News and Reviews....
The Best Automation System December 2014
There is no question that picking a Home Control System is a decision that takes some thought for it is somewhat expensive, has options, needs to be installed, must last and be able to expand over time. To begin with you would want to take some time to ask yourself what you and others (family) living within its area of control expect and require. Remember it is a LIFESTYLE product, custom installed and custom programmed. There are many to choose from like Control4, Crestron, RTI, Bitwise, Elan g!, URC Total Control and a few others. The answer to the question of "The Best Automation System is...... all of them.
The reason that they all start at good is that they all have essentially modular components (Hardware) and a software package that needs to work together and so the experience, background and expertise of the installer as well as the ability of the homeowner, business or yacht owner to effectively spell out their wants and needs to the Installation/Programming Company is a must. With each system is a communication ability that is unique. Not all systems work with all appliances (products). Keep in mind that the interfaces might not be the same between manufacturers, like the size of Touch Panels, line up of hand-held remotes, Zones per unit or protocol of action which is how each company handles commands and sensors, also becomes a factor. It also depends on components that can be added that are outside of the control system itself. Some systems can manage anything and others have limits or require certain product to provide specific things to the system.
To start to put things in perspective:
1 - Think about your daily activities from the time you get up to the time you go to sleep. What do you do repeatedly each and every day or on a weekly schedule. Things like: Shut the Lights, Dim the Lights, Lock the Doors, Put on your favorite program, Check and maybe adjust the Heat or Air Conditioning, Close certain Drapes or Blinds as well as other chores. Then think about USE. Do you entertain regularly, Enjoy music in one room or many, Outdoor areas of activity and again things that would compliment those areas. As you can see, the more input you can provide related to your lifestyle the more your system can support correctly.
2 - Know what is available. This is where all the control and lifestyle items in #1 above, get discussed with your System Designer (Custom Integration Company), your questions get answered, a rough outline of your system is drawn and options from the Integration Company are brought forward which can stretch the capabilities of the system..... most times with very little additional wiring, but the option might become the best thing since sliced bread. Example - Turning on a light switch in your Garage from your Master Bedroom might be an option that was not your prioity. But once the overall (HUB) system is in place... an additional single, special switch replacing what is currently there could provide the feature to all the controls (whether they be handheld or Touchpanel).
3 - Time vs. Investment. While there maybe options that seem well worth the effort, the cost vs. the time of use and its value should be weighed on each task to be given to your Control System.
4 - Consult with a Custom Integration company like Custom Audio-Video Systems. Ask the question "Do you have a showroom?" Ask about past projects, expertise, schooling, prior work experience that relates to the task at hand. Check out the company's social sites, Web page or Website and get to the meat & potatoes. This is where you would separate the Men from the Boys. Flashy sites do not always make the best choice.
5 - Select the Products and Services desired. This exercise is done with your Integrator. Where budget weights against choice. It should be a fun exercise balancing the Power of the System vs. Budget. Some clients skip this and go directly to Contract.
6 - Consider Remote Access. Remote access is a large plus to current Control Systems. Is Remote access a needed part of your system? If your system is in a vacation home... the answer should be YES. If you are only using your system for Multi-Zone Audio and Lighting... the answer might be NO.
7 - Think about future expansion. Your Custom Integrator has this clearly in mind. They should be placing your system in a serviceable area or rack that would allow the expansion and service to take place with little trouble. The important thing is to air out your wish list so that wiring or conduit can be put in place to accommodate your future plans. Try to predict usage like kids growing up and wanting more use from the existing system.
8 - Get ready to accelerate. Once all the above is resolved and the installation team pulls up for the start of installation.... the design becomes implimented. Keep in mind that Change Orders can be expensive, so try to get it all designed in before contract.
9 - Set a comfortable time and date for your instruction. The more people in attendance that will eventually operate your new system the better. Listen, Take notes if needed. The Custom Integrator will hand you the keys (Remote or Tablet) so you can take control. Enjoy the power of Automation.
Comment ..... For all of the above reasons and more.....Buy from a company that is experienced, and will know what is needed. For more information call Custom Audio-Video Systems (203) 234-1303
For information leading up to this article see:
Costs of a 6 Zone Digital Music System April 2014
Amazon Installer in a Box December 2012
Not All HDTV is Created Equal November 2009
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