A Smart Home is a Sellable Home

As technology continues to advance, real estate buyers and sellers are gravitating towards the modern conveniences of a smart home. Why? Technology upgrades are not just smart systems—they’re smart investments when buying or remodeling a home. Read on to learn how home technology systems can increase the value of a home, make that home more sellable, and open up insurance incentives available to those with home technology upgrades.

Home Tech Upgrades

According to CEPro.com, 64% of realtors say home buyers are more interested in high-tech amenities compared to just a few years ago. Smart homes sell faster than others, and with the number of smart homes on the rise it’s important to ensure your home can compete in the market.

Karen Bernardi with Coldwell Banker and owner of The Bernardi Group Residential Brokerage notes:

“In Boulder County we’re really seeing prices continue to climb. The luxury market especially has become much more competitive, especially in the $2 million plus market. As older homes are being purchased, expanded, in size, and completely redone, or scrapped completely and rebuilt the interior finishes are often a similar variation of a warm modern décor. We are seeing more and more the integration of tech features in these new homes as a way to both distinguish them from the competition, and make usability of the sophisticated new energy systems a lot simpler. Adding square footage or gourmet kitchens isn’t enough anymore for buyers in the luxury market when there are several options to choose from.”

Smart Home Renovations

In a recent survey conducted by Houzz, almost half of renovating homeowners say they are incorporating smart home devices in their remodel projects, citing the want to increase comfort and safety of their homes/families as key motivating factors. Among some of the more popular smart home upgrades are security systems, home theaters, climate control systems, and lighting features. Click through for a glimpse of what technologies renovating homeowners are turning to and why.

So how might this affect home value?

“A 2015 survey by Better Homes and Gardens reported that 68% of Millennials surveyed think that smart home technology is a good investment for their homes, and a recent study of buyers’ trends by the National Association of Realtors found this demographic represents the largest share of potential homebuyers.” (Click through for the story.) As of 2016, 33% of Coldwell Banker agents agreed that houses with smart home features sell faster, up dramatically from previous years. If you’re considering putting your home on the market, smart home technologies might offer the ideal solution to make your home stand out in the crowd.

Insurance Incentives for Smarter Homes

The home technology market continues to  evolve, and the home insurance industry is taking note. Some insurers are offering discounts and incentives to those with smart home upgrades. We encourage all of our clients to talk to their insurance company to see what discounts they might be eligible for. Click here to learn what kind of discounts might be available to you.

Whether you’re looking to sell, looking to buy, or looking to upgrade—smart home technologies offer solutions that will benefit your lifestyle and your wallet for years to come.

How To Hide Your TV

For decades, design savvy homeowners have been struggling with the best way to hide their TV. Remember your mom’s “entertainment center”?

These days we have ultra thin, ultra large, cutting edge video technologies plus devices that are designed to fit any space of your home—theater, shower, kitchen, backyard. The oversized “entertainment center” no longer makes sense. So how do you enjoy stunning picture quality and rapid streaming without compromising your style? Keep reading for a lineup of ideas and design inspiration.

Disguise Your TV

One of our favorite new technologies enables you to disguise your TV as artwork or a mirror. Choose from a wide variety of styles, frames, sizes, and image overlays (including custom) for a TV that transforms into an elegant design detail when off.

FrameMy TV

Take a look at our online FrameMy TV Configurator. It allows you to input your TV model, TV size, wall color, and preferred disguise—and then visualize what it will look like in your space. Try with different mirror styles, frames, artwork, or a personal image. The tool also includes estimated budget and allows you to save, print, and/or share your design. Click through to design your display.

Vanishing TV’s

New vanishing vanity TV mirrors by Seura enable you to watch the news while brushing your teeth, and then have the image disappear entirely when not in use.

Waterproof TV’s

The latest generation of waterproof TV’s can be installed beneath kitchen cabinets, framed by tile in the shower, or installed on your patio. Take your viewing experience into new places without making every room feel like a home theater.  

Hide Your TV

If you don’t mind seeing the TV but don’t want it as a focal point, thoughtful design and professional installation can help soften the look of a screen. Consider tucking it into a bookshelf or placing it on a dark wall. Click through for more tips and ideas from Houzz: “How to Hide the TV, No Cabinet Required.”

