10 A/V and Home Automation Terms You Need to Know
Making sense out words you might here from a custom electronics professional before beginning your home tech improvement project.
An integrated family room, with architectural speakers and lighting control, from Cantara Design Group
February 07, 2013 by Lisa Montgomery

6. Bright: When an installer says a room is “bright,” he means that there may be too many hard surfaces (wood floors, windows, marble countertops, etc.) for an audio system to perform its best. Sound that’s broadcast from speakers in a bright room can bounce harshly off the hard surfaces, making it difficult to hear dialogue in a movie or understand the lyrics of a song. A custom electronics pro can solve this issue by adding soft materials (draperies, rugs or special acoustical treatments) to the room.

7. Presets: Most home automation systems must be programmed by a professional to react in a certain way when they receive a signal from something – a timer, a button press, a motion sensor, etc. This cause-and-effect process is what’s known as a preset. For example, your CE pro might program a preset that tells the home automation system to open the motorized drapes at a certain time of day.

Motorized drapes, like these installed by Eco High Fidelity, that descend and rise automatically at certain times of the day, also based on an astronomic clock to change throughout the year, are a good example of a custom-installed preset.

8. Scalable: A “scalable” automation system is one that can be easily reconfigured (usually to perform additional tasks) to meet the needs of its users. Scalability is a feature you should always look for in an automation system.

9. Compatible: When you’re compatible with someone, you just naturally “mesh.” The same is true of a home automation system and the many diverse components it can control. In the home technology, manufacturers and custom electronics professional strive for as much compatibility between products as possible. Sometimes this is accomplished by the manufacturer; other times, the CE pro finds a way to get two incompatible components to communicate openly with each other. When all parts of a system are compatible, it typically works better and is easier to use.

10. Integration: This is the process of making all elements of a home automation system working together seamlessly, as though they were one unit. When a custom electronics professional says he specialized in “integration” (many of them do), he will know how to tie new components into your old whole-house music system or make your home’s thermostats work with the home automation system he just installed.

Related: What to Look for In a Professional Integrator
Related: 12 Questions When Planning a Home-Tech Project


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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

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