If you’re not into DIY, you can get a high-end, whole-house system complete with music, video, surveillance cameras, security, lighting controls, and smart thermostats for a few thousand dollars.
“Some of the shining stars of affordable automation technology are Crestron, with its affordable Prodigy series, and Control4,” says Josh Christian, vice president of marketing for Los Angeles-based DSI Entertainment Systems.
“Both of these systems bring down the price points of home-automation hardware so that you don’t have to be in the top one percent to be George Jetson. The other plus of these systems are that they are somewhat modular.
“You can start small with simple audio/video control and add other systems, like lighting or climate, as time goes on. There are a few less-expensive systems on the market, but most are not as flexible and reliable as Prodigy from Crestron.”
You can get a nice little home-automation starter package, like Crestron’s Prodigy, for around $3,000, which gives you iPad control of lights, thermostats, security, and entertainment at a touch of a button.
“To completely automate a 2,500-3,000 square-foot mid-century modern home controlling audio, video, climate, lighting, shades, pool, and security, expect to spend between $30,000 and $60,000 depending on how much of a control freak you are,” Christian says. “This will get you the installation, programming, hardware, and all the widgets you need to create a really robust system.”
Robin Wilson, a nationally recognized eco-friendly and healthy-space interior designer, recommends Crestron’s home-technology solutions, which eliminate the need to walk from room to room adjusting lights, drapes, and temperatures.
“The key is to hire a professional who won’t just sell to your budget—they’ll ask you about your lifestyle and find solutions to help you find something that you can also afford,” she says.
The beauty of the Prodigy system is that it’s easy to add on to it when you want to introduce additional devices later on. Unlike some other systems, Prodigy is generally wireless, which means it won’t require days of electrical work and miles of wiring.
But if you have the inclination and the bucks, there is no limit to what home-automation systems can do for you. Savant’s Apple-based home-control and automation system uses in-wall and tabletop iPads that bring up music and movies, dim the lights, close your window shades, and adjust your HVAC system.
The company recently released the iTunes Match subscription service for its Savant systems. Match enables users to automatically sync music and playlists between their home computer, any compatible ions devices, and their Savant system. This means that both transfer and access of music files have been made dramatically easier, including music purchased from iTunes, CDs imported from a personal collection, or music purchased from another online service.
By using iPad, the company is opening more-complex home automation to a whole new audience. A Savant eight-zone audio and home-control system built around iPad can cost consumers about $7,000, compared with $15,000 to $20,000 using traditional built-in Savant touch screens, according to Savant’s marketing director Craig Spinner.
Savant's home-control app is available as a $9.99 download from Apple's online app store, but installers must program it to control the systems they design for specific homes.
As homeowners continue to get frustrated over rising energy bills, they’re looking toward home automation that will help them reduce their carbon footprint.
“With demand for electricity rising, right along with energy costs, a typical homeowner can easily spend hundreds of dollars a month on summer utility bills, which for some can be almost the equivalent of a house payment,” says Brandon Chase, an energy efficiency expert and product-development manager at Lennox, a manufacturer of home heating and cooling equipment.