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    Where does a new guy begin??

    Hi all. We just purchased a home and will be moving in over the course of the coming weeks. One of the first projects on my plate is I'd like to start building a home automation setup. The house has an ADT security system. I'd like to add control/monitoring of the alarm, some lighting, door locks, the garage door, and thermostat. I'd like to try and do it myself to the extent I can.

    Is HomeSeer a good option for us? I've done some reading on the web today, and it seems to compare favorably to all the others. (I also read good things about mControl, but it doesn't seem to have an iPhone option, which is a must for us given that my wife and I both have iPhone).

    The only hitch I can see is that we are an "all-Mac household," and it seems the software requires Windows. Not the end of the world because we can use Parallels etc. to run it, but I wish there were a Mac version.

    Also, where does a new guy begin? Just download the software and install it and go out and start buying some modules to control lights, maybe a thermostat, etc.?

    Thanks in advance.

    O

    #2
    You only need to run the server on a windows box. 99% of the interaction with the software is via the web interface or HSTouch. You're just going to put this computer in an equipment closet somewhere. I don't think it would be a good idea to run it in parallels.

    It is kind of hard to just "big bang" the system out. You'll probably want to start by figuring out which type of lighting switches you want to use. (Insteon, Z-Wave, etc.) You can find many posts on that here. Then I would start with just a few switches. You can get your feet wet and figure out what direction you want to go and what the priorities are. I don't know how much you like this kind of stuff, but for me the journey is as big a part as the end result.

    As far as software. I have been into this for quite a while. For the vast majority of the time, I ran my own software. (wasn't commercial) Then I was into the open source Misterhouse for a while. The first commercial software I bought was mControl. It looked great, but I dumped this not too long later and went back to Misterhouse. It seemed like there was always a lot of promise and not a lot of delivery. The media center stuff was pretty cool and what attracted me at first, but that's not enough.

    I had seen HomeSeer for many years, but it was not too enticing to me. What convinced me was the HSTouch software they have. It is also a native application instead of some web app. I think that the core software is a little long in the tooth, but I don't think you can beat it ATM for the DIY market. There are certainly problems as with anything. What keeps me with this software is the community. It is very active and a great bunch of people.

    What you asked is a very broad question. I would encourage you to browse around the forums here.
    Last edited by tpchristian; April 4, 2011, 12:51 AM. Reason: Typos
    - Tom

    HSPro/Insteon
    Web Site
    YouTube Channel

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by tpchristian View Post
      You only need to run the server on a windows box. 99% of the interaction with the software is via the web interface or HSTouch. You're just going to put this computer in an equipment closet somewhere. I don't think it would be a good idea to run it in parallels.

      It is kind of hard to just "big bang" the system out. You'll probably want to start by figuring out which type of lighting switches you want to use. (Insteon, Z-Wave, etc.) You can find many posts on that here. They I would start with just a few switches. You can get your feet wet and figure out what direction you want to go and what the priorities are. I don't know how much you like this kind of stuff, but for me the journey is as big a part and the end result.

      As far as software. I have been into this for quite a while. For the vast majority of the time, I ran my own software. (wasn't commercial) They I was into the open source Misterhouse for a while. The first commercial software I bought was mControl. It looked great, but I dumped this not too long later and went back to Misterhouse. It seemed like there was always a lot of promise and not a lot of delivery. The media center stuff was pretty cool and what attracted me at first, but that's not enough.

      I had seen HomeSeer for many years, but it was not too enticing to me. What convinced me was the HSTouch software they have. It is also a native application instead of some web app. I think that the core software is a little long in the tooth, but I don't think you can beat it ATM for the DIY market. There are certainly problems as with anything. What keeps me with this software is the community. It is very active and a great bunch of people.

      What you asked is a very broad question. I would encourage you to browse around the forums here.
      Excellent. Thanks for the start on this. This is helpful.

