How to begin and what systems to start with

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How to begin and what systems to start with

Postby Wouterfj » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:01 pm

Hello everybody...

My name is Wouter.
I want to get started on homeautomation but have difficulty choosing a starting setup.

I think I will go for Zwave because of the many ways to expand in the future.
Because my budget is limited I will have to do it 'one socket at a time' though.

At the moment I have a Harmony 895, a Harmony 1100 and the extender that goes with it. And a few click on/click off sockets from elro.
In the next few months/years I want to go all out, from light scenes to automatic doorlocks, Cameras, multiroom climatecontrol and of ourse... energy management.

Very important is, that I want to be able to control everything with my iPhones and iPad from where ever I am.
So out with the harmony and in with the Harmon i .

Here comes the problem though...
Most off the people here have an ICT or electronics background. I don't. I just love gadgets and for me homeautomation is the mother of all gadgets.
I'm ok with a computer, but no programming and stuff. I'm not afraid to try though.

Can anybody tell me what the most userfriendly interface is for Zwave?

Is it easier to start with a complete set like Vera2 and Mios combined with a SQ blaster or is it easier to start with the homeseer software and operate everything from my pc using a usb zwave stick?
The price for homeseer software is almost the same as a Vera2 gateway which has operational software to go with it. so what is the better choice?

I've seen the fibaro gateway. I love that interface on the iphone, but i don't see why that one should be 500 euro instead of 200 for Vera. Is there really a big difference?
Also, can anyone tell me if the fibaro dimmer can be placed behind an existing dimmer, so i can use this manually and automated?
I have a lot of dimmers installed in the house now and would hate to have to throw them all away.

I mean to go for the fibaro switches because than i can keep my exsisting switches which are all the same.

I know... a lot of questions... but that's how I feel right now. Just need a little bit of advice from more experienced users to get started in the right direction, from there i'll pick up and go.

I hope you can give me some good advice.

Best regards,

Wouter
Wouterfj
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Re: How to begin and what systems to start with

Postby olof » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:45 am

Wouter,

Your questions reminded me of my start, about 1,5 years ago. Similar non-technical background and I was at least as confused about this stuff as you appear to be at this moment..
I won't bother you with details on my frustrations at that time in trying to find simple basic How To's in regards to starting out with Home Automation / Domotica. They don't exist. :(

So here my 2-cents worth of the little knowledge I have:

Can anybody tell me what the most userfriendly interface is for Zwave?

Is it easier to start with a complete set like Vera2 and Mios combined with a SQ blaster or is it easier to start with the homeseer software and operate everything from my pc using a usb zwave stick?
The price for homeseer software is almost the same as a Vera2 gateway which has operational software to go with it. so what is the better choice?

I now have Homeseer, but started out playing with the Vera2. Now they seem to have introduced Vera3.
Basically, Vera is far simpler to use for us non-techie's, cheaper, and probably more stable than Homeseer. However, Vera is also more limited in terms of being able to handle non-Zwave hardware and event programming.
In price comparisons, don't forget to add the price of a small PC to Homeseer. It's best run on a separate PC. On this forum, there's lots of info on what type of PC it can handle.

On the advice of an expert, I switched over to Homeseer. Basically because I could then integrate other hardware stuff (besides Z-wave) such as my alarm system (Visonic), energy monitoring (Plugwise) and sound system (Sonos). It's great to be able to integrate all this, but it comes at the price of managing complexity. Once set-up properly, Homeseer is great, powerful and fits most end-user's needs. It's just that the interface of Homeseer (HS2) is terrible and setting-it up and programming the events is a p.i.t.a. Mind you, I like to think I'm an advance end-user of PC & Gadgets and not afraid to go deep into the materials. I'm not (and don't want to be) an electronics expert nor programmer.
BTW, Homeseer is working on the next version and should show up later this year. I know that Homeseer, and I think Vera, is able to be controlled through an Ipad.

You could start with a Vera and if/when you run into limitations ('if'!) you can always easily sell it on this forum to the next beginner.

What helped me is to go to an Home Automation Beginner's workshop here in The Netherlands. Enver over at hashop.nl runs them from time to time. Was very helpful in getting my bearings.
Also, from time to time, I hire an outside expert to take a look at my set-up and fix/correct things. When I don't have the time or inclination to do it myself.

Basic rule of thumb with Home Automation; you pay either in time or money. But pay you will! :)

Good luck!

Cheers,
Olof
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