walden_mas

Savant vs. Control 4 vs. Elan vs. NOTHING for home automation?

Mama Nomad
9 days ago

Hi all --


My husband & I are in the middle of building our family home. We are considering Savant vs. Control 4 vs. Elan vs. not using home automation software.


FYI, some background:

- My husband is a techie, while I am a low-tech book-reader. We have 2 teenagers who spend all day on their devices, especially now that we are stuck at home & school is on-line too.

- For wiring, there are home-runs of ethernet cable throughout the house. In rooms with TV or stereo, there are home-runs of fiber & co-axial cable & speaker cable. (Can you tell that my husband told me what to say?)

- The lights & window-shades are Lutron.

- Home automation software would most likely control lights, window-shades, HVAC, cameras, garage doors, intercom, phone, etc.


If you have any experience with this (positive and/or negative), I would greatly appreciate your input. Does home automation really make your life easier or is the vendor just trying to sell us more complicated programming? If you use it, which of these programs do you like and why?


Thanks,

Mama Nomad

Comments (52)

  • Mama Nomad
    9 days ago

    Strategery --


    "There are more user friendly options".

    Do you have any recommendations? I wonder if my high-tech husband or budding engineer son would be able to figure these things out.


    Thank you in advance.

  • DavidR
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    I'm with SJ. Security for these connected devices is often unknown, and with some standalone devices, it's criminally negligent. I will not have anything in my house that talks to servers outside my house over the net without my explicit permission each time.

    The other concern with connected devices is that they can become bricks if the manufacturer goes out of business, or decides to force you to upgrade by shutting off the old server.

    If all the communication takes place within your house and over wires which are 100% under your control, then I don't see a problem. I will somewhat grudgingly include powerline RF systems such as X10 in that category.

    Local WiFi only (never requiring any internet access and blocked in your router) is also OK, but realize that 10 years from now you may be hanging on to your old router because the new one isn't compatible with your thousands of dollars worth of old "smart" gadgets.

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  • Mama Nomad
    9 days ago

    SJ & David --


    Thank you for your replies.

    I am certainly concerned about people having the ability to hack into my home. So many of the high-end kitchen appliances have built-in connectivity -- the companies say it is to make our lives easier but I don't know ...

    The issue of the system becoming out-dated is a wrinkle we had not thought about. I will add that to our pro/con list.

  • DavidR
    9 days ago

    "So many of the high-end kitchen appliances have built-in connectivity -- the companies say it is to make our lives easier"

    They may make some things easier, but that's not why the manufacturers are promoting them. It's so they can "monetize" the personal data you provide. That's why "smart" television sets are cheap, and that's why they push them so hard.

    To the manufacturers, you're a long-term income stream. You look more like a rental tenant than a buyer.

    In fact, when the manufacturer can choose to stop supporting these smart devices at any time, you ARE renting. You're giving them a big lease initiation fee, and then making perpetual rent payments with your privacy. You never have full control over the device, so you never really own it.

    It's your choice, but I don't want to be a renter. If I did, I wouldn't own my house or car, either.

  • Ron Natalie
    9 days ago

    My Control 4 system has been a disaster since day one. Neither the installer nor corporate has been able to get it to work.

  • cpartist
    9 days ago

    My control 4 is basically useless too

  • TXLab
    8 days ago

    If you husband is a techie, I would think that would influence him to not go with a centralized system. I too went through this research phase of whether or not to go with a Control4 type of system. It certainly looks cool to be able to get a tablet and have everything there (distributed video, security, thermostat, lighting, whole home audio, etc) BUT, I don't want to be beholden to a contractor everytime I want to change something, or if something breaks.


    And if he's a techie, he's probably capable to designing a system himself (Home Assistant, Hubitat, Smart things, etc) so that when he wants to add/remove/change something, he can do it himself and not have to pay the company $150/hr to troubleshoot. Or when the Control4 module goes bad or is outdated, having to buy a new one.


    It probably just boils down to what type of homeowner you are. If you have the budget and want the nicest stuff and don't mind paying someone to take care of it for you, Control4/Savant would probably be super awesome. BUT, if you are the DIY type that hates having to rely upon a 3rd party to fix things that you feel like you could fix your own...maybe doing it piecemeal would be better. The latter is the decision I made.

