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Marc

Home Automation Gurus?

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rmpfyf   
35 minutes ago, WhakPak said:

Not out of touch. They know exactly what they are doing. It's called up-selling the client something that has a higher profit margin for the installer.

 

Sorry mate - unless there's a reason to have a L3 switch in a home that's beyond upselling and well into ripping off, and that fcks everybody in the market. 

 

A good L2 switch costs up to 10x less, does everything most resi customers will ever need, and far exceeds a consumer-grade gateways's capabilities. 

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WhakPak   

I see it often. Customers buy what is recommended without asking or understanding why. And whilst there are customers like that, there will be integrators who sell them a L3 switch, or whatever else.

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rmpfyf   
28 minutes ago, WhakPak said:

I see it often. Customers buy what is recommended without asking or understanding why. And whilst there are customers like that, there will be integrators who sell them a L3 switch, or whatever else.

 

I see it too - don't agree with it. At all.

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Being a business owner and consumer, I have a natural sympathy for both sides of the story. One side wants to get the most profit out of every deal. The other wants the client to get the most out of their money.

It's a balance guys, and you need to understand that above all else. Sitting in one camp or the other (and there are 2 camps) is not a good idea for sustaining business.

 

My opinion is that the $3k spent on an L3 switch for a resi job only takes potential budget away from areas even I would rather the client spend money on. Like audio!

Let's face it, our clients only have a finite budget in most cases, and your job is only as awesome as the next geek to see it and comment about how good a deal you gave them.

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WhakPak   
2 hours ago, MediatekCVSS said:

..Let's face it, our clients only have a finite budget in most cases, and your job is only as awesome as the next geek to see it and comment about how good a deal you gave them.

 

If you see some of the houses being built in Perth at the moment the budget is an open cheque book.

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rmpfyf   
2 hours ago, MediatekCVSS said:

Being a business owner and consumer, I have a natural sympathy for both sides of the story. One side wants to get the most profit out of every deal. The other wants the client to get the most out of their money.

It's a balance guys, and you need to understand that above all else. Sitting in one camp or the other (and there are 2 camps) is not a good idea for sustaining business.

 

My opinion is that the $3k spent on an L3 switch for a resi job only takes potential budget away from areas even I would rather the client spend money on. Like audio!

Let's face it, our clients only have a finite budget in most cases, and your job is only as awesome as the next geek to see it and comment about how good a deal you gave them.

 

I get what you're suggesting though I'm a little more brusque on value. There are customers that get smug on bling and want to show off what they spend. Good for 'em. They're not the majority and I can't treat customers like that at all.

 

I had an installer I'd referred to client of mine that ended up quoting a solution including a D-Link L3 fully-managed stackable switch (28 ports + 4 SFP). Quoted $4k for the switch and $500 to set it up.

 

The customer rang me back suggesting that the quote for their complete house far exceeded what I'd suggested for a total budget.

 

Quote in hand and feeling pretty pissed off from a good referral gone sour, I read the quote back to the installer. When we got to the L3 switch I hit peak exasperation with 'what the *** - that's a $280 L2 switch problem and an hours' office work - tops - to set it up for the few VLANs the client needs'. He suggested he could make more money, I suggested he was an a**hole and we don't do business anymore. 

 

Most customers want it to just work and if you can expand that definition for same or reasonable dollar, sure. There's plenty of margin in a connected home fitout without resorting to ripping customers off. 

 

I've got no time for blind robbery though and neither should you. 

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You're both incorrect in your own ways and neither of you have understood the importance of balance.

It's really simple. $4k for a resi switch is over kill but does potentially muster some additional profit which lets face it, in tough times like these we cannot turn down the opportunity to make more money.

But that doesn't mean I can't upsell! If I can justify a increase in quality, reliability, serviceability, then it's the clients right to have that offered to them.

Maybe not jump straight from $280 to $4k. But maybe a managed switch with controller built in for $1500 to $2k is a justifiable upgrade.

This applies to all aspects of home automation sales and design.

 

Ill be the first to admit that there are some cowboys out there burning bridges. Let them, the industry only has so much tolerance for that behavior. But I do understand that some sales technique is necessary to maintain good business. YES! I mean why else are we here guys. I sure as hell ain't driving around in a new Tesla! (not yet anyway)

 

So lets quash this little spat over something we all know the right answer to.

 

Now back to original post.

Can we talk about Zwave? I am frustrated at the fact that not all zwave products are cross platform compatible (i thought standards were supposed to be in place for this)?