Installation

If you’re planning a new home, device installation can be seamlessly incorporated into the building process, giving you a wide array of options and simplifying the process. If you’re looking to upgrade your TV or better disguise the one you already own, professional system design, wiring and installation will ensure that you get the most out of your video technologies without making them the centerpiece of every room.

Smart Home Technology Trends for 2017

The adoption of smart home technologies continues to rise, with nearly half of renovating homeowners (45%) incorporating smart systems or devices during their renovation projects (Houzz). We’ve seen a substantial growth in demand for intelligent home security devices such as smart doorbell cameras (up 211% from last year according to Argus Insights); our clients are asking for these on almost every installation we do today. Security systems, entertainment, lighting and climate control technologies are also showing a rapid increase in market adoption. More good news: customer satisfaction ratings are remarkably high for these technologies.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of our top 5 highlights from 2016, and (our predictions for) the top five trends of 2017. Scroll down for more details.

5 Highlights: Smart Home Technology in 2016

  • Connected thermostats add comfort while dramatically reducing energy consumption within the home. Perhaps that’s why they’ve become “the single most popular smart device in a renovated home,” according to Houzz. Good thing they made our list of Top 5 Tech Trends for 2016. Our pick: Control4
  • Lighting Design has never been so elegant nor so experience driven. Set scenes to come home to. Light pathways through your home at night. The options are endless. Our pick: Lutron
  • Voice controlled devices are the star child of 2016 and made our list of Smart Home Technologies in 2017. More details below. Our pick: Amazon Alexa
  • Advancements in whole home automation systems allow homeowners to adjust lighting, music and temperature; monitor security systems; and manage home entertainment systems from one easy-to-use application. Our pick: Savant or Control4

With all the innovation, one of the biggest challenges we see is the need for homeowners to learn about and find the right technologies for their home. We know it can be overwhelming and we’re here to help. Click through for our Home Technology Guide and our easy-to-use Client Checklist. Then, give us a call.

2017 Technology Trends

You can adjust the music, lower the lighting, lock the front door, and see what’s happening on your property…all from right here. Image from Lutron.

Top 5 Smart Home Technology Trends for 2017

There’s a lot of momentum for 2017 as new technologies continue to hit the market and more comprehensive integration capabilities are developed. Here are our top 5 trends to watch in 2017.

    1. Increased partnerships across technologies allow users to cherry-pick the products that work best for them, and integrate functionality across a user friendly network. Did you know that you can now ask Alexa to check if your dryer is finished due to a collaboration with GE? Our favorite: Sonos‘ integration with Lutron
    2. “According to new report from ABI Research:  “Voice controlled smart home devices, a device category that barely existed just two years ago, is expected to represent almost 30 percent of smart home device spending by 2021” (Security Info Watch). Hear Kevin Learmann, RSI’s VP of System Consulting, speak with Modern In Denver about his experience with Alexa.
    3. Smart home security systems are on the rise, with smart doorbell cameras and smart detectors leading the way in increased demand (according to Argus Insights, see chart below). And while peepholes have always been awkward, these technologies are solving more than the puzzle of what’s outside. Get notified about fire or gas problems. Monitor and control locks wherever you are. Or, if security from intruders is your goal, big data allows for a social element to your surveillance system: you might hold the keys to solving a crime! Our pick: Doorbird (which integrates well with Control4).
    4. This might be because we live in Colorado (where we get sun 300 days/year) but the smart home technologies for outdoor living have folks stepping up their back yards for year round entertainment. Our picks: Ruckus Wireless for outdoor network connection, Sonance for outdoor audio, and Seura for outdoor TV.
    5. New 4K and HDR televisions offer unbelievable picture quality, featuring 4 times more detail than standard high definition (to be exact). The result: stunning detail, vibrant colors, and a wholly renewed viewing experience. Our pick: the Sony 4K Ultra HD TV. 

 

Want to learn more? Have a different idea for home technology trends in 2017? Reach out. We look forward to speaking with you.

