Author Topic: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation  (Read 10198 times)

mcefan

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Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« on: September 17, 2012, 08:35:58 am »
After quite a bit of reading, I am resolving to posting in hope that I will get a resolution for Linux MCE beating as the heart of my whole house automation.

I am completely new to HA. I consider myself a bit of a "tech", and do not mind getting my hands dirty. I am currently in the process of whole house renovation and have decided on LMCE as the choice for automation.
The house is currently gutted out and all floors/walls are directly accessible for wiring/cabling. I have now reached the point where I need to make some decisions and purchase the necessary equipment to accomplish the following:

  • lighting control
  • whole house music
  • whole house A/V
  • temperature control
  • tts/voice recognition
  • proximity detection
  • door locks
  • alarm
  • video surveillance
  • automated garden sprinkler
  • small appliances control
  • ... any other interesting stuff you I am missing (please suggest)

Since my the house is small, I am hoping to be able to fully automate it at a reasonable cost (I am on a budget, and need to complete the walls and everything else).

At this point, I need some help deciding on both protocols and equipment. I am trying to avoid making a costly mistake that I will not be able to recover from, since I will not have the finances to "correct" it. My funds are limited, and I need to do this right the first time. If I end up with things that don't work I'll pretty much be fried.

Please share your experience about what you have that works well, and advise me on what direction I should take.
(FYI, I live in the US.)
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 08:38:26 am by mcefan »

JaseP

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2012, 09:18:09 am »
Get quality Ethernet wiring throughout the house as step one,... with that,... you have a basis for everything else,... Most appliance/lighting control is not X10 stuff any longer... it's z-wave, zigbee, etc. ... wireless stuff... Anything with regards to electrical wiring is just a matter of having well grounded, correctly polarized electrical service delivery.

Having Wifi coverage is a matter of strategic placement of wireless access points. Having Ethernet wiring throughout the house helps there...

Z-wave stuff can be added as needed, a few items at a time,... many units are cost effective, in the $45-$75 range (except locks, which are about $200+ a piece). I don't know about other wireless automation tech... But I'm guessing a similar story...

If you want inexpensive hardware, that's one thing,... but,... don't skimp on the infrastructure (Ethernet wiring) ... With walls open, you have an advantage most of us do not...
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hari

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2012, 09:32:23 am »
- lighting control

I'd recommend a cabled system like KNX over wireless solutions like Z-Wave

- whole house music

either get squeezeboxes for the zones where you don't have a LMCE MD or use soft squeeze on the core with an audio distribution system

- whole house A/V

done by the MDs

- temp control

KNX has nice temp controllers, for Z-Wave there are thermostats, too. There are also wifi powered thermostats available (and some of them supported currently via GSD)

- tts is built in
- voice recog is not yet supported
- proximity detection

works via bluetooth with mobile orbiters (either symbian or java phones). With some hacking you can also use active RFID tokens

- door locks

KNX has I/O moduls that can attach to any electromechanical door or opener. Z-Wave has bolts.

- alarm

make sure that you've some motion detectors in place, they can also be used for lighting in e.g. the hallway. Run cables to your windows for contact closure sensors.

- surveillance

get some good webcams like axis or mobotix (the cheap ones make shitty pictures in the dark)

- garden sprinkler

get a rain8net device (it is supported) and attach 24V AC valves to it (e.g. from Gardena)

- appliances control

?

- other stuff

don't forget smoke detectors. What about blinds/drapes?
rock your home - http://www.agocontrol.com home automation

posde

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2012, 02:34:56 pm »
Not much to add to what hari said, except that KNX might be a bit hard to source in the US. BUT, it really is worth it. And if you do not go KNX atm, do yourself a favor, and run a cable ring through your house touching each place where you expect a sensor (thermostate, motion, button). If possible wire each light directly into a central switchboard, as well as the power outlets.

While you have all the walls open, it will "only" cost you the cable. But in the long run, it will allow you to easily switch to whatever architecture that might come along. Stuff like central off for every light and every power outlet is easily done doing this.

mcefan

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 11:36:24 pm »
Thank you all so much for your replies.
I've been waiting all day for replies to be emailed, but received nothing on my phone. I was expecting the forum software to send me notifications I requested, but I may be missing something. Please point me to the right setting.
update: I finally got 1 notification.

Get quality Ethernet wiring throughout the house as step one,...

If you want inexpensive hardware, that's one thing,... but,... don't skimp on the infrastructure (Ethernet wiring) ... With walls open, you have an advantage most of us do not...
That was my idea exactly. I'm glad to see that I'm in the right direction. I replaced and re-framed all the windows. In the process, I made provision for sensors and blinds: 1 run of cat 6, and one run of electric wire, with neutral and ground (at each window/door).


And if you do not go KNX atm, do yourself a favor, and run a cable ring through your house touching each place where you expect a sensor (thermostate, motion, button).
will do...