      I have a background in computers, but I've never looked into this home automation stuff until recently. I guess I'm confused by there being so much dispersion in the market -- so many different protocols, makers, etc. I thought Zwave was the thing to do, because it is wireless, and X10 was out. Now I'm seeing a lot about "insteon." I guess I need to read up on that and Zwave. Beyond that, I'm seeing there is server software, interface software, etc. I was sort of hoping for a consolidated starter package -- something that had the server software I need, UI software, and could get me going.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Otis View Post
        . . . we are an "all-Mac household," and it seems the software requires Windows. Not the end of the world because we can use Parallels etc. to run it, but I wish there were a Mac version.

        Also, where does a new guy begin? Just download the software and install it and go out and start buying some modules to control lights, maybe a thermostat, etc.?
        Tom hit most of the points very well, but I'd like to reinforce that you will be far better off to have a dedicated Windows PC running Homeseer. The software is not very demanding, so you will not need a powerful computer, but it will be a departure if you haven't had much experience with the Windows OS. (Plus, interfacing serial devices to a computer and communicating with them offers different challenges from those you encounter with a typical PC application.)

        The biggest initial hurdle will be selecting the technology that will be at the core of your interface to the physical world. The hardware for switches, thermostats, sensors, relays, digital inputs, etc. can eat up many thousands of dollars over time, and if they don't work the way you want, it can be VERY frustrating, so it pays to give it some consideration before jumping in too enthusiastically.

        Homeseer is clearly working hard to integrate Z-wave. I also like UPB, but it doesn't support the wide range of devices that Z-wave does. That is both an advantage (the protocol is under control, with fewer 'cooks in the kitchen') as well as a disadvantage.

        As you explore alternative technologies, you will come to appreciate that HS allows you to mix technologies to the limits of your interest, personal bandwidth, and willingness to abuse yourself. The down side is that you can easily end up with a system than is a hodge-podge only a techie could love - or begin to understand. Nonetheless, most of us have, for one reason or another, settled on a mix of technologies that best meets our needs. I suspect that if you decide to stick with home automation you will do the same.
        Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
        HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.548, NUC i3

        HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF | RFXCOM | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3 | EtherRain | Ubiquiti

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Otis View Post
          I'm confused by there being so much dispersion in the market -- so many different protocols, makers, etc. I thought Zwave was the thing to do, because it is wireless, and X10 was out. Now I'm seeing a lot about "insteon." I guess I need to read up on that and Zwave. Beyond that, I'm seeing there is server software, interface software, etc. I was sort of hoping for a consolidated starter package -- something that had the server software I need, UI software, and could get me going.
          I think you will find that Homeseer provides a great deal of what you want as it comes, especially if you stick with Z-wave. However, if you want to use your iPhone you will need to add the HSTouch package, either separately or as part of HS Pro. Plus, the actual interface that you will use on the phone is up to you to design and deploy. That is kind of fun, but it's also got a learning curve of its own. You definitely want to take advantage of the trial period. You can try the software for 30 days to see how it works, what it includes and what you will need to add.

          Insteon has a decidedly mixed reaction among members of the board. I've stayed away from it myself, so I have no personal experience. I agree that you should probably focus away from X10 PLC (power line control) - but don't confuse X10 RF with X10 PLC. I find X10 RF to be extremely useful and quite cost effective.
          Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
          HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.548, NUC i3

          HW: Stargate | NX8e | CAV6.6 | Squeezebox | PCS | WGL 800RF | RFXCOM | Vantage Pro | Green-Eye | Edgeport/8 | Way2Call | Ecobee3 | EtherRain | Ubiquiti

          Comment


            #6
            .

            Comment


              #7

              i would like to add to Rob's post...
              you can run x10... but remember a few things as a major consideration...

              1. you NEED a house coupler repeater... this ties leg A of the electric panel with leg B... so lets say you send a D1 on the line... the unit receives it and transmits it back out.. (coupler repeater)...
              this made my x10 setup from 60% to id say 99.9%
              i use the xpcr model found on ebay.. $18 http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_trkparm...&_sop=15&_sc=1

              2. filters are needed.. on what.. depends.. i am only using a few.. on apc1000 ups's and that is it...

              now z-wave... im starting out on zwave myself.. im just too busy to get to it... i have a box of about 60 units to install... i really like the z-wave ztroller.. as you can just simply read it in once programmed.. and everything is back in HS if you do a rebuild... only thing is you need to remember what is what and rename them.. in x10 world.. you need to manually enter every item.....

              i started looking into insteon but quickly got turned around once i saw a lot of people having problems.. but then there are some that do not...

              all i all i think you will be happy with homeseer/available free and paid plugins/and helpfull support.....
              welcome and remember...
              this gets fun/expensive and addicting!!!!!!!!!!!

              i too had adt.. i had the caretaker safewatch system... i was paying $50ish a month monitored... once out of contract i found out the concord 4 system works with all of my devices as all of mine are wireless... so i went that route and installed it myself.... piperpilot started a plugin for us and it works pretty well.. still under works though but does my needs...
              HW - i5 4570T @2.9ghz runs @11w | 8gb ram | 128gb ssd OS - Win10 x64

              HS - HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.435

              Plugins - BLRF 2.0.94.0 | Concord 4 3.1.13.10 | HSBuddy 3.9.605.5 | HSTouch Server 3.0.0.68 | RFXCOM 30.0.0.36 | X10 3.0.0.36 | Z-Wave 3.0.1.190

              Hardware - EdgePort/4 DB9 Serial | RFXCOM 433MHz USB Transceiver | Superbus 2000 for Concord 4 | TI103 X-10 Interface | WGL Designs W800 RF | Z-Net Z-Wave Interface

              Comment


                #8
                I started to use X10 in the late 1970's (1978 or so). It worked just fine. Around the early 2000's purchased an XTB X10 amplifier just for X10 and it helped the signal. X10 is plentiful and very reasonable. That said and personally its a descent way to get your "feet wet".

                Think of what you want to do with home automation and experiment a little piece at a time. It can get expensive; as it is an addictive hobby (as Jeff stated)

                I currently utilize X10, Insteon, Z-Wave and UPB. The X-10 still is in over 50% of the wall switches in the form of Insteon; but still mostly using X10 to manage the combo type Insteon switches. Z-Wave has become very popular in the last few years; and more so recently with a cost reduction in various Z-Wave devices. Personally migrating to pure powerline with UPB for the light switches and I've been playing with Z-Wave for just external lighting modules, appliance modules etc. IE: this past Christmas switched my legacy X-10 outdoor modules to Z-wave outdoor modules and they worked just fine.

                The whole lighting technology world has become almost a religious debate regarding which is what and what is better than what...and really just comes down to what you are most comfortable with using, budget, etc. The powerline world has changed much over the years with many methods of "networking" the various switches. IE: pure powerline, powerline / RF , RF, etc. This combination with various methodologies of meshing the networks etc. I still want a lighting switch which will tell me how much electricity is being utilized off the load of said switch.

                Homeseer offers the options to be able to utilize almost every technology that exists for your lighting; that said; a good base to start.

                Personally I would keep the security piece out of the picture at the time maybe addressing means of some sort of integration at a later date. Its one thing to "fat finger" a lighting schedule versus "fat fingering" your security setup (the entire life safety thing).

                Note that most likely ADT will not honor both the warranty or your contract with them should you start to play with your panel and or devices connected to said panel.
                Last edited by Pete; April 4, 2011, 06:22 AM.
                - Pete

                Auto mator
                Homeseer 3 Pro - 3.0.0.548 (Linux) - Ubuntu 18.04/W7e 64 bit Intel Haswell CPU 16Gb- Mono 6.12.X - HSTouch on Intel tabletop tablets
                Homeseer Zee2 (Lite) - 3.0.0.548 (Linux) - Ubuntu 18.04/W7e - CherryTrail x5-Z8350 BeeLink 4Gb BT3 Pro - Mono 6.12.X
                HS4 Pro - V4.1.17.0 - Ubuntu 20.01/VB W7e 64 bit Intel Kaby Lake CPU - 32Gb - Mono
                6.12.0.122
                HS4 Lite -

                X10, UPB, Zigbee, ZWave and Wifi MQTT automation-Tasmota-Espurna. OmniPro 2, Russound zoned audio, Smartthings hub, Hubitat Hub, and Home Assistant

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks all -- this thread is INCREDIBLY helpful already. I'm starting to get my bearings here...

