We’ve covered this before, but it seems like a good time to revisit the topic. There was a day when it was really difficult to install a smart home and home theater system in an existing home. The only way to do it, unless you had attic and crawl space in the perfect locations, was to cut open the walls and start retroing wire. YUCK!
Wireless technology, particularly with smart homes and audio/video, has come SO FAR. Today, we can install a system in an existing home that’s nearly as good as one we install in new construction, but without cutting any holes in your walls or ceilings. It’s true.
Did you already build your dream home? Are you content to stay where you are for the next few years, but don’t have an existing smart home, or Prewire package to build from. That’s ok. Going wireless, you can still have a very complete Smart Home and Audio/Video package in your home.
So how does it work? If you’re going wireless, what’s the process?
Step 1: Choose Your Platform
Right now we prefer Control4. There are other systems on the market, Samsung Smartthings, Wink, etc. — we also use 2GIG’s GC3 for smaller lighter weight applications — But Control4 has the horsepower and the bandwidth to give clients the most options now, and as they add to their system down the road.
Step 2: Choose Your Starting Point
Sometimes we have clients who want to do the entire house now, but more often than not clients come to us and they only want to focus on one aspect of the home. It could be entertainment control of the main TV and video components, it could be lighting control, or maybe it’s home Audio. It doesn’t really matter where you being, just find the area that’s most appealing to you.
My parents recently had us install a small system to run their Media Room. It was a real simple install. We used a controller from Control4, a couple of Control4 dimmers, a wireless Sonos surround system, and Amazon Echo for voice control. The results? They LOVED IT.
They’ve since added in a Sonos PLAY:3, and have plans to incorporate another TV, more audio, and more lighting control. But the starting point was the Media Room.
Step 3: Start Growing Your System
I’ve found it’s helpful to look at the smart home and audio/video as a modular system. Each piece of the system is its own stand alone piece, and can be added any time.
A Sonos surround sound is a stand alone system, and doesn’t require any other system for it to work. Lutron’s Caseta lighting, is a stand lone system. You get the idea.
So maybe you start with the Sonos surround. Later you decide to incorporate Control4 and Amazon Echo so the entire media experience is voice controlled. That’s the fun of going wireless. Start where you want, and add in additional pieces when you’re ready.
We can’t cover all the modules in this post, but take a look at our Smart Home Project page, and you’ll find more info on products that work with Control4.
Step 4: Keep Going
Today you can do just about anything wireless. We have a demo in our showroom of an entirely wireless Theater. The projection, the surround — it’s all wireless. The only thing it needs is power.
Sometimes we associate ‘wireless’ with lower quality, but that’s not the case anymore. Don’t get me wrong, given the opportunity we still prefer hardwiring what we can, but in an existing home wireless is a great option.
Don’t be afraid of wireless technology. I’m confident you’ll be thrilled with your Smart Home and Audio/Video system even if it’s wireless. Keep your eyes open. There’s always exciting new wireless tech coming out you can add into your system.
So What’s the Next Step?
Get started! Honest, that’s the next step. People think it has to cost an arm and a leg. It use to, but advances in technology have really brought prices down. A Control4 EA1 cost $500. Add an Amazon Dot, a little in programming, and you’ll have voice control of your TV and video components. Add in a Sonos PLAY:1 for $199, and you have your first room of wireless audio.
So click on over to our Smart Home Project page, look around, and when you’re ready to get started give us a call. Let us know what you’re thinking you want to do, and we’ll help you piece together the right starting package.
Matt is a co-founder and lead systems designer for TYM LLC. His smart home and audio/visual designs have won three “Home of the Year Awards” from Electronic House & CE Pro magazine, and two awards from the Consumer Technology Association, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year".
Matt is a golden State fan.