Three years ago, we wrote a post—Savant vs. Control4—comparing the benefits of our top two whole home automation systems. Since then, it has consistently been one of the most visited pages on our site, earning more than 10,000 pageviews from across the globe.
The question “which control system is right for me” is a question asked by nearly every client who walks through our door. Each time our answer is pretty simple: It Depends On What You’re Looking For. Keep reading for details.
Advances in Whole Home Automation
Since publishing our original post, both Control4 and Savant have advanced dramatically, and continue to be world-class products. We also recently added a third whole home automation system to our lineup: Crestron.
With all of the changes, we decided it was time to take a fresh look at these three smart home automation platforms in an effort to help our clients make the decision that is best for them.
An Overview of Control4, Savant, and Crestron
Control4 vs. Savant vs. Crestron: Which One is Right for You?
Asking us to pick our favorite control system is like asking us which of our kids we like better. We like all of them for different reasons.
Control4: Entry-level platform, approachable price point, flexible, integrates with an array of 3rd party devices.
Savant: Mid-level price point, extensive customization options, better user experience.
Crestron: Most robust and customizable solution, ideal for complex integration, higher-end price point.
A few more differences between the platforms:
- Integrates with more 3rd party devices than any of the other platform including: Nest, Sonos, smart locks, smart thermostats and other “Internet of Things” devices.
- As close to an “out of the box” product as you can get. This allows for quick installation and systems that can be deployed in minutes, versus weeks.
- Offers an on-screen display, allowing our clients to control their audio and video experience straight from their television.
- The only platform that allows you to use the TV as a navigation tool.
- The leading choice for retrofit projects due to its Zigbee wireless capabilities. This allows our clients to take advantage of home technology without rewiring the home.
- A favorite among Apple fans.
- Easy to install and very easy to modify.
- Allows users the ability to customize and set “scenes” themselves.
- The most reliable system on the market. Requires the least amount of maintenance and technical support.
- Requires professional installation and wiring. It is the most popular choice for new construction in the Denver area.
- The ultimate ability in customization, integration and luxury features. As such, it generally requires some level of personalized programming. When done well, this can be a key benefit. When done poorly, it can make system operations challenging.
- Ideal choice for a select clients but, for those select few, it is the ONLY choice. If you want to customize the user experience, this is the right platform for you.
- Ideal choice for large properties and quasi commercial environments.
Making The Decision
When people ask me “Which system do you prefer.” I tell them the following:
- I like all of them. At RSI, we only represent the best in custom integration so we wouldn’t install a product that we didn’t believe in.
- The system you select is less important than who installs it for you. Find a reliable systems integrator you can count on. A poorly installed Crestron system will function much worse than a well-installed Control4 system, regardless of price.
- Play with the user interface and figure out which one you like best. That’s more important than the brand. You’ll use the interfaces everyday so make sure you come to our office and try them all out.
- If it tells you anything, I (along with several RSI employees) have a Savant system in my own house. That said, many of the other employees at RSI have Control4 as well.
The beauty of supporting all three platforms is that we have a solution to fit every client’s needs. We believe in giving our clients a choice when it comes to control system and budget. By bringing together these best-in-class platforms, we are able to offer clients a solution that will meet their needs at a price point that fits their budget.
For help figuring out which system is right for you, give us a call, visit our web site or schedule an appointment at our Design Studio.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- “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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
This comfortable, stylish home theater in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado is proof that you don’t need 1,000 square feet for a high-performance experience. As part of an extensive basement remodel, the homeowners asked us to provide them with a luxury entertainment hub featuring state-of-the-art equipment and smart home technology.
The entire home theater is controlled via a Savant system, which allows the homeowners to manage every aspect of the technology (both in the room and throughout the home) via one intuitive interface accessible via an iPad or iPhone.
Inside the theater, a Screen Innovations’ acoustically transparent 120-inch screen, optimized for 4K content, takes center stage. The Triad theater speakers are located behind the screen so the action sounds like it’s coming directly from the image. Other speakers and subwoofers are located behind the black, flocked, fabric-wrapped walls to produce high-fidelity sound while maintaining the integrity of the stylish interior design.
The speakers are part of an overall Dolby Atmos surround sound system (7.4.4), which provides viewers with a theatre-quality sound experience. This speaker system is complimented by a full acoustic treatment, installed to both optimize the in-room sound and ensure it doesn’t travel into the rest of the home.
A Sony 4K Ultra HD VPL-VW350ES projector delivers stunning image quality with 1500 ANSI lumens of brightness, anamorphic 3D, and 4K HD, which captures every detail with exceedingly crisp precision and vibrant color.