  • Mama Nomad
    8 days ago

    Thank you, everybody, for your responses.


    Ron Natalie & cpartist, I'm sorry for your bad experiences w/ C4. Thank you for the warning.


    DavidR, the image of purchasing convenience w/ our privacy is powerful -- shining a bright light into the shadowy corners of the Technological Revolution.


    TXLab, thank you for the recommendations of Home Assistant, Habitat, & Smart Things. I will pass them on to my husband to check out whether designing the system himself is something he would consider doing. Or, given the COVID-19 situation, perhaps our son could spend his summer designing our home automation system in place of designing computer games at sleep-away coding camp.

  • PRO
    Automated Environments NW
    8 days ago

    There is so much misguided information here it makes me cringe.


    I‘ll detail a proper response this evening.

  • rsc2a
    8 days ago

    Another thought would be to look at a system that can talk to a bunch of the other systems to give you the automation you want with the added benefit of being able to add on later. I'm thinking of something like the HomeSeer interface which talks with dozens of other systems to integrate them into one consolidated system.

  • Mama Nomad
    8 days ago

    Automated Environments, I look forward to reading your post. A pro-automation perspective would help me understand what our subcontractor is trying to sell us & why.


    rsc2a, thank you for mentioning the HomeSeer interface. How does that work? Also, does it provide a layer of protection from hacking?

  • Sam Biller
    8 days ago

    I’m working through the same scenarios on our new build. I’ve been researching this quite a bit and discussing my options with a couple of local consultants — one which my builder typically works with and another recommended consultant that has done work with a close friend. Both consultants are authorized Control4 dealers along with a number of other systems.


    My primary goal is to get the low voltage pre-wire as correct as possible. There is a small tech closet in my office which will be the hub for most of the low voltage wiring. The big decision on lighting and smart lighting is whether to go centralized / panelized or local control. The centralized is big bucks and usually moves someone to a much higher cost tier from both a pre-wire and control perspective. I haven’t made a final decision but with my pre-wire budget, I’m trying to get the following —


    1) Cat6a to key locations in the house for hardwired data and video,

    2) strategic audio runs to key locations inside and outside to support reasonable quality Sonos-based audio with some in-ceiling speakers,

    3) Cat6a runs to support an outside surveillance system (hardwired) with 24x7x365 cameras with no subscription fees,

    4) Hardwired / hidden contacts for windows & doors for security

    5) Conduit in many locations to allow future upgrades without ripping up walls and ceilings


    I’m going through my architect generated electrical plan and evaluating all of the electrical decisions to simplify and think about smart lighting, smart exhaust fans in bathrooms, etc. For example, he has our living room lighting connected to 4 way switching in 4 locations (entrance, near kitchen, near lanai, and near bedroom). I’m simplifying to 3 way switching at entrance and near bedroom. Near the entrance I’m considering a BrilliantTech panel instead of traditional switches. I currently have quite a few Hue bulbs along with Hue motion sensors in my rental townhome and I’m considering scenarios where I may reuse them or sell them. Our modern house will have a tremendous number of downlights / cans so dumb lights with smart switches make a lot of sense... I still have some z-wave vs zigbee decisions to make on the specific switching. I’m leaning towards some type of smart hub system which I can program and control.


    We are also and iOS and Amazon Alexa household and rely a lot on both ecosystems. I’m trying to make sure whatever systems we settle on I’ll have the flexibility to control them with seamless voice.


    I’m still waiting on the specific quote for the low voltage prewire.

  • mtvhike
    7 days ago

    I second your idea of running conduit wherever you think you might need it later.

  • wdccruise
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    With all the wireless (wi-fi, bluetooth, proprietary) equipment available to control all the items you've listed, maybe it would be best to not build anything into the house and let your husband go wild with all the Alexa, Smartthings and other "smarthome" products. Most of this stuff is cheap, technologies change, and new products are always being developed. I'm remodeling my condo and considered incorporating such technology but after fooling around with a SmartThings hub, an Amazon Echo, and a few connected devices I put it all away and installed some occupancy sensors and dimmers to control the lighting. I decided I didn't need to be able to say, "Alexa, turn on the lights" when the occupancy sensors were sophisticated enough to turn on the hallway and kitchen lights only when needed (Lutron Maestro trainable occupancy sensors).

