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Control 4 Vs Demopad Vs Other

mjclcdc

Standard Member
Hi

I am in the midst of building a brand new house so I can control all wiring locations etc. at this stage.

I am currently researching home automation systems and have been so far recommended Control4 and demopad.

Essentially I would like to control lighting, blinds, underfloor heating, a home cinema, multi room sky, multi room audio, security cameras etc.

Really I am looking for advice/experiences people have had with either system and what are the advantages/disadvantages of these?

Any advice is appreciated.
 

andybluemini

Established Member
mjclcdc said:
Hi

I am in the midst of building a brand new house so I can control all wiring locations etc. at this stage.

I am currently researching home automation systems and have been so far recommended Control4 and demopad.

Essentially I would like to control lighting, blinds, underfloor heating, a home cinema, multi room sky, multi room audio, security cameras etc.

Really I am looking for advice/experiences people have had with either system and what are the advantages/disadvantages of these?

Any advice is appreciated.

My advice would be go and speak to a local installer or get them to demo some equipment to you.

Plenty of good installers on here that could probably assist depending on your location.

What's the project size and budget.

Andy
 

mjclcdc

Standard Member
Hi Andy

Herein lies the problem I have spoken to a guy I have used before and he is pro demopad but mainly as he doesn't use control4, but he also suggests that if I have the various components working independently but under control of demopad then I do not risk losing all services if the network breaks down whereas I think the suggestion is that I might if I use control4.

Another firm I know fitted out a friend's house with control4 and he is very pleased. But I gather the control4 is more expensive.

The house is 6800sq ft and 6 beds. I was thinking ultimately of spending up to 50k but obviously would prefer to spend a lot less if I can help it so I can use these funds elsewhere.
 

andybluemini

Established Member
mjclcdc said:
Hi Andy

Herein lies the problem I have spoken to a guy I have used before and he is pro demopad but mainly as he doesn't use control4, but he also suggests that if I have the various components working independently but under control of demopad then I do not risk losing all services if the network breaks down whereas I think the suggestion is that I might if I use control4.

Another firm I know fitted out a friend's house with control4 and he is very pleased. But I gather the control4 is more expensive.

The house is 6800sq ft and 6 beds. I was thinking ultimately of spending up to 50k but obviously would prefer to spend a lot less if I can help it so I can use these funds elsewhere.

Well you have a decent size budget to go with the size of the house. Not knowing demopad I can't comment on that side but Control4 should fit in quite well and within budget assuming you want to control of the usual items.

Yes if your network goes down you could loose some function of the system, the new lighting equipment has a fall over mode so that wouldn't be an issue.

Typically on most installs we fit a UPS to protect the rack and stop router reboots on quick power cuts.

I would have a chat to a couple of local installers and go through the plans on what you desire.

Any questions ask away.
 

Ian932

Established Member
If you use a lot of third party systems then Control4 can pull them all together, a network failure should be no more of an issue than if you went for demopad.

As it been said Control4 panelised lighting can run standalone, but there are about a dozen lighting systems that can be integrate with C4 beside theirs. We tend to inform our clients that C4 should be treated as the brain behind your systems and that it will coordinate those systems to work as one with a single GUI, but it is not essential for all the parts to be of the same brand.

UPS on all routers, switches and controllers is essential in any IP based control system.

If you go to the C4 site they have find a dealer page which is a good way to find a local dealer
 

S D I

Banned
Here's another angle which will infuriate fans of third party control systems.
Basically my advice is to forget about a control system at this stage and save yourself a bundle of money.

I recommend the following approach
Lutron Homeworks for lighting, blinds, curtains, garage door, gate and a little overlap of simple functions on the AV side.
Their free app will be fine for now.

Forget about any sort of third party control for underfloor or any sort of heating/cooling.
If you have to adjust anything manually there is something wrong and in very rare cases where you have to get involved all systems have manual control.
I recommend the Nest Learning Thermostat.