The Savant system allows the owner to watch movies via an integrated AppleTV, as well as a Kaleidescape movie storage system. The Kaleidescape system is optimized for 4K viewing, allowing the owner to download 4K movies directly from the Kaleidescape on-line store.
Now for the finishing touches:
We worked closely with the interior designer, Jane Freking, to create the perfect movie-night ambiance complete with custom black leather Cineak theater seats to complement the luxurious wall fabric, and finished with mood lighting by Lutron, controlled by an iPad with the push of a single button for lights up, lights down or lights somewhere in between.
With every aspect of the home theater controlled by the Savant system, the homeowners can pre-program a movie-night setting that automatically dims the lights; turns on the projector and sound system; and sets the ideal room temperature. Time for a popcorn break or the end of the movie? Push another button and the lights come on; the projector turns off; and the room resets for the next night in.
The home theater project, completed in concert with interior designer Jane Freking of JF Design, and home builder Haley Custom Homes, allows the homeowners and their family a space to kick back, relax and enjoy time together, while providing an escape from the outside world. Interested in sculpting your own perfect home theater? Contact us for a free consultation.
Connectivity is a highly valued aspect of our modern lifestyle, meaning a reliable wireless connection has made its way from nicety to necessity. But what is the right equipment for you and your family?
That depends on what you’re looking for, and how you expect your needs to change in the coming years. Are you looking for something simple, affordable, and easily installed? Or do you rely on a high degree of connectivity, making use of that home office and streaming videos while your kids play games in the next room?
If you are looking for something minimal, yet functional, Apple Airport Express offers a simple home wireless solution that provides good wireless coverage in smaller homes (up to 2,000 square feet) requiring only one wireless access point, and integrates effectively with an array of devices. At Residential Systems Inc., we regularly install these devices for basic home internet users.
If you are looking for something more robust, Ruckus Wireless offers an enterprise grade solution designed for businesses and equipped to manage the rapidly expanding network of devices within the home. With the fastest wireless signal on the market, seamless handoff capabilities, and state-of-the-art security; Ruckus is our recommendation for the more connected home user.
There are THREE PRIMARY CONSIDERATIONS in choosing the right wireless system for you:
- The number of devices in your home
- The size of your home or coverage area
- Your lifestyle
HOW MANY WIRELESS DEPENDENT DEVICES ARE IN YOUR HOME?
A family of four likely has four cell phones, four laptops, a few tablets, and, in 2016, an average of 2-6 additional devices (smart tv, wireless printer, etc.). Additionally, if you have or plan to incorporate smart home technologies—the number increases dramatically.
How might this number change?
A recent study on the expansion of “connected things” predicted that we will reach 20.8 billion “connected things” globally by 2020, up from 6.4 billion in 2016 (Gartner, November 2015).
What does this mean? Smart home technologies are likely in your future: lighting control, temperature control, home security, locks, kitchen devices, health devices, wearables, etc. This translates to increased demand on your wireless connection.
Choose Apple Airport Express If
- You intend to maintain a fairly small collection of wireless connected devices (approximately ten or less) within the home
Choose Ruckus Wireless If
- You have approximately 10+ wireless connected devices in your home and are looking to incorporate new smart home technologies
IS YOUR HOME LARGER THAN 2,000 SQ FT?
We recommend having one access point (AP) per 2,000 sq ft. Apple’s Airport Express works well for a smaller home, but leads to gaps in coverage as the span of internet access increases. This problem can’t truly be solved by adding additional access points as the devices are not designed to communicate effectively.
Ruckus’ Seamless Continuity
Ruckus devices are designed to work together: as you transition away from a given access point, it is able to track your movement and transfer your wireless connection to a new access point without any disruption in the signal.
Ruckus offers the added benefit of a “zone-director” (also called the “air-traffic-controller”). This device functions as a critical point to ensure that all access points are online and behaving correctly at any given time, increasing both the security and reliability of your wireless system.
Are you interested in outdoor coverage?
Ruckus’ outdoor access points also enable you to install an outdoor theatre system at the edge of your property; or perhaps take your laptop into the garden; or even install a home security system that allows you to check in on your property from anywhere in the world. As of now, Apple Airport Express APs cannot be installed outdoors.
Choose Apple Airport Express If
- Your home is <2,000 sq ft
- You don’t need outdoor access
- A comprehensive home security system is not in your immediate future
Choose Ruckus Wireless If
- Your home and/or property is >2,000 sq ft
- You want outdoor access
- You have or would like to install a home security system in the near future
WHAT TYPE OF INTERNET USER ARE YOU?
