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About IVB

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    Z-Wave Enthusiast

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  1. If you only have weeks to do this, are remodeling your house anyhow, and can allocate some money for a loan, I would suggest immediately hiring a firm to do at least the wiring design for what you want a/v (and other) wise. If you run all the wiring now, then you're at least setup for options in the future. And fwiw, run at least 35% more cable than you think you need and also run conduit; you'll need it later, but the walls will be closed up. I can guarantee you that you need many many more wires than you think to do this completely; zWave can only answer part of the equation, there's many things that aren't zWave-able (yet), or where you may appreciate having choices between zWave & something else.
  2. Don't get me wrong, I'm clearly a zWave fan. But I'm not a zWave preacher who says that everything else sucks, and only zWave is king. Homeworks or any hardwired system is clearly a step or two higher than wireless systems like zWave, but for 20x the price and the difficulty of install it's not worth it to me. Here's details to back that claim up: Homeworks isn't a closed system, it has an RS232 interface and indeed the higher end control systems like CQC have Homeworks drivers. There's also cheaper hardwired systems, but they're still multiple thousands of dollars. There's no give-up at all on functionality/expandability/customization, matter of fact there's more. 1) Reliability of transmission: Obviously the biggest draw is the reliability of hardwired control, but Homeworks also has Homeworks RF wireless, and you can get RF repeaters for your hard to reach areas. For example, you could have a detached garage where a zWave signal doesn't make it reliability - what do you do? With Homeworks, you can run a wire out and put an RF repeater out there. 2) Reliability of controller:The Homeworks controller may cost $2K, but it works more reliably than even your security panel - it just doesn't crash. Compare that to Windows as you really need a software program to do any serious automated lighting/HA; I use Windows for all my HA, and it works pretty dang well, but see the next point: 3) Design the Electric wiring for better aesthetics and superior control. This is a fairly massive advantage of Homeworks and the tipping point for folks. Given the rock-solid reliability of the above 2, you can run your electric wiring so that all the lighting loads go to a central location, and you can have a bank of switches there. Then in your local rooms, all you need is a keypad. This means no bank of switches required in each room (ie, great rooms). Heck, you can even break up your 4-bulb switches in your dining room into individually controllable lights given that you don't care about how big the resultant bank of switches will be. Downside of this is that you've now made your lights *inoperable* if the controller goes down, so you damn well better pick a system that is known to work 100%. Don't try and explain to your wife that she can't turn the lights on/off because she downloaded a virus from the internet. 4) Speed of outbound signals. zWave takes perhaps 1s for the light to come on, which doesn't sound slow but when you're used to truly instant from a regular switch, is enough to be irritating. With a hardwired system, it's instantaneous. 5) Speed of notifications of manual changes. With the regular $35 zWave switches, there's no active notification. Your HA system will have to round-robin poll your switches in order to know the current state. This could take 5s or so if you have a decent # of switches. This means that if you want a light to turn on if you turn on another light, you could wait 5s (which is typically too long). With the Active Notification ViziaRF stuff, this is alleviated, but I believe those are $80-$100 each so the cost differential is much smaller. With a hardwired system that has a dedicated controller, this is instantaneous. 4) Scale: I also don't know how far zWave can scale; when I remodel my house, I'd want to automate truly every light, which could be ~65 lights. 5) Product Selection: One of the biggest issues with zWave is the very small # of keypads; with Homeworks they've got many and they look gorgeous. (Of course, MSRP is something like $400-$500 each). The zWave reliability issues I experience are things like 1) Entire USB controller stops playing nice with PC so all automaed lighting is down, and lights work like regular light switches. Fixed via pulling it out and plugging back in. Happens perhaps every 2 months, just did yesterday, but unplugging it and plugging it back in solved it. 2) A light doesn't getting turned on/off in one of my automation events (ie, when I open the closet door, the closet light turns on automatically. Close it, and the light should turn off). If you use zWave for HVAC/etc, it'd basically be the same type of thing. When I first put in zWave, i only had perhaps 8 switches, and was getting close to a 50% failure rate. Hence I was basically right back to a non-automated house. There's no "testers" to ID the problem - you're putting the stuff in, so you're the installer. But there's a few things you could try to resolve the issue. For me, as soon as I put in more switches to increase the density, and as soon as CQC enhanced their driver to try more often in event of an error, it clicked up to 99%. Again, you'll see that for me, the 20x price increase doesn't have the ROI even remotely, and zWave is perfect for someone like me. I now have around 15 switches controlled, with 5 more loads/9 switches on the list as soon as I figure out how my 3way wiring was run (there's 7 different "standards"). Plus, for swapping out switches in an existing house, advantage #3 (wiring design) isn't relevant, and I can work around advantage 1&2, so there's no real upside for me.