    One "smarthome" device I do recommend: Honeywell T6 Pro Wi-Fi Programmable Thermostat.

    @Sam Biller: "2) strategic audio runs to key locations inside and outside to support reasonable quality Sonos-based audio with some in-ceiling speakers,"

    Sonos speakers are wi-fi; they just need power. You can cable them but then you'll need cat5/6 cable and power.

  • Sarah B
    7 days ago

    Remember intercom systems of the 60's and 70's? That is home automation today.


    It is moving so fast and tbh there are major security risks you have with it.


    We are a "techie" family and work in technology and are skipping all automation in our new build. FWIW

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    7 days ago

    My hubby is techie too but we are not into a bunch of automation for things like blinds and lighting . I figure I need the exercise to actully get off the couch and close the blinds or turn on or off the lights.

  • wdccruise
    7 days ago

    @Patricia Colwell Consulting: "I figure I need the exercise to actually get off the couch and close the blinds or turn on or off the lights."

    Since I've switched to candles I've dramatically increased my exercise frequency. And I don't worry about candle hacking!

  • Sam Biller
    7 days ago

    In ceiling speaker will need to be driven by a Sonos amp so they are wired.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    7 days ago

    LOL I just do not see the point in all this automation for homes . I love Alexa for info but I don’t want it to do anything else , my husband already has it turning on the TV and finding shows but he is blind and works well for that use.

  • Sam Biller
    7 days ago

    Works well to turn on and off certain lights. For others, automations work well and for others timed behavior works best.

  • rsc2a
    7 days ago

    My system is set up so that:


    - Lights that make sense kick on automatically (pantry, closets, bathroom main light, garage, etc)

    - Other lights are manually turned on but kick off automatically after a period of time with no motion (vanities, etc)

    - Certain buttons control a large number of lights. For example, I can control the overhead table light, wall sconces, island lighting, can lights, and cabinet lighting in the kitchen in the space of one switch.

    - Window shades go up at sunrise and down at sunset. Also go down when the security system is set to "away" and up if the alarm goes off (so you could see the intruder). Shades can also be adjusted at the light switches

    - Outdoor lighting kicks on at sunset and off at sunrise.

    - Security cameras. Self-explanatory.

    - Home audio throughout most of the house including outdoor living areas

    - Smart deadbolts...individual codes for everyone, and I can even get text alerts to let me know the kids are home. if I need a service person, I can assign them a temporary code on my phone that expires after just a few minutes. They can also lock themselves out (requiring a key to open) if the code is tried too many times.

    - Thermostats that I can adjust based on the time of day. I can also set them to adjust to something less power hungry when the security system is set to "away". As a bonus, the thermostats have wireless sensors that I can place around as I want and the thermostat will average those temperatures since of being a single point system so it's a more comfortable environment.

    - Water heater that shuts off automatically if a leak is detected. I can also program it to kick off in the evening and kick back on a hour or so before we wake up

  • btydrvn
    7 days ago

    Haven’t read other opinions but i would be against too much tech in my home..as I....like you am not a techie...i spend too much time on frustration and feeling incompetent when i know i am not even interested in learning...we need to be “ in touch” with our environment ...pull up the shades ...unlock the door...if nothing else to humanize our home ...now if you have a husband and kids who love these things...it really boils down to how to keep it at a level you can find useful as well

  • Sarah B
    7 days ago

    @rsc2a your house could be broken into/hacked into faster than you can imagine with all that...


  • rsc2a
    7 days ago

    @Sarah B I carry a tracking device, camera, listening device in my pocket everywhere I go, and the fact that I'm posting on this website is being monitored by half a dozen (at least) different companies. If people are so bored that they want to listen to me cook dinner, they are welcome to.

  • Sarah B
    7 days ago

    It is more the fact of opening your doors/unlocking your doors, security systems, etc.


    I get it, I work in tech and future of tech initiatives - ive seen the other side of lots of this stuff. There are limits as to what you should allow or be very aware of how easy it is to get in...especially if you have kids


  • Jennifer Hogan
    7 days ago

    There are things that make our lives easier, save time, save energy and increase our safety. On the other hand there are many things that don't work all that well, add frustration, increase risk and are a waste of time and money.


    It is all about balance, using common sense and understanding your own needs and tolerances.


    I am with Patricia - I can get up and walk to the window to lower a shade or turn a light on or off. I no longer have a house phone, but would not get rid of my land line as long as I lived in California in a wild fire prone area. Cell towers would go out, electricity would go out, but my trusty land line with a corded phone that plugged into the wall always worked.


    I work in the tech field and have worked with system security and data security and would never have an entry system attached that could potentially be hacked.

  • strategery
    7 days ago

    @Jennifer Hogan, read the thread. Are you for Control4 as a means to achieve this goal?

  • Mama Nomad
    7 days ago

    Wow! Thank you to everybody for taking the time to set down your thoughts. This is a fascinating discussion. I am surprised that the commentary is so heavily negative; I had expected a debate about which integrated system is better but instead it is about something much more fundamental.

    So why does the entire construction team (not just the subcontractor) present the overall control system as something absolutely necessary for our home?


    Sam Biller: You & my husband are on the same wave-length. He has pre-wired the house heavily w/ Cat-6 & audio homeruns, and went a little wild w/ the in-ceiling speakers too – but I envision many happy evenings w/ the whole family in our new big kitchen, dancing & singing as we cook dinner together, so I agreed.

    wdccruise: “… maybe it would be best to not build anything into the house and let your husband go wild …” You are right – he has started investigating many of the systems recommended in this thread. And it might also be helpful to live in the house for a little while to figure out what we need.

    Sarah B: “… tbh there are major security risks you have with it.” I learned the hard way – my identity was stolen in the Anthem/Blue Cross hack-job of 2014-15 and the thieves went all the way to submitting a fraudulent tax return to the IRS. Convenience is not worth that.

    Patricia Colwell: You made me laugh! The subcontractor keeps telling me that home automation is going to make my life simpler and looks shocked when I say I don’t mind getting up to turn on/off the lights.

    rsc2a: It sounds like home automation is working well for you. Do you use one of the 3rd party control systems (C4, Savant, etc.) or do you use something like the HomeSeer interface that you mentioned earlier? How did you choose?

    btydrvn: Thank you – you found the words for something I have been struggling with: “… if nothing else to humanize our home”.

    Jennifer Hogan: I agree with you about the need to find balance -- using what makes our lives better and discarding what does not. My husband & I are both native Angelenos and we keep 1 land-line for financial transactions & earthquakes. Thank you for your insight based on your life experience in system & data security.

  • Jennifer Hogan
    7 days ago

    @ strategery,

    Personally, no. I would not get a system like Control4, Elan or any other outsourced home automation system.


    I would consider this type of system if my needs were great enough to offset the costs and issues with the systems (inflexibility, lack of end user maintenance/management, difficulty achieving security). My tolerance would make a system like this viable only if I had a household member who had limited mobility or mental capacity where fully automated integration was not something that could wait for improvements that are on the horizon.


    The abundance of smart appliances has lead to rapid advancement in the DIY market.

    We already have an app for everything, the problem is that we don't have the solution for making all of the apps work together seamlessly. My honest opinion is that the DIY systems will catch up and surpass the outsourced options. You may very well be buying a dinosaur that is nearing extinction.


    As for integrated, system controlled entry systems, I will lean toward caution. Even if you install automated locks so that you can lock or unlock doors/entries at the push of a button, I would want a manual system in place as well that would be maintained as the primary system.


    Real life experience - I was Director of IT for a new build building. The VP stated included in the specs that she did not want me to have access to her office or the office of the CEO. So I built the system so that my key fob did not open their two offices. The CEO lived over an hour from the building and he called me one night stating that he had left something on his desk that he needed and asked if I could go in, find the document and fax it to him. I reminded him that I was instructed to set up the system so that I did not have access to his office. He remembered and was distraught - he didn't have time to make the drive, this was a real problem. So I asked him if he would like me to give myself access to his office. Problem solved. I controlled the system and could give myself access to anything. I also knew the master code and could have manually entered the code on the lock to enter any room in the building without a key fob and avoided triggering an entry log to the system.