 

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rmpfyf   
4 minutes ago, MediatekCVSS said:

But that doesn't mean I can't upsell! If I can justify a increase in quality, reliability, serviceability, then it's the clients right to have that offered to them.

Maybe not jump straight from $280 to $4k. But maybe a managed switch with controller built in for $1500 to $2k is a justifiable upgrade.

This applies to all aspects of home automation sales and design.

 

I get what you're suggesting - clients are welcome to buy Ferraris when all the need is a Corolla and all that - I'd offer the following:

 

  • There's very little that's emotive in this field,
  • If you can show me where and how a $2k switch spend gives a customer more value than a $300 unit, I'll relax :), and
  • Margin doesn't mean sacrificing value.

 

I think there's more margin - justified margin - in the unsung stuff... cabling, power management etc. 

 

ZWave - it's supposed to be completely interoperable and then new versions of the standard came out: Z-wave plus etc, an open-source implementation... and the alliance that maintains the standard is fairly loose. No one pays to have anything ZWave certified (unlike Zigbee), and anyone can make a ZWave device. So whilst it's cheap to access and build for, quality is variable. For a given ZWave version, comms are supposed to be standardised though there are variances in implementation. Fibaro does a decent job, Aerotec IMHO makes great devices - good to look at, highly functional, and (in volume) reasonably priced.

 

Don't want to turn it into a Zigbee vs ZWave debate (or BTLE or...) safe the say they've all their pros and cons.

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Thanks rmpfyf.

Just to finalize on this last topic....

Pakedges 24port managed switches offer one of the easiest management interfaces I've ever used. Allow for remote access to view and manage basic functions remotely (invaluable), are optimised for AV usage which is handy when I can tell the switch which ports have AV devices on them and the system optimises to suit. The switch also contains a wifi/network controller which means I have a permanent one stop shop for managing the mesh. I can also give the client a guest login that easily allows mangament of their ssid's and passwords without risking breaking the other settings. It's rrp is $2k.

So relax...

 

Now Im fully aware of what zwave and zigbee is. The standards and lack of compliance with said standards is what frustrates me. Every other day we see new input/output device come on board and no support for cross platform compatibility.

We waited with baited breathe for C4's addition of a zwave adapter only to have access to a handful of supported products. Most of which are already supported by the less cumbersome zigbee protocol when it comes to C4.

What I would like to see is an open API for a few brands that will allow cross platform drivers to be written without a bridging device in between.

I think Fibaro are killing it for innovation. Their RGBW pucks and their gesture pads open up soooo much possibility but no support elsewhere.

Just a vent more so than a discussion I guess....

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rmpfyf   

@MediatekCVSS I do the same and then some with a Mikrotek router and an L2 switch for around $500 :) 

 

As for the wireless kit, yes, well, everyone's got a new take on:

 

  • What wireless automation is
  • How expensive it should be to get into
  • How it's certified
  • Who funds the standard and certifies it

 

ZWave was literally an attempt by one company to get around what was starting to look very expensive and a closed club with Zigbee. Now there's stuff coming out that's even cheaper. But the intent of ZWave is good; to make developing for wireless home automation tech easier by lowering the barriers to get involved.

 

As ever a best approach is simple - if you can wire it, do so :)

 

I'm personally waiting for PoE lighting to become a residential thing.

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WhakPak   
6 hours ago, MediatekCVSS said:

...Pakedges 24port managed switches offer one of the easiest management interfaces I've ever used. Allow for remote access to view and manage basic functions remotely (invaluable), are optimised for AV usage which is handy when I can tell the switch which ports have AV devices on them and the system optimises to suit. The switch also contains a wifi/network controller which means I have a permanent one stop shop for managing the mesh.

 

I don't know of any Pakedge switch that contains a wifi/network controller. And I've probably owned every switch they've ever built.

 

The Pakedge managed switches are limited in the extent to which they optimize...if Sonos or Kaleidescape etc traffic is going through the switch an installer should be doing a manual STP configuration on the ports connected to those components, set the appropriate bridge priority, and path cost etc etc. The switch isn't going to do this automatically for you.

Edited by WhakPak

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Marc   
2 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

I'm personally waiting for PoE lighting to become a residential thing.

 

OMG - I hadn't heard or even considered this. Now that makes a lot of sense.

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rmpfyf   
11 minutes ago, Marc said:

OMG - I hadn't heard or even considered this. Now that makes a lot of sense.