  3. Actually, if I could afford a hardwired lighting solution and didn't care about ROI, I'd do that in a heartbeat. He's right, 99 isn't 100, and you want 100. The other fundamental issue I have with zWave is that it's a mesh network, where each zWave must be a repeater. You cannot put multiple repeaters (a la access points) all hardwired homerun back to the base like Lutron RadioRA RF, you've got just the one controller blasting out and waiting for the signal to get there. In addition, with something like Lutron Homeworks, you can put all your switches in a closet, and only mount scene controllers in rooms. No more 2-3 gang switches cluttering up your walls. Finally, the issue with any RF or PLC protocol is the status polling - the controller has no choice but to round-robin the status, and there will always be latency issues. With a hardwired connection, that polling is damn near instantaneous. But then again, Homeworks switches are $300 or so EACH as opposed to $35 for zWave. Controllers are $1K-$2K. My all-in cost was going to be something like $20K for parts, plus more for labor. As opposed to $1K for zWave. For 20x the cost, i'll take 99% stability.
  4. Well, dang, I *knew* I forgot one very important interaction method: Keypads for your whole-house audio system. Specifically, the CQC driver for the NuVo Concerto & Grand Concerto systems was just upgraded, so that you can trap the button presses, and do whatever you want. You could use this so that if you hit a given button, a light or scene turns on. Nice thing there is that you don't have a proliferation of keypads/touchscreens in the house, esp in those "2nd-tier" rooms. This obviously has little to do with zWave directly, just that CQC would turn the lights on (or whatever) using zWave. To be honest, i'm just an end-user, i know less than zero about Lagotek. I've implemented one path for complete smart home automation, but there's other entirely viable paths. Here's the way I see life: Option 1) Use a 'closed system', ie Crestron. Pros: - Pre-engineered components means little to no guesswork that something will work Cons: - Only dealers can install - Expensive - Since it's closed, no such thing as an end user adding integration capabilities for a new product or technology - Cannot control using your existing PCs, perhaps not even your cellphone Option 2) Use only a zWave branded system and controller Pros/Cons: - Sorry, no idea here, I opted to not do this since zWave wasn't complete enough for me Option 3) Use a pc-based software engine for HA Pros: - Robust overall control system that integrates well with zWave via controllers such as the Intermatic USB controller - Inexpensive. Anywhere from $35 (HomeZix) to $700(CQC) based on how much programming (ie VB or C#), network distribution/# of PCs, security, PDA control you want. FYI - I currently use CQC on 4 different PCs, and basically every interaction method shown above; once you get into full home control, you're going to want to leverage the existing stuff you got in order to do control. No one wants more than one keypad or touchscreens in any given room... - Re-use your existing investment in PCs, PDAs, etc. - Many choices for hardware devices that can be controlled. CQC currently has 135 drivers - Open Architecture: Anyone can write a driver for new equipment, there's about 50 currently in development. Seems that about 5ish get added per month, so there's huge velocity there - Many choices for inexpensive touchpanels, PDA or cellphone PDA controls - DIY friendly Cons: - More work to setup - Many more choices for control means many more decisions you need to make, unless you just buy the same stuff that someone else already did (which may or may not work for you)
  5. Welcome. Let's take a step back; what does HA mean to you? It's a big word, doesn't mean the same thing to everyone, so what are you looking to accomplish HA wise? How would you want to interact with it? There's tons and tons you can do, and tons and tons of options. zWave can help with parts of it, you'll need to complement it in other areas. Also, some of this stuff will require wiring. Not everything HA-wise is wireless friendly, is running more wires an option? BTW, the list of stuff you could do is below. I also wrote up my personal guide here with a full list of hardware&software&prices, but i've added more stuff in the past few weeks so that's already a little outdated. HA functions: - Whole House/Distributed/Multizone Audio - Whole House/Distributed/Multizone Video - Security (fire/theft/CO/smoke), automatically turn on/off lights&hvac&stereos&... when you arm the system to leave - Occupancy (use the motion sensors from security system to detect occupancy, turn lights on/off or other stuff) - Window (re-use security sensors to warn that a window is open before you turn on HVAC) - Usage (put door sensors on the closet doors or driveway so you can turn lights on/off on usage, also timeout after (n) mins) - HVAC - Irrigation - CCTV - Lighting Manual Interaction Methods (ie, not automated such as motion sensors turning stuff on) - Wallmounted Touchscreens - Docked/wifi touchscreen tablet PC - Whole house Remote Control - Security keypads - PDA Cellphone (used both in the house and over the Cingular network) - Cheap pushbuttons mounted for automated floorlamp control - zWave capable controller (many styles) - Keychain keyfob - RFID detecting cars pulling up/etc. I feel like there's others that I'm missing, but this is already a ton and you get the point, . What of this would you like to do, what's your house look like, how would you want to interact with it?
