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Home Automation Bullhead City AZ

the current state of home automation in Bullhead City can be summed up in two words: integration and functionality. Many home electronic and electrical systems that once operated and were controlled independently are now being integrated to function as a whole.

Worldwide Fire Inc
(928) 768-7814
1660 E Lakeside Dr # 300
Bullhead City, AZ
Reliable Security Co
(928) 758-2157
610 Ramar Rd
Bullhead City, AZ
Guard Force Inc Llc
(928) 754-3013
1081 Highway 95
Bullhead City, AZ
A-Fire Equipment Co
(928) 788-3578
PO Box 6842
Mohave Valley, AZ
ADT® Home Security
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3011 S 52nd St
Tempe, AZ
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At Systems Security Inc
(928) 704-6145
1335 Hancock Road Suite 4
Bullhead City, AZ
Abc Fire Extinguisher
(928) 758-1301
3994 Frontage Rd
Bullhead City, AZ
A-Fire Equipment Co
(928) 768-7814
5010 Highway 95 # 16
Fort Mohave, AZ
West Phoenix Locksmiths
(623) 321-4697
4105 N 51St Ave # 155
Phoenix, AZ

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Flagstaff, AZ
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Home Automation

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The current state of home automation can be summed up in two words: integration and functionality. Many home electronic and electrical systems that once operated and were controlled independently are now being integrated to function as a whole. This has resulted in a high level of functionality, enabling the homeowner to manage the entire system from a single source, usually a touchscreen, and automate the home in ways never before possible.

Many homeowners already have installed a number of the components that are considered part of a whole-house system. Lighting or security systems, such as a motion-detection system that sounds off when someone enters the premises, are examples of rudimentary home automation.

But as these systems multiply, the management process becomes more complicated. It's not uncommon for a home to have four or five remote controls or keypads, one for each system. This can become unwieldy and even frustrating for homeowners. But new devices enable homeowners to tie all these systems together for simple central control.

The goal, of course, is to make our lives easier, and with whole-house control, we can do just that. The possibilities are impressive indeed: distributed audio systems enable jazz lovers to listen to their favorite Medeski, Martin & Wood album in the den while the teen residents of the household thrash around in the media room listening to the latest Ozzfest lineup and they're all accessing music from the same library, using the same control system.

One of home automation's most popular functions is lighting control: As long as you are near a touch panel, you can turn off the lights in the kitchen, no matter where you are in the house.

But the real value is achieved through integration. Because everything is tied together, one event or routine can trigger another. For instance, if someone rings your front doorbell, the system can turn on the outside lights and bring up the foyer lights. Pushing a night-mode button on a touchscreen will automatically lower the window shades and the thermostat, shut the garage doors, turn off the living-room lights and turn on the bedroom lights. If someone sets off a motion detector in the backyard at midnight, the outdoor floodlights turn on, and the lights in the house switch on. Lighting, energy, security, audio/visual and other systems are all linked for convenience, safety and energy efficiency.

How It Works

Typically installed and programmed by professionals, home-control systems consist of a main hub (or computer), programming software, wires that connect the components throughout the house, and any number of user interfaces (or touch panels) of various shapes and sizes, depending on the homeowner's requirements. Some touch panels are mounted on walls, while others are designed to be mobile, like any remote control.

Most custom installation companies will interview the homeowner to determine how the system should be programmed. For example, you may want all of the exterior lights to come on at full brightness when someone rings the doorbell. Or, when you select the party setting on the touchscreen, you may want the lights in the hallways, living room and downstairs lounge area to dim and the music to be a specific volume. Every night when you hit the sleep button, your motorized blinds can lower and all lights in the house can turn off automatically.

And the possibilities keep growing. As Internet Protocol (IP) is incorporated into an increasing number of residential systems, home automation is becoming easier to integrate, simpler to use and controllable from anywhere in the world, via touch panel, PC, Web tablet or personal digital assistant (PDA). Almost every home-automation company has incorporated IP into its technology to some extent. Some combine IP with proprietary systems, and some develop systems based strictly on IP.

These details are largely for the experts to hash out, but for homeowners, it boils down to this: If you know how to surf the Web, it won't take long to learn how to operate a whole-house system.

