January 23, 2012
| by Steven Castle
Home control and automation systems lately seem to fall between two poles: inexpensive do-it-yourself systems and very expensive custom-installed projects. But what about something in between?
That’s where Cortexa Automation, an Austin, Texas-based company, takes aim with its home control and energy management solution. Cortexa can work with do-it-yourself and custom-installed systems from Z-Wave, Insteon and UPB (powerline) products to HAI, DSC security, Somfy shades and Lutron lighting controls. The system can also control sprinklers through Rain8net and AV through Global Caché devices.
For $1,799, users can get an energy-saving EZ Z-Wave Starter package with 10 Z-Wave dimmers or switches, a Z-Wave thermostat, The Energy Detective (TED) energy monitoring system, a Cortexa controller, and two Z-Wave lamp modules. Apps for iPad and iPhone are available, as well as an in-wall iPad dock. Remote access via MyCortexa costs $5 a month or $50 a year.
The Flash-based web interface is basic and straightforward, providing controls for rooms, cameras, energy, events, lighting, modes, relays and sensors, thermostats and weather. “The system is designed to be scalable. You can start with a couple of light switches and thermostat, then add cameras and a security system,” says Jesse Lind, director of sales and operations at Cortexa. “We designed our new software with an open infrastructure and can add new drivers in a matter of days. The end user can do their own programming and scene writing.”
Lind says that users can even set up energy breach events to dim lights or perform other energy-saving actions if a certain energy threshold is reached during a day, with info coming from the TED energy monitor.
The Cortexa CTXA- EZ1 giagbit LAN home controller connects to a router and guides setup through a wizard. Cortexa stores trigger-based camera recordings both in the cloud and on the processor.
New Pro controllers are a few weeks away from introduction and will add more serial ports for connections to systems like HAI, Lutron and others, and a new graphical interface will be HTML5-based to work across mobile platforms.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates