Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summertime Summertime Sum-Sum-Summertime!

It's summertime and you'll be going on vacation soon. So when you go on vacation, how many lights are you going to leave on in your home? The front porch light and the foyer lights? Maybe the kitchen light and a bedroom light? And why do we always leave lights on when we go on vacation? to give the appearance that someone's always home? To discourace would-be thieves from breaking in? Do you think your really fooling anyone?

Maybe you have one of those plug-in timers that are set to turn on a lamp at 6:00PM and go off at 11:00PM. At least with this setup you're not wasting as much electricity, but having the lights come on and off at the same time every day wont really fool anyone.

What if at the touch of a single button you could turn your home into "vacation mode" and all throughout the days while you are enjoying your vacation different lights are turning on and off at different times each day, automatically. What if while that's going on, music or your television also had the ability to turn on and then off at various times making the house "sound" like there is someone at home. this is a fairly simple solution that really makes it seem that someone is home.
Read below for other items that you should be thinking about to give you "peace of mind" while out of your home. Enjoy your vacation.

Control4 Lighting Control

Control4 lights are as simple as replacing your existing switches. No special wiring or plugs to worry about. Light switches and dimmers can easily be programmed to turn on or off at designated times. You can program lighting scenes that can be activiated from a remote control or touch screen.

Control4 dimmers are so smart that we can change the lighting intensity based on a specific time of day. Imagine in your kitchen not having the lights on at 100% during the day because of all of the natural light that you have, but over time as it gets dark outside the lights could automatically "ramp up". Would you think you would save on electricity? How about the life of the light bulb? Imagine how your electric bill would look if you took more control of your lights. A solution could quickly cost-justify itself.
Contract your sales rep for more information on adding light switches and
dimmers to your project.


Having the ability to see what's going on at home is such a pleasure while you are on vacation and can really provide you even more peace-of-mind. Adding video cameras is fairly simple with wireless IP. These cameras can be connected wirelessly to your network and accessed via the Control4 systems 4-Sight account. See exactly what's going on inside and outside of your home anytime! Contact your Smart Automation Solutions sales rep for more information on the different types of cameras available for your system.

Water Leakage Detection
Imagine being on vacation and coming back to find four feet of standing water in your home. It had happened and more often than you might think. Imagine how much money tou could have saved in repair costs if only you knew early on that there was a problem.

By installing the Card Access Water Leakage Detection kit to your Control4 system you could be notified of water leaks as they begin instead of being too late. Once the sensors detect water the system will immediately send you an email notifying you of the problem. Notify multiple people in your household or continuously receive messages until someone responds.

These devices can be installed next to hot water heaters, washing machines, sump pumps or anywhere a leak may occur. they are available in battery operated versions as well so they can be installed almost anywhere! Contact your Smart Automation Solutions sapes rep for more information.
Thanks for reading and we will continue to keep you updated with new technology and integration information!

Remember, Make Life Simple.
Best regards,
Gary Flax
Smart Automation Solutions

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring is Here!

Spring is here and for some, vacation time is just around the corner. Wouldn't it be great if while you are away your home gave the appearance that you were still there? Lights turning on and off at various times of the day, even music or televisions turning on and off at certain times as well.

Control4 gives you the ability to turn your home into "vacation" mode at the touch of a single button. Did you forget to turn vacation mode on before you left the house? No worries! From any internet connection or even from your Smartphone you can access your home and turn it on from wherever you are. Read about other capabilities available for your home in this month's update.

Water Leakage Detection

What if you left home for the day and came back only to find four feet of water in your basement? Sounds like a horror story to most of us, but believe it or not it's a true story and could have happened to anybody.

Card Access has a simple wireless device that can notify you in the event that you have water in various areas of the home. The Wireless Leakage Detector can be programmed to notify you by email or text at the first sign of water in an unwanted area of your home. Connected to a Control4 solution with lighting control, we can program your system to flash the lights in the event of a leak, or we can play a wave file through your home audio system telling you "you have a leak at the washing machine, you have a leak at the washing machine" until you address the problem.

Why wait until you have a problem. Get notified before it becomes a major issue.

Introducing Episode Speakers

Speaker technology hasn't changed very much in our lifetime. A design that produced good sound 40 years ago still produces good sound today. Quality materials, quality craftsmanship and a trained ear have always been the ingredients of a great speaker design.

What has changed - a lot - is how often we use the technology. Installing speakers in a wall or ceiling produces unique performance challenges. So do digital audio sources, seven channel home theater and whole-house audio.