  • rsc2a
    7 days ago

    Ehh.....if folks want in that bad, they'll break a window. My kids are more likely to hack the system than a person hacking it as a preliminary step before breaking in.


    @Jennifer Hogan Regarding the "one app to control them all", that's pretty much what HomeSeer does. It's got drivers and protocols to interface with a significant number of the major brands in home automation and it's very DIY-friendly. With that being said, my system is pretty reversible / redundant (e.g. keys for locks and lights that can swap out with regular switches) and although "smart", locally controlled.

  • Jennifer Hogan
    6 days ago

    rsc2a


    I agree, HomeSeer has focused on End User needs and the pain points identified by Control4 type systems.


    Quite frankly, most of these companies have been around for decades and have paved the road for what is to come.


    Many here are not old enough or may not have been close enough to the industry to really understand the development of computers. My first programming was done on an IBM mainframe with punch cards. I got my first office job because I lied and said "Yes" when asked if I knew how to use an IBM PC. I had used a commodore 64 and Wang Systems - figured I could learn fast enough they wouldn't figure me out.


    The decade between 1981 and 1991 changed the world.


    I think home automation is at the point where It is getting ready to explode . . .


    December 18, 2019 — Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance, today announced a new working group that plans to develop and promote the adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart home products, with security as a fundamental design tenet. Zigbee Alliance board member companies such as IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy, and Wulian are also on board to join the working group and contribute to the project.

    The goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers. The project is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use. By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.

    The industry working group will take an open-source approach for the development and implementation of a new, unified connectivity protocol. The project intends to use contributions from market-tested smart home technologies from Amazon, Apple, Google, Zigbee Alliance, and others. The decision to leverage these technologies is expected to accelerate the development of the protocol and deliver benefits to manufacturers and consumers faster.

    The project aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others. The planned protocol will complement existing technologies, and working group members encourage device manufacturers to continue innovating using technologies available today.

    Project Connected Home over IP welcomes device manufacturers, silicon providers, and other developers from across the smart home industry to participate in and contribute to the standard.


    https://zigbeealliance.org/news_and_articles/connectedhomeIP/



  • DavidR
    6 days ago

    "if folks want in that bad, they'll break a window."

    I hear this over and over again. Without wanting to insult anyone, I think it's often an excuse to dismiss the very real privacy and security concerns in these systems.

    The convenience is seductive. The loss of privacy isn't immediately apparent, and breakins don't happen every day, so you don't think about them.

    The problem is that automated systems make it trivial to break in WITHOUT breaking a window - many times without leaving a readily visible trace. You can have personal data stolen and never know it until months or years later.

    "Let them look, I have nothing to hide."

    I hear that a lot too. You think you have nothing to hide, but we all do. Everyone breaks minor laws daily. Everyone commits little acts of possibly questionable ethics now and then.

    We're used to a world where those mostly harmless little transgressions don't show and are hidden by default. We don't live in that world any more! If a rival - business, romantic, whatever - wants to take you down, all those little secrets can add up. No matter how good the security is (and most isn't that good), any data that's stored on a server somewhere is available to anyone with enough money and/or persistence.

    Why put any more of your private life on display than you have to? Your automated house might as well be a glass house. So you don't have to get out of your chair to turn on a light? So you don't have to reach into your pocket and get the door key? So you don't have to walk to the door and look through an old-fashioned optical peep viewer?

    Really?

    It's your choice whether those small conveniences are worth it to you. I'm sure you can tell what my choice is.

  • Jennifer Hogan
    6 days ago

    The I robot vacuum has been on my list of automations that will make my life better. Now I saw the robotic lawn mower that works on the same concept. I want it!

  • Mama Nomad
    6 days ago

    Jennifer: Thank you for the history and the link to the "Connected Home over IP" project. Fascinating ... Do you believe that they have the consumers' best interest in view or are they trying to take action before the government steps in to regulate them?


    rsc2a & David R: Your perspectives are the 2 sides of an important philosophical-political issue: Whom can you trust other than yourself? Is integrated home automation taking our world down the path to "1984" or "Ready Player One"? Are we protecting ourselves by staying out of it or are we condemning ourselves to being left behind as technology marches into the future?

