Don’t Buy Into Smart Home Technology Until You Read This

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Crestron logo
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Control4 logo
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Homeseer logo
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Frontpoint logo small

Is your home smart enough? Can you have the lights dimmed, fireplace on and temperature set perfectly for when you arrive home? How handy would that be for a date night?

There are some cool gadgets with amazing features available on the market today that allow you to control everything in your house from one device. Most of these services and devices use Z-Wave technology, a wireless communication protocol that utilizes low power RF signals to allow for remote control of various household items (lights, TVs, locks, cameras, etc.).

Article Overview

Who Offers The Best Home Automation System?

Note: The companies specialize in home automation, so they offer all the bells and whistles when it comes to smart home. But, there are several other options that include home security and might meet your needs just as well, if you are not a tech buff.

Crestron Review

#1

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Crestron has been a big name in home automation since 1971. They have an outstanding reputation, which is maybe why they think it’s ok to charge such high prices.

However, their equipment has an elegant look to it, which is why our readers love the look of their home with this equipment. The equipment is robust and reliable and it supports different touch screens, remotes and more.

Pros

Cons

  • Strong reputation
  • Great customer service
  • Equipment performs well
  • Variety of equipment available
  • Built in voice recognition software
  • Expensive
  • Only sold through authorized dealers
  • Changing your setup is time-consuming since you need a professional

Pricing

Contact Crestron for a quote on your home.

Control4 Review

#2

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Control4 has the best smart home technology features. This company specializes in home automation, however it is also one of the most expensive services.

Once it is installed (by their team of professionals), the system is simple to use and most of the things you’ll want to do simply require the push of a button. When you’re going to bed, push one button and the shades will go down in your room, the lighting will turn off, the thermostat will adjust to nighttime temperatures and all the TVs will power off.

This comprehensive and customizable system allows you to control lighting, audio/video, garage doors, heating/air conditioning and talk to one another all with a remote or your cell phone.

Pros

Cons

  • Receive alerts to your smartphone
  • East use (once it’s installed)
  • Specializes in-house automation so they tend to be ahead of the trends – this also means that the smart home features work great
  • Fully customizable to meet your needs
  • Voice control available through a third-party
  • Can take weeks for the professional installer to get it scheduled and set up
  • Expensive
  • If you want any changes a professional must do them
  • iPad and iPhone interface are limited compared to touchscreen panel

Pricing

Depending on which features you choose, pricing can be anywhere from $1,000 to more than $50,000. Control4 offers a la carte options, so each package varies based on the customer. You have to call Control 4 directly to get pricing for your specific features.

Homeseer Review

#3

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HomeSeer is our third place winner because not only do they specialize in smart home technology, they also have everything you could possibly dream of to automate a house.

In addition, HomeSeer has voice recognition, so you can tell the system what you would like done, which many companies don’t offer. Finally, they have a huge list of available devices ranging from security cameras to lighting and thermostat controls.

Pros

Cons

  • Voice recognition capabilities
  • Compatible with most media players as well as both Mac and Windows
  • Customizable
  • Nice interface on touchscreen devices
  • Great customer service reputation
  • Hard to set up due to lots of hardwiring vs. wireless for some of the competitors
  • Not compatible with Windows Mobile App and Blackberry smartphones
  • Expensive if you add a lot of features

Pricing

HomeSeer offers a la carte services so the prices vary based on the features you select. Software starts at $79.96 and can go up to $479.96, depending on the upgrade version.

HomeSeer does a great job of listing its prices online, so be sure to visit their website because the list is extensive.

Frontpoint Review

#4

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For a security company, we think they do a great job covering the basic home automation technology needs at a reasonable price, which is why it’s our #4 pick. Frontpoint’s system is not nearly as expensive as our top two picks, and while they are not home automation-focused, the added benefit of home security alongside home automation, all at a great price, may just tip you over the edge.

They offer light controls, door locks and thermostats. You can also plug small appliances into the wireless light control so you can turn them on and off remotely. Their smart home offerings are limited to Z-Wave controlled technology.

Pros

Cons

  • Inexpensive and easy to install yourself
  • Great customer service reputation
  • Known for home security, you get the added bonus of an alarm system along with your automation features
  • Control your home automation from a computer, smartphone or tablet
  • No voice recognition software
  • Monthly fees
  • Limited options compared to competitors

Pricing

Equipment Fee: $199.93

Monthly Fee:

  • Interactive: $44.99/month
  • Ultimate: $49.99/month

Read Our In-Depth Review Of Frontpoint

Other Home Automation Solutions

Below are the other companies that we reviewed. Three of the four (ADT, Frontpoint and Vivint) are home security companies that offer home automation options in addition to securing your home. Take a look to see if these might give you more bang for your buck, especially if you are also looking to add a home security system.

ADT | Savant | Vivint

ADT Pulse Review

ADT Pulse logo

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ADT is a home security company that offers lights, locks and thermostat controls with their ADT Pulse customizable home automation package. You control everything with your smartphone and there is a home control touchscreen as well. You also have access to your motion sensors, thermostat monitors and video on your smartphone.

Pros

Cons

  • Mobile app allows remote access to your home
  • 24/7 intruder and fire monitoring with email and text alerts
  • Not transparent with pricing, so hard to know how much you will pay until the installer is in your home
  • Reputation varies by location since ADT is operated via local dealers. Poor reputations of many regional dealers has given the larger brand a less than stellar service rating, so be sure to check the Better Business Bureau and talk to your neighbors who have ADT about whether it is a good choice in your neighborhood vs. other options

Pricing

ADT Pulse has four different packages available. Monitoring starts at $58.99/month. The equipment packages are free.

Read Our In-Depth Review Of ADT

Savant Review

Savant logo

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Savant is an easy-to-use home automation product similar to Apple products (not a security provider). Its high price is also pretty limiting. The Savant system syncs automatically with iOS and Android to bring automation to audio, security, climate and lighting needs.

It includes an in-home communication system, so you can talk from your smartphone to the home’s intercom system. The energy output of your house is monitored and Savant suggests ways to cut costs, similar to Nest.

Pros

Cons

  • Enhances energy efficiency
  • With Savant’s Telephony technology you can access and control your smart home system from your mobile phone or with one of Savant’s desktop or cordless phones
  • User-friendly like an Apple product
  • Voice control
  • Expensive
  • Requires professional installation

Pricing

  • Remote + Host: $499
  • Remote: $399
  • Lamp Control: $99
  • Host: $199
  • Blaster: $169

Vivint Review

Vivint logo

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Vivint offers the standard smart home technology features: lights, locks and thermostats, in addition to its home security offering. Vivint focuses on being “green” to save you energy.

The downside is that it has to be professionally installed and is a little pricier than some of the other home security companies that also offer home automation.

Pros

Cons

  • Focus on being energy-efficient
  • Access to your system from a computer, smartphone or tablet
  • Easy to use and understand
  • No voice recognition software
  • Requires professional installation so higher upfront cost
  • Monthly fee

Pricing

Vivint offers two basic packages. Installation costs vary depending on your location. You have to contact Vivint for pricing.

Read Our In-Depth Review Of Vivint

What Is A Smart Home?

This video gives a great overview of home automation features currently available.

So Many Options

As you can see, you have plenty of options when shopping for smart home technology. Would you rather pay more money up front with Savant, Homeseer or Control4? Or would you rather pay very little out-of-pocket and instead have a monthly payment that will also include a security system? And, of course, will your smart home be “smart” enough to be your wingwoman or wingman on date night and dim the lights at the appropriate time ;).

Be sure to visit our article on 5 smart home gadgets to make your life better – while these are not all-encompassing solutions, you will be amazed at what they can do. (Note: home automation and smart home technology are often used synonymously today, but they may be differentiated in the future.)

How do you think a smart home system will enhance your life?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing products and services.

Kimberly has been writing about security and safety since 2013, covering subjects such as home security and automation, identity theft protection, home warranties, medical alert systems and more. In 2018, she had her first child, and that opened up a whole new avenue of security experience with baby gear. She wanted to purchase the safest items for her family.

Security is a passion of hers, and she knows it isn’t a one size fits all category. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

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Sean K
Nice job on this review, but I’m a bit confused at the top 3 vs the rest of the pack. It seem to me that Crestron, Control 4, and Homeseer are on another level of service and product than the likes of ADT and Frontpoint. Am I wrong, do you get a similar home automation experience with both?
Darth Vader
So Crestron, Control4 and Savant differs from say smart things because of how it integrates with other devices? Please give more clarity on this as I definitely don’t like that I need professional help to make changes to the system.
Alex Schenker (Admin)
Hi Darth, whole home automation systems such as those offered by the companies you mention are mostly hardwired, require pro install, and expensive vs individual plug-n-play solutions that you can DIY. Don’t buy into smart home technology until you read this.

ps. Please don’t zap us with the dark side!

James
I have Home Technology Integration, an Edinburgh based company which was partially installed in the flat I bought. I paid a couple of hundred quid to get my sky installed via them, but the component has broken after only 2 years. They are saying that the warranty is only 1 year, so are now asking for a call out fee of £125 + £35 per half hour after then plus component costs. I am quite simply outraged, and want to know if any one else has had any negative experience with this company, and what my rights are to challenging this.
Joseph Mack
This list is great. I think it is important to highlight using branded products (and not some replica version sold via Alibaba). These companies’ reputation is based on how secure they are and work hard to close all security flaws as they appear.
Brian Newman
Program your settings to dim lights and play music with the push of a button. When you’re going to bed, push one button and the shades will go down in your room, the lighting will turn off, the thermostat will adjust to nighttime temperatures, and all the TVs will power off.
Mike Norton
Apparently this was updated now that Cestron is on top! I love this comparison, but I’m looking for more than the basic highlight video of how it works. Any suggestions?
Arnold Timer
The fact that you have Homeseer and Creston in the same category is ridiculous. There are simply too many errors here to point them all out. In 2014, Crestron wasn’t mentioned, in 2016 they’re #1? Crestron offers no customer service; consumers can only get help through authorized dealers. Savant no longer makes any telephone products, needing a professional installer is not a con, etc.
Michael Johnson
Wanted to point out that Savant works with Android just fine. And also has a starting price point of $499 for the new remote and host. It includes voice control.

Having installed most of the professional systems listed above, there are some holes in your pros and cons. Control4 is a great platform – true. But it can take weeks to program and get things “just right”. It is also very limiting for the end user when they want to make any changes. Other than the lighting – every change requires a programmer. Also – the iPad and iPhone interfaces are limited when compared to their own proprietary touchscreen. Control4 does allow voice control from a third party.

I also find it interesting that Crestron is not mentioned as it was basically the company that started home automation and has been at the forefront for 50+ years.

Also – Revolve was bought out by Nest and shuttered over a year ago.

Guest
Are you serious? Can the price be as much as $50,000?
Guest
Yes, we’re serious. It depends how many features you want.