When Jay Faison established Episode speakers after 10 years in the custom installation business, he invisioned a company that brought together high performance speaker technology with real-world experience. The result is a line of products that are designed from the outset to perform in your home...not a speaker laboratory.

In-ceiling, in-wall and home theater speakers are available in 6" and 8" varieties. Please call for more information.

TiVo Premiere Now Available

What is "TiVo"?
TiVo service automatically finds and digitally records your favorite TV shows every time they air, even if the network schedule changes, without the hassles of videotape.
You decide what's on when. Pause, rewind, instant replay, slo-motion live TV. Plus, never miss an episode again with automatic, digital recordings of your favorite shows-no tapes, no timers, no worries.

Main Why-to-Buys
-Never miss your favorite shows. Your TiVo box automatically finds and digitally records every episode, even if the schedule changes.
-Pause live TV - handle all of life's interruptions without missing your favorite shows.
-Fast-forward through the boring stuff and just watch what you want.
-Get more from your existing channel lineup, no matter how many channels you have, and enjoy what you're already paying for.
-Automatically find and record shows by actor, director, sports team and keyword
Record your favorite shows from anywhere you have Internet access with Online Scheduling.
-Take your favorite shows with you on your laptop or burn your favorites to DVD.

Thanks for reading and we will continue to keep you updated with new technology and integration information!

Remember, Make Life Simple.


Gary Flax
Smart Automation Solutions
(240) 242-7272

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Exciting news from the Consumer Electronics Show......

So much has been going on that I have not been able to take the time to post any new items. Sorry for that! Time has really gotten away from me, but I am back and ready to provide you with more information as home automation technology is ever changing and there is so much to write about!

So, the CES show (Consumer Electronics Show) was just a few weeks ago in Las Vegas and from what I heard the big item that was the talk of the show were 3-D televisions. I'm not sure when this technology is really going to be ready for prime time, but manufacturers are pushing to get their new televisions out to market by spring 2010, even though 3-D content will be limited at best. There will be televisions that will take 2-D technology and be able to convert to 3-D technology as well as televisions that will be true 3-D, needing 3-D content in order to take advantage of the visual enhancement. These 3-D sets will be HD televisions and will be able to be used for non-3D broadcasts as well.

Another big hit at the CES show was at the Control4 booth, where it seemed to be standing room only most of the weekend. Control4, a leader in affordable IP based home automation solutions, is about to introduce their new software version (version 2.0) which I spoke about in my last post back in September. They showed a lot of new features including their new "App Store" that will be called "4Store" which users of the Control4 systems will be able to download applications that were developed by various developers (similar to iPhone apps).

Some of the applications that will be initially available are a Netflix app, an eBay app and an energy monitoring app that will allow you to see energy usage based on equipment tied to your Control4 system. There is also an application for wine enthusiasts called eSommellier, for managing your wine collection. Other apps are being developed as we speak. They even have a First Aid app that gives you step by step instructions to help a sick or injured person. My understanding is that some apps will be free downloads while other will be fee based and all can be selected and purchased right from your television or touch screen.

Version 2.0 software will be available Spring 2010 and current customers will be able to upgrade their systems to this new software version. It's not a simple upgrade, as all devices on the system will need a software upgrade as well, so the process can be time consuming depending on the equipment you have installed on your specific system. Please contact me if you have any questions regarding this new technology or general home automation questions as well!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Control4 2.0 is Coming! And it's Hot!

Just back from the CEDIA show in Atlanta and all I can say is WOW! Control4 showed a sneak preview of the upcoming 2.0 software that should make it's release before the end of the year and it is going to be hot!

The Control4 booth was really buzzing this year! The setup was a little different than CES, but they certainly got their message across. The interface is getting a face lift. The 5 year old product is making a change to the interface which will give the homeowners more control and capabilities then ever.

Software version 2.0 brings a whole new operating system to Control4 and incorporates Zigbee Pro into their system. With the new interface, Control4 will now offer a software applications page (a-la Apple) whic will enable consumers to download "apps" written by developers. Some apps may be free, some may have a cost, but the consumer will have the ability to download these apps to their system directly from their touchscreen. The apps could be anything from news related to weather and even traffic apps (see photo for samples). As said above, they will be developed by dealers and other third party developers.

Another major milestone announced at CEDIA was that Control4 will now interface with Z-Wave, the "other" home automation interface technology. This gives Control a significant advantage over other products (not naming names!) in that it opens the door to several additional third party vendors that were only available to Z-Wave customers. It expands their relationships and interoperability with several other manufacturers giving more choices to consumers and installers. We are extremely excited about the upcoming software release from Control4 and will keep everyone posted once it becomes available to the consumer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Come Visit our new "Smart" Home!

So, we just finished a fantastic installation at our new demo home in Silver Spring, Maryland. The "spec" home was built by Housewright Development and we were happy to assist them with automating their show house. By the way, this is not a million dollar home. The home is priced at just $699,000.00 and includes the automation solution.

Inside we installed several items that really assist the homeowner to become more energy efficient. Items like a programmable wireless thermostat and programmable dimmers and switches that allow the homeowner to program lighting scenes and schedule timers so that they can control how much energy is used throughout the day. Our goal in setting up this house was to keep things simple so that ANYONE could use it.

We installed a multi-zone amplifier that supports speakers in the dining, kitchen, living room and master bedroom. Music can be accessed with a simple touch of a single button in each room. A 3-button keypad that allows access to several play lists is installed in the living and dining rooms that allows the user to select the play list they wish to listen to by pressing the top button. Press once and light jazz begins to play. Press the button twice and today's latest pop music begins to play. Press the same button three times and your now listening to your favorite Dave Matthews albums. Hold the button down for three seconds and the system turns off. Volume can be controlled by the other two buttons, one to raise the volume and the other to lower it.

Since the kitchen is usually the most common area of the home we installed a 7" touch screen that allows the homeowner to control the entire solution from. Access Rhapsody for all of your favorite music, see the installed IP video cameras displaying who's at the front door or parked in the driveway; control the thermostat right on the touch screen; Turn off the television in the family room to call the kids in for dinner. Control every music zone in the home from one location. The system is also tied to the alarm system, which allows us to use the touch screen as the alarm system touch pad, further simplifying by consolidating the amount of separate controllers/touch pads installed in the home.

In the family room we have a Sony Plasma television installed above the gas fireplace with a Denon Surround Sound receiver and a Blu-Ray DVD player hidden inside a cabinet that flanks the fireplace. Take control of the Control4 SR-25o Remote and you have full control of the system in the palm of your hands. Press the red "4" button and the system turns on and the screen quickly shows the simple Control4 menu screen. What do you want to do? Watch television, or maybe a DVD? Or maybe you want to listen to something on your iPod or a Rhapsody play list. Whatever you want to do it's just a simple selection away from starting. We have a three button keypad that you can control the fireplace and lights from. We can even program a scene that automatically dims the lights, starts the fireplace, changes the television to the correct input to begin watching a DVD all by just pressing "Play" on the remote control! How cool is that!

We are very excited about this house and all of the capabilities that this system brings to the homeowner. If you would like to see this home in action, please give us a call at 877-343-2727 and we would be happy to schedule a live demo.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Home Show Gods!

It's been a while since my last post and happily its because I've been very busy. It's home show season and we have kicked off the season with several successful showings. The thing about these shows is that you get all kinds of folks coming through the booths, people with varying degrees of interest in what you are showing, some that just want to take the free stuff we're giving away.

We have just come off of three very successful shows that I hope we have provided very good insight and information to those that chose to come and visit us. A lot of vendors at these shows are trying to sell items directly out of their booths. You see the Sham Wow towels and the pots and pans people are schlepping through the isles. My idea of a successful show is if I can help someone understand the value of what we are trying to provide. Having someone understand what you are explaining and seeing their eyes light up with that understanding that it isn't actually our of their budget, or giving them ideas as to improve on what they already own is such a powerful thing. I know this will sound odd, but I truly get a warm feeling when someone leaves the booth and says "thank you for educating me, I'm so glad that I took the time to stop and chat with you".

My true favorites however, are the ones that stop and say, "I don't understand what you do". Looking at my booth I thought it was obvious, but I'm in the business so of course it is to me. So I begin to explain it to them and you see the light bulb go off in their eyes and it's very cool. I know they're hooked.

So we have really put our new show booth (pictured) to the test. We have several more shows coming down the pike, as a matter of fact the next show is scheduled for next week at the Howard County Fairgrounds Friday Saturday and Sunday April 3rd, 4Th and 5Th. Following that we will be traveling across the US to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a show April 17Th and 18Th at the Snow King Center. If you have a moment, stop by and chat!

We are showcasing the Control4 Home Controller solution. At the booth we are showing the benefits of taking control of your lighting and thermostat in ways you may not have thought. You can search through the digital music we have installed on the system to play through the Control4 WiFi Speaker Point as well as play with the iPod and iPod dock integration for even more music choices. We are also showing how simple it is to operate your own equipment with our universal remote control such as your television, cable box and DVD players. Use the new Control4 7" Touch Panel or try the Apple iPhone/iTouch application or wireless control from anywhere in the home. Watch others pass by on our wireless camera that we have connected to the systems as well!