  • BT
    6 days ago

    Can I suggest an alternative. I am a big fan of OpenHAB. Supports countless devices and can integrate with G,A. To start I recommend try on some worthless PC or laptop. It is light, fast, can use tablets as a control panels.

    The panels are lot more advanced and in abundance.

  • Jennifer Hogan
    6 days ago

    Do you believe that they have the consumers' best interest in view or are they trying to take action before the government steps in to regulate them?


    Neither - it is about market domination and profits. Because these products are consumer driven they have to solve for the pain points that are blocking customers from buying into the systems. They waited until there was a fair amount of the R&D completed by others, now they will cherry pick the best of the best and create standards and systems that integrate the products, make the system open source and let others develop products that work with their systems.


    A few of the top companies will make a fortune, many of the original developers will be destroyed and the next generation will know nothing more about the current companies than your kids know about Commodor, Compaq, Wang or Tandy.

  • David Cary
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    I think the privacy issue is real but getting away from it is really hard.

    In my average smart device house (I think), we have about 15 microphones. Smart TV (that is now unconnected from internet because it was buggy), 3 Rokus, 2 tablets, 3 laptops, 2 smartphones , 2 cars, Nest doorbell. Xbox.

    They are listening. We don't have an Alexa but I am not sure adding 1 more microphone is privacy changing. And none of those devices are about home automation.

    So I think the argument about privacy and automation is a bit of a diversion.

    We do have some automated things - garage door opener, keypad lock, curtains, lights. None of these are big privacy concerns. Are they security issues - sure. None of the electronic entry points get into our house when we are home - without breaking through a deadbolt door also.

    As far as identity theft occurring through a silent physical entry into our house, I think that is a stretch. It isn't like we have our SS cards or bank checks out in the open. We don't have passwords written down somewhere. Sure - they could probably find credit cards if we were home asleep but otherwise they are with us. And that deadbolt is still there when we are home.

    So - my point is that your privacy is already compromised. Automation does not have to be a large security risk.

    Now - if you want to remove all microphones, that puts you in a very small group of people who don't have computers or smartphones. That person would not likely be posting on an internet forum.

    (Minor techie - do not work in IT. Just offering my perspective. Currently doing a little project to see which devices are using info. The phones are likely the worst.)

  • DavidR
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    "I think the privacy issue is real but getting away from it is really hard. In my average smart device house (I think), we have about 15 microphones."

    It may seem hard for you, because you have all that smart stuff. If you want to get away from it, just don't buy those devices - or pull their plugs.

    The only microphone in my home that I don't fully control is in my cell phone. I could gain more control over the phone by rooting it and installing an open source ROM, but for that persistent round tuit shortage.

    My laptop has a microphone too, but I run an open source OS which I trust. If I were a true tinfoil-hat type, I'd probably also replace the ROM BIOS with an open source one.

    I don't own any smart home devices. I don't miss them a bit, but I'm old enough to remember walking across the room to change the radio or TV station.

    My outside lights turn on when it gets dark and turn off around 3 AM. They work on a photo sensitive control and a timer. That's as smart as they need.

    If I get too lazy to flip the room light switch, I'll install standalone motion sensors.

    I may be getting up in years, but I still have enough strength to get up and raise or lower the blinds, and go see who's ringing the doorbell.

    Alexa doesn't sound like someone I'd want in my home. Who wants a guest who's always eavesdropping on you?

    I know people who install these gadgets so they hardly have to move at home, and then they pay for gym memberships so they can exercise. Something's out of kilter with that picture..

    The idea of voluntarily interacting with the physical world almost entirely through a cell phone alarms me. That seems to be where we're headed, however.

    I guess this all makes me sound like a Luddite. I'm not anti-tech or anti-progress. Not to drop names, but I had a Compuserve account in 1985, emailed across the country with !s instead of @s in 1987, poked around the net's corners with Gopher in 1992, and cruised the web with Mosaic in 1994.

    But I do value my privacy more than I care about minor conveniences. Fortunately, I still mostly have that choice. So do you, though there are signs that we're all gradually losing it.

  • DavidR
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    By the way, here's an interesting little development - one of many that most smart device owners probably haven't noticed. "Alexa, unlock the back door."