5 Ways to Make Your House Smarter, Inside and Out

Smart home technology is changing the way people interact with their homes. From simple devices, to whole-home automation systems, the latest innovations promise to make everyday living easier, more comfortable and more efficient.

But what does a smart home actually look like? Let us take you on a quick tour.


The Kitchen

smarter home

Savant

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the perfect place to kick off our technology tour. Sure, state-of-the-art appliances are a must, but the way to really turn your kitchen into a family haven is to add automated lighting and music to the mix.

With automation systems like Savant and Control4, you can create the perfect mood with one touch on a keypad.

Need to get the kids up and energized in the morning? Open the shades, turn up the lights, and cue top 40 music. Ready to kick back and relax with a glass of wine and your friends? Close the shades, dim the lights, and cue a little Adele in the background.

All with the touch of a single button.

Sounds fun right?


The Bathroom

 

smarter home

Suera

Forget the bluetooth speaker in the corner and the mini TV perched next to the bathroom sink. Today’s smart bathroom technology includes in-mirror TVs from Seura; you can catch up on the news while brushing your teeth. Want shower tunes? Hidden speakers from Sonance provide enveloping surround sound to wake up your body and mind. Time to wind down? Seura’s waterproof TVs allow you to watch your favorite movie while soaking in the tub. 

How’s that for stepping up your wash room time?


The Bedroom

smarter home

Lutron

We all know the value of a good night’s sleep. Smart bedroom technologies allow you to tuck in without the late night walk through. Today’s technology gives you the option of installing a “goodnight” button to dim the bedroom lights, automatically close the shades, arm the security system, and turn off any lighting or entertainment devices throughout the rest of the house.

If you are the type to hit your snooze button a few too many times in a row, you can pre-program your lights, shades and music to turn on at a certain time. Now no one has an excuse to be late for school (or work).


The Living Room

smarter home

Control4

Make family movie night at home feel like a night out at the theater. Using Control4 or Savant controls for lighting and climate, transform your living room into a cool, dark, night-out experience. With the touch of a single button you can lower the lights, choose your favorite blockbuster, and adjust the temperature all from the comfort of your couch. Now kick back with some homemade, buttery popcorn and enjoy the magic of the movies right at home.


The Backyard

smarter home

Seura

Make the outdoors as comfortable as the indoors. Recreate the stadium experience or an open-air theatre with a big screen outdoor TV from Seura. Touch a button on your smartphone to turn on your fire pit and enjoy the sunset. Or, program the outdoor lights to turn on as the sun dips behind the hills. Time to get the party going? An outdoor surround sound system will take your outdoor entertaining to a whole new level.

A smart home equals better living. And the best part? Each of these systems can be installed separately or easily integrated together throughout the home.

If you’re looking to turn your house into a smart home and don’t know where to start, check out our “Getting Started” checklist.

We also offer a free in-home consultation. Our team of experts can design a system that works for your lifestyle. Give us a call at (303) 277-9983.

 

Summer Vacation the Smart Way

Loading up the family and heading out to your vacation home is top of the list for fun summer getaways. While lounging on the patio and lingering past sundown are the name of the game, they could be even more fun with a dash of smart technology.

This summer bring your vacation home to life with the latest in home automation.


Turn Your Pool Into a Smart Pool

summer vacation home

Sonance

The swimming pool is an oasis and the perfect place to keep the kids entertained in the heat. This summer, turn up the fun with a Pool Scene on your Savant system. Program the heat, water pumps and water slide to turn on with the touch of a button. To complete the package, program music and lights to turn on when you’re hosting your next pool party.


The Outdoor Living Room

summer vacation home

 

Turn your backyard into an outdoor living room with a waterproof TV by Seura, which can withstand the elements and still provide a crystal clear picture in the sunlight—it’s great for family movie night under the stars.

What entertainment system would be complete without outdoor surround sound. Sonance creates high quality sound you can control from any smart device. Perfect for those pool parties or a mellow afternoon enjoying the sunshine and a frosty beverage.