An easily relatable visual is to consider devices as cars, and your wireless technology as the road. A more robust connection is like a wider road, allowing more cars to pass through at a much faster rate. Now, imagine the opposite.
How much traffic do you create?
Consider how you use wireless within the home. Is your home office in use while others are also online? Are you streaming movies in the bedroom while your kids are streaming games next door? If you’re wireless usage is frequently high volume, you may require a more robust solution.
Are you an “early adopter”?
Both Apple and Ruckus integrate well with most devices. Emerging technology, however, requires larger capacity with stronger send and receive power. Ruckus R500 series’ 2×2 antenna configuration is designed to efficiently manage the newest technologies.
Choose Apple Airport Express If
- You are generally only streaming on one device at any given time
- You don’t require a wireless system that is compatible with all new technologies
Choose Ruckus Wireless If
- You often have more than 1 device streaming at the same time (eg: your movie and your child’s game)
- You consider yourself to be an “early adopter” of the newest technologies
The Solution, Ruckus vs. Apple?
If you are a basic internet user, Apple’s Airport Express is likely sufficient for your needs. If, however, you have a more complex internet environment, we highly recommend Ruckus Wireless.
Residential Systems Inc. has deployed dozens of systems throughout Colorado since partnering with Ruckus over a year ago; customers who’ve adopted Ruckus Wireless have been resoundingly happy with their decision. If you feel you might be exceeding the capacity of your current wireless system, contact us for a free consultation. We can help!
Last week’s unprecedented internet hack was a wake up call for the home tech industry. We all know that security is an ongoing challenge as new technologies hit the market daily, but how do you stay ahead of it?
That’s where we come in.
It is critical to take the proper precautions to ensure that all of your home tech devices are properly secured. Residential Systems Inc. has 30 years of experience in the home technology industry. Our certified staff undergoes ongoing training to ensure that we stay on top of new security measures necessary to keep our customers safe.
Our recommendation? When installing new home technologies, hire an expert. Read more to understand why.
Here’s What Happened
On Friday, October 21 hackers rendered hundreds of websites (including CNN, Twitter, Amazon, and Spotify) inaccessible for customers across Europe and the United States, causing three waves of outages that affected millions of internet users. They did this not by attacking individual websites, but instead by attacking a key piece of the internet infrastructure.
Why It’s Important
This was a sophisticated and well-orchestrated attack coming from tens of millions IP addresses at the same time. How was this possible?
Essentially, the hackers were able to “take control” of IP cameras for which owners had not changed the password, creating a botnet or network of infected machines that they could then use to launch an attack.
What This Means
This is the first large-scale attack we’ve seen using IoT (internet of things) devices. In this case, cameras provided hackers an Achilles heel by not requiring users to change password after purchase, but the global IoT includes everything from DVRs to routers, baby monitors to Fitbits. The attack highlights vulnerabilities in the infrastructure of the internet and underscores the importance of taking appropriate security measures when installing new technologies in your home.
How To Stay Safe
Hire an expert! We understand the importance of security in the increasingly complex home technology environment. We do the research. We undergo the proper trainings. We explore potential vulnerabilities. And we take every safeguard to protect our clients’ networks, homes, and lifestyles.
As Denver’s leading provider and installer of custom home technology, Residential Systems, Inc. has installed thousands of projects across Colorado (and beyond); we pride ourselves on due diligence. Our certified staff can help guide you through the entire process from system design to installation. We also offer performance monitoring and service plans after installation, so you can trust in the ongoing health of your smart home.
So, whether you’re installing a whole home automation system or just installing a new device, please hire an expert to help you out. Contact us for a free consultation.
In recent years the smart home market has seen tremendous growth, and is only projected to continue growing. There are new products and ideas entering the market that promise to make living easier, but with so much innovation it often gets lost in translation. Homeowners are curious about smart devices and willing to make an investment, but oftentimes people are left asking “what can a smart home do?”
We are constantly looking for new ways to bring our customers the latest and greatest, while allowing them to take confident control of their smart home devices and all their benefits.
With that, we’ve created a few videos that should help in clearing up any questions you might have, and hopefully get you excited about installing your own smart home system.
There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to power your smart home. Whether you are building a new home or remodeling, this is the best time to have your home wired. Before the walls are up, we can lay the foundation for any technology you want and even future-proof your home for new devices.
However, it’s never too late, we also have the ability to add wiring, even if you don’t plan to tear down walls. Want to learn more? Check out our blog post about everything you need to know before wiring your home, and watch the video below.
