Would you trust your home automation and security to your cable company?

Would you trust your home automation and security to your cable company?

Anyone? Anyone?

We don’t know about you, but our experience with the local cable company often goes like this:

Mr. Smith, our client, calls and says that the cable company has upgraded his equipment (insert cable box or modem here) and now his TV, internet (insert service here) doesn’t work.

Come to find out that this “upgrade” installed by the cable company has re-routed his wiring and is improperly installed for his system, or has changed his home network settings arbitrarily. This happens to us far too often and with just about every media product they offer. Several mind-numbing calls to the company for tech support and countless hours are spent troubleshooting and getting the client back up and running.

And to add to the sting, we have to charge the client a service call to fix the cable company’s mistakes.

We bet you have your own horror story to tell.

Why would anyone trust their home automation and security to the cable company? New services are being offered from everyone from Comcast to Lowe’s to Verizon that control your lights, heat, security and more all for a low monthly price. We certainly aren’t convinced that these companies are truly focused on your individual home’s security so much as they just want more monthly revenue.

We aren’t saying their products don’t work or are terrible, we are just questioning the technology choices that are out in the marketplace for critical systems. You can get along just fine without TV for a day but what about lights? Heat on a cold January day? Security for your family?

Our recommendation is to use proven products and systems with professional design, installation and certified programming. Yes, it may cost more but you get what you pay for and in the end, we think you’d prefer one less reason to call the cable company.

 

Lighting control systems save energy, increase bulb life, create drama and add beauty.

Lighting control systems save energy, increase bulb life, create drama and add beauty.

Add a lighting system early in your remodel, update or new home building process.

When you have spent countless hours and dollars making your home your own we want to make sure it pops!

There is nothing like an expertly-lit exterior to create drama as you drive up to your home. Textures are revealed, trees are illuminated and pathways are safe for you, your family and your guests to navigate without hesitation.

More drama inside!

You can continue to creatively use lighting inside your home with scenes for different activities. Cooking in the kitchen with all lights on 100%, entertaining with dining and living room lights dimmed 30% (or a combination of lighting loads dimmed at different levels) or a night-time scene with stairways and halls barely lit to make your way to a midnight snack.

Moreover, interior features are just as important to highlight – rock fireplaces, wall washers, spots on artwork – giving the home the luxury feel that you worked to achieve.

Automated events

You can take the drama even further by automating some events in your lighting system. For example: a half hour before sunset, all the exterior lights turn on. Or if the security system is disarmed a pathway from the entrance is lit to 70%. You can even schedule your Christmas lights to turn off and on between certain dates of the year.

Energy savings and extended bulb life

The human eye cannot detect a difference between 90% and 100% illumination. You can save 10% in energy for every 10% you dim and and possibly double your bulb life.  We have seen some homes with pretty high ceilings that would benefit from changing the bulbs half as often!

Designing a lighting system

It is always easier and more cost-effective to include a lighting system in the planning stages of your home but that is not always possible.

Today’s wireless systems operate flawlessly and have opened the door to retrofit and remodel applications. Recently Crestron announced its solution for smaller lighting systems with as little as 8 circuits. Also, a quality lighting system has the ability for remote operation and integration with other systems. Turn on your lights from a mobile device or computer, or even when you pause your movie!

Cleaning Your Crestron Touchpanels

Cleaning Your Crestron Touchpanels

Ever wondered the best way to clean your Crestron touchpanel surfaces?

Keep  your touchpanel in optimal shape and maintain the best image quality by cleaning the surface regularly. Dust, dirt and other materials could scratch or damage the screen, affecting image quality.

According to the Touchpanel manuals:

“Use a soft, clean, damp (not wet) cloth with any commercially available non-ammonia glass cleaner for cleaning the display of a Touchpanel.
Bezels do not provide a complete watertight seal. Therefore, apply cleaning solution to the cloth rather than the surface of the Touchscreen. Wipe the Touchscreen clean and avoid ingress of moisture beneath the bezels.”

If you have any questions about the cleaning of your Crestron or other electronic products, feel free to contact us.

It’s just not a barbecue without music!

It’s just not a barbecue without music!

Outdoor speakers of all types…

Summer is finally here! Your pool party guests will be most impressed with great sounding music – not tinny, earsplitting squawking but graceful, full and delightful background music.
IMG_0903A good outdoor audio system covers the yard, patio, pool and all of your landscape so that it’s never too loud in one spot but has even coverage over a large area. We do our best to hide speakers throughout your landscaping so that they are minimally seen. Some look like rocks, some hidden under eaves and others are hidden under bushes and between trees.

Behind The Scenes! Building A Home Electronics System

Behind The Scenes! Building A Home Electronics System

Step Eight: The Summary!

So we’ve talked about all the technology, wired up the house, racked the gear and installed it in the home. So how did it turn out?

This homeowner now has no electronics scattered around the house, just a TV and a handheld remote. Whether in the kitchen, living room, master bedroom or down in the movie room, they simply pick up the remote and select what to watch or listen to, all choices require only one button press! Speakers have been installed in the walls or ceiling and are paint-matched to virtually disappear into the room.

In the kitchen and master bedroom, there are 6″ touch panels in the wall for controlling music, the heating and A/C system, security system, and in the bedroom – even the fireplace! The client can listen to digital cable music, music from any iPhone or iPod in the home, or even the DJ system one of their kids has setup in his bedroom.

IMG_2168The network in the home features in-ceiling Wi-Fi access points, so there aren’t little radio boxes hidden in cabinets anywhere, the Wi-Fi simply works with nothing to look at. They even have Wi-Fi coverage through their outdoor living and BBQ space by the river!

If someone rings the doorbell, the homeowner can easily, with one button press, view the front door camera on any TV in the home! The cameras have time-lapse recording and are viewable on iPhones, iPad, computers or even over the internet from any web browser. The security system in the home can be armed and disarmed with the touch panels, or with the client’s iPhone, giving them the ability to check on the home wherever they are!

Our goal was to provide a system featuring maximum entertainment with minimum effort to operate. The walkthrough portion is always our favorite, showing a homeowner how to use their system and seeing their excitement. The best part – after demoing the theater system, the client blinked – eyes wide open – and simply exclaimed, “WOW!”

 

Behind The Scenes! Building A Home Electronics System

Behind The Scenes! Building A Home Electronics System

Step Seven:  Hook it all together!

IMG_5906Now that we’ve discussed all the different parts necessary to totally integrate a home, let’s see what it takes to put it all together and make it tick!  First, we need a place to hold all the equipment and in many cases we use a rack like the one pictured below.  Racks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes; some look very industrial and others integrate into a nicely designed room as a piece of furniture that hides the gear!  We proudly use Middle Atlantic racks because not only are they Made in the USA, but they also offer an amazing variety of designs for any home or business!

This rack is going to hold the networking gear, main controller, audio switcher, video switcher, surround sound receiver and all the wires for security cameras, touch panels, keypads, fireplace control and even operating your garage door openers!  We take great pride in wiring racks in our office well ahead of the installation date.  Not only can we connect everything neatly, but we can label the wiring and test functionality so it’s all ready to run when we arrive at the job site!  Here’s an example of how we started wiring the electricity, networking and audio cables with everything labeled so we know where things go!

 

To us, details really matter.  Electricity cables run down one side, while audio, video and network go down the other side.  We do this to keep the rack more clean looking and to decrease the chances of interference between different types of wires and signals.  With a system tested and functioning at our office, we know that once it’s in your home and connected it will most likely “just work”.  It allows us to be more efficient with our installation and decreases the amount of time we spend in your home.