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Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - Printable Version

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Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - socalsharky - 01-11-2018

I'm researching HA Master Controllers, and have narrowed my choices to CQC, Allonis and Homeseer.  Based on advice from Dean and some comments on YouTube videos by @IVB, I thought posting here might generate some good (if slightly biased) feedback.

I am just entering the HA world.  I am am engineer with a self taught IT background who enjoys DIY projects. 

So far I have a few Hue light bulbs, and some lights controlled by a Caseta dimmer.  I am still assembling a list of equipment and functions that I would like to enable.  This is my first foray into HA.  As with most new technology, you typically don’t know what you want until you have spent some time using it.  I am hoping to avoid that phase by getting some good advice current users of CQC, or hopefully someone who has also tried Allonis or Homeseer.  So far, I would like to consider the following equipment:
  • Lights (Radio RA2 or select)
  • Door Locks
  • Doorbell/cameras
  • Thermostat (ecobee?)
  • Irrigation
  • Pentair Pool equipment
  • Landscape lights
  • Garage Door
  • 2 separate AV Systems (Yamaha RXA860 and RXA3060, LG TV, Epson 5400 projector, DVD players, Amazon Fire TV)
  • Touch pad wall controls - high quality units with very good graphics are important to me.
  • Geofencing?
  • A few outside cameras.
Some functions I have thought about:
  • I especially hate IR remote control.  One of my Harmony remotes has a hub and the other does not.  The non-hub Harmony has lots of issues with not receiving commands.  I am hoping to integrate a better system of RC for this system.
  • Light control by schedule, occupancy, geofencing, etc.
  • Door lock control by schedule, occupancy, geofencing, etc.
  • Control of whole house fans by time and temperature, possibly including sensors to verify that a window is open.
  • Irrigation control to integrate a rain or weather sensor.  Would CQC be best with something like Rachio, Rain8, or a simple relay.
  • Landscape lighting to adjust by sunset time.  I have a dumb controller with 3 zones.  I would like the MC to control each zone separately.  I assume that this would require some type of smart low voltage relay.
  • Garage door to trigger inside lights if it is dark outside.
  • Possibly including media storage (movies and music)
  • Text alerts for various system conditions, such as washing machine/dishwasher done, garage door left open, lights on, etc.
I’m sure there are a lot more things I would like to do if I knew they were available, but this is a starting point.  I will be doing most of this myself (I am an engineer with a pretty good technical background) but I can also foresee needing some periodic support.  Is CQC truly something that can be done effectively DIY with some time, patience, and research?

Any advice that the forum could provide would be very much appreciated.


RE: Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - jkmonroe - 01-12-2018

Allonis is new, so I would probably not go with them were I just starting out since I believe your automation platform should have some longevity behind it. Your wish list is perfectly doable, with the exception of native geofencing (you can do it with third-party apps) and I know nothing of pool controllers so someone else would need to answer on that.

IMO CQC is the best and most stable DIY solution out there, Dean is responsive, and the forums are helpful (with the occasional user-led webinar). WebRIVA is a game changer in terms of usability and device portability, the Logic Server allows for some very cool data analysis, the entire system is designed to be distributed, and CQC is pretty much unparalleled in media management if you use it that way.

If you carefully research your product selections to verify compatibility and take the time necessary to think through and design your architecture, automations, and interfaces, you'd likely be happy with any platform. So at that point it would be more of a subjective question you need to answer. CQC gets my vote.


RE: Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - znelbok - 01-12-2018

The Pentair pool protocol has been discussed over on cocoontech forums and I see no reason why a driver could not be written for CQC. It is a reversed engineered protocol so it could be broken by any potential updates.

Irrigation was discussed here a few times and there are a couple of drivers for a few models of controllers. Rain8 is included. My preference is to use a ClickPLC as there is a driver for it and it's thus highly flexible and configurable as not only an irrigation controller but as anything else (mine does my garage door, power monitoring, water tank level, water pressure, and every other non security device)

Actions like garage door triggering inside lights is what CQC is made for. Reed switch on garage door to alarm system. CQC uses that input as a triggered event which then runs an action. That action will be whatever you want. In your case CQC will tell the lighting system to turn on certain lights, but you caould also turn on the TV, send an e-mail, start your pool pump. Anything, as long as CQC can control it of course.

