I consider myself to be somewhat tech savvy. When I purchased my first new construction home, I thought I was cool and smart because I had the foresight to know that streaming would be a big “thing” and so I added cat5 wire behind every wall-mounted TV. But, that was five years ago and, since then, I added a ton of additional equipment I did not foresee – like a security system, outdoor camera system, video doorbell, remote door lock, wireless thermostat, wireless garage door opener, and a number of stand alone wireless speakers throughout the house. I guess I was not as cool and smart as I initially thought! And, while I loved the tech and the ability to wirelessly access different features in my home, I did not love the fact that I needed to access a different app for each task. The apps would frequently time out, and I would have to re-enter passwords and, of course, I would forget the passwords. Suddenly, the convenience of having everything at my fingertips was more frustrating than convenient.
Recently, my wife and I decided to move and we bought another new construction home. I decided to take this opportunity to right all of my technological wrongs of the past. I wasn’t necessarily thinking about full-blown home automation or a “smart” home, but maybe just a smarter home. I was reading about the home builder’s available options and stumbled upon the Control4 equipment option. To be honest, I had no idea what Control4 was. So, I Googled it and … mind=blown!
Initially, I started reading about the different Control4 systems, i.e., entertainment (whole home audio and video), climate control, and the safety and security features (cameras and security systems). I was intrigued, but overwhelmed. I had some general knowledge about the things I was looking at, but I wasn’t really sure how it all fit together. Luckily, they have local Smart Home Pro showrooms to help people figure it all out. So, I went to their online dealer locator to find my local Control4 Smart Home Pro, contacted them and arranged for a visit.
When I first arrived at the showroom, I was excited but still felt very helpless. I didn’t understand what some of the products did and how everything worked together. The Control4 Smart Home Pro showed me all of the different products Control4 offers and explained how everything is controlled through ONE APP!!! TV, audio, security, door locks, and more – everything in one place! No more separate log-ons and passwords! I never knew so much was possible in one app.
Even better: I’m not stuck using manufacturer-specific products. Although Control4 has some proprietary hardware, their app is flexible enough to integrate with a variety of other manufacturer’s products. They have a large number of partners like Apple and Nest, which is especially important because it allows us to be flexible with our design aesthetic and not be tethered to one manufacturer.
Some of the other things we talked about were how to integrate the same functionality through every TV and speaker in my house by running everything (all TVs and speakers) through to a head end unit (conveniently located in a closet) where controllers would act as routers sending different programs, songs, playlists to the TVs or speakers of my choosing. The Control4 Smart Home Pro also showed me how it works with other options like video doorbell systems, wireless locks, security systems, camera systems, lighting systems, motorized shades, etc. He also demonstrated wireless switches that could be programmed to create scenes. For example, by pressing one button on a wireless switch in the wall (e.g., “goodnight”), it could turn on my security system, adjust my thermostat, lock all of my doors, and turn out my lights. I was blown away. No more walking around the house making sure all of the doors were locked. The app could do it for me!
The nice thing about my visit to the showroom was that the Control4 Smart Home Pros took the time to explain everything and help me understand how everything works together. There was a lot of cool stuff, like interactive lighting systems, but just not necessarily for me. Also, based upon my budget, there were some things that I didn’t need to include. However, I learned that there are definitely levels of automation for every budget.
One of the best features of working with Control4 was that the Smart Home Pros helped me design my system so that I could get the look I want and the functionality I desire. They helped me plan the best spot for the equipment so that I can achieve a clean, clutter free, and modern look. I learned that they even specialize in working with architects and interior designers and you can refer your design professionals to the designer section of their website in order to coordinate on the design and look of your system. Importantly, Control4 and its qualified professionals are members of CEDIA, the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association. This means that the Control4 Smart Home Pros have a strict code of professional conduct and ethics and they participate in continuing education to stay informed on the latest technological innovations.
After showing me all the different technology and options, the Control4 Smart Home Pros spent about an hour going over the builder’s low voltage wiring layout and helped me choose additional cable locations based upon my needs and budget. We decided to run extra cat6 in order to try and keep up with future technology. We made sure to run plenty of wireless access points throughout the house for additional functionality in the future. I think we were fortunate to get connected with Control4 (no pun intended) so early in the design phase so that we made sure that everything that needs to happen behind the walls was able to be installed. My Control4 Smart Home Pro also told me that they would follow up with me as the building process continues in order to ensure that all of the low voltage wiring was installed as planned.
So far, I’ve been very happy with my Control4 experience. I went from being in the dark to thoroughly overwhelmed, and now, after having been to the showroom and talking with the Control4 Smart Home Pros, enlightenment—well… maybe just clarity. Although I’m not an expert on home automation, I don’t feel like I need to be to get a great system with Control4 because their Smart Home Pros are there to help me and my designer choose and install the best automation products for my needs. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together in my new home!
Photos courtesy of Control4, by Premier.