Is a Smart Home Worth It?

September 24th, 2020 at 8:43 a.m. · By trey@truaudio.com

Is turning your home into a smart home really worth all of the trouble? Have you experienced being inside a home that can be controlled through one system (ie. a phone, Control4 system, iPad/tablet)? Obeying the homeowner’s every command!

They could turn the lights on as it gets darker in the evening or lowers them as it gets brighter in the day, turns on the music as they walk outside to the patio, or maybe close the shades when the sun switches positions and beats down on the side of the house? All of these are examples of what a home automation system can do, plus many more!

What is Home Automation?

Home automation is a way to connect aspects of your home into one central system, allowing you to control everything through one interface. Home automation has been around for several decades in regards to lighting and controlling your appliances. However, over the past few years, the technology has caught up with the idea of an interconnected world available at the touch of your fingertips. The dream of making your home smart is now a reality. Having a smart home is worth it for those of you who have busy lifestyles.

The home interface is part of the IoT or "The Internet of Things,". IoT is how the devices and appliances are networked together cohesively providing us with seamless control over all aspects of a home. A smart home system connects all of the physical components of home management into one cohesive network.

There are two ways to set up a home automation system:

  1. Schedules- With IoT devices: a piece of hardware with a sensor that transmits data from one place to another over the internet like wireless sensors, software, actuators, and computer devices. They can be embedded in mobile devices, industrial equipment, environmental sensors, medical devices, and more. They can be set to run, trigger, or actuate based on a predetermined schedule.
  2. Triggers- Actions in one connected device trigger actions in another, ie. the motion sensor at your front door triggering the lights to turn on when you walk through the front door. Or press a button in a mobile application on your phone.

Where To Start

The process of installing a home automation system can be a little difficult. First, set a reasonable budget and keep in mind that the price will directly correlate with the quality of the system. With a set budget, you need to figure out what it is exactly that you want for your home and what the main focus is. Then, you’ll want to find who you want to do the installation. Do your research and make sure its a trusted name/company that has reliable reviews.

System Setup

When choosing a dealer, make sure that it is one who will give you a breakdown of what needs to change or be updated in your home (drywall or wiring installation), get a written contract of what needs to happen, and what they plan to do before they start. Known as a scope of work or SOW. Avoid all verbal contracts; someone always ends up losing and it will probably be you with overpriced products, or a job that isn’t completed correctly.

Home Security Services

If you are someone who doesn’t have door sensors, motion sensors, or security cameras, you probably won’t need a monitoring service, unless it is part of the home automation system. However, installing a system, you will most certainly need a monitoring service to help keep your home safe and the installers should have a way of connecting you to them.

Learn About Your System

It is time-consuming and can be very boring, however, take the time to read the manual. Get to know the mobile app, there may be useful tips and tricks available to help you with properly controlling your system.

Crestron Control Systems

Crestron is a very reliable company that has been in the home automation industry for over 40 years. They are based in New Jersey and are one of the biggest home automation companies in the world. They are the lead providers of home automation and a favorable choice for luxury homes. Crestron provides one centralized system, this system runs multiple programs as a server software-based control platform. The system can integrate and control existing devices and appliances. This system has the ability to provide control for lighting, shading, locks, audio, security, media, thermostat, TVs, and more. The Crestron systems are flexible, it supports configured and programmed spaces, it is simple to deploy, scale, and update.

-Cost: Starts at $10,000 and up.

-Products: Additional products include: motorized shades, locks, lighting, speakers, TV and projector control, thermostats, and more.

Crestron provides features such as:

  • Automated window shades to close at sunset and open at sunrise.
  • Establish lighting settings for various activities.
  • Gives you the option to program recipes, also referred to as macros, into the system, making them available with one-touch of a button while your hands may be busy.
  • Program home lights to flash when the oven has reached optimal temperature or food is done cooking.
  • Provides access to satellite radio and playlists to play throughout the house.
  • Program the thermostat to help save money or adjust temperature upon arrival home.
  • Improve home security with alerts that notify you when the front or garage door opens unannounced.
  • Turn it all of with one button.

Control4 Systems

Control4 was founded in 2003, it is newer to the automation world but they have been around long enough to be at the top of the list for home automation systems. They are a company that provides both wired and wireless options of home automation systems (for renters, older homes, or moving soon) and it is designed to work with over 7,000 consumer electronic products. Control your music, energy, security, lighting, and video. Control4 is the preferred home automation brand among CE Pro 100 home-technology integrators in 2019.

 

-Cost- Starts at $1,000 for basic setup and typical installation is $10,000 and up.

Like Crestron, Control4 has a variety of automation features like:

  • Automated window shades to close at sunset and open at sunrise.
  • Establish lighting settings for various activities.
  • Gives you the option to program recipes, also referred to as macros, into the system, making them available with one-touch of a button while your hands may be busy.
  • Program home lights to flash when the oven has reached optimal temperature or food is done cooking.
  • Provides access to satellite radio and playlists to play throughout the house.
  • Program the thermostat to help save money or adjust temperature upon arrival home.
  • Improve home security with alerts that notify you when the front or garage door opens unannounced.
  • Turn it all of with one button.

 Pros and Cons of Home Automation Systems

Pros:

  • Very convenient when trying to manage all of your home devices from one place.
  • It gives you the flexibility to add new devices when you need to.
  • Allows you to maximize home security.
  • Customize the system to all of your home needs.
  • Remote control of all home functions.
  • Increases energy efficiency.
  • Improved appliance functionality. Crestron controls more brands and simultaneous devices without issue, and its user interface can be customized for unusual and very specific needs.
  • Gives you home management insights.
  • Gives you the opportunity to keep an eye on your home while you are gone (ie.kids, pets, or aging parents).
  • Answer the door from anywhere.
  • This security system lets you save money on home insurance.
  • Increases the value of your home.
  • Completely YOUR system because it is such a wide-open system (other systems have a boxed-in interface that can’t be changed or adjusted).

Cons:

  • Customers claim that it is a hard system to program and for the customer results in higher customization costs by the dealer/installer. 
  • Complex Technology; a light switch would be easier to have.
  • System Compatibility; Not all systems are compatible with each other.
  • Cost; the cost has improved significantly over the years but it still adds up quickly to purchase and install all devices. 

Is Using A Home Automation System Safe?

Like with all technology, smart homes are not 100% foolproof and safe, but that doesn’t mean that they are bad for you and your home. This is actually the superior option and can only improve as technology pushes the limits of technology. With all of the benefits of a home automation system there are a few things to keep in mind to help your home and system stay safe:

  • Stick with reputable brands- First thing is first, many of you will want to cut costs any way that you can, but if you use a company that has a good reputation, you are more likely to have better security. This will also help to ensure that your home is safe when a strange installer is let into your home and that it is safe after they leave. A good starting point is to check for dealers that are members of CEDIA. CEDIA is known for its strong code of ethics and they make sure that the installers stay up to date with the latest technology certifications. 
  • Be sure that your router is secure- Staying on top of regularly changing your password on the router (aside from the manufacturer’s default password) is extremely crucial to the safety against potential hackers. It’s easy to forget but remember that if you do not update your password, you are giving hackers a wide-open door to come in and compromise your home network. Avoid using birthdays, street addresses, or “123password” type codes and try to include special characters (#, @, %, &) and at least one number. Also, be sure that your router is equipped with WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access) authentication for maximum protection.
  • Stay on top of updating your smart home apps- If they are a viable smart home device manufacturer, they will regularly issue updates to fix any bugs or security vulnerabilities in their app. It’s recommended that you install the updates as soon as they are released to prevent leaving the device open to exploitation by hackers.
  • Check the IP Logs on your surveillance camera- Most of the current surveillance cameras keep a log of all the IP addresses that have accessed the surveillance feed. Any unfamiliar addresses that you find in the logs could potentially be someone who has gained unauthorized access. Do security breaches or foul play worry you? We recommend immediately changing the password and contact your provider.
  • Update all of your passwords regularly- In addition to your router password make sure that you also regularly update your home automation application(s) and cell phone/tablet passwords. If generating a strong password on your own is too difficult try using a password generator to give you some assistance. 

Add-In Great Distributed Audio

Home automation and distributed audio go hand-in-hand. It is rare that someone will purchase and install a home automation system but won’t have any speakers, aside from their smart assistant. Generally, if the homeowner wants a smart home with a superior security system, they will want high-quality components in one or two ’priority zones’ or even throughout their entire home. Most of the companies who are selling or installing your home automation system will have comprehensive AV packages for you too. These packages will help to create a unified system for your entire home.

The goal with distributed audio is to boost your home automation performance by installing quality speakers. There are many of you homeowners out there who are not sure how you can possibly fit speakers in every room. Luckily, there are many possibilities out there to help each room in your house. 

Distributed Audio

For all of you distributed audio lovers who want quality speakers, TruAudio recommends trying our Phantom™ and Ghost™ Series (heard but not seen); specifically the PP-8/PP-6 or GC-6/GC-8The Phantom™ Series is an exceptional introductory series of speakers that complement the whole home audio line of frameless speakers. The Ghost™ 2-way in-ceiling speaker uses a red copper weave carbon fiber woofer with white synthetic rubber surround resulting in a more polished high-frequency roll-off, reduced beaming and exceeding mid frequencies. The titanium swivel tweeter gives a full range of smooth sound and improved acoustic reproduction while giving installers the flexibility and option of directing the sound. Convenient treble and bass equalization adjustments make precision tuning effortless. 

The Phantom™ and Ghost™ Series speakers include a patented magnetic frameless grill. This rimless grill attaches easily and seamlessly. Once installed, no part of the speaker shows except for the grill, having the speaker virtually disappear into the installation environment. Making the speaker a true labor and time saver.

Crestron System

Those of you who have done your research and are ready to invest in a premium home automation system that is completely customizable to your wants and needs, you won’t be disappointed with TruAudio’s Select Series. The Select Series is great for all applications, but it is perfect for the in-home theater applications specifically. These speakers and woofers are perfect for anywhere in the room (floor, in-wall, on-shelf), wherever you may need them. Its versatility and sound will win you over immediately!

Control4 System

If you are interested in or have a Control4 system, the TruAudio B23 Series is the series for you! With the Control4 system, you’ll need an audio option that can support your entire home along with the control system! These upgrades let you say goodbye to the cineplex! Get your own home theater, with a powerful sound system and controlled from one device. All it takes is one tap to have the lights fade and the sound start-up at the perfect volume.

Is Having a Smart Home Worth It?

We definitely are pro smart home! With the way that things have been recently, more security and making your life a little less crazy is always a plus! Invest in your family and yourself!

For further information or if you are looking for a dealer or installer near you, call TruAudio at 888-858-1555.


Categories: audio home audio home speakers home audio system music Outdoor Audio amplifier Commercial Applications home theater

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