                  I'm thinking I will get a cheap dedicated windows box to act as the server. I'm assuming everything can be done via USB these days?

                  Cost is a little less of a concern for me at this point -- more important is making the "right" decision regarding hardware/software at the outset. So, even if X10 is cheaper, if Z-wave is the "better" solution long term for me, then I will probably plan to go that route.

                  Sounds like HomeSeer is a good option for me in terms of software. I should probably just splurge for the pro version, since I want to use iPhone/iPad app interface, right? I understand that functionality is included in the Pro version, but requires an extra 200 dollar HSTouch software if I don't go with pro?

                  I believe I will need the Ztroller hardware to make my PC to the Zwave network.

                  Is something like this a replacement for a PC running the controller software?: Home Automation Controller (Cooper Aspire RF)
                  If so, what is the benefit of going that route?

                  Thanks again for the head start here gang.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Rather, maybe the HomeTroller is something worth looking at? --> HomeTroller PRO Series 3 - Home Automation Controller (HomeSeer)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Otis View Post
                      Rather, maybe the HomeTroller is something worth looking at? --> HomeTroller PRO Series 3 - Home Automation Controller (HomeSeer)

                      id say yes as you are all mac now and this would give a simple solution in a box... not too much to learn up front or tinker with...
                      HW - i5 4570T @2.9ghz runs @11w | 8gb ram | 128gb ssd OS - Win10 x64

                      HS - HS3 Pro Edition 3.0.0.435

                      Plugins - BLRF 2.0.94.0 | Concord 4 3.1.13.10 | HSBuddy 3.9.605.5 | HSTouch Server 3.0.0.68 | RFXCOM 30.0.0.36 | X10 3.0.0.36 | Z-Wave 3.0.1.190

                      Hardware - EdgePort/4 DB9 Serial | RFXCOM 433MHz USB Transceiver | Superbus 2000 for Concord 4 | TI103 X-10 Interface | WGL Designs W800 RF | Z-Net Z-Wave Interface

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by TeleFragger View Post
                        id say yes as you are all mac now and this would give a simple solution in a box... not too much to learn up front or tinker with...
                        Now that I'm doing all this reading here, it seems to me that something like a HomeTroller is the way for me to go. Plus I read that the power savings alone end up paying for it over the years. Also the issue of power outages. Dealing with Windoze and building a reliable enough PC. Etc.

                        A HomeTroller-type deal it is...

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I'd say for someone as you've described yourself as, that would be a good idea.

                          Then, if you have any issues, HS is more able to assist.

                          I'd also like to reiterate what Mike was pointing out above. I think UPB is much better that Z-Wave in some aspects, but Z-Wave is better in others.

                          [Rupp paraphrase]
                          That's the great thing about Homeseer, you can use anything with it, blend the best of Z-Wave, UPB, Insteon, etc.
                          [/Rupp paraphrase]

                          I personally use UPB exclusively for switches. I use a blend of Z-Wave for appliance modules. I also use Z-Wave for my thermostats.

                          I use X10 as my Rf sensors (I try to use the security sensors when I can). I'd like to start switching to hard wired sensors (eliminates RF lag, or sensors stomping on each other if they get triggered too close together, plus eliminates having to replace batteries...which that part is subjectivly annoying to all). All in all, this setup has proved to be VERY highly reliable.

