5 Need-To-Knows: Designing Your Smart Home

By Guest | Posted June 4, 2014

Imagine waking up in the morning, not to the glaring blare of an alarm clock, but to your favorite song streaming through speakers in the ceiling, as your blinds slowly open to reveal the morning sun. Touch one button by your bed and the lights in the hallway turn on so you can safely navigate to the kitchen where the TV is already tuned into your favorite morning news program.

As you race out the door for work, smile as everything powers down—the lights, the TVs, the audio—even the thermostat dials back to a more energy-efficient setting. The alarm arms, the garage door closes and every door in the house gets locked. Automatically.

It might sound like the ultimate in luxury, but really, having a home automation system today is a very affordable reality. Plus, not only does it make life a little easier, it can also help you save time and money.

How’s this possible? Imagine a sophisticated, but ridiculously easy-to-use universal remote that controls all of your home’s otherwise disconnected electronic systems and devices. With this one mighty remote, you can control everything from entertainment systems to heating and air conditioning, lights, shades, garage doors, security systems, exterior door locks, and so on.

Better still, this one remote comes in many different forms: the traditional wand that you’re used to wielding in the family room but also, with Control4®, you can control everything in the house from virtually every screen in the house—your iPhone, a tablet, a touch screen, even your laptop. And once you’ve got your house “under control,” there’s no going back. But before you take the plunge, here are a few need-to-knows that will come in handy as you journey to the “other side.”

1.  You’ll want to read, research, and revel in the possibilities.

Aside from the articles in this magazine, which give some great real-life examples of everyday automation, the Control4 website is a great place to more deeply familiarize yourself with the concept of home control and the endless possibilities you have to personalize it according to your lifestyle. Spend some time reading over the site to get ideas around the sort of automation system you’d like to see for you and your family.

2.  You’ll need the help of a professional—and that’s a good thing.

While Control4 home automation solutions will be easy for everyone in your house to use, your system will be a complex design, linking multiple devices in your home to make it possible for them to communicate over a network. Naturally, this is the kind of work that requires a professional. We call this professional a Control4 dealer. Certified by Control4 after rigorous training, your dealer is equipped to work closely with you, from the planning and installing of your system to teaching everyone in the house how to use it to giving ongoing support and upgrades after the system is up and running. It’s possible that you will work together for years to come. If you don’t yet have a dealer, at //www.control4.com/dealer_locator you can enter your zip code and find a few local options. Make some calls or visit the dealer showrooms. A good dealer will be happy to show you sample systems at his/her place of business, or perhaps even take you on a tour of existing installations (with the owner’s permission, of course). Ask anything and everything about home control. Take advantage of your time with an expert.

3. You’ll want to get specific about what you think you want to control.

“Think” is the operative word, because once you share some ideas with your dealer, your wish list may expand, change or get increasingly personalized. You’ll probably be surprised to hear that your Control4 system can do all the magnificent little things it can do. One way to approach this is to ask yourself what sort of automated solutions would make your life easier or help you worry less in your everyday activities. Do you want all of the lights in your house to go off when you leave for work? No problem. While you’re at work, do you worry about when your kids get home from school? We can eliminate that concern by making sure you get a text message the instant they walk through the door. Want the lights to turn on and off at certain times, so it looks like you’re home, even when you’re not? With a Control4 system, it’s easy to automate (or randomize) any event, day or night, and even switch it up depending on the seasons. And remember, you can automate your swimming pool or spa, outside lights, electronic gate, sprinkling system, garage door opener, inside lights, music, movies, TV, heating, security system, IP cameras, and whew! You see where we’re going here...

4. You can expect some wonderful unexpected benefits.

As soon as your new home automation system is in place, you might notice there are opportunities to reduce your energy usage and hey—maybe save some money. Here are just a few possibilities. Your dealer can give you other suggestions, too.

• Use Control4 dimmers, switches and keypads to lower the light levels throughout the home. Family members will barely notice the difference, but a small adjustment can save a lot of money on your monthly electricity bill.
• Install and program a Control4 thermostat to automatically adjust to more energy-efficient settings when you go to bed or leave for work. This can quickly add up to significant money and energy savings.
• Ask your dealer about apps you can download to your Control4 system to help you monitor your energy use.

5. Definitely dream big. And start small.

Many homeowners probably never give any serious thought to automating their homes because they think it’s cost-prohibitive. But the truth is that home automation is far more affordable than most people think. Control4 makes it possible to design a home automation system to match your budget, big or small, right out of the gate. You can start with a very basic system—just automating a family room, for example—and add more control down the road as time or budgets allow. No matter what kind of money you plan to spend, try to brainstorm all of your ideas upfront, and just like you would approach a building or remodeling project, develop a priority list. When you’re ready to share it with your dealer, he or she can help you develop a plan, timeline and a budget to build your dream system over time. Even if it turns out that you have to wait to implement a few of your favorite ideas, you will have a solid foundation of a smart home that can easily get smarter and smarter over time.