 

There's a few good systems out there (kinda split between constant voltage and constant current), all geared towards commercial/industrial.

 

Palpable absence of **** factor features like having your house flash red when your phone gets an email (cough hint LIFX).

 

I'd been very impressed by Redwood Systems on a US visit in late 2014 - since acquired by Commscope and possibly wound down since. Some demos exist on YouTube. 

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Jventer   

Very interesting what you are all posting. I don't understand all of it, but keep it coming.

 

I am interested in being educated and informed so appreciate the info supplied.  I have just looked at ZWave and Fibaro and am very impressed.

 

Like anything else I think what a consumer may want to do  will depend on the usual things when you are considering the place where you live and how you would like to live and may include:

  • What would you like to achieve, e.g. a few lights coming on at a certain time, controlling several items with one remote, one to a few rooms, the whole house etc.
  • New build or existing home
  • Wired - using which wires? Or wireless, e.g. wifi 
  • Technological advances
  • who is going to do what, e.g who is going to set it up, then maintain it and then operate it. 
  • And then the big question: budget

Keep it coming please.

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Marc   
2 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

Palpable absence of **** factor features like having your house flash red when your phone gets an email (cough hint LIFX).

 

You know, having a sound proof media/theatre room, having my LIFX globes flash (blue) when the door bell rings is actually a very handy feature.

It's saved me courier redeliveries many times :)

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rmpfyf   
18 minutes ago, Marc said:

You know, having a sound proof media/theatre room, having my LIFX globes flash (blue) when the door bell rings is actually a very handy feature.

It's saved me courier redeliveries many times :)

 

I get it but that's kinda using a hammer when you need a scalpel :P 

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14 hours ago, WhakPak said:

I don't know of any Pakedge switch that contains a wifi/network controller. And I've probably owned every switch they've ever built.

 

The Pakedge managed switches are limited in the extent to which they optimize...if Sonos or Kaleidescape etc traffic is going through the switch an installer should be doing a manual STP configuration on the ports connected to those components, set the appropriate bridge priority, and path cost etc etc. The switch isn't going to do this automatically for you.

Let's not flog this dying horse here. Lets start a new thread on networking shall we?

11 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

I get it but that's kinda using a hammer when you need a scalpel

Whats the scalpel solution? I had a plan to use a HDMI signal processor with PIP to bring up the doorbells IP stream in a corner of my screen. Nothing with 4K support that I can see yet, but for a 1080p system I think this might work with Bluestream.

14 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

I'd been very impressed by Redwood Systems on a US visit in late 2014 - since acquired by Commscope and possibly wound down since. Some demos exist on YouTube. 

Looks about like every other upstart or established system on the market. No one has anything really new to bring to the space which is frustrating. Speaking to a security panel manufacturer about creating drivers for C4 or Fibaro and their response was they had a new range of "automation" products coming to market soon so it would be a conflict of interest. "What's coming? Anything new?" to which I got, "yeah we have a great range of zwave sensors and relays coming, it's really exciting!"  eeerrm...  nope, it's not.

 

My want list falls has too much unicorn factor I think. 

I want:

1. Reliable, powerful wireless.

2. Multi-voltage support.

3. POE everything.

4. Multi-sensor gear - like a wireless IP Cam come external motion sensor come thermometer.

OOOR

Wireless light/PIR/temp

5. And while Im at it, a reliable security module in our existing automation systems that allows us to build secure zwave (or similar) wireless mesh's for security panel gear. Ultimately a central programming agent that covers most of or all of the aus standards. I can see a wizard... Add all devices appropriate for security. Change some settings based on the job. Assign a siren, PIRs, strobes etc. Setup priority notifications. You know what I mean.

 

We're nearly there with most of this stuff. But not quite.

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14 hours ago, Jventer said:
  • What would you like to achieve, e.g. a few lights coming on at a certain time, controlling several items with one remote, one to a few rooms, the whole house etc.
  • New build or existing home
  • Wired - using which wires? Or wireless, e.g. wifi 
  • Technological advances
  • who is going to do what, e.g who is going to set it up, then maintain it and then operate it. 
  • And then the big question: budget

Apologies for DP.

 

This is a great place to start. And I love the suggestions. My process is similar and I will usually try to understand a bit about the client first too. Such as their home habits and lifestyle. Do they have kids, pets, family and how does it change what product we integrate.

Im also glad you put budget last. If I sell the client on the concept, the price becomes a lower priority. Some (most) can't move on budget but some also have a few dollars tucked away.

