What is a Smart Home?
The ‘Smart’ prefix is often used to convey the expanded utility of a modern device. Smartphones, for example, take the basic functionality of a phone and pair it with a myriad of other technological services, providing a much more thorough communication medium. The idea behind a smart home is to bring the same level of convenience to the mundane trivialities of home life. Generally speaking, a smart home will provide an operating system through which other smart devices can function under a single system, bringing full control of every aspect of life right to your fingertips. Entertainment systems, HVAC, lighting, and more can all be controlled with a single remote thanks to the power of smart home systems, and Control4 is one of the most well known and respected names in the home automation industry.
The History of Control4
In 2003, Will West, Mark Morgan, and Eric Smith started Control4 with the goal of creating an effective platform for a convenient home through advanced technology. Their products were first debuted at the CEDIA tech show in 2004, and their initial production line was available later that year. Several high-profile investors, including Cisco, Foundation Capital, and Signal Peak Ventures, gave them the ability to continually innovate their products, and the company went public in 2013. At the time, it was praised as the first public offering of a pure-play smart home company ever. Control4 has offices spread throughout the world to ensure their customers won’t have to look far, and their presence is felt in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
Features Provided by Control4 Systems
Those who take full advantage of a Control4 system will find there are countless ways to improve the quality of a home by using these advanced devices. These systems can control lighting, audio across several rooms simultaneously, heating and air conditioning, home protection systems, and more. Control4 manufactures their own products that integrate with these systems for a seamless experience, and their base consoles are able to communicate with and operate over 8,000 third-party devices and systems, including Sony music devices and Nest smart thermostats. Each device can be controlled via an iOS device or any of their integrated control elements, like wireless keypads, in-wall touch screens, digital remote controls, and tabletop touchscreen tablets. With Control4, you can manipulate the audio throughout an entire home, change the lighting at will, adjust the temperature, control the Blu-Ray players, and so much more.
The possible features of the Control4 home automation system are so vast that we’ve broken them down below by overarching area of effect for your convenience.
- Entertainment – Control4 is the perfect way to bring together your favorite entertainment devices into a single medium. You can use the device to stream high-definition video, including the newest 4K media, and it allows you to stream premium quality music to your entire home, a few select rooms, or just a single room. Your TV and movie database will be centrally located in one location, and any number of streaming services and devices, like Amazon Fire, Roku, Netflix, Hulu, and AppleTV, can be used with the Control4 system. By properly organizing your equipment with a Control4 system, you can create an entertainment space free of the general clutter associated with multiple devices.
- Smart Lighting – Light is one of the most important, and most often overlooked, elements in your home. The precision of the Control4 system allows you to subtly manipulate any light in your home from wherever you might find yourself. Dim the lights while you’re away so your home doesn’t appear vacant. Increase power efficiency and convenience by setting a light schedule that corresponds with your life. Everything is controlled wirelessly, so you can change settings even while away. The system can take advantage of motion and light sensors to optimize internal lighting, so you can forget the system is working at all. It seamlessly blends into your daily life with no command from you.
- Security – The Control4 system provides intelligent security that instantly alerts you when there’s a problem, like a leaking pipe or door left ajar. The Control4 app allows you to view footage from your security cameras right on your smartphone, so you can be sure your home is safe at all times. The app even lets you see the status of your door locks, and lock them if necessary. One-touch arm and disarm makes it easy to set and forget, and while you’re away the system alternates lights to make it appear is if someone is home.
- General Convenience – Your heating and AC system can be controlled from your mobile device with Control4, and you can set a schedule for the climate with just a few taps. Gas logs can be turned on with the app, outdoor systems are easily controlled from any terminal, and automatic sprinklers will respond to weather conditions without any intervention. A video intercom system makes it easy to see who’s at the door without leaving the couch. If you place a door terminal outside in place of an old doorbell, you can answer with face-to-face video chat. You can even unlock the door right from the same control screen.
The full list of every potential feature of this smart home system would be prohibitively long, and it’s only going to get longer. A software protocol released in 2012 allows new devices to instantly integrate into a Control4 system, similar to UPnP. Over 500 devices are already sold with this Simple Device Discovery Protocol (SDDP), and more will be added to that list, including those from large companies like Sony, Bose, TiVo, Epson, and Sharp.
Each aspect of your home can be controlled by a separate Control4 element. Wireless keypads, in-wall touch screen terminals, and tabletop touch screen terminals are all available, as are digital remote controllers, dimmer and standard switches, and lighting panels. Each of these elements are ultimately controlled by the main Controller box, which is available in three varieties. The three configurations are outlined below.
- EA-1 – The starter Entertainment & Automation system in the lineup, this is perfect for standard entertainment center automation. It can upgraded to incorporate control of other elements as well.
- EA-3 – This midlevel controller is great for multi-room scenarios, and its automation abilities are ideal for small to midsize homes.
- EA-5 – The powerhouse of the series, the EA-5 can process hundreds of devices simultaneously, including any system in your home.
Control4 also makes a series of door locks and door terminals that blend seamlessly with the home. These dedicated devices can be controlled with the Control4 app, which is available on all iOS devices, including the Apple Watch. The Control4 app is preloaded on each of their dedicated touch screen terminals, including their 7″ and 10″ T3 In-Wall series. Their tabletop T3 series has the exact same functionality, but delivers it through a convenient, portable tablet.
The wireless keypads available from Control4 are perfectly suited for the complex tasks at hand. The keypads can be personalized with anywhere from two to seven buttons, and with nine sleek colors, the combinations are endless. The keypad buttons come in four distinct sizes, and they can each be configured to operate any feature or set of features in your home.
Control4 also manufactures incredible digital remotes that use bright screens to convey information about action options, current settings, and more. The SR-260 is more than capable of replacing every remote you own, including those for audio and visual entertainment systems. The remote is available with English labeling, or with a special international labeling that doesn’t rely on language, but instead uses intuitive imagery.
Availability and Pricing
Control4 home automation systems are sold through an expansive network of over 3,300 authorized dealers throughout 88 countries. Of those, over 2,500 are in North America. Toll Brothers homebuilders has partnered with Control4 to offer homes with integrated automation systems. If you’d like to check on the availability of a local dealer, visit the Control4 dealer locator here.
Control4 systems start at $600, but other fees may apply depending on the installation requirements. This bundle, which includes the EA-1 Controller and the SR-260 Remote, is a great way to start your home automation upgrade. If you’re in the market for a more robust home automation system, you should visit the Control4 planning guide page here. This simple guide will help you find the perfect system, and you’ll be able to connect with Control4 representatives who will offer further assistance.