                          Continue to ask questions, we will help you. Heck, some (dare I say most?) of us will provide snippets of code that will do what you want, if you ask nicely and intend to learn from it.

                          I know I've been trying to take care of two things:
                          1) provide a generic functions file to assist people with things that, IMO, are missing from HS (things like isTriggerdAfter, wasTriggeredMinutesAfter, etc....just things to make the code easier instead of trying to remember which deviceTime needs to be subtracted from what...with these Functions, you just deal with a true/false).
                          2) finish up an upgrade package for the DVD Collections webpages. I've been lax on that due to some issues with my server and "life".

                          Jon00 has a TON of goodies, as well as the script archive. I know I've contributed a few things in there. =-)

                          Of course, there are TONS of plugins as well (haha, I plugged the plugins...). So, if you are willing to work in the confines of a plugin, or can get the author to work with you, you can just buy the code (I need to mention, some plugins are free).

                          Most of all, have fun!

                          --Dan
                          Tasker, to a person who does Homeautomation...is like walking up to a Crack Treatment facility with a truck full of 3lb bags of crack. Then for each person that walks in and out smack them in the face with an open bag.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Pete View Post
                            Personally I would keep the security piece out of the picture at the time maybe addressing means of some sort of integration at a later date. Its one thing to "fat finger" a lighting schedule versus "fat fingering" your security setup (the entire life safety thing).
                            For me, Security was the big push that really got me into this whole thing. ( I had used X-10 for fun in our 1st rental. I was using HAL at the time. I then switch to a cracked version of homeseer sorry homeseer team but had I not done that, I probably wouldnt be a user now ) I knew I wanted to automate our 1st house, and right from the start, bought Homeseer, an ELK M1 Gold for security, and RCS thermostats. All of it Integrates wonderfully with Homeseer. It wasnt a cheap decision. but if money is not a concern, I would do it.

                            I agree with the comments about x-10. I personally have a lot of X-10 installed. It has worked Mostly well fo me. But, I am switching to Z-wave slowly myself. The issue has been costs. If money is not an issue, go to one of the better protocols.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by drozwood90 View Post
                              I'd say for someone as you've described yourself as, that would be a good idea.

                              Then, if you have any issues, HS is more able to assist.

                              I'd also like to reiterate what Mike was pointing out above. I think UPB is much better that Z-Wave in some aspects, but Z-Wave is better in others.

                              [Rupp paraphrase]
                              That's the great thing about Homeseer, you can use anything with it, blend the best of Z-Wave, UPB, Insteon, etc.
                              [/Rupp paraphrase]

                              I personally use UPB exclusively for switches. I use a blend of Z-Wave for appliance modules. I also use Z-Wave for my thermostats.

                              I use X10 as my Rf sensors (I try to use the security sensors when I can). I'd like to start switching to hard wired sensors (eliminates RF lag, or sensors stomping on each other if they get triggered too close together, plus eliminates having to replace batteries...which that part is subjectivly annoying to all). All in all, this setup has proved to be VERY highly reliable.

                              Continue to ask questions, we will help you. Heck, some (dare I say most?) of us will provide snippets of code that will do what you want, if you ask nicely and intend to learn from it.

                              I know I've been trying to take care of two things:
                              1) provide a generic functions file to assist people with things that, IMO, are missing from HS (things like isTriggerdAfter, wasTriggeredMinutesAfter, etc....just things to make the code easier instead of trying to remember which deviceTime needs to be subtracted from what...with these Functions, you just deal with a true/false).
                              2) finish up an upgrade package for the DVD Collections webpages. I've been lax on that due to some issues with my server and "life".

                              Jon00 has a TON of goodies, as well as the script archive. I know I've contributed a few things in there. =-)

                              Of course, there are TONS of plugins as well (haha, I plugged the plugins...). So, if you are willing to work in the confines of a plugin, or can get the author to work with you, you can just buy the code (I need to mention, some plugins are free).

                              Most of all, have fun!

                              --Dan
                              Great stuff here -- thanks much!

                              Comment

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