Outside cameras - BlueIris is the software of choice here. It can send commands to CQC so actions can take place. It also has a http protocol so CQC can set it to different modes (when I arm/ disarm the alarm, CQC changes the profiles on BI

I am an industrial automation engineer so I work with SCADA/HMI's every day and to me CQC was the choice because it was the most flexible, allowed me to write my own drivers for devices unique to me and the excellent support and community here. I've been using it for 10 odd years now


RE: Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - IVB - 01-12-2018

(01-11-2018, 11:05 PM)will answer in line.socalsharky Wrote: [*]Lights (Radio RA2 or select)
[*]

I know folks here who use it and are happy with it. If my zWave setup ever goes flaky, i'm ripping it out and putting this in.


Quote:[*]Door Locks
[*]

[*]I have Shlage Camelot that I use via the ISY controller. Works fine, although honestly after the first few seconds I stopped using it except for a few minor rules inside the ISY.


Quote:[*]Doorbell/cameras
[*][*]
[*]I used to do cameras inside CQC that automatically came up when the doorbell rang, but I painted my house and haven't put the cameras back up yet :-)  Others here certainly do it, I know CQC has an interface widget for it, but I can't speak to that.


Quote:[*]Thermostat (ecobee?)
[*][*][*][*]

I went with Nest since at the time I wasn't sure about the future of Ecobee, not sure if CQC has a driver but it certainly is better known now.


Quote:[*]Irrigation
[*][*][*][*][*]

I use a Rain8Net, and let CQC manage it. I got sick of the overly complicated irrigation controller our prior gardener had installed, CQC is so much easier. The Rain8Net is basically just a fancy relay. Plus now I can use the Echo, or combine it with PlantLink (moisture sensors) and CQC automatically waters the plants when the actual soil moisture gets low.


Quote:[*]2 separate AV Systems (Yamaha RXA860 and RXA3060, LG TV, Epson 5400 projector, DVD players, Amazon Fire TV)
[*][*][*][*][*][*]
Not sure which of those have drivers, I use Marantz and previously Denon, and have a driver for my Epson 2030 projector. Works fine.


Quote:[*]Touch pad wall controls - high quality units with very good graphics are important to me.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*]

I used to have these, but grew weary of fixed position controllers. At this point we all constantly have our smartphones, computers, or tablets, so we just use those. Or, we use the Echo to control it if we don't want to take the phone out.


Quote:[*]Geofencing?
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]
Yup. I use Tasker to both do phone stuff and have CQC do stuff. 



Quote:[*]I especially hate IR remote control.  One of my Harmony remotes has a hub and the other does not.  The non-hub Harmony has lots of issues with not receiving commands.  I am hoping to integrate a better system of RC for this system.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]

God yes, I no longer buy IR-only equipment. Everything I buy is first examined to confirm it's HA friendly. So...much...better.


Quote:[*]Light control by schedule, occupancy, geofencing, etc.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]
easy peasy


Quote:[*]Door lock control by schedule, occupancy, geofencing, etc.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]
Doable, but it's a lot less useful once you do it. I'd put it at the bottom of the list. Keep it on, but very low ROI.


Quote:[*]Control of whole house fans by time and temperature, possibly including sensors to verify that a window is open.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]
Not sure how to control a fan, I believe BigAssFans now are controllable. If they are, linking via a sensor is easy.



Quote:[*]Irrigation control to integrate a rain or weather sensor.  Would CQC be best with something like Rachio, Rain8, or a simple relay.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]
See above, I use the Rain8Net combined with moisture sensors.



Quote:[*]Landscape lighting to adjust by sunset time.  I have a dumb controller with 3 zones.  I would like the MC to control each zone separately.  I assume that this would require some type of smart low voltage relay.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]
yup, that's what you'd do. I'm on a mega-travel assignment, external LV lights are on the docket but right now i just stuck with zWave since it was easy. Not very attractive though since I had to use xmas lights plugged into a zWave appliance module


Quote:[*]Garage door to trigger inside lights if it is dark outside.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]
[*]trivial to do, high value


Quote:[*]Possibly including media storage (movies and music)
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]
So, this is where I stand apart from most HA enthusiasts. Whereas I previously used to use CQC for all media, I've since left it behind. We use, and really enjoy, Spotify & Amazon for music. We can setup playlists from any phone or tablet (iOS or Android), playback on any phone, download for offline listening (very important), etc.  For video we use Plex, which also has awesome offline capability. I use PlayOn to download Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and Plex to then categorize it.


