Looking at UPB, Insteon and Z-wave. Hard to tell which one of those will be the winner. Anyone have a hot pick, and more importantly why? Read with interest Bruce's experience and Dave's recent comments
Not sure which PC package I will use. Homeseer is the big dog, but others seem to have come along smartly.
HomeSeer is certainly worthy of consideration. Another program you should look into is CQC by Charmed Quark. The author has contributed much to this newsgroup. The software is sophisticated and extremely configurable.
A bit like asking whether Harley-Davidson, GM or Boeing "will be the winner".
There were much better PC applications than Homeseer long before HomeSeer.
In my opinion and experience, HomeSeer is a mutt with X-10-centric parentage that has been cross-bred beyond recognition (and without adequate QA/QC and design). I'd monitor the HomeSeer discussion forums for progress on stability before going that route (again). Don't buy hardware without identifying and verifying the suitability for your needs of software that works with the hardware.
The demise of the two most stable and comprehensive PC-centric software (Savoy's CyberHouse and Premise Systems) leaves us with choices like Crestron and AMX (expensive, proprietary), HomeSeer (unstable, esp. importantly the lighting interfaces such as INSTEON) and Charmed Quark (relatively few hardware interfaces), and HAL (moribund).
Of these, (and I own/have experimented with all but Crestron and AMX) Charmed Quark with INSTEON through an ELK MG1 hardware panel would be my choix-du-jour. The Elk panel is a capable bargain, and INSTEON hardware woes (in an all-INSTEON -- not hybrid INSTEON/X-10 system!) has been subjected to much hippo-speak in this newsgroup by folks with insufficient actual experience in my opinion. CQ seems rock stable and soundly designed which are the most important criteria in my opinion.
FWIW, the entire, last/final Premise Systems v2.1 software suite is available for 'free' download. This was the most capable, best supported, most promoted, top-of-the heap PC-centric software before being sold to Motorola and going belly up. Ran/runs rings around HomeSeer.
Premise Home Control Software Version 2.1 This release is free to all users. It is a full version (formally called the 'Dealer Edition') with no license key or activation code restrictions. This is the last currently planned release of Premise Home Control Software Version 2.x. Published: May 19, 2006 Build 15117
Whether anyone cares that you do so without having purchased a license (given its apparent demise) is another question. Previously, full-featured demo versions were freely available.
If one seeks an HA installation that emphasizes contemporary high-end audio-visual, but you don't have a Crestron/AMX-sized budget, the choice of CQS is a no-brainer in my opinion.
But if, like mine, your of idea of 'high end audio' involves Magneplanar stereo (remember that?) panels, simple, partly homebrew electronics, and a fully manual, squirt-swish-and-suck VPI record vacuum cleaner, no fancy AV automation is needed ;-)
Interesting analogy...I view them as notionally equivalent competing solutions based on different technologies. Curious as to why do you percieve them as that different. My real concern is buying into something that is subsequently abandoned by the market and manufacturers. Buying the right stuff upfront, even if its more costly is the right lifetime solution.
I will look into CQ. All of the technologies have PC interfaces.
I have looked at the Elk, but I don't think there is going to be a security panel in this home. Retro wiring the perimeter is just going to be too hard. May go with minimal panel later, but nothing worthy of an Elk.
Because Power Line Controls (= PLC, eg: x-10, UPB and INSTEON) and Radio Frequency (= RF, eg: Z-wave, Zigbee and RadioRA) have some tradeoffs that are _completely_ different one from another, just as do flying and driving.
For example, RF solutions may be near-useless in houses with masonry walls, floors and ceilings, or with metal mesh in plaster walls owing to signal attenuation. But RF attenuation may be minor and acceptable in homes with wooden stud-wall construction.
Similarly, folks that live in an apartment building without the ability to install blocking filters to preclude signals leaking in from other occupants may be flat out of luck with respect to PLC. There are other similar differences that preclude picking a "winner" for all cases for all time.
You are the only person that can define "lifetime" for your situation.
If "lifetime" for you means "while I own the house", it is quite different than if it means "I want the next owner to perceive and(or) receive value when I sell in five years".
The folks what built my house had no idea that piping for gas lighting would later be installed, and those folks in turn had no clue about electricity, and the folks that retrofitted the knob-and-tube 110VAC did not anticipate -- and so on.
Conceptually, ever-evolving HA hardware is no different -- albeit with compressed time scales. (See at
the combination gas-electric hanging lamp in my dining room as an example of a conflicted choice between "winners" at the turn of the last century.)
Also, your "winner takes all " requirement/perspective implies that the only acceptable solution is a solution that uses _one_ hardware solution exclusively.
Why assume that a priori? By doing so, in some cases you may preclude arriving at _any_ solution. For example, you may need a different solution for your garage than for your house because of differences in situation and limitations. I use X-10 (only a couple of places left) INSTEON, and a variety of home brew and standardized hardwired lighting and control. The issues I have with their co-integration revolve almost entirely around _software_ compatibility (I'm behind in writing custom code) and has next to nothing to do with their intrinsic hardware functionality/functioning.
Actually, I mentioned the Elk panel as a way to get INSTEON connectivity through ELK's firmware and to get around some PC software interface issues. I have an ELK MG1 but don't use it for perimeter security either. Allows you to have events detected and rules implemented without depending on a PC running
24x7. (This seems to be a religious issue for some folks.)
The follow-on thought that my brain provided but my fingers didn't output is that if I needed to add more functionality with more, different technologies, I wouldn't hesitate to do so regardless of what was a "winner" in the _overall_ market.
I still have X-10 in a few places where there is no 110VAC neutral wire. One solution, presently implemented, is to live with the installed X-10 WS467's which don't need neutrals. Or I could adopt an RF protocol. Or remove the X-10 and make it entirely manual. Or run neutral wire so as to be able to install INSTEON. Or convert to hardwired dimmer via DMX512. Or by centralized custom dimmer. Or ... There is no single "winner" -- only an array of acceptable solutions.