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After six months


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(I am reposting something that I posted on another forum)

Hi,

I have been reading this thread and several others for over two years now as we had an old house built in 1890 rehabbed. I want to thank everyone for all the great information. I am posting here to give you some first hand experience with a larger Control4 system. I am not a dealer, installer or even in the industry but do have computer experience from an earlier career. I am also not a DIY person but i am the type that reads everything and likes to understand what i am getting into and always wants to understand the design and issues whether working with architects, general contractors, computer technicians or home autmation installers.

I am not 100% sure why I selected C4 over others but I found an installer that i trusted and the rest is history. I have had some good and bad experiences and will outline below. I did not want to post until we had had 6 six months of experience but I did want share an end use perspective.

My system:

26 zones in house and another 2 to be intalled this spring when our coach house is finished

Gigabyte network wiring throughout all

2 C4 media controllers

2 c4 matrix switches

3 c4 amps

1 c4 multituner (xm to be added soon)

48 port netgear gigabit switch

12 port POE

several C4 control relays for controlling skylights and other items frompanels

12 c4 minitouch ethernet touchpanels

8 stereo headphone jacks (great to put in for when you want the kids to turn it down)

Numerours speakers ranging from RBH in wall to B&W

3 C4 10.5 wireless touchscreens

Several C4 handheld remotes

8 C4 Thermostats for controlling two spacepaks and several zones of radiant heat

Security control

2 Panamax max 1500 ups

2 panamax racmax 8 port power distribution

panamax pro power conditioner

linksys wifi and several linksys extenders

more wiring than i could ever hope to list

integrated panasonic phone system and 3 doorbell intercoms

Home theater with accoustic wall treatments etc

Parasound new classic 7100 processor

Parasound 5125 amp

Parasound 2125 amp

Parasound Model 200 dvd player

Sony 777 400 dvd and cd changer

Optoma hd 81 scaler and projector

10 foot wide screen

Still waiting to decide on blu ray or hd dvd player

2 middle atlantic racks and assorted other rack stuff

5 Apple macs, printers and several ipods and large nas for backing everything up

1 Mac mini on the rack with a rack mounted keyboard and screen which can play on the projector

1 astaro box (this is great and a big sell for my wife for professionally blocking all the junk that you dont want your kids to be exposed to)

Music - over 400 albums ripped and numerous books on cd loaded on the system

80 C4 dimmers

25 C4 switches

25 C4 2 button

8 C4 6 button switches

I am sure that I am missing a bunch more stuff but overall we have a good sized system and with several kids of different ages and a spouse who does not like technology, it has been put through its paces.

What has been our experience?

On the equipment side, we had only had 1 minitouch that needed to be replaced and 1 dimmer. Both of which the installer replaced without our even asking.

Overall the system has worked. Before the upgrade in software this fall, the system was sometimes slow especially when everything was being used heavily but we have not had any problems with speed since the upgrade.

No issues or complaints with audio, lights, home theater. The light switches and controls are great. This was my biggest fear given the spouse factor. Wives might ignore if your toys dont work but they wil kill you if the lights dont work flawlessly.

Everyone from my 8 year old to my spouse (and even the grandparents) have been able to use the system.

HVAC and t-stats. Our home hvac is very complex and it took some time to get it two work independent of C4. Given the hvac issues we held off trying to integrate C4 until the system was working without C4. We are now just starting to integrate.

10.5 Wireless touchpads - these need stronger wifi. Our installer has added some wifi extenders which has helped. Though we love using the 10.5 for the home theater, I would love to see a mid-size control pad about the size of sonos controller.

Overall, everyone in the family is very happy with the system but I have several lessons learned below:

1) Great installer - I don't care which equipment you decide on without a great installer these complex systems will not work without a great installer. When you realize that every touchpad both wired and wireless is a computer and that is just scratching the surface of the complexity in terms of data, security, networking, audio and then throw in hvac, phones etc - there are more ways for this stuff to mess up than to work. No mid to large size installation is ever going to work without some hard work and tweaking. Issues will arise. The key to it all is to start with a great installer.

We actually found our installer through forums like this. We read the posts of many and those that seem most knowledgeable and very important seem most balanced in their views made a good impression. Some folks come across as just marketing extensions for certain products by always only praising one product but always bashing all others.

2) Realize that a great installer is not enough. For us, with my spouse working at home and 2 of the three kids homeschooling, our data and computer needs were like a small size business. Because of this we also hired a mac and data expert for the job. This was critical.

3) Communication: For some reason, no one likes to talk "enough" to the others unless you force it. We made the general contractor, home automation installer, security and phone guys and the data folk all talk to each other. (Not to mention the landscaping, hvac, etc)

4) UPS, UPS, UPS - my HA installer stressed the need with all those embedded linux computers in the home automation system that UPS was the key to a stable system. I am now a big believer since we have not had any real problems.

5) Timing - problem with a great installer is that they get way too busy just like the general contractor etc. You have to stay on them to make sure that they come back and finish stuff on a timely basis.

Sorry for the long post.

Thanks

Jim

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