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FWIW my experience has been good. Just moved into new home that I specifically designed as a smart home.
For me the scope of "smart" is:
- * HVAC incl. ceiling fans and motorized shades on high windows
- * Security, with intrusion/exterior cameras but also incl. fire / heat / CO / water leak sensors
- * Audiovisual
- * Panelized lighting (low voltage keypads instead of wall switches throughout the house. LV wires all run to control panel where they meet HV relays. All HV wires from light fixtures are home run down to the panel). Thus I have control over every bulb in the house using cheap "standard" bulbs.
- * Control 4 as the main controller, with a few extra bits tacked on for audioviz, security cams, etc.
- * Networking: Roaming WiFi, NAS for media, and a 4G hotspot to backup Comcast using automatic failover when the cable goes down (allows external communication for security system and C4 controller if the cable is cut).
After living there for 4 months, I feel the most useful parts of this are:
- (1) Panelized lighting, for three reasons. First, convenience. Freaking awesome to have a single kill switch next to my bed that turns off every light, TV screen, and speaker. No more "Honey did you remember to kill the lights and TV in the basement?" Second, aesthetics. I greatly reduced the number of traditional wall switches and replaced with a few small keypads. No more 4-gang switchplates in rooms with lots of lights. Third, getting my geek on. I get to waste time tweaking the programming for various scenes. As a bonus, my wall keypads can control any device the C4 controller can grab, including security, AV, and HVAC - not just lighting.
- (2) Ability to control all devices (HVAC, security, audiovisual, lighting) from any TV screen in the house via the C4 interface when the functions on my wall keypads is not enough. Pure convenience.
- (3) External communication. I travel a lot and like to check in on the house. House can email me when doorbell rings and I can check CCD footage, etc. Less paranoid and more practical, the house can email when water leak or heat/smoke/CO detectors trigger. We have had basement leakage issues so this is good insurance.
There are other features I like, but those could mostly be attained with a combination of various retrofit solutions and don't require an integrated home controller like C4.
- (A) Cost. Panelized lighting requires non-standard wiring of high voltage. Had to pay electrician extra for all the home runs. Also paid an integrator to help with the heavy lifting (design phase) and low voltage installation that the electrician wouldn't touch. Those costs were more than the automation hardware.
- (B) C4 interface is a bit klunky
(C) No other big ones yet, although it did take 6 weeks of life in the house to get things tuned how we wanted. Self-inflicted pain due to desire for some rather complex scenes / automation.