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How to get started with Homeseer - pre sales advice

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    How to get started with Homeseer - pre sales advice

    Looking for an overview resource to understand what I would need to get started with Homeseer. It`s been a couple years since I moved and pulled all of the old X10 decora switches and outlets out of my old house that had been running for "at least" a decade and a half untouched on active home software. Ready to start over in the new house but not sure how to start and what I`ll need to get my feet wet starting with lighting and appliance control and expanding from there. I am imagining I need to start with a hub and a few switches, but could use some direction from experienced users or maybe a resource to read for an overview on where to start. I did like not having to leave a computer on with the old x10 system but really not sure how this one works and what to get so I don`t have to repurchase as I become more familiar and proficient.

    #2
    Hello,
    You can start with your own PC or one of these controllers and a few Z-Wave light switches and expand from there. There are Linux controllers and Windows controllers to choose from.
    -Rupp
    sigpic

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by connexion View Post
      Looking for an overview resource to understand what I would need to get started with Homeseer. It`s been a couple years since I moved and pulled all of the old X10 decora switches and outlets out of my old house that had been running for "at least" a decade and a half untouched on active home software. Ready to start over in the new house but not sure how to start and what I`ll need to get my feet wet starting with lighting and appliance control and expanding from there. I am imagining I need to start with a hub and a few switches, but could use some direction from experienced users or maybe a resource to read for an overview on where to start. I did like not having to leave a computer on with the old x10 system but really not sure how this one works and what to get so I don`t have to repurchase as I become more familiar and proficient.
      I know you mention that you did not like leaving a computer on, but I have a few questions on that...
      Was it due to electricity costs?
      Are you Windows or Linux based?

      I can tell you, and Pete has done a better writeup (think it is Pete) for a Lenovo Tiny. They can be had CHEAP on ebay, powerful, very powerful and only use 18 watts of power.. yes 18 watts thus keeps electric really low. I run one as well.

      Then on the OS. I run Windows, but there is Linux and many plugins support it as well so if you are more that route, can be done.


      Now for what you need.

      Yes, a 'hub' and switches. I too was mostly X10 and slowly moved over to zwave+. You mention taking decora switches out, so you are lucky. My wife does not like decora so I am stuck with toggle style switches and that leaves either GE/Jasco or Zooz. I personally like the price of Zooz. They do make decora as well, but I hear great things about Homeseer product zwave switches.

      My opinion, is that you have everything out, start off new with something newer and start to leave x10 alone. With that, I would say...

      lenovo Tiny - Lenovo ThinkCentre M73e Tiny i3 8GB 120/240GB SSD Windows 10 Pro - Lenovo ThinkCentre M73e Tiny i3 8GB 120/240GB SSD Windows 10 Pro | eBay
      'Hub' - HomeSeer Z-NET Remote Z-Wave Interface (US) - Z-NET Z-Wave Network Controller Interface – HomeSeer
      Switches - HomeSeer HS-WX300 Z-Wave Plus Scene-Capable RGB Smart Dimmer & Switch,


      so
      Tiny + znet + 1 switch =
      $130 + $130 + $50 per switch = $310 to get your first light going. of course adding switches are what it keeps taking of either on/off or dimmable.

      Also as I mentioned, I like the features on HST switches, but for $49 per, Zooz is $22 each for on/off and $27 for dimmable and cheaper when bought in bulk - just email them - but all sold out as this whole everything covid shortage...


      still... that is a good base start, just meant to point out my opinion on a good start as you also need to buy Homeseer...

      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


        #4
        I have been a windows based computer user and I`m pretty comfortable there so that would be my preferred way of slaying the learning curve on all the automation stuff. That said, I do have an untouched two year old Pi that could be dedicated to this automation system,but I have never used one before. If it turns out that the Pi is the better way to approach this project than I`ll just have to take on both new frontiers at the same time. I looked at the Controllers and it seems that it might be possible that the Home Troller Plus supports windows and might offer more capabilities? Not really sure.

        This will be our first winter in the new home, and because it is completely off-grid, I am very aware of power consumption, especially between sundown and sunrise. Not sure yet how winter off-grid will play out just yet, so as a result, I`ll be hyper aware of power consumption in general until we get through this first winter.

        I will take your advice and do not plan on using any of my old x10 stuff.

        Lenovo link looks like a great idea -

        Is the Z-NET Remote Z-Wave Interface an alternative to the dongle shown as an option with the controller?

        Is the zwave + zigbee stick something I should consider?

        The plan will eventually include more stuff like perhaps water sensor, valve controller, cameras, motion sensors, and of course lights... and there are a few outbuildings. The computer, controller, and internet hub will be located in one of them and not in the main house.

        Thank you for the information and suggestions.