More than just a time saver, automated blinds also help lower your energy bills, provide security for your family, and save your furniture from sun damage. Think about those bright Colorado days—the sun is hot! Now imagine your blinds on a program where they adjust throughout the day to block the hot sun, keeping your home cool and protected from harsh rays. In our video, we’ll show all the other benefits of owning automated blinds.
Automated window coverings look stylish, save you from spending precious time opening and closing them, and bring you a convenience you never would have imagined. They come in a variety of fabrics and colors so they blend seamlessly with your decor.
Once you add automated lighting to your home you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.
You know that large light bank you have with five different switches, each controlling a different light in the kitchen? Have you finally figured out which one goes to which light? If you have, congratulations, but the rest of us are still in hunt-and-peck mode. Enter automated lighting, your saving grace and time saver.
Program your lights to come on to wake you up in the morning, control them from your smartphone while away from home, or replicate your lighting habits while you’re away—this gives your home a lived-in look to potential intruders. Watch the video to see what you’ve been missing.
The possibilities are truly endless.
Today’s home theaters are so robust, you’ll wonder why you ever spent money going to the movies. Stream movies from anywhere in the house, install theater-quality surround sound, automatically lower lights at the start of the movie from the comfort of your chair—it’s all possible with a smart home theater.
Or if you’re a complete audiophile and need your favorite music with you at all times, then a whole-home audio system is your dream come true. Stream your favorite Apple or Pandora tunes throughout the house, listen to a song in one room and have different music playing in other parts of the house, or even outside.
With smart audio and video you’ll be living in entertainment, click below to see how.
You will never feel more in control than when you finally take charge of your thermostat. Your comfort levels change throughout the season and the battle with the temperature seems endless.
With a smart climate control system, your house learns what you like and adjusts accordingly. You can even use your smartphone to change the temperature before you step in the door. The plus side of all this is a lower energy bill and no more dancing with the thermostat to cool or warm your home. Watch below to learn more about smart climate control and start living more comfortably.
Safety is at the forefront of our minds, and the ability to monitor our homes from anywhere gives us great peace of mind. A smart security system goes beyond cameras placed around your home. Today with the latest innovations in home technology, you can monitor your home through cameras from anywhere in the world, arm and disarm security remotely, install smart locks that can be controlled remotely, or automatically shut-off valves in case of a water or gas leak. Alerts are sent straight to your phone so you’re never in the dark. This short video can show you how a smart home can keep you safe and secure.
Whether you’re new to the smart home game or a regular player looking for new devices, Residential Systems Inc. has the expertise to work with you. We excel in designing systems 100% customized to your needs and lifestyle, which is why we are always happy to give you free in-home consultations. Don’t hesitate to give us a call and ask any questions you might have, we’ll design your smart home of the future for today.
As more technology products enter the market, it’s hard to ignore the growth of the smart home sector and the number of consumers embracing these new devices. Studies show the smart home market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% between 2015 and 2020, and reach $58.68 billion by 2020. (MarketsAndMarkets.com)
With numbers like that, it’s evident that the “smart home” is no longer the future, it’s “now,” and, as integrators, we are here to help you navigate through the complex world of home technology.
While lighting, entertainment and climate have been the most popular home technology trends over the last few years, here are two more areas we see expanding in the next couple of years.
Why is Connected Home Security So Important?
According to a report by Research and Markets, the home security market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 48.06% from 2016-2020. Decreasing hardware prices, more apps for controlling your home security through your phone, and the improvement of bandwidth are all factors in the growth of connected home security. (CE Pro)
Homeowners are definitely seeing the benefit in automated lighting systems and security systems. The ability to monitor who is coming and going into your house with automated locks and remote surveillance systems is a great stress reliever. Plus, lighting systems like Lutron have the technology to create the appearance of someone being home while you are away on vacation.
Improving Energy Efficiency
As energy consumption awareness grows, more homeowners are looking for eco-friendly solutions. The ability to manage energy remotely is driving the desire to have a connected home. And, while this technology is not new, growing customer understanding of energy saving capabilities is a leading force behind smart home market expansion. (MarketsAndMarkets.com)
For example, taking charge of energy consumption can be as easy as monitoring your home thermostat from your smartphone. Smart thermostats are an easy way for owners who are new to the industry and want to test the waters.
Keeping Up With Home Technology Trends
The market growth over the next few years will be an exciting time for the home technology sector as new innovations are introduced, and connected homes become part of the norm. Helping homeowners navigate through this time is an important part of our job as integrators, giving them confidence to use new technology and showing them the exciting possibilities of the smart home.
If you’re ready to build your connected home, but aren’t sure where to start, give us a call for a free in-home consultation at (303) 277-9983.