Most appliance/lighting control is not X10 stuff any longer... it's z-wave, zigbee, etc.
the only one I had done any serious reading about has been insteon, because it was advertized as the "next best thing" after x10 that was dying. But my reading revealed to me that it was riddled with problems, but they have mostly been fixed.  Most of the posts out there however are old, so, I don't know...
I'll take anything you can advise, as long as you're confident it's solid as of date, and works properly with LMCE.

... wireless stuff...
not really interrested in it. I'd rather wire. First all these wave HAVE to affect our health somehow, I can't prove it, but I know it's u-natural. There' enough of them in the air...
and cable is much more faster with no bottleneck. Wireless is still broadcast, so I'm nit sure how well it will work when people start streaming HD movies from each room...
I'd rather wire.


Anything with regards to electrical wiring is just a matter of having well grounded, correctly polarized electrical service delivery.
Glad to hear. Thank you.

Having Wifi coverage is a matter of strategic placement of wireless access points. Having Ethernet wiring throughout the house helps there...
One access point easily covers the house. I currently have 2 going.

Z-wave stuff can be added as needed
any online store suggestion?





- lighting control

I'd recommend a cabled system like KNX over wireless solutions like Z-Wave
Not much to add to what hari said, except that KNX might be a bit hard to source in the US. BUT, it really is worth it.
Just say the word!...
googling "KNX" was not very helpful here. Could you please give me a link?
I have a sister in england, and a cousin in france. I might be able to get the european stuff, as long as it works on 110.



- whole house music

either get squeezeboxes for the zones where you don't have a LMCE MD or use soft squeeze on the core with an audio distribution system
I'm currently running vortexbox. It does everything, but I don't yet know how it integrates with LMCE. I have a player, and a touch, can control it with my android phone, stream to my android phone, and I am fairly confident I can do the multi-zones with it. But it has to integrate with LMCE, and I have not gotten that far yet. My key thing is that I want LMCE at the heart of everything.
I tried reading on the audio distribution system stuff, and ended up drowning in the sea of ignorance.Any suggestions?
 

- whole house A/V

done by the MDs
I'll read more on it. Thank you.


- temp control

KNX has nice temp controllers, for Z-Wave there are thermostats, too.
Please post me some links.

- tts is built in
Yayyy!


- voice recog is not yet supported
Aaaargh!


- proximity detection

works via bluetooth with mobile orbiters (either symbian or java phones). With some hacking you can also use active RFID tokens
I use android. I guess it will have to be java?



- door locks

KNX has I/O moduls that can attach to any electromechanical door or opener. Z-Wave has bolts.
Please post links.


- alarm

make sure that you've some motion detectors in place, they can also be used for lighting in e.g. the hallway. Run cables to your windows for contact closure sensors.
I've done the cabling, but how do I interface them to the LMCE?


- surveillance

get some good webcams like axis or mobotix (the cheap ones make shitty pictures in the dark)
Any suggestions, or do I just pick one from the list on the wiki?


- garden sprinkler

get a rain8net device (it is supported) and attach 24V AC valves to it (e.g. from Gardena)
Thank you, I'm on it...


- appliances control

?
plugs ?...(what do I know?-I'm clueless-I just know it'll be nice to control them!)


- other stuff

don't forget smoke detectors. What about blinds/drapes?
Right on the detectors. I wired electric for those too. Which ones to use?
How about carbon detectors?

I have wired for blinds also, i just don't know where to buy the stuff, and what's the right stuff to buy, or what's the right price range.


If possible wire each light directly into a central switchboard, as well as the power outlets.
By code, the wires go to a breaker box. Are you referring to another location/box?
I actually thought of that, and I'm about to rewire because I don't like the work that was done, I'm going with heavier wires and shorter distances this week. I can reroute them.


While you have all the walls open, it will "only" cost you the cable. But in the long run, it will allow you to easily switch to whatever architecture that might come along. Stuff like central off for every light and every power outlet is easily done doing this.
What would I terminate the wires in?
« Last Edit: September 17, 2012, 11:44:41 pm by mcefan »

JaseP

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2012, 12:00:54 am »
If you are looking for vendor links,...the two that come to mind are SmartHome & ASI Home. You can just do an internet search for either. SmartHome seems to have more available. ASI Home seems to have the occasional really good deal. I'm partial towards ASI Home because if I needed to, I could drive there on a Sat. afternoon... never needed to.

I prefer Z-wave. It's reasonably reliable in my opinion. Because of the mesh network it forms, the more stuff you have, the better it works. Obviously, it's wireless...

There's no lack of Z-wave door locks in the US, or lighting modules, or in-wall switches. But there are currently no Z-wave doorbells available in the US (only EU). Z-wave frequencies vary by the market location (US, EU & NZ).

Two things. Just remember that, with variac dimmer circuits, it means no non-dimmable CFLs and no ceiling fans on dimmers. If you want to control those, you need appliance module type modules. In-wall on/off switches (as opposed to dimmers) are more expensive. A motor on a variac can actually burn it out (the Mrs. did that to one of my dimmers). Also, don't skimp on Z-wave thermostats. You get what you pay for with those.
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mcefan

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2012, 01:14:36 am »
I've seen the SmartHome site before, but knew nothing about ASI.