        Comment


          #5
          Here today utilize 5 Lenova Tiny computers. They are using low powered laptop style motherboards.


          2 are running W2016 server, 1 is running Ubuntu 20.04 (Zoneminder), another is running Ubuntu 20.04 MythTV/Squeezebox server and one is running Windows 11 desktop (and Ubuntu 20.04 in a VB).

          I use one W2016 box (on the rack) for RDP for stuff related to Homeseer like HSTouch designer, Upstart, PC Access, et all all done via RDP.


          For Homeseer these days have moved back to the Intel world.

          Automation generally works well "on grid".

          "off grid" is different. Over the years there have been a few Homeseer users automating fine "off grid"

          Personally here have converted "cheapo" TV boxes that are low powered and use eMMC drives for installation of Armbian Linux.

          Have also tinkered here with low powered micro Intel computers (see sig).

          TV boxes have a smaller footprint than RPi's and the ones I use have Gb NICs, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, eMMC drives. Very solid state.

          Switching from using Windows to Linux in itself can be difficult. It is understood. What I like about Homeseer is that the interface in Linux is the same as in Windows.


          For HS4 testing 12VDC MQTT Tasmoto / Espurna wireless and not cloud connected powered LED lights. Now over a couple of years and I am a happy camper.

          Is the Z-NET Remote Z-Wave Interface an alternative to the dongle shown as an option with the controller?

          Is the zwave + zigbee stick something I should consider?


          I personally like Z-Net better than a dongle or USB stick. That is me.

          Z-Net is just an all in one ZWave controller running on an RPi. The one I configured in the attic is POE powered and using a ZWave card / clock card in the RPi. It's been many years now and not failed me once.

          In one home doing my in wall light switches with UPB. I do have ZWave, Zigbee, X10, MQTT running. In house #2 doing all wireless in wall modded with firmware off cloud in wall switches. I did install a Ring alarm system there with total management via an MQTT interface to it. IE: I do not use my phone to manage it. Ring uses proprietary to Ring ZWave devices. The Ring hub has a built in fail over cellular modem. Really it is whatever you fell most comfortable with. There used to be only X10 and today there is multiple ways to control a light switch. Personally here have tested and tried it all.

          In house #1 all of the kitchen cabinet under and over lighting is 12VDC and Wireless controlled via custom cloudless controllers which I control with Homeseer MQTT. In the two homes today using Ruckus WAPs (used to use Ubiquti many many years ago).

          Personally "off grid" I would lean towards 12VDC LED lighting and sensors using MQTT automation and Homeseer. That is me.

          Still use X10 these days for my Christmas lightning. A couple of years back started to test 4.5VDC battery powered LED lights inside and outside and they work fine. Today my Christmas tree and outside wreaths are LED battery powered and doing fine. I am still using 120VAC LED candles in the windows and been testing battery powered LED candles and they work fine.
          - Pete

          Auto mator
          Homeseer 3 Pro - 3.0.0.548 (Linux) - Ubuntu 18.04/W7e 64 bit Intel Haswell CPU 16Gb
          Homeseer Zee2 (Lite) - 3.0.0.548 (Linux) - Ubuntu 18.04/W7e - CherryTrail x5-Z8350 BeeLink 4Gb BT3 Pro
          HS4 Lite - Ubuntu 20.04 / VB W7e Jetway JBC420U591
          Fanless Intel® Celeron N3160 SoC 8Gb
          HS4 Pro - V4.1.18.1 - Ubuntu 20.04/VB W7e 64 bit Intel Kaby Lake CPU - 32Gb
          HSTouch on Intel tabletop tablets

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

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by connexion View Post
            I will take your advice and do not plan on using any of my old x10 stuff.
            I would not dismiss X10 completely. I have several different systems in use including Homeseer on a Rpi. HS has a plug-in for X10 that works well. So, start your project with HS on the computer of your choice with a few HS Devices. But, if you have some X10 hardware, use it too and phase it out over time if need be.

            Comment


              #7
              For light switches, you should at least look at UPB switches from PCS Lighting. Very reliable sophisticated ability to link switches with each other making creating scenes, etc very powerful without the need for a central server -- although HS will be able to control and trigger events based on UPB switch activity.

              If you are familiar with Windows, stick with Windows. HS on Linux is somewhat of an afterthought and there are restrictions using Linux (scripting limitations, not all plugins work on Linux, etc.).
              tenholde

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Pete View Post
                Here today utilize 5 Lenova Tiny computers. They are using low powered laptop style motherboards.

                Pete, are the computers from Lenova as you said above or Lenovo? I tried to search for them and came up empty.
                If Lenovo, do you have a 3rd party refurbished or used source for them.