  6. Keep in mind that I don't work for CQC, I get no $$ from them, nor do I get fees forgiven. I'm a business-side line manager. I don't really care what option people go with, it truly makes zero difference in my life. The reason I talk about them as much as I do is so folks enter HA with eyes wide open - god knows i've pissed away enough $$ and time on the wrong products. The goal of my initial post was to let you know that CQC does much more than just zWave, it does it all. But I understand that it's out of reach financially for many folks. If your budget doesn't allow for that and you're willing to spend the time, more power to you. BTW, have you checked out Girder/Netremote? Very compelling entry level option.
  7. What a misguided post, you really need to do your research before replying. Please allow me to educate you, your competition is far far ahead of what you think. You have obviously never ever even used CQC, or seen a demo. I have a far far greater setup than anyone i've ever seen, and I do NOT KNOW the macro language. I have never written a macro, nor do I plan to. Everything i've done is point&click and typing in a few words here/there. If concepts such as the following point&click are too complex for someone to master, then by all means, use C# or VB. That's too techie for my blood though. There's ~a dozen of us who have made our screens publicly available, so you don't even have to do a full creation from scratch. I've had around 900 downloads of just my skins alone in the past 8 months, so i know they're being used. To add a new item to your screen, pick a widget type. (btw, i only know what 1/3 of these do - i don't use most of them) setup the "action" that you want to do. Note the full point & click. Some other random shots.
  8. FYI, CQC is pretty much the hands down, most powerful solution out there, and can integrate your HA with your media center with your ..., one of the few solutions that allows you to custom build screens for your PC or PDA, and is fully network distributed. I believe there's some folks looking into running it on an XPe box and some tiny mini-box'es, so the power consumption is pretty low (ie, they're looking to try 40W mini-PCs) But, as you note, it is expensive. You get what you pay for, though. There is absolutely zero "programming" needed with it, so either spend your money or spend your time.
  9. Harmony 1000 Zwave

    HA engines such as CQC that can work with PDAs are your friend. I control lighting, security, CD/DVD/XM, and see the temperature outside my house with mine. here's my PDA screenshots
  10. yep, that's what I did. Works great. I use a button on my security system keypad near that door to turn it on/off.
  11. Z-Wave Dimmer Capability

    Must be a product thing. I know that with CQC (my HA Software engine), I can set a dimlevel at anything between 0-99%. Furthermore, if I was so inclined I could use a remote to tell CQC what dimlevel to set, or just use the up/down buttons to increase/decrease it. Here's a screen that I almost never use, as I've been doing just pure on/off lately, but I could if I wanted to. Obviously you're not talking about using a PDA or touchscreen to do this, but you get the point.
  12. I'm getting my Elk wireless RF device and 2 keyfobs tomorrow. I've got some thoughts about how to use but they're damn basic (ie, a keybutton will turn on exterior lights, disarm maglock on door) but that seems relatively basic. I thought about doing scenes (ie, this button is "kids are awake" mode so put these lights on, this button is "one kid is asleep and put only these lights on in a dimmed level" mode). Anyone else have ideas?
  13. This course doesn't get too deep into any one driver, it's more of a broadbrush approach to how to do HA that primarily teaches concepts. The extent of the zWave demo is when I show folks how I turn lights on when a door is opened or there's motion detected; how I turn the closet light after 15mins; and how I turn off all the lights when I ArmAway the security system. That's seriously simple stuff though, only takes <5mins of the entire demo. We can do a deep dive into the zWave driver during one of the monthly CQC User Group webexes, those are typically the last Saturday of the month at 8:30am PST except for this month when it'll be on 6/2 (last weekend is Memorial Day).
