Ask a Pro
Q. Which Home Automation System Has the Best­ Value?
Electronic architect John Baumeister has some tips for finding the right system and installer.
May 16, 2008 by John Baumeister

Q. I am building a house and have come across a few home automation systems. Price aside, what do you feel is the best overall product for the value; Control4, Crestron, or Lifeware?Glenn

A. Since I am a dealer for one of those home automation manufacturers, I will refrain from saying one is better than the others (How can I not be bias?). But I can offer some advice for finding the right system. However, this requires your due diligence as a consumer. I would go to and type in my zip code to find the closest electronic system contractors in my area. I would pick three of them after reviewing their services through their web site. Set up a meeting. You will instantly know who you feel comfortable with. Instead of going to their showroom (which should work and look nice), ask to see two homes that they have done. At the homes, test-drive the systems. Does it do what you want it to do? Then call the manufacturer to see if they can recommend this particular dealer. Don’t forget to ask the dealer for references of people who have that system and reach out to them.

There are many variables in automation systems. However, there are even greater variables on the Electronic System Contractor you choose. Think about automation systems as ingredients for a meal. Are you hiring a cook or a chef? A chef can create many things from a few ingredients. As well, they have a menu and a recipe. A cook will serve up what they can. Value comes from a good manufacturer and a quality company to be your advocate to design and implement the system.

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As a renowned industry expert, John Baumeister has been educating Chicago's leading architects and designers on lifestyle technologies for years. His mantra of providing world-class service for world-class clients has empowered Baumeister to become the area's most trusted system integrator.

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