How About the Solutions My Cable or Telephone Company is Offering?
A Consumer Electronics Association survey found that 67 percent of consumers want a professional installer while 18 percent said they would feel comfortable installing a system themselves.
Over the past year, tech companies like ADT, Verizon, Time Warner and Comcast have all started promoting home control and monitoring solutions. Most include monthly fees. Some of the products may require some degree of professional installation, but most are intended as DIY systems. How do they compare to fully professionally-installed systems? “Those companies are very much interested in entering this space, but they don’t have any intention of doing 5,000 and 10,000 square-foot homes and integrating all those [various subsystems] together. They want to do relatively small security systems; maybe one thermostat and a door lock; maybe one or two remote viewing cameras. But if you intend on including a fully integrated system, either initially or even several years in the future, you’re going to want to engage a professional with experience in designing and installing those larger types of systems,” explains Millson.
How Expensive Is Home Control?
Home control and automation was once thought of as something only for the wealthy few, but today there are options to fit nearly any homeowner’s budget. Some basic products, such as a wirelessly controlled dimmer and remote control, can give you a taste of home control for under $100. Smaller multi-room systems can start at $500 and go up to $5,000 depending on their capability and advanced systems for estate-size houses can reach well into 6 figures. It all depends on the size of the project, the number of systems you want to control and the level of ease of use and reliability your project requires.
“It’s all about the size the system,” says Millson. “If you’re putting three wireless dimmers in a room, that’s something you can do yourself with reasonably low cost. If the project requires control for 10,000 lighting loads in an estate, that’s clearly not a DIY application, so the eventual cost of any solution really begins with the size of the project.”
The cost of a professional installation involves a number of factors. First there’s the cost of the equipment itself which may include master controllers, matrix switchers, and separate modules for specific applications (such as amplifiers for audio distribution), plus the control interfaces for each room. In addition to that, you need to factor in the costs for professional design, wiring, installation and programming labor.
Where Do You Start?
Now that you’re interested and thinking about the possibilities, where do you begin? Visiting or talking to some local home technology integrators is a great start. From a professional integrator you can learn more about the specific systems available and find out what would be involved in each option. Plus, knowing what you are up against budget-wise is a great way to establish your home control starting point.
Think about the tasks you do around your house every day—managing your lights and thermostats, enjoying music and video, keeping track of your family, entertaining indoors or out—and imagine what tasks might be made more efficient with a control system. Also think about how you would like to connect to the system—are you a smartphone or tablet junkie, or would you prefer to use an in-wall keypad or TouchPanel that’s in the same place every time you need it?
Keep in mind that having a home control system can be a little addictive. Once you get used to having it, you wonder how you lived without it. Most people who begin with basic functionality end up expanding into more rooms or more functions, and when friends and family see it in action; they will surely want it as well.
Best of luck embarking on your own home control project!
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