  14. For those of you who may not be aware, I've been doing monthly "Introduction to Home Automation" teleconference/webinars for going on 6 months now. Given that the field is so diverse with so many options, I further focused it on "What path did I follow in order to create a complete smart home". Hence, the session walks you through how to setup CQC and the Elk security&automation panel to accomplish your HA goals. There's not a huge emphasis on any given protocol or equipment in great details (ie, zWave lighting or my other stuff ) as it's more of a "higher level" class. It is intended to show the newbie how they can use a software engine to integrate their hardware, create screens for status & control, and create automated rules to give their system some intelligence. I will actually setup new CQC screens to do this control, so you can see the entire process. Reply here if interested in attending. Once we get 8-10 folks interested, i'll book a specific date. There's already probably 4-5 folks on the CQC forum who've indicated interested, i'd bet that we get another 5 in the next few weeks and do a session in early june sometime. There is no cost, which means that we work around my schedule, not yours I do this session on one of two general timeslots. - Friday, 6:30pm PST->8:30pm PST - Saturday, 8:30am PST->10:30am PST ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Welcome to the "Intro to HA using CQC & the Elk Automation Panel" course. This online gotomeeting & teleconference is designed to be a 120 minute overview as to how to perform HA & HT using CQC and the Elk automation panel. It is targeted to the newbie who wants to know how to do HA. It is not recorded as it generally sucks to try and synch up the audio teleconference and the video, besides it creates a whopping big file. There is a dialin phone # and listening is critical as that's where the information is disseminated. Requested but not mandatory prep 1) Pre-read this powerpoint PDF, it's what I'll use during the first 20-30 mins of the session. 2) As many of the tutorial videos as you can stand. There's 24 of them now, ideally watch all 4 of the installation ones and the first 2 of the action, event, and graphical interface sections. That's 10 total. Agenda This online gotomeeting & teleconference is designed to be a 120 minute overview as to how to perform HA & HT using CQC and the Elk automation panel. It is targeted to the newbie who wants to know how to do HA. There is a dialin phone # and listening is critical as that's where the information is disseminated. We're also setting up a PC connection capability so our overseas brethren can join us without the exhorbitant callin fees. The agenda is as follows: 1) Overview of what I did, why I did it, and how it helped. 5mins 2) CQC Overview & Architecture 5min 2) How to physically hook devices up to an HTPC for control - 5mins 3) How to tell CQC you have devices connected, and use it to easily create and render a screen to control them in realtime - 45mins 4) How to setup ElkRP to monitor your devices 15mins 5) How to use CQC's event manager and the Elk together to perform the following: 15mins 5a) scheduled tasks (i.e., irrigation, turn off all devices and lights at midnight) 5b) triggered tasks (i.e., turn off all lights & other devices when you leave the house and ArmAway the Elk. turn on the light when you open the closet door) That's 90 minutes of content. The remaining 30 minutes is intentionally unallocated as questions in various places take up the rest of the time. See you there!
  15. Hi folks. I'm beating the bushes to see what types of How-To guides you would like to see. Here's a quick list of what i'm doing in my house. It involves both zWave and other products - I figure it's more useful to show you how i'm achieving a specific goal rather than just talk about the zWave portion of it. I'll be writing up how-to's for each of these. To make these as value-add as possible, i'll use the specific non-Zwave technologies i use (ie, an Elk for a security/automation panel, and CQC for software HA engine) complete with screenshots so you see exactly how to do this if you use the same technologies I use. For those of you who use other technologies (ie, Girder for HA engine, HAI/CADDX for security), you'll be able to extrapolate from there. It'll take me some time to take all the screenshots and write up the guides for this, I'll post each one as I complete them. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1) How-To Shut down your house (turn off all appropriate lights, stereos, hvac) when you set your security system in ArmedAway mode. 2) How-To Blare all your lights, stereos, irrigation system if the burglar alarm trips 3) How-To Use motion sensors and/or door sensors to automatically turn the lights on 4) How-To Automatically turn off your lights off after a given period of time 5) How-To Turn on multiple lights when you flip a single switch 6) How-To Use non-light switches (ie, your security keypad) to turn your zWave lights on & off. 7) How-To Use your cellphone to turn your lights (and anything else) on/off. 8 ) How-To Use a regular remote control to turn your lights (and anything else) on/off. 9) How-To Automatically dim the lights when you start TheaterTek, reinstate them when the DVD is done. 10) How-To Automatically dim the lights to a different level when you start SageTV And in the "coming soon to the IVB household" (assuming wife signs off on the purchases ) 11) How-To Use RFid to turn on your lights (and anything else) when your car pulls into the driveway. 12) How-To Use a keychain attachment (keyfob) to turn on/off your lights 13) How-To Automatically turn on your AC/fan if the temperature in your media closet exceeds a specific temperature (and turn off when it dips below it)