All of these possibilities, however, come at a price. Increased technological capabilities translate into a more complicated implementation process. As simple as much of this technology is said to be, the sheer number of products available and the features they offer present opportunities for glitches.

The problem is that a lot of products are not compatible with other products without having interface features, so it is easy for homeowners to get an inaccurate picture of what it takes to make what they want to have happen, happen, says Penny Georger, an A/V designer at Rick's Home Theater in Daytona Beach, Fla. When I talk to a client and they tell me they want a new high-definition TV and that they are going to put basic cable to it, I tell them that they are wasting their money, because they are not going to get high-definition TV from basic cable.

Enlisting the Experts

Generally, when a homeowner enlists a company to conduct a whole-house design and installation, it works like this: The company (usually called a custom installation or integration firm) will assess the homeowner's individual needs, create a design based on these requirements and specify the brands and model numbers of the components, such as speakers, amps, plasma screens, lighting control and so forth, based on a predetermined budget.

In addition, in some cases, when a homeowner is building a home theater, an acoustician may be called in to assess the space and suggest acoustical treatments (special materials that are positioned on the walls and ceiling), along with A/V gear.

Richard Schram, president of Parasound Products, a San Francisco-based manufacturer of architectural loudspeakers, preamplifiers, amplifiers and other audio components for homes, cautions homeowners against hiring the first company suggested to them. For help, he notes, they can turn to the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association ( ) for a listing of qualified professionals.

The biggest mistake people make is believing, without investigating, that a general contractor is capable of doing this, or that they have the best subcontractors to do this, Schram says. It's essential that savvy homeowners take the additional steps of finding a CEDIA-related installer, checking on references and satisfying themselves that the chemistry is such that they can work with this company.

Michael Holthouse, president of Intuitive Homes, a custom installation firm based in Houston, adds that the company should also be around to support the systems down the road. He warns of a relatively common issue surrounding whole-house control systems: [Custom installation companies] have been out there writing custom code. If that company goes out of business, and the homeowner doesn't have that code, it's gone you can't re-create it.

Holthouse advises homeowners to include a clause in their agreement with the integrator that the code will be revealed when necessary. They should, as part of their contract, demand that they have the right to that software, so if the company goes out of business, they will be provided with a source code, he explains.

Old Home, New Tricks?

For obvious reasons, it is much easier to carry out a whole-house design and installation project for a new home rather than one that already exists. But the reality is, there are more existing homes than plans to build new ones. Homeowners who desire whole-house systems for existing houses, or who want to upgrade their home-automation gear, will find that they must make a few compromises.

Å"Most often, these systems are overhauled or replaced, says Georger, or the homeowner chooses to be satisfied with less than what they were originally looking for.

In these situations, it all comes down to cabling, Holthouse explains. One of the biggest problems is the lack of standards: Audio systems use one kind of cable; computers use a different kind. You can have 12 different cable types going into a house, and a spider web of low-voltage cabling that goes everywhere inside of the house in order to support it. In a retrofit, it's extremely difficult to put every cable where you would like it to be.

Holthouse continues, When you are doing a retrofit, you have to approach the house in a different way; you have to use whatever existing cable is in there and start making trade-offs. Sometimes, this entails implementing wireless equipment. In other cases, a wall may have to come down, or the homeowner may strike a compromise.

Because of all these variables, it is critical that every home-automation project has one person who is answerable to all things related to the project during the installation phase. There can be a number of designers there may even be lighting designers involved but anything that has to do with the electronics has to have a sole, accountable party, Schram emphasizes. It would be my recommendation that the homeowner use the integrator who has the most experience with this, and let that integrator facilitate understanding with the other designers that may be involved in the home in general.

This is critical because, while manufacturers often tout how user-friendly their products are, home-automation systems remain relatively complex. We want to preach about how simple things are and how easy they are to connect together, but in reality, these things are not very simple, says Dean Rockwell, president of Grand Home Automation, a custom installation company based in Grandville, Mich. They are complicated, and they are not always connected together easily. It takes someone with experience to integrate them properly.

( writes frequently about home automation and technology subjects. She works from her office in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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