Keep Your Cool

summer vacation home

Control4

The dog days of summer are ahead, but that doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. A smart climate control system like the one from Control4 lets you easily program the temperature in your home and even control it remotely from a tablet or smartphone. Plus, you can have the home cooled before you arrive for your next vacation, which is much more comfortable than waiting for the a/c to kick in while you sweat it out.


Maintain Your Pristine Lawn

summer vacation home

Rachio

While you’re away there’s no reason you can’t preserve your green lawn you worked hard to grow. Using Rachio through your Control4 system let’s you monitor and manage your home’s sprinkler system from anywhere. Keep an eye on water usage, and program when you’d like the sprinklers to come on, keeping your lawn beautiful and green.

This summer, turn your vacation home into a smart summer getaway with the latest in home technology. If you’re interested in adding any of these features, give us a call for a free in-home consultation.

Kick back and relax, you earned it.

What You Need to Know About Wiring Your Home

At Residential Systems Inc., we are often confronted with the question of why there is so much infrastructure needed for home technology. Since so many of these systems run wirelessly on the front end, a lot of homeowners don’t realize how much wiring it takes on the back end to get everything running smoothly.

We have all come to rely on wireless everything, but the reality is the more complex our devices get, we realize that wireless isn’t actually all it’s cracked up to be. With all of the promise of convenience and simplicity, WiFi networks and unplugged devices are still infinitely more unreliable and less secure than those with wires.

Below, we break down everything you need to know about wired and wireless technologies.


First, WHY or WHY NOT WIRELESS?

wiring

Sonos

This seems like a no-brainer. It’s simple to install. No need to worry about wiring, cables, sockets or outlets. Plus, you can easily upgrade to the latest version of the device. Sounds pretty enticing, right?

However, all wireless devices still require electrical power, whether it comes in the form of batteries (which need to be changed) or an electrical outlet. Wireless devices also rely on a WiFi signal, and (we have all been there) when you have too many technologies all vying for a piece of the bandwidth everything just slows down. This is frustrating, especially when you’re waiting to turn on your lights!

Other drawbacks of wireless? Some elements of your home may block out the signal entirely such as aluminum sheeting, plasterboard, stone finishes, and even insulation. You won’t know if your smart devices are going to work until you set them up, and nobody likes wasting time with technology.

With any device that relies on WiFi, there is always the risk of someone hacking into your network. If your security system runs on WiFi, you’re more susceptible to hackers gaining access to your cameras and even alert systems. Needless to say, your security system should be hard wired.

Wire-less doesn’t always mean no wires

wiring

Savant

Most devices need to plug or connect to some sort of wiring, especially if you want them functioning properly and communicating with your other devices. A wired infrastructure functioning on the backend of your system is a foolproof way for your smart home to actually operate like a smart home.

Finally, integration between devices is limited with wireless. They don’t call it the Internet of Things for nothing—your home’s smart devices and automated system talk to each other to do the job they were built to do: make your life easier. Wireless devices are typically independent of each other which means you may have multiple apps on your phone just so you can unlock the the door, turn on the lights, and adjust the thermostat. Plus, the cost of each wireless device typically ends up costing more than reliable wired solutions. Wireless technology has to be outfitted with transmitters and receivers which tends to drive up the cost.


GETTING WIRED

Reliability.

wiring

Lutron

That is what you can expect when you wire your smart home technology. There are no connectivity problems such as dropout or inconsistent performance, and it won’t affect other wireless devices such as garage doors or smart home hubs.

Installing wiring allows you to centralize your home’s services eliminating smart devices being spread around the house. There are no bulky add-ons to your lighting or cameras to make them “smart”.

Call a Pro.

You might think it’s difficult to wire an existing house, but professional integrators know where to install discreetly and can configure your devices to work together. Your home’s interior design will be kept intact, so there’s no compromise.

If you’re in the market for a few home tech upgrades, then wireless may be a great option for you. They take less time and typically function well in small spaces. However, if you want consistency and reliability, then wired smart home tech is the way to go!

