Q. I want to do a home automation system but want to be able to modify it myself. Who are some of the better manufacturers that allow you to modify the system as opposed to always having a dealer come out?
A. There are plenty of DIY products for home automation, and there are ways to make your own changes to several of the higher-end custom products.
You can find a full list of solutions in our Ultimate Guide to Home Automation. The guide indicates which products are suitable for DIYers.
For the richest DIY products, I suggest:
All of these vendors also have a pretty good database of professional installers for their products. It’s easiest for a pro to get it set up, and then you can make the changes. Otherwise, you have to learn the systems from scratch, which can be a fair investment in time.
There are numerous systems (listed in the Ultimate Guide) that are much simpler to install but may not be as flexible as those listed above.
If you’re a Mac user, check out Perceptive Automation.
These DIY products are discussed in more depth in the January issue of Electronic House.
As for the pro-only systems:
Control4 (moderately priced) must be installed and programmed by a pro, but they have a nice consumer-programming tool, called Composer Home Edition, that lets you make quite a few changes after the original installation.
Crestron and AMX (high end) do not have a program like Composer Home; however, several third-party developers—like Cinetouch —offer software that can be “overlayed” onto an already-installed system, so you can make changes on your end.
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Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.