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New Home Automation? 336

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the color-changing-lights-and-infinity-mirrors-everywhere dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ok, fellow geeks... I have the luxury of finally building my dream home from scratch. It's going to be good sized (~4000 sq ft over 3 levels), and rather than run around at night to make sure my lights are off, doors are locked, garage is closed, etc, I really want to put in a home automation system. Since the walls aren't up, this is the time for complete flexibility as to my options. The last time I did a whole house, it was years ago, X10. Since then, lots of other protocols, both 'proprietary' and more general (like WiFi) have come on the market for devices — all better than what I've worked with in the past. What do you all have experience with and recommend as reliable, secure, and fairly easy to use? Something with a good chance for long term availability of parts and features would be a bonus."
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New Home Automation?

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  • by Ethan Bernard (2954293) on Monday January 13, 2014 @08:38PM (#45946525)

    Place thin wall plastic conduit, as big a diameter as you can fit, within the walls between rooms in anticipation of whatever future technology you might have to route through there.

  • WTF? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 13, 2014 @08:38PM (#45946533)
    Why in the fuck does anyone need a 4000 sq ft house? I don't care if you can afford it, why do you need a bathroom larger than most peoples homes?
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nutria (679911) on Monday January 13, 2014 @08:41PM (#45946559)

    WTF do you need to ask questions that are really none of your business?

  • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Monday January 13, 2014 @08:44PM (#45946589)

    WTF do you need to ask questions that are really none of your business?

    Since we all live on a planet with finite resources, overconsumption of limited resources is everyone's business.

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:01PM (#45946711)
    And start by running two CAT-5 and two coax cables to each WALL in every room. Yeah. Yeah wireless... Yeah, whatever. Run the cables.
  • Re:Z-Wave (Score:5, Insightful)

    by djrobxx (1095215) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:30PM (#45946949)

    If you think you might ever want to use Insteon (which does have some issues, but has some cool features as well), make sure you include a neutral to all of your wall switch boxes.

    You want this for Z-wave also. There are two-wire Z-wave switches, but they usually require an incandescent bulb. To expand on this a bit - make sure that lighting switches are wired with a constant hot and neutral, and separate load wiring. Usually this means the line and load's neutrals and grounds are tied together in the switch box, and the hot is switched. There are some other more creative ways to do lighting circuits that make things more of a pain when trying to replace switches.

    If you can, get the electrician to label the load wire (the one that runs to the light). That can sometimes be a pain to figure out if there's only line and load in a single gang box. I also second the suggestion for alarm wiring. Figure you want motion sensors and wires to every door and window run to some central location. Changing the batteries on these is a big pain if you have a lot of sensors, and the sensors can also be part of your automation logic.

  • by immaterial (1520413) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:38PM (#45946991)
    If he's running conduit there's no reason whatsoever to run all those unnecessary cables through it. The whole point of conduit is it makes it possible to pull whatever you need if and when you need it. I have conduit to at least three walls of each room in my house but I've only pulled cat 6 and tv cable to the specific walls I need at the moment. Why waste the money installing useless cable?
  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:14PM (#45947241)

    WTF do you need to ask questions that are really none of your business?

    Since we all live on a planet with finite resources, overconsumption of limited resources is everyone's business.

    That's great. A few questions .... Since you have no idea where this house is going to be (Orlando or the Outback), how it's going to be used (shop space? home business?) and who is going to live there (extended family? orphans?) how is it that you know it involves "overconsumption"? Could you clarify the existence of this nebulous planetary authority that makes it "everybody's" business? Is everything that consumes finite limited resources "everyone's business"?

    Will the state that specifies or limits the size of a bedroom also stay out of it? After all, things that go on in the bedroom tend to result in the consumption of many resources. (children or diseases)

    Do you know where the committee that oversees you meets? Someone here might want to put in an application.

  • by mhotchin (791085) <slashdot@@@hotchin...net> on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:59PM (#45947585)

    Don't forget outside! At the very *least*, run conduit to the end of the driveway if it's any length - at least two, so you can run power and low voltage stuff (code usually forbids running both in the same conduit). Access for the deck etc also useful.

    It doesn't hurt to run some other access points out the house as well, to help with future dev. I put in a carport, and the *one* available conduit coming out of the house made power and a camera possible. We have concrete sidewalk al around the house, so getting wires from the outside to the inside is very difficult now.

    For music / audio about the house, you usually want access to the ceiling of each room, so you might want to think about conduit for that as well. Our house had wire installed, but not the right type - we had to live with it since I didn't want to rip out ceilings and walls everywhere.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:06PM (#45947613)

    WTF do you need to ask questions that are really none of your business?

    Since we all live on a planet with finite resources, overconsumption of limited resources is everyone's business.

