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Second home hardware ideas?

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    Second home hardware ideas?

    Hello all - new to the forum, so forgive me on the basic questions.

    I'm looking to put a hardware/software solution in a second home. Goals would be to monitor temps, control HVAC, unlock/lock doors, and provide some security cameras.

    In looking at some options, it seems like it might be doable to link a primary home system to a system in the second home - thereby having one app interface and being able to control/monitor both properties.

    Thoughts on that setup? Would it be better to have a dedicated controller for each location?

    It seems like if you were on an iPad on premise, you'd have some latency going back and forth to a controller in another location. Its' just not clear to me if that iPad app would be connected locally (thus faster if on premise) or if it would be cloud based and not matter.

    As cool as it sounds to install something like a Z-NET in the second home so you can control everything from the primary system, I'd caution against it.

    We split our time between Seattle and Arizona. At each, I have a Hometroller SEL system running inside and outside lights, irrigation, water valve to the house, and thermostats, primarily.

    A month into our stay in Seattle, the Internet went out in Arizona. I checked with the neighbors, and it's just our house. So either the router or the modem died. The SEL appears to still be humming along just fine, insofar as the neighbors report that our outside lights are turning on and off appropriately, and the grass is being watered.

    If we had a Z-NET, I would have had to fly down to fix the Internet (or try to walk a neighbor through the process) -- because the Z-NET by itself of course doesn't control anything, but rather receives commands from the primary system.

    In terms of hardware, unless you need some plug-ins that are Windows only, I don't see a compelling reason *not* to get a Zee S2 or an SEL. They are rock solid. They use very little power. And, the cost differential between a Zee or SEL and just the HS3 software license is minimal -- and definitely less than the cost of adding a Windows box.

    My experience, BTW, has been that unless I'm actively messing with a system, HS3 on SEL or Zee is rock solid (I had an old Zee at each location, and upgraded to SEL's before the S2 was released -- otherwise I would've just gotten an S2. I needed some plugins and Zee didn't let you install any, whereas S2 I think you get up to five). When we're away from a location (and when I have Internet there!) I'll log in sometimes to change, say, sprinkler settings or just to verify things, but do not perform any software updates. The systems never reboot, and have never failed.


      I do exactly that, and yes a 2nd Znet unit is a cheap and very reliable option, been working for a couple of months with not a single issue here, was easy to install. i separate each home by "floor" on HS so all my zwave stuff is on each floor , makes it easier when I go to control something , i can select which house 1st.

      In referance to Mikes post above, its true, at that point your system is effectually cloud biased so no internet co control til it comes back, if you go that route invest in a good battery backup for the znet and the router of course having both on 1 hs systems means actions taken at one house could be programmed to easily effect what happens at the other.
      detail of setup in profile. Link to videos of my projects there as well. Over 300 scripts running every min and counting


        Having Read Mike's post I was like that's me...this is the way I'm going..
        Then collegeboy presents a good alternative.

        My situation for me is like Mike's, the second home is several states away. Airfare could easily pay for SEL and more! The worry is if internet goes out during a storm, then home control is lost if internet goes out due to power or AT&T. Seems like z-net method puts one extra step or another point of potential failure.

        Have to say Zee S2 is a good value because you get hs3, internal Z-wave interface(no need for smartstick or z-net) and allows for 5 plugins for $199.
        baby steps...starting again with HS3
        HS3Pro: Z-NET & 80 Z wave Devices,
        HSTouch: 4 Joggler (Android Kitkat), 2 iPhone, 3 iPads
        Whole House Audio: 5 SqueezePlay Jogglers w Bose Speakers
        In The Works: 10 Cameras Geovision, new Adecmo/Envisalink Alarm, Arduinos
        System: XP on Fanless Mini-ITX w/ SSD


          Mike, yes thanks and I totally agree on your insight. Being new to this I didn't understand the failure mode(s). It makes way more sense to be controller on premise. I also appreciate the insight on the controllers. I have some NAS devices in my office that are Unix based and in 7+ years, no problem. Windows is a whole other ballgame. Not to say it's bad, but I'm really looking to set it and forget it, so I think the SSD and Unix is the way to go. I set out really to just handle remote control of my thermostat and a couple temp sensors, but it's really incredible all that you can do with this system - irrigation, RFID, door locks, etc. I know I won't have time to make this my hobby, so I want to be pretty realistic about what I can accomplish in my free time.


            I will again recommend having a separate system at each location. For the location where we have been without Internet for months, in the past the Internet was rock solid -- maybe a loss of connectivity a few hours a year over the past seven years. We have everything on battery backup (crazy runtimes of like 3-4 hours).

            I'm flying out there in a few weeks to see what's going on, but it's either the router, the cable modem, or a cable (I'm surprised by the number of cables I've had fail in the last few years).

            Too many single points of failure. I had been thinking of adding in LTE backup for Internet, but that still wouldn't help overcome the single point of failure of the router (I have a CradlePoint router that does WAN failover).

            I will also say that this experience has made me shy away from having our security system connect to the outside world over the Internet. I was thinking of switching over from 3G to Internet to save $10-20/month, but am not going to do that now.


              I have been doing this (separate system) for many years with no issues. Initially started with DSL and currently using fiber (FIOS). Thinking I was the first on the block to use Fiber. That said I over do it a bit with a tickle me pink incessant nagging from second site.

              I am playing with PFSense and a failover to LTE. Bugging me though cuz I am tickling the cellular connection and it seems to disconnect sometimes. Looking I am using a non primary account LTE cellular tower; maybe that is it? PFSense will also do WAN load balancing. You can DIY PFSense putting it on a tiny footprint solid state PC.

              I have another device which allows for two cellular connections with failover called the Nexus Hawk. It is chock full of bells and whistles (even has a GPS time sync / geo tracking and locater thingamajig embedded firmware running on it). It is though bigger than a cell phone.
              - Pete

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