Think hard about whatever you are trying to achieve in your new home.
Is the function to be automated or manual.
In my experience people get confused about Home Automation.
The clue is in the name!

One does not need tablet control of everything.
In fact it can be quite aggravating to perform some functions via a touch screen apart from media selection.
Most people who try to control a Sky plus HD box using a tablet very quickly revert back the proprietary remote control.
We all know, operating a SKY or Cable IR remote becomes an extension of your hand.
It's tiresome to keep taking your eye off the TV then keep looking down at a touch screen to find the button then looking up again to see if it's happened.
Handy to have the Sky app for the planner though.

As a personal study I'm trying to coax people into using gesture control which is in it's infancy but could possibly be massive.
It will be interesting to see where C4 and it's peers fit into that kind of a future.

A dedicated autonomous Home Cinema is a perfect candidate for a control system IE. C4 etc. but don't shell out for whole house control at this stage.

Multi room Sky and other fantastic features = Smart TV's and free apps for Sky and TV's.

Multi room audio = Sonos via tablet control.

CCTV lots of great DVR based stand alone systems with free apps.
I personally don't like IP CCTV set ups.

Aftermath.
So you wake up after it's all finished, all bases are covered and you have an impressive Lighting, AV, Multiroom sound system and CCTV. but also an impressive bank balance.

This is because you haven't purchased any third party control kit or employed a programmer to enable you to perform functions on tablets you are presently enjoying for nowt! albeit not as refined.
I guarantee that every feature you are enjoying at this point using proprietor apps will not be achievable on a third party system.
You can also go out and buy a new TV, AVR etc. anytime without paying said programmer a not inconsiderable sum to reprogram every time there is a new addition to your system.

After all this if you find my advice was boll**ks, you are itching to spend the few grand required and wish you had opted for a control system after all, then that option is still open to you having suffered no loss.
The advantage of doing it this way round is, once you have used your house and new system for a while you will tend to reconfigure a few things but at a relatively low cost.
You will then be well placed to tell your programmer exactly what you want control wise.

FYI. I am a CI and have given this advice to lot's of people and some have taken it.
Without exception not one has retrofitted a third party control system, but I am sort of biased :)
When that happens I will stand corrected and write about how their lives are now complete.

all the best with your project however you decide to proceed.

Steve
 
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ukcolin

Standard Member
Hi Steve & mjclcdc,

I think your post is spot on. I just came within a hairsbreadth of signing up with a home automation company to the tune, including equipment of c£50k. I suddenly had a long hard think about what I was getting for my money in terms of a difference to my quality of life or labour saving and couldn't come up with much. I know that's not necessarily the point it's also a lot about fun, convenience, cool stuff, gadgets etc but when £50k is a little more than loose change you need to give it some hard thought.

I got to many of the same conclusions that Steve points out in his post and scrapped a lot of the stuff I was going to do but had the wiring installed around the house as a kind of hedge on the bet for relatively low incremental cost.

What I have had built is a home cinema in the basement and had whole house audio put in. I bought C4 for this as for 8 sound zones it worked out cheaper than Sonos where you may have to buy an amp for every room etc. I have also used it to connect all the gadgets in my Cinema (including the lighting) and provide Sky, Blu-Ray and Apple TV to several rooms in the house from a central rack in the basement. As I have a big old Victorian house the wiring was relatively easy as lots of floor boards to run cables underneath. The total outlay on the control 4 stuff including a local programmer in Birmingham was £5-7k including my 8 zone household sound system that does everything Sonos does. I bought some B&W ceiling speakers separately.

I suppose you could say I went for a much cheaper halfway house as a lot of what I was going to spend the £50k on just wasn't going to add real value to me. Just thought I would share my experience in case it helps.
Cheers,
Col
 

S D I

Banned
Hi ukcolin, thanks for the info and your real life experience.
Sounds like you thought it through, have your head screwed on and got maximum bang per buck.

It's a revelation to me that C4 worked out cheaper than Sonos, I'll take a closer look at that.

all the best

Steve
 

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