If you have ever sat on your couch and wished you could have one remote, one system, one button to turn your HDTV on, dim your lights and let you lay back and relax to you favorite Sister Act sequel. Well snap out of it, there have been companies and devices that have been doing this for years so it’s nothing new. What is new is an easier setup and at a reasonable price. This is what Control 4 accomplishes with its quickly growing reasonably priced line of home automation products.
Control 4 is a fast growing company in the ever expanding world of home electronics and home automation. Control 4 gives you the ability to control your home, and control it wirelessly. This is a must for retrofitting an already existing house or building it be automated.
You start with a Control 4 home theater controller. It is the brains of the operation that the installer programs and sets up to control everything around your house. There is a long list of things you can use in your house that control 4 offers that will help you automate your life with many different possibilities. Including relays, contacts, triggers and motion detectors. For instance you have a motion detector in your garage; you open the door to your garage the lights automatically turn on inside your garage and in your house to welcome you, no more dark spooky house to come home to. In your home theater you can easily have your room setup so that with the touch of a button your complete home theater turns on, and maybe after 30 seconds or how ever long of duration you decide the lights to dim over.
The phone rings you press pause, the movie halts and the lights quickly ramp up to 40% brightness so you can easily get up and grab the phone. Sit back down hit play and the movie starts and the lights dim again and you are back to business.
Just one of many many features of the Control 4 system is to have the lights go on outside of your house and go on/off according to the sunset. This can be a handy feature if you are going on vacation, or just to use every day. You can also set it up so it can vary the on and off of the lights by 45 minutes. So it will randomly pick a time to wait to turn the lights on, another 30 seconds or 30 minutes. This randomization will make it seem like someone is home and doing it them selves.
We are all familiar with the motion detector flood lights people have on the side and back of there houses so if someone moves in front of the lights they go on. One thing you can do is if the lights in your house are controlled by control 4 is that you can have any of them come on when the motion detector is tripped instead of just that one light outside of the house. You could have it so if the motion detector on the side of your house is tripped the system waits ten seconds then the top floor lights com on, then the stairway lights come on, then the foyer. Then the outsides house lights come on. All this over 20 seconds or how ever long you please. This will make it look like someone has been woken