I prefer Z-wave. It's reasonably reliable in my opinion. Because of the mesh network it forms, the more stuff you have, the better it works. Obviously, it's wireless...

is it only wireless?

Ouch! Just did some reading on it.

What's the wired solution?
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 01:29:51 am by mcefan »

JaseP

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2012, 04:05:06 am »
Not Z-wave...

You do realize that wireless signals are passing through your body constantly?! Radio, TV, Cell, Microwave, cosmic rays from the Big Bang, even?!

Z-wave isn't at the normal wifi frequncies by the way,... in the US it's a frequency close to baby monitors.
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hari

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2012, 10:01:48 am »
I have good experience with Z-Wave, I'm using it for years and I did write the LinuxMCE implementation. If I were you, I'd prefer wires. Z-Wave is great for retrofitting, but when you have the walls open, get a wired solution.
rock your home - http://www.agocontrol.com home automation

posde

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2012, 12:17:00 pm »
googling "KNX" was not very helpful here. Could you please give me a link?
I have a sister in england, and a cousin in france. I might be able to get the european stuff, as long as it works on 110.

There are two things: The sensors and the actors. Most (if not all) sensors run of the KNX voltage directly. However most actors (the things that actually do stuff like turning light on)  are voltage relevant, i.e. you can't get 110V stuff in Europe. There is a link in our wiki to a US company doing KNX stuff in the US. And hopefully one day http://lmcecompatible.com will not only carry Z-Wave stuff, but KNX stuff for the US as well.

mcefan

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2012, 01:38:32 pm »
Not Z-wave...

You do realize that wireless signals are passing through your body constantly?! Radio, TV, Cell, Microwave, cosmic rays from the Big Bang, even?!

Z-wave isn't at the normal wifi frequncies by the way,... in the US it's a frequency close to baby monitors.
My kids are all near the end of school (college). I don't use baby monitors!  ;D
Naaah! Seriously, joke aside, if the walls are open, I think the safe thing is to run both 3 wires electric and multiple cat 6 everywhere as suggested earlier. But now that I have wires, I'd like to use them!
I realize we're bombarded all the time with waves. That's probably what makes people crazy and we have all these wars!
Then again, I may be wrong, it might actually make people smarter, but I have no proofs. All I know, it's unnatural, so if I can cut down a bit on some, I'd rather do that. That does not mean I will not use it. After all, I have a cell phone with me all the time, and I'm constantly surrounded with an average of 3 netbooks working wirelessly...


... you can't get 110V stuff in Europe. There is a link in our wiki to a US company doing KNX stuff in the US.
I don't know why, but I can't seem to find the link. Can you point me to the wiki page please?


I have good experience with Z-Wave, I'm using it for years and I did write the LinuxMCE implementation. If I were you, I'd prefer wires. Z-Wave is great for retrofitting, but when you have the walls open, get a wired solution.
What should I use instead?

I called SH last might, they seem to have a lot of stuff, and they sell that SYI controller thing. I'm not sure how it actually fits is the picture. Shouldn't I have the LMCE control everything directly? Or do I use a "controller" and then use the LMCE to control it in turn?

I'm not too sure about Insteon though. They keep saying they have sorted out the issues over the past 2 years, but I have no clue. What are my alternatives?
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 01:45:30 pm by mcefan »

l3mce

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2012, 01:54:39 pm »
33cm/900mhz within the UHF band.

Same as many wireless phones, walkie talkies etc.
I never quit... I just ping out.

mcefan

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2012, 01:57:48 pm »
Good to know! Thank you.

posde

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acald

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Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2012, 05:55:18 pm »
Echoing what several have said, enjoy the flexibility to wire the place 'til it looks like charlette's web.  And run extra.  The great thing about cat5/6 is you can get a balun to run just about anything over it.  A few things to keep in mind.

  • Set aside enough space in your wiring closet to lay everything out.
  • Learn how to use a punch and punch down blocks.  With this much wiring it needs to be kept neat.
  • Dedicated power circuit for the wiring closet with your equipment.Run the light fixture in the closet off of a separate circuit. (In case you have to do power work in there, you still have light to work by)
  • Don't run cat5 and romex parallel next to each other.  Try to leave at least a bay width of 16" apart during runs. 
  • New LED lighting is coming out that will allow lights to run using a standard POE switch and be controlled by it.  I would venture to run some cat5/6 to the light fixtures or at least nearby.
  • Run a neutral everywhere, many controllers need the ability to power themselves without trickling power through the device.  This includes at the light switches.  Instead of running the power to the fixture and then a switch leg to the switch, run the power to the switch and then up to the fixture.  If you have a neutral available you'll save yourself from many forehead scars from beating your head against the wall. ("If only I had . . . ")
  • Label EVERYTHING, both ends (Otherwise, get to know a toner/test set well)
  • Have a blast