Has anyone had experience with URC's Total Control

akatriciaNovember 13, 2012

I'm not sure where this question should be posted, since this seems to cross disciplines, but here goes. We are building a new home and our home entertainment guys are proposing URC's (Universal Remote Corporation)new Total Control system to control not just home entertainment, but lighting, HVAC, and security as well. As I understand it, Total Control is quite new, though URC has had something like it for awhile. The few reviews I've seen online from tech blogs have been mostly positive, but I'm hesitant given its newness and the fact that the whole idea of having the whole home controlled by one system (shades of HAL from 2001 A Space Odyssey)scare me. We're meeting with them, the HVAC and electrical subs tomorrow to let them talk it through. Should be interesting. Any advice or any experience with other systems like this?

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doug_gb

I'm a computer scientist, not an electrician. But I can tell you that there are and have been a lot of different automation systems out there. Unfortunately, most of them never become popular, and the manufacturer either limps along or goes out of business. So after 5 years, there may be no more techs to support the thing.

Additionally, integrating audio and video? What happens when you need to replace the TV or receiver? What kind of integration would you have then?

I sure as hell wouldn't tie my HVAC to the system.

IMO, it's needless complexity.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:04AM
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yosemitebill

The biggest problem with these proprietary whole house automation systems is just that - they are proprietary.

Want to upgrade something or add a new product? Got to call the installer. Problem with your HVAC? Got to call your HVAC person who then may blame your home automation control, which then means you have to call your installer again. Want to add some new product they advertise? Well, you got to get it from your installer.

URC does not make their programming software available to anyone except their "authorized dealers".

Be careful, you're basically marrying your "home entertainment guys" for life.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 9:57PM
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bradynapier

In full disclosure, I work for URC (The Manufacturer).

First of all I want to comment on the following comment made by "Doug_GB"

I'm a computer scientist, not an electrician. But I can tell you that there are and have been a lot of different automation systems out there. Unfortunately, most of them never become popular, and the manufacturer either limps along or goes out of business. So after 5 years, there may be no more techs to support the thing.

---- To this point, URC is one of the largest manufacturer of Remote Controls on the planet. I can almost guarantee anyone reading this has used a URC Remote Control at some point. Your cable box, tv, etc very well may utilize a remote that we manufactured.

Additionally, integrating audio and video? What happens when you need to replace the TV or receiver? What kind of integration would you have then?

---- To this point, when your system changes, you will need to have things reprogrammed but as opposed to other options, URC is much faster and easier to make changes and the cost will not be substantial. Dealers can access and reprogram the system from offsite if you allow them to.

I sure as hell wouldn't tie my HVAC to the system.

---- Tying in the HVAC system is simple and doesn't affect or change the operation of the HVAC system when it is by itself. It simply communicates with the thermostat to give the control.

The biggest problem with these proprietary whole house automation systems is just that - they are proprietary.

---- It is not as proprietary as you'd think. The whole concept is that while some stuff is required, it will communicate with many various systems and components such as other lighting systems, hvac systems, and more.

Want to upgrade something or add a new product? Got to call the installer. Problem with your HVAC? Got to call your HVAC person who then may blame your home automation control, which then means you have to call your installer again. Want to add some new product they advertise? Well, you got to get it from your installer.

---- This is true. So is the fact that should your plumbing go bad? Gotta call a plumber, your house collapses - probably gotta call an architect. I think you get the picture. There are professionals in every field - but should you behappy with your installer, you should be happy to call them when you want to add or change the system. That being said, you are not forced to stay with that dealer and there is nothing a dealer can do to stop another URC dealer from taking over the system without starting over and reprogramming the entire thing.

URC does not make their programming software available to anyone except their "authorized dealers".

---- This is true and for good reason. The system is complex and without extensive hours of training, you wouldn't do anything but harm with the software in hand.

Be careful, you're basically marrying your "home entertainment guys" for life.

---- You are marrying the fact that you will need some sort of "Entertainment Guys" to make changes to your entertainment system down the road. Nothing is forcing you to stay with the same dealers should you feel wronged by them - but I would hope you stay satisfied and loyal to them into the future should they have put hard work into making you happy with your system!

If any specific questions arise I am always happy to answer them and provide insight into what is possible with the system, dealers in your area that do great work (if I know them), etc. Please feel free to email me at any time - I am the West Coast Specialist for URC. My email is bnapier (AT) universalremote.com

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 11:18PM
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