The hallmark of today's home control systems can be summed up in a word: simplicity. That's what people want, and that's largely what people get - as long as they choose the right system and make sure it's properly installed.
Whether you're moving from room to room while listening to your favorite Internet radio station or notching down the AC while ordering a latte at Starbucks, a smartphone with the right app can go a long way toward simplifying home control. Let's take a closer look at some of today's most popular home control options.
Forget about remote controls and wall-mounted keypads. Today's whole-house music systems can be controlled from just about any smartphone. Pull the phone out of your pocket, select the room in which you want to be serenaded, and cue up some tunes.
"People want easy, and they don't want to spend fifty grand," says Mitch Arthur, founder of New Jersey-based Living Intelligent. "You have to make technology transparent so it's like getting on an airplane. You have no idea that 400 things have to happen before that plane takes off. You just sit down and enjoy benefits of technology without even thinking about it. That's how it's has to be."
Arthur keeps home entertainment simple for his clients by using a cloud-based app that is easy to use and can be customized to meet their specific needs. "You're carrying all this horsepower around in your hip pocket, why not use it?"
The same smartphone simplicity and cloud-based control can be applied to monitoring and controlling your home's heating and cooling system. "It's about being able to do things that are useful," Arthur explains, "like tying the thermostat into your security system so the temperature automatically rolls back when the is system is armed, or being able to adjust the temperature from your office because you forgot to turn down the thermostat before leaving for work."
Having remote energy-management capability makes you more energy-conscious, which in turn leads to potentially significant savings in energy and money.
Picking up a do-it-yourself lighting kit at Home Depot and setting it up to control two or three lights is one thing, but what if you were able to control all or most of the lights in and around your house from one keypad? This sort of home control is possible and getting more popular, especially if you're building a new home.
"One of the huge benefits of lighting control is aesthetics," Arthur says. "Instead of seeing all these light switches when you open the front door, you have one keypad with a Welcome Home button that turns on whatever lights you want to go on. One button press and you're done. Or think about a kitchen where you have a sink light, island pendants, under-cabinet lights, lights over the breakfast table, etc. Replacing all that with one or two keypads simplifies control and reduces clutter."
To learn more about home control and automation options, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.