rarely use wired now).

Basically, I have broken my requirements into a few basic catageories:

- What do I want to automate,(for now)?
Lighting only (in house and external building)

(Other things in the future)
Things like garage doors
Security, cameras and door locks, motion sensing

- What level of programmability and interface am I interested in?
Very high level since I do a lot of programming myself with factory automation and information systems, this really appeals to me the most.
I also am interested in remote access and wireless control with my laptop or Wondows Mobile based phone.

- How much do i want to spend; now, and overall?
Under $700 for some lighting controls, controller, and software.

- What system standard do i want to use?
Right now I am thinking something that can control Insteon, but am still researching hardware. The inexpensive X10 stuff looks good for basic on/off lighting, but I am afraid of adopting an old standard that might be going away.

I know my requirements will change over time, so I want to use a controller with good flexibility.

I am worried that the Insteon controllers will be too limiting right now. I am attracted to the Universal devices ISY-26 and ISY-99i Series. I can get a refurbished ISY-99i for about the same price of a new ISY-26. Except for the number of events, Iím not sure why I would go with a new ISY-99i over a new ISY-26? Iím going to call them later today and ask. Everything I read about the company tells me that they are VERY user oriented and take lots of time to help their users.

So, I thought i would post my thoughts for any possible discussion on the forum. I am trying to avoid the usual "help me decide" type of post and do as much research as I can. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 12-15-08, 07:14 PM
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Did some shopping tonight. I am starting very small on devices, but bigger on the controller side.

1 2456D3 LampLinc
1 2476DIV SwitchLinc Dimmer
2 2473SIV OutletLinc
1 2420M Wireless INSTEON Motion / Occupancy Sensor
1 2466DI ToggleLinc Dimmer

And to control it all a ISY-99i Pro with a INSTEON PLM

My first start will be to setup lightning for my detached garage, in-house candles and outdoor spots. I'll use the sensor for motion detection to turn the garage lights on automatically when someone walks up, ro a car pulls up the driveway.

With the cash bonuses that Smarthome is offering along with free deluxe shipping, I ended up almost $100 under budget with more than I expected; (for the first round anyway...)

Old 12-15-08, 11:01 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Near Buffalo, NY
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Welcome to the forums, Jim!

You've made good choices for a starter system -- especially given the low budget.

In the future, when you decide to add things like heating, A/V system, and other whole-house control, consider buying a used Crestron or AMX controller. Just like computers, those high-end devices sell for a fraction of the cost when new.

As a programmer, you'll appreciate the flexibility (after the learning curve).
Old 12-16-08, 08:34 PM
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Thanks Rick. I'll be a little while getting the hang of things but since I am a programmer, I should adjust fairly quickly.

Happy holidays.
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