    That's great. A few questions .... Since you have no idea where this house is going to be (Orlando or the Outback), how it's going to be used (shop space? home business?) and who is going to live there (extended family? orphans?) how is it that you know it involves "overconsumption"? Could you clarify the existence of this nebulous planetary authority that makes it "everybody's" business? Is everything that consumes finite limited resources "everyone's business"?

    Will the state that specifies or limits the size of a bedroom also stay out of it? After all, things that go on in the bedroom tend to result in the consumption of many resources. (children or diseases)

    Do you know where the committee that oversees you meets? Someone here might want to put in an application.

    I'm not sure why the location matters - are square feet smaller in Orlando? Are home building supplies shipped in from some other planet to the Outback?

    If he had some special use for the house like running an orphanage, or devoting half of it a shop or a photo studio or some other special use, you'd think he would have mentioned it since that would be pertinent for automation. All he said was "my dream home" and "4000 sq ft", so it's not unreasonable to assume a single family home.

    And yes, everything that consumes finite resources is everybody's business, that's why water and energy policies are so often in the news -- you can't separate water and energy from consumption, since whether it's food, lumber, or home automation equipment, everything needs water and energy to create. For that matter, you can hardly separate water and energy since the two are so intertwined.

    Any individual can ignore the consequences of overuse, since it's true that one person really doesn't make any difference. But that doesn't mean that as a society that we should encourage it. The population is growing and, barring any catastrophes, will continue to do so for the foreseeable future - in 50 years there could be 100 - 300M more people living in the USA (depending on which population growth figures you believe) and it will be a lot harder to accommodate that growth if everyone lives in 4000 sq ft houses. Plus, as the world population grows and more and more people graduate to a 1st world lifestyle, energy (and other resource) demand will grow even faster than the population.

  • Powerless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:36AM (#45948033) Journal
    Having just gone through a multi-day power failure due to an ice storm (Toronto), I suggest that you put a little thought into what you might need if you had a long term power outage. You don't say where you are, but in a lot of places, it can get awfully cold without power. If you live in a winter climate, I suggest that you have a "warm room"; a room within the house where even the interior walls are insulated. That room should have a properly vented and working fireplace or wood stove, and/or gas heating, and be large enough for the entire family to sack out in sleeping bags. Having a backup generator is also a good idea. Multiple exits on different sides of the house are a good idea, in case your front door gets a two inch thick coating of ice on it, and you can't get out.

    I'm not saying be a prepper, but a few precautions while the house is in the planning stages could save your life, or at least make a tough situation more tolerable.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @12:51AM (#45948099) Homepage Journal

    >And yes, everything that consumes finite resources is everybody's business, that's why water and energy policies are so often in the news -- you can't separate water and energy from consumption, since whether it's food, lumber, or home automation equipment, everything needs water and energy to create.

    I propose we create a system that will regulate how society allocates limited resources to people. We could even set it up so that people who contribute more to society are given more allocations, in order to incentivize them to contribute to society instead of just consuming resources. We could even create a secondary market for allocations, so people could choose what interests them more - energy, housing space, water, location, etc. We could even set up the government to operate by just taking percentages of these allocations, and trading those allocations to accomplish things like building roads and parks.

    We could call this system "money".

  • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:22AM (#45948211)

    >And yes, everything that consumes finite resources is everybody's business, that's why water and energy policies are so often in the news -- you can't separate water and energy from consumption, since whether it's food, lumber, or home automation equipment, everything needs water and energy to create.

    I propose we create a system that will regulate how society allocates limited resources to people. We could even set it up so that people who contribute more to society are given more allocations, in order to incentivize them to contribute to society instead of just consuming resources. We could even create a secondary market for allocations, so people could choose what interests them more - energy, housing space, water, location, etc. We could even set up the government to operate by just taking percentages of these allocations, and trading those allocations to accomplish things like building roads and parks.

    We could call this system "money".

    That sounds like a wonderful system -- I'm curious about your plan to ensure that those who contribute more to society are given more allocations of this so called "money" rather than money being used to reward those that already have money.

    http://theunderstatement.com/post/3999331289/us-wealth-distribution-visualized [theunderstatement.com]

  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yoda222 (943886) on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @01:52AM (#45948313)
    There is already something called money, but it's definitely not set it up so that people who contribute more to society are given more allocations.
  • Re: Don't. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Tuesday January 14, 2014 @03:32AM (#45948679) Homepage

    I was about to say the same thing - chases are dangerous, that's why they have specific regulations in the fire code.

    And that brings up another thing... if you want to 'futureproof' your house, tech is about the third or fourth thing on the list at least. Build the house to code or beyond (preferably beyond). Make sure there is maintenance access and load paths to major equipment (water heater, heater, washing machine, dryer). Look to building in accessibility features (hallways wide enough to take wheelchairs and power scooters, a place for a ramp in the future, a handicapped shower/tub, all the stuff you or a future buyer will want when they get old).

    Goddam geeks are always worried about the latest shiny, and never concerned about tomorrow.

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