                Thanks,
                George

                I may play with one but either way, my server that I run HS on is on 24 hours a day because I have other software on it that I access multiple times a day for business.

                Comment


                  #9
                  George, in post #3 above, Telefragger has provided a link to a seller on Ebay who has several auctions for the Levono Tiny computers. The link points to an i3 but the seller has various auctions with more powerful units.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    There is some really good information and suggestions in the replies above and I am continuing my research, looking up suggested products and unknown acronyms. If I get the Tiny windows machine, Home Troller Plus, and, Z-NET unit, I gather from the responses so far that I will have quite a bit of capability and could even put some of my existing X10 hardware back into service until getting deeper into the project. This is a great start and I feel more comfortable now.

                    If anyone else has any more comments or suggestions for specific favorite switches, sensors, cameras, etc. to look at I would welcome the direction as this is all pretty new to me and the amount of stuff out there on a general search is daunting.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      George

                      The 5 Lenova's are M93p ThinkCentre Tiny computers.

                      Specs

                      These are Haswell CPU i5's with 16 Gb of RAM and have added the side car with USB and serial ports to all of them. Typically these were sold with a DVD RW side car.

                      I purchased a case of side cars if you are interested in them. New unopened.

                      Purchased used and very clean. Prices varied from $100 to $200. Some came with Windows 10. I kept the license and wiped the HD's.

                      Thinking Jon00 also has purchased this model Lenova Tiny computer.

                      My HS3 Pro box is using a Haswell chipset DIY'd (BCM Motherboard) computer with an i3 and 16 Gb of RAM.

                      Current HS4 Lite box is a Jetway JBC420U591 Fanless Intel® Celeron N3160 SoC 8Gb. Found these a few months back NEW for $99 with free shipping. Seller upped the price on these as soon as he sold one or two of them.

                      It is running HS4 Lite in Ubuntu 20.04, Home Assistant, Oracle VB (W7 embedded) and does well.

                      The reason for me going to Intel CPUs on Linux is because I can run Windows Virtual Boxes on these computers.
                      - Pete

                      Auto mator
                      Homeseer 3 Pro - 3.0.0.548 (Linux) - Ubuntu 18.04/W7e 64 bit Intel Haswell CPU 16Gb
                      Homeseer Zee2 (Lite) - 3.0.0.548 (Linux) - Ubuntu 18.04/W7e - CherryTrail x5-Z8350 BeeLink 4Gb BT3 Pro
                      HS4 Lite - Ubuntu 20.04 / VB W7e Jetway JBC420U591
                      Fanless Intel® Celeron N3160 SoC 8Gb
                      HS4 Pro - V4.1.18.1 - Ubuntu 20.04/VB W7e 64 bit Intel Kaby Lake CPU - 32Gb
                      HSTouch on Intel tabletop tablets

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

                      Comment


                        #12
                        ... few Z-Wave light switches and expand from there
                        Why the most expensive and often problematic technology for somebody that is just getting their feet wet?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Michael McSharry View Post

                          Why the most expensive and often problematic technology for somebody that is just getting their feet wet?
                          Cost is a good point which is pretty much the only reason I am considering using other technologies. However, z-wave creates a good mesh network when you have them throughout the house, it has a good range, zigbee doesn't seem to be quite as popular (though cheaper), WiFi depends on your router, Tasmota seems to require that you flash devices (I know pretty much nothing about it), etc. HS also has a fairly large number of supported devices. All in all I think it is still a good choice short of the cost and some issues here and there when setting up things but once it is set up it pretty much works.

                          Now if I just can get this mqtt thingy to work...

                          Comment


                            #14
                            My thought is the purpose is for evaluation of HS so all one needs is some existing computer and use of its existing network/WiFi connection. Why spend money on a Zwave interface and Zwave components? Tuya products with the Tuya plugin would seem like the natural initial recommendation. Even cloud-based Devices such as YoLink would be a simple way to get started. This of course assumes the objective is primarily lighting control. There are many things that can be done under the HS umbrella besides lighting and for many these are more impressive than the capability offered by ActiveHome back in the 1990s with X10 and control of a light.

                            After I got my Zwave device to work it continued to work for awhile, but it was a struggle trying to figure out what I needed to do with the Zwave plugin to get it integrated. I do not remember any help instructions bundled with HS on using their Zwave plugin. I had to ask for help from others on the Message Board. The novice needs something with an intuitive setup or at least detailed guidance on how to do the setup.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              The best place I think to start is to identify the first things you are wanting to control and then evaluate the technology options available. The nice thing about homeseer is the wide range of technology options that can be used to accomplish what you are looking for. Zwave is a nice easy way to start in terms of suportability , it is not the cheapest, but it is pretty easy to get going with.

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