  • Jennifer Hogan
    5 days ago

    I actually experienced a scene that was uncomfortable, I was invited to someone's home for dinner. After dinner she and I sat on the sofa with her son and her son's girlfriend. All three of them are texting. I asked them about the constant texts and found out they were commenting on the movie to each other. Rather than speak they texted!


  • wdccruise
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    @Jennifer Hogan "[I] found out they were commenting on the movie"

    They were being polite and didn't want to talk during the movie!

  • btydrvn
    5 days ago

    Jennifer...i agree ...that experience is weird..is it possible people are getting so used to communicating this way they prefer it to conversation?

  • btydrvn
    5 days ago

    When you are sitting next to each other?...

  • Jennifer Hogan
    5 days ago

    They were being themselves. They text all the time. I constantly fight my staff who want to do all communication via IM or e-mail. It is more comfortable than a conversation, but so much less informative. I can learn more about a project and the customer's needs in a 5 minute conversation than they can get 30 e-mails. I require discovery sessions to be scheduled and documented for every new project we receive. These must be done via webex meetings, no exceptions.

  • Jennifer Hogan
    5 days ago

    I also require a phone call if there have been more than 4 back and forth e-mails without a decision.


  • btydrvn
    5 days ago

    It makes me think about the generally expressionless emotionless faces of people who are the leaders in this technology...

  • btydrvn
    5 days ago

    Maybe i shouldn’t say leaders..i still have this impression of pale faces looking at screens...not talking to the people next to them

  • btydrvn
    5 days ago

    I admit i text too..and love all the advantages...so do not mean this to be judgmental....just a sad observation

  • opaone
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Our existing home has had some form of HA running for about 20 years and our new one will as well.

    Security - It is possible to create a relatively secure environment with proper use of VLANs, routers and firewall.

    OVRC - This is, IMO, the biggest threat to homeowner privacy and security in this arena and a major reason to stay far away from Control 4 and SnapAV. Far away. Far Far away. I think I'd be concerned about even using an integrator who is a C4 dealer even if not purchasing C4. Just imagine all of the techs at your integrator getting together over beers and logging in to your cameras while your daughter and friends are having a sleepover.

    HA Systems - Loxone provides a fair amount of end-user control and is overall a quite good system. Tough to get in the U.S. though. RTI may emerge as one of the more user programmable friendly options. Indigo Domotics looks promising for a higher end DIY system.

    Benefits - Well thought out lighting scenes can add a lot to aesthetics and with lamps like LIFX and Hue there is more you can do. Some or all shades going down in the evening and up in the morning. Control of audio sources and levels. It's really nice to press one button at bedtime and all of the lights turn down, doors lock, etc.

    For instance we have a 'cooking' scene that turns all of the kitchen lights on bright and both the range hood and oven stack blowers on to 150 CFM. When done cooking we can press the dinner scene that turns the blowers down to 150 & 75 (so neither can be heard but are still exhausting leftover smell) and sets other lights to various dim levels that creates a nice dinner environment.

    When away from home it's nice to be able to see if doors are locked and if not then lock them (I've remotely closed our garage door numerous times). Turn lights on/off. Turn heat/AC on prior to arriving home from a trip. Turn sauna on so it's ready when you get home. Arm the security system after you leave. Disarm security and allow someone in.

    And much more.

    In the

  • Mama Nomad
    4 days ago

    Again, thank you to everybody. My husband is investigating all the great systems that have been mentioned here, to figure out which might be appropriate for our house's needs.


    David Cary: “I think the privacy issue is real but getting away from it is really hard.” So true, especially during this COVID-19 situation. Our kids’ schools have gone on-line which means that people can see into our home throughout the day.


    DavidR: You seem to have systems of varying intelligence levels in your home, each working in its own way. That “interesting little development” is scary.


    Jennifer Hogan, btydrvn, wdccruise: True story: we went out to dinner at a local taco joint w/ a few other families. The adults sat at one table, chatting. The girls sat at another table with their phones out, taking photos of themselves & texting the photos to each other. It was crazy.


    Opaone: I love your description of the “cooking scene” into “dinner scene”. I will try to set up something like that in our home.


    Thank you --

    Mama Nomad