Ive never ever automated a home for investment. It's a lifestyle choice for the client. It's designed to make life easier. To save energy and/or the planet (lol). Or in some cases we've automated nearly out of necessity. 

Setup and maintenance is a huge factor too. If you select a less popular solution, expect to be doing most of your tech support yourself. Which doesn't always help the client. Also, some companies have come and gone which means ongoing support could be impossible and a system rendered inoperable due to lack of parts and support. Ive seen it happen with some 90's - 2000's serial lighting startups.

 

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WhakPak   
9 minutes ago, MediatekCVSS said:

..My want list falls has too much unicorn factor I think. 

I want:

1. Reliable, powerful wireless.

2. Multi-voltage support.

3. POE everything.

4. Multi-sensor gear - like a wireless IP Cam come external motion sensor come thermometer.

OOOR

Wireless light/PIR/temp

5. And while Im at it, a reliable security module in our existing automation systems that allows us to build secure zwave (or similar) wireless mesh's for security panel gear. Ultimately a central programming agent that covers most of or all of the aus standards. I can see a wizard... Add all devices appropriate for security. Change some settings based on the job. Assign a siren, PIRs, strobes etc. Setup priority notifications. You know what I mean...

 

Easy.

1. Pakedge WX-1

2. Pakedge everything

3. Pakedge POE switches or injectors

4. CBUS

5. CBUS

 

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rmpfyf   
22 minutes ago, MediatekCVSS said:

Whats the scalpel solution? I had a plan to use a HDMI signal processor with PIP to bring up the doorbells IP stream in a corner of my screen. Nothing with 4K support that I can see yet, but for a 1080p system I think this might work with Bluestream.

 

It ain't $80 globes running on their own subnet able to be programmed only in a closed architecture, that's for sure.

 

23 minutes ago, MediatekCVSS said:

Looks about like every other upstart or established system on the market.

 

Look harder - was quite different. Some good competition too. 

 

23 minutes ago, MediatekCVSS said:

No one has anything really new to bring to the space which is frustrating. Speaking to a security panel manufacturer about creating drivers for C4 or Fibaro and their response was they had a new range of "automation" products coming to market soon so it would be a conflict of interest. "What's coming? Anything new?" to which I got, "yeah we have a great range of zwave sensors and relays coming, it's really exciting!"  eeerrm...  nope, it's not.

 

Until standards are seriously rolled out, no one will. It's too expensive to develop gateways that speak every wireless and control dialect known to market. In Europe meanwhile... KNX is doing pretty well. As you suggest we are a few years away.

 

25 minutes ago, MediatekCVSS said:

My want list falls has too much unicorn factor I think. 

I want:

1. Reliable, powerful wireless.

2. Multi-voltage support.

3. POE everything.

4. Multi-sensor gear - like a wireless IP Cam come external motion sensor come thermometer.

OOOR

Wireless light/PIR/temp

5. And while Im at it, a reliable security module in our existing automation systems that allows us to build secure zwave (or similar) wireless mesh's for security panel gear. Ultimately a central programming agent that covers most of or all of the aus standards. I can see a wizard... Add all devices appropriate for security. Change some settings based on the job. Assign a siren, PIRs, strobes etc. Setup priority notifications. You know what I mean.

 

  1. Misnomer. Reliable wireless isn't necessarily powerful, it's about coverage and speed, not power. I use Mikrotik RBwAP2nD (~$60) or RBwAPG-5HacT2HnD (~$120) if dual band is required. Use them in multiples as required. Discreet, zero issues, PoE capable, multi-SSID, can be managed from a Mikrotik router as an aggregate system very well.
  2. Pretty much anything here.
  3. Any reliable injector.
  4. Can be done but limited use. Prefer to use built environment infrastructure for much of this e.g. HVAC system integration etc. 
  5. Many ways and no standards. CBUS will get you there today. Some NAS manufacturers offering good functional integration here. 

 

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WhakPak   
38 minutes ago, MediatekCVSS said:

Let's not flog this dying horse here. Lets start a new thread on networking shall we?..

 

No need. I was just correcting what you said earlier about Pakedge managed switches providing wifi/network controller functions...they don't. The function is not built into any Pakedge switch, unless you count the Pakedge badged Fortigate router which does have a wifi management controller, but only for compatible FortiAP (which I also use for legacy B/G devices). Otherwise you need to buy separate boxes for wifi management and network controlling (actually you used to need 2 separate boxes but now they have a product that combines both).

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