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AirWreck
Starting Member

USA
2 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2020 :  02:20:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I’m looking for advice on where to start with home automation and security for a new home we are building. Here is a little bit about my situation and wish lists:

1. I’d like to figure out what type of automation ecosystem we need. I’d like lighting and home security (intrusion/cameras/locks/door intercom), HVAC, to all play nice together, and I’d prefer to have a central web client interface to see everything and to program schedules and scenes. I have a little interest in controlling window blinds and it might be nice have appliances integrated, but that’s lower on the wish list. The biggest focus is on home security and then lighting.

2. I am in the commercial fire alarm and security systems industry – sales/engineering/project management, with 10 years experience as a tech. I’d say I’m comfortable with electronics, but am a little behind the curve on IT matters. I ought to know more about this stuff, but we don’t do hardly any residential work. This is a low-voltage industry I’m in, so I’d be comfortable with a soldering iron and building something like this: nikivanov/smarterblinds

3. I also would not be afraid of anything that required a little coding. My biggest hobby is MS Office VBA coding: mostly for work - customization/integration/automation of Excel and Outlook. Between Outlook and the four or five spreadsheets I’ve customized, there’s maybe 40,000 lines of code there!

4. Relatedly, while we are all Microsoft when it comes to PCs/laptops, we are 100% Apple here, with their phones, iPads and watches, if that matters. We also have embraced Alexa, so it would be nice to still be able to use that. Anything Google/Android-centric I'd have to rule out.

5. I am not wealthy, and have a limited budget for all this, but for that matter it’s important whatever I use for the foundation can be added-on-to later. The good news is that I have wholesale-level pricing access for a lot of this through my job. So, lighting, cabling, anything electrical, security systems, integrated locksets, cameras, you name it, I can get fairly cheap. Amazon, for the rest, I guess.

6. I work for a Bosch and Honeywell security dealer, and I am leaning towards a Bosch wireless intrusion system. Looking at their G450 home control gateway, but don't know much about it (Home Control Gateway | Interface Modules | Accessories for Control Panels and Keypads | Intrusion Alarm Systems | Product Segments | us Site) but I haven’t bought it, and I’d rule it out if it it’s not going to play nice with everything else.

7. We are picking out exterior lights right now. I’m leaning towards low-voltage LED, digital low-voltage sounds interesting. The house construction has not started yet, so we can wire it for LV. In particular, I’m interested in using dimmable lights for nighttime exterior ambience/security lighting, but in the case of the garage coach lights I’d like to tie them to a motion and have them act as floodlights at that time. I’d also be keen on flashing them when there is an intrusion/panic alarm. This all needs to be smart or at least have the ability to accept a contact closure or voltage input, so I can make it quasi-smart with a smart relay, for example.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! I'm not asking anyone to spend a lot of time on an answer, but at least to point me in the right direction with some links, etc.

Thanks!

Eric

oberkc
Moderator

USA
4094 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2020 :  04:12:07 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I can only tell you about what I use and what I have read. I do not have a dedicated security system, so I cannot be of much help there. I can say I have seen a LOT of mentions about the ELK security system here. I am sure it is good, but I suspect much of the support for this system is in how well it integrates with other stuff.

I use insteon and z-wave devices (switches, outlets, plug-in modules, locks, garage door) for lighting, with a little Phillips Hue thrown in for some occasional color and specialty lights. Insteon products can be purchased here (smarthome) or, I believe, at amazon. Z-wave are made by a variety of companies and can be purchased at many places. Both require a central control hub, and I use the ISY-994. All work without dedicated wiring (other than a network connection for the hub). While not 100% reliable, it is good enough for me and I am happy with it.

My normal response to this type of question is to ask yourself a couple of questions:

- do you want to install this yourself? Some options require certified dealers.
- how much dependency on the internet (cloud services) are you willing to accept in order for your lighting to operate? It seems fewer options are available that can work locally without internet.
- do you want a dedicated controller hub, or are you willing to run home control software on your computer or tablet?
- how much automation are you looking for? Are you satisfied with some simple timers or do you want more conditional logic? Flashing of lights and triggering by motion sensors may be beyond simple timer-based systems.
- are there any specific devices you want to be able to use? A security system, for example?
- Do you need compatibility with specific apps or ecosystems (Google Home, HomeKit, ...)

I am aware of no controller that works with every type of device. I would spend most of my research on controller solutions and go with devices that are compatible with this controller. Besides the ISY-994 that I use, others that come to mind right now are Apple HomeKit, Nest Home, Amazon Alexa, Hubitat, SmartThings, Vera, OpenHAB, Homeseer, along with a few company-specific controllers from Lutron. There are others that I am not remembering right now.

Good luck. Respond back if you have more specific questions.

Edited by - oberkc on 03/11/2020 04:17:40 AM
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AirWreck
Starting Member

USA
2 Posts

Posted - 03/11/2020 :  7:06:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you for replying oberkc! I'm open to suggestion, as I am just beginning to research this.

I am not opposed to installing it, setting up a server to host it, or to code from relative scratch. Something like this: https://create.arduino.cc/projecthub/Shubhamkumar97/home-automation-using-arduino-and-bluetooth-control-404e9c is very interesting to me. At this point, I am not tied to any specific security system or hardware, but as mentioned, we're iOS not Android, and Alexa not Google here.

Regarding simple timers or something fancier, I would rather have full control to get really creative.

At this point, I am interested in controlling and/or monitoring:
exterior lights
interior lights
fish tank lights
fans and other electrical appliances
thermostats
door strikes
garage door operators
intrusion/panic alarms/motion detectors/door & window contacts
IP cameras

Thanks,

Eric

Eric
St. Louis, Missouri
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oberkc
Moderator

USA
4094 Posts

Posted - 03/13/2020 :  04:52:42 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Unfortunately, I cannot help with any self-built solutions. I can only offer first-hand observations regarding the ISY-994 (and a few earlier devices, now obsolete).

I will say I expect the ISY-994 could handle your automation desires. It has a robust set of conditional logic that can trigger programs from a variety of devices and sources, and can execute a series of commands as desired, based upon the logical state of the condition.

I have all interior and exterior lights on insteon or z-wave switches or outlets. I have a few appliances on plug-in modules. My garage door is controllable via insteon module. I have insteon and z-wave motion sensors, along with z-wave alarms. I have insteon and z-wave door sensors. I have a z-wave lock on the front door. All communicate with, and can be controlled by, the ISY-994 controller.

I have about 10 IP cameras, but this is completely independent from my lighting and automation system. The cameras I have, in general, have no ability to communicate with any of the other devices. I would probably value incorporating the motion sensing of the cameras to trigger some lights, but do not believe most of my cameras could do this.

I have harmony hubs which are integrated with the ISY-994. I control some lights via the harmony remote, and could trigger devices based upon activities and certain commands from the harmony.

I use Alexa and google home for certain lighting commands, as well as to issue verbal announcements upon key events. I can control my system remotely from alexa or google home.

Unfortunately, Apple HomeKit is NOT supported. This may be a deal-breaker for you.

I suspect the ISY-994 would support most of your stated needs, except (potentially) HomeKit.
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