Setting a Home Technology Budget
Whether you're considering a surround-sound system, a house-wide audio distribution system or an automation system, purchasing technology for your home is unlike many other purchases you might make.
Since these electronic devices work as a system, pricing them can be a bit more difficult. For example, if you want to buy a car, you can walk up and look at the sticker price; but if you had to buy the seats, motor, doors, windows, tires and other parts separately, the process would be more complex.
Fortunately, a good home technology professional can help you navigate these waters - designing a system that meets both your budget and performance requirements. However, if you're considering the purchase of a new system, having an initial budget in mind is helpful for both you and your home tech professional.
Depending on the scope of work to be done, systems can range in pricing from the thousands to well over six figures. Having some kind of budget in mind will help the home tech pro design a system that better fits your needs and your wallet. Here are some guidelines for planning your home technology budget:
Between speakers, controllers, networked devices, TVs and more, your home will require a lot of wiring to accommodate the various systems.
- Many firms charge a "per drop" or "per room" price that covers all of the wiring parts and labor, whereas others bill based on "time and materials."
- The wiring for the home theater typically uses higher-quality and more expensive cabling, and is often the most costly single room to wire and $500-1000 (or more) isn't unusual for a typical media room.
- House-wide audio and automation system wiring will vary in cost based on the type of system being installed and the size of the room, but you can use $200-300 per room for initial budgeting.
Home Theater System
Every home theater system consists of the same four elements: display, processing/amplification, speakers, and source components.
- At the low end, a home theater system starts around $5,000, but systems costing $10-15,000 are more common, especially when using two-piece projection or other higher-performing components.
- Dedicated home theaters can often be far more elaborate and can easily exceed $50,000.
House-wide Audio Distribution System
A house-wide audio distribution system will need control, amplification, source components and speakers.
- At the low end, a single volume control might cost less than $100, whereas a touchpanel control might cost $1000 or more.
- Amplification cost varies based on the system selected, but generally ranges between $200-400 per room.
- Speakers are often installed in pairs and range from $150-1000 per pair depending on size and performance.
- Source components, such as CD changers, Satellite radio and streaming audio are usually the least expensive and are typically $200-400 per component.
An automation system involves many separate elements, making budget planning a tad more difficult.
- Every automation system includes a central controller or processor that runs the system along with a variety of subsystems.
- The main controller varies greatly in price depending on the automation system selected and the scope of the overall project; for example, controlling five lights and one thermostat requires a different system than one that controls 100 lights and 10 thermostats.
- An automated lighting system is often $130-200 per lighting leg.
- Smart "communicating" thermostats for HVAC systems are often a few hundred dollars.
- Controlling your automation system may involve purchasing some kind of controller like a color touchscreen (typically $1000 or more), or you might be able to utilize an iOS or Android device you already own.
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