Quote:[*]Text alerts for various system conditions, such as washing machine/dishwasher done, garage door left open, lights on, etc.
[*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*][*]

I do this, but more for Security system arm/disarm, driveway gate left opened while house in armedStay/Away mode, etc.


RE: Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - IVB - 01-12-2018

BTW, we're trying to restart the user-led webinars. We were doing them every other month at one point. We can do that again too. We've done one at Fri 5pm pacific/8pm eastern. Could also do Sat morning although that's tougher to get people.

Both JKMonroe & I are in the middle of redoing our interfaces, but the basics are working so that's easy to show. Plus voice & automated rules are really where it's at for me anyhow.


RE: Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - socalsharky - 01-18-2018

(01-12-2018, 07:41 AM)jkmonroe Wrote: IMO CQC is the best and most stable DIY solution out there, Dean is responsive, and the forums are helpful (with the occasional user-led webinar).  WebRIVA is a game changer in terms of usability and device portability, the Logic Server allows for some very cool data analysis, the entire system is designed to be distributed, and CQC is pretty much unparalleled in media management if you use it that way.

If you carefully research your product selections to verify compatibility and take the time necessary to think through and design your architecture, automations, and interfaces, you'd likely be happy with any platform.  So at that point it would be more of a subjective question you need to answer.  CQC gets my vote.

Thanks for the reply.  How difficult is the programming and/or adding new devices/commands?  I have some Java experience, as well as extensive programming in VBA for MS office.
What are the specs for a PC running the CQC software, including some touch screens, and possibly media management?  I assume that this can be a small PC with no monitor store away in a closet and accessed via a browser from another computer in the house?


RE: Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - Dean Roddey - 01-18-2018

You would typically put it in a closet. Keep in mind that you can get double duty out of that machine. Put a KVM switcher on it, so that you can switch between a local setup (for mainteinance) and another one, and use the other one to mount a regular touch screen monitor on the wall somewhere nearby, for generally accessible kiosk stuff functionality. It's a good bang for the buck way to get a high real estate, general touch screen. You can also put a speaker there to be used for TTS announcements.


RE: Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - socalsharky - 01-18-2018

(01-12-2018, 12:55 PM)znelbok Wrote: The Pentair pool protocol has been discussed over on cocoontech forums and I see no reason why a driver could not be written for CQC. It is a reversed engineered protocol so it could be broken by any potential updates.

Irrigation was discussed here a few times and there are a couple of drivers for a few models of controllers. Rain8 is included. My preference is to use a ClickPLC as there is a driver for it and it's thus highly flexible and configurable as not only an irrigation controller but as anything else (mine does my garage door, power monitoring, water tank level, water pressure, and every other non security device)

Actions like garage door triggering inside lights is what CQC is made for. Reed switch on garage door to alarm system. CQC uses that input as a triggered event which then runs an action. That action will be whatever you want. In your case CQC will tell the lighting system to turn on certain lights, but you caould also turn on the TV, send an e-mail, start your pool pump. Anything, as long as CQC can control it of course.

Outside cameras - BlueIris is the software of choice here. It can send commands to CQC so actions can take place. It also has a http protocol so CQC can set it to different modes (when I arm/ disarm the alarm, CQC changes the profiles on BI

I am an industrial automation engineer so I work with SCADA/HMI's every day and to me CQC was the choice because it was the most flexible, allowed me to write my own drivers for devices unique to me and the excellent support and community here. I've been using it for 10 odd years now

Thanks for the reply.  I'm not familiar with ClickPLC, but did visit automationdirect.com and learned a little.  This seems like a pretty versatile product.  I'm still not clear on how it would control the irrigation valves, but it's good to know that it is an option.  How does CQC interface with the ClickPLC?  I didn't see any wireless options.

What type of computer (specs) do you use to run CQC?  Are you using it for any touchscreen control or media management?

The BlueIris software looks great, and reasonably priced.  Does this put a big load on the server you are using to run it, perhaps need to separate it from the CQC server?  Can you give me an idea as to what camera would work well with this software?  Wireless would be ideal, but I understand that wireless is not a good option for a camera with any kind of decent resolution.


RE: Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - socalsharky - 01-18-2018

(01-12-2018, 09:54 PM)IVB Wrote:
Quote:[*]Geofencing?



Yup. I use Tasker to both do phone stuff and have CQC do stuff.






Quote:[*]Landscape lighting to adjust by sunset time.  I have a dumb controller with 3 zones.  I would like the MC to control each zone separately.  I assume that this would require some type of smart low voltage relay


that's what you'd do. I'm on a mega-travel assignment, external LV lights are on the docket but right now i just stuck with zWave since it was easy. Not very attractive though since I had to use xmas lights plugged into a zWave appliance module



Quote:So, this is where I stand apart from most HA enthusiasts. Whereas I previously used to use CQC for all media, I've since left it behind. We use, and really enjoy, Spotify & Amazon for music. We can setup playlists from any phone or tablet (iOS or Android), playback on any phone, download for offline listening (very important), etc.  For video we use Plex, which also has awesome offline capability. I use PlayOn to download Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and Plex to then categorize it
[*]

[*]

Thanks for the reply.  I have a few more questions:
 
It looks like Tasker is Android only.  Is there a similar app for iOS?  What functions do you use Tasker for?  Could similar functionality be obtained through webRiva or other touchscreens?
 
What type of LV smart relay would I use?  Do you know of a specific device that would work?  I saw a video on YouTube where a guy assembled one from a 120V Zwave smart relay, a dumb outlet and a 12V automotive relay, but it was pretty bootleg in appearance.  Am I looking at some type of Zwave device here, or perhaps something that could integrate with Lutron Radio RA? 
 
What are the options for multi-room music with CQC?  I am thinking several Echos, or perhaps Sonos in rooms where I might want music.  We already have 2 Echos, and they work well.  I would like to be able to stream music that I own, but not sure if Amazon or Sonos provide that capability.  Amazon music or Sirius XM are also options that we use currently.  I would also like CQC to be able to provide audio announcements or alerts through this system.  I do not want to run wires for WHA.



RE: Is CQC right for me? Also considering Allonis and Homeseer - znelbok - 01-18-2018

(01-18-2018, 11:29 AM)socalsharky Wrote:
(01-12-2018, 12:55 PM)znelbok Wrote: The Pentair pool protocol has been discussed over on cocoontech forums and I see no reason why a driver could not be written for CQC. It is a reversed engineered protocol so it could be broken by any potential updates.

Irrigation was discussed here a few times and there are a couple of drivers for a few models of controllers. Rain8 is included. My preference is to use a ClickPLC as there is a driver for it and it's thus highly flexible and configurable as not only an irrigation controller but as anything else (mine does my garage door, power monitoring, water tank level, water pressure, and every other non security device)

Actions like garage door triggering inside lights is what CQC is made for. Reed switch on garage door to alarm system. CQC uses that input as a triggered event which then runs an action. That action will be whatever you want. In your case CQC will tell the lighting system to turn on certain lights, but you caould also turn on the TV, send an e-mail, start your pool pump. Anything, as long as CQC can control it of course.

Outside cameras - BlueIris is the software of choice here. It can send commands to CQC so actions can take place. It also has a http protocol so CQC can set it to different modes (when I arm/ disarm the alarm, CQC changes the profiles on BI

I am an industrial automation engineer so I work with SCADA/HMI's every day and to me CQC was the choice because it was the most flexible, allowed me to write my own drivers for devices unique to me and the excellent support and community here. I've been using it for 10 odd years now

Thanks for the reply.  I'm not familiar with ClickPLC, but did visit automationdirect.com and learned a little.  This seems like a pretty versatile product.  I'm still not clear on how it would control the irrigation valves, but it's good to know that it is an option.  How does CQC interface with the ClickPLC?  I didn't see any wireless options.

What type of computer (specs) do you use to run CQC?  Are you using it for any touchscreen control or media management?

The BlueIris software looks great, and reasonably priced.  Does this put a big load on the server you are using to run it, perhaps need to separate it from the CQC server?  Can you give me an idea as to what camera would work well with this software?  Wireless would be ideal, but I understand that wireless is not a good option for a camera with any kind of decent resolution.

No wireless for the ClickPLC - wireless is the very last option that should be considered.  The PLC is a real PLC and you wont find many (if any) industrial PLC's with wireless.  As for controlling valves, you just use the relay outputs to control each vale - just like any irrigation controller does.

I run CQC on a VM server.

Blueiris is highly regarded in many circles.  The preference is for a dedicated PC for BI.  I'm at about 26% cpu with 5 cameras.  Go to the forums for BlueIRis for more details on cameras, system hardware etc.  I am no where near qualified enough to really help here.