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Bringing automation into your home

image courtesy of eieihome receives frequent questions about home automation, so we contacted Nick Malfara of Design-Spec to discuss the latest trends in home technology. If you follow the Design-Spec Building Group blog, Twitter or Facebook pages you’ll regularly see them post articles and reviews of these technologies within the context of how their customers tell them they live and the components and features they would “ideally” like in their homes if budget were not an issue.

What do homeowners want from automation?

Nick Malfara: Many of these clients want some “nice to have” creature comforts like distributed audio and video, integration of smart televisions and appliances and the integration of home security systems and cameras.  The point here is that 10 years ago, the majority of homeowners could not even contemplate the heavy price tags associated with even the simplest of systems.  Those that could afford systems were forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Control4 control screens with Control4 Title -eieihome

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Can you afford to automate your home?

NM: Today, almost everyone can afford some degree of home automation as many of the systems are scalable, meaning you can start with something very basic; such as distributing audio to speakers you have in various rooms throughout your home and then later expanding the system by adding components, wiring and programming to control your security, automate your lighting and even your heating and cooling.

A basic system that would include a replacement thermostat to control your heating and cooling, a few replacement switches to control key lighting such as exterior entry lights or soffit lighting and control of your home theatre or family room for things like the television, the stereo and audio inputs like an iPod so you can distribute music or video saved on your iPod through your home speakers or television can start for as little as $4,000 and include labour to install and programming.  More elaborate systems can escalate to near six figures for owners wishing to automate or control their entire home and all its associated system.

Is home automation necessary?

NM: A common question we get from clients is “do I really need this”?  Well, the answer is no.  However, as technology continues to change and become integrated into everything we put into our homes, it is becoming a natural extension of our homes and the built in technologies of many of its components that we also use this technology to help us integrate and control it all for ease of use.  Ultimately and from my personal perspective, I believe the home automation system must provide a benefit to its owner otherwise it is not worth having.

Premier Smart Homes - Home Theatre Control4 - eieihome

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With my own system, I started with a very basic system that controlled my home theatre and my furnace and air conditioning and have now expanded it slowly and over time to include control and automation of all my lighting, security, audio, video and home theatre.

In Part 2 of this article, eieihome will speak to Nick Malfara of Design-Spec to find out: how this system gets implemented into your home;  the devices and software that help you control the system, and access from anywhere in the world with the touch of a button on your smartphone.

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