Give us a call if you’re looking to update your home, we have the expertise to design a smart home system catered to your lifestyle. 303-277-9983 www.residentialsystemsinc.com

Smart Home Security for Your Vacation Home

As Coloradans, we escape to the mountains just about every chance we get, and having a second home in the high country is a dream for many. However, when that dream home becomes a reality, many homeowners aren’t aware of how much work it takes to properly care for a vacation home. Supervising your retreat isn’t always easy and convenient, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Snow piles up, pipes burst during colder temperatures, and there’s no way of knowing if the person you paid to clear your driveway is actually fulfilling their end of the deal. It might not be possible to visit your home to check up on it, but with today’s home automation systems it’s easy to keep an eye on it.

Keeping an Eye Out

The first thing on your list for taking care of your home should be a surveillance system. Keeping an eye on the house is easier than ever with remote access to security cameras. Place one camera facing towards the driveway and one on the front entrance. Before you even pull into the driveway you’ll know how the house looks (i.e. if the driveway has been cleared) while you were away.


Go Keyless

vacation home

Yale keyless entry

Keyless entry is a great way to secure your home, with the ability to assign individual codes for each person in the house—including contractors, house keepers, electricians, etc.—and monitor who is coming and going. You can also receive alerts on your phone each time the door is unlocked and who used their code. Plus, you can use your smartphone to unlock the door before you step out of the car.


Avoid “Little Surprises” 

vacation home

A major concern when owning a mountain home is the safety of the house itself. You don’t want to arrive ready for vacation only to discover a pipe burst and your basement is flooded. Avoid these “little surprises” by setting up in-home alerts that can be sent straight to your smartphone if something goes wrong, giving you a chance to head it off before things get worse. There’s even the possibility to have your home alert the fire department or automatically shut off the water or a gas leak.


Remote Access

For the ultimate peace of mind, control and monitor your entire home from your smartphone or tablet with the press of a button. Take control of your thermostat so the house is comfortable before you arrive, save on energy bills by automating your lights. Give the house a lived-in look by controlling the lights at the front door and driveway to ward off intruders. Having access to your home while you’re away gives you added comfort of knowing everything is taken care of.

If you’re looking to update the security of your vacation home give us a call for a free in-home consultation, 303-277-9983.

5 Things You Need To Know Before Investing in Smart Home Technology

1.Will Your Home Support Smart Home Technology?

Many homeowners assume they can’t afford home automation or will need a major overhaul to wire their home. This simply isn’t true. The growth of automation and development of retrofit technologies has made it easier and more accessible than ever before to make your home smart.  If you’re not in a position for re-wiring you’re not out of the home automation game. Many devices utilize WiFi to connect with each other and your home—it’s remarkably simplified.


2. Determine Where You Want Technology

The advantage of smart home technology, and what makes us so excited about our work, is its ability to simplify our daily lives. Before automating your home, ask yourself what you want to simplify. Would automated blinds make it easier for you to enjoy natural sunlight? Maybe decluttering your remote control collection and switching to a single controller? Or making your home look occupied when you are away?  The realm of home technology continues to change the way we run our homes. We offer free in-home consultations and will work with you to design a home technology system that fits your needs.


3. Seek Out A Professional Integrator

The DIY home technology industry is booming, however this doesn’t mean everything is intuitive or works properly. Sometimes you get what you pay for.  A professional integrator knows how to set-up automated systems in your home and can get everything to work seamlessly together. Once your systems are synched they’ll be easy to use, but getting started is best left to the professionals.


4. Evaluate Your Home Network

Whether you’re building a new home or are automating your existing home, you’ll need to consider the setup of a wireless or wired network. This is where a professional integrator steps in. We lay the wiring down while you’re building your home and figure out the best access points are so you get the best signal. If you’re working on an existing home, we can also use wireless products, use existing wiring, or install the least amount of wiring needed discreetly.


5. Expect the Unexpected

You may notice once your home is up in running there are opportunities to save on energy consumption. This is the great thing about home automation. Sure, life is simplified, but now you can save money too! Save on electricity by scheduling your lights to come on and off based on when you’re not home or when the sun sets and rises. Set your thermostat to adjust only when you’re at home, keeping your bills down. We have many other ways to help you keep your home green.

If you’ve thought about bringing your home into the 21st century with new technology, give us a call at 303-277-9983 and we’ll come out for a free in-home consultation. We can show you how to make your home more comfortable and convenient for your lifestyle.

Control4 vs. Savant for Today’s Smart Home

At Residential Systems, Inc. one of the most common questions our clients ask us is “What are the major differences between Control4 and Savant and which should I use in my house?”  As authorized dealers for both of these world-class products, this can be a very difficult question to answer.  I joke with our clients that, when it comes to Savant vs. Control4, it is sort of like picking which of my kids do I like the best!  Fortunately, I love both of my kids and at Residential Systems, Inc. we feel the same way about Savant and Control4!

Both Savant and Control4 have revolutionized the home automation and smart home landscapes for our clients.  Control4 is the more seasoned of the two companies, having been around for many years and recently becoming a public company.  Control4 recognized a major shift in smart-home technology and capitalized on this by making their products available to a broader marketplace through more reasonable pricing.  Savant, the newer of the two companies, has strongly leveraged their partnership with Apple to gain momentum in the last few years.  Since the invention of the iPad, Savant has grown tremendously and has made smart home technology more appealing to the mass market.


Let’s take a closer look at the strengths of each company:

Savant

Strengths of Savant

  • Apple-based system is familiar to most consumers
  • Easy integration with client iTunes libraries for whole-house audio distribution and movie downloads
  • Carrier-grade switching equipment for audio switching, HDMI switching, etc…
  • Easy ability to integrate with other world-class smart-home products including Lutron, Vantage, HAI and others
  • The whole house is easily accessible from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch

At Residential Systems, Inc. we tend to recommend Savant in applications where quality is of utmost importance to our clients or where the clients are self-described “Mac People.”  For example—Savant’s HDMI switching products are some of the best in the world so if a client is particular about that, we will recommend Savant.  Our clients recognize that they pay a premium price for that, but they also recognize that they get incredible quality, as well.  Additionally, if our clients are very comfortable with the Apple operating system (and already have their content housed in iTunes, etc…) Savant is the more seamless approach for usability and functionality.  We also tend to recommend Savant for clients in the Colorado mountain communities (Aspen, Breckenridge, Telluride, Vail, etc…) as the remote management capabilities give us the ability to troubleshoot issues remotely, potentially saving our clients a service call.


Control4

Strengths of Control4

  • Control4’s products are available at lower price points, enabling clients to do more with their budget
  • Control4 offers a full line of automation products including thermostats and lighting control under one umbrella.  This makes integration incredibly simple and quick!
  • Control4’s handheld remote control is one of the best we have ever used.  It is intuitive and rarely fails.
  • Control4 offers an Android application for those users who prefer Android over the Apple Operating System
  • A large majority of the Control4 product line-up can be installed wirelessly, making it very easy to use in retrofit environments

At Residential Systems, Inc. we tend to use Control4 in applications where price/budget is more of a consideration.  While Control4 can do many of the same things that Savant can do, the interface is very different.  It is extremely intuitive and the on-screen display make it very easy for clients to control their entire home from their TV, iPad or Android device.


Which One is For You?

At the end of the day, this decision boils down to customer preference and perceived value.  For clients who value an integrated home-automation system with high functionality, Savant presents a more “luxurious” option.  For clients who want the ability to control their entire home and not break the bank, Control4 presents a wonderful option.

If you are thinking about adding Control4 or Savant to your Denver smart home, here are some questions you should ask yourself as you prepare to make that decision:

  • What is the budget I have for this project?  This is probably the most important question to ask yourself so that you can be prepared for the trade-offs that will be necessary if the scope exceeds your budget.
  • What do I want to control?  Is this a relatively simple Audio/Video control or do I want to integrate other technologies like climate control, lighting control, security, cameras, motorized shades, etc…
  • What type of technology am I comfortable with today?  If you are an “Apple Zealot,” Savant may present a better solution for you and your family.

At Residential Systems, Inc., we are proud to be dealers for both of these companies, as well as many more.  By offering our clients a full line-up of smart home solutions, we can meet any need and operate under any budget.

To learn more about Savant, Control4 or other smart home technologies, stop by our showroom or contact us today!