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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.).
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 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.
Contact Crestron for a quote on your home.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Equipment Fee: $199.93
- Interactive: $44.99/month
- Ultimate: $49.99/month
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 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.
ADT Pulse has four different packages available. Monitoring starts at $58.99/month. The equipment packages are free.
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.
- Remote + Host: $499
- Remote: $399
- Lamp Control: $99
- Host: $199
- Blaster: $169
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.
Vivint offers two basic packages. Installation costs vary depending on your location. You have to contact Vivint for pricing.
This video gives a great overview of home automation features currently available.
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 in-depth smart home guide – you will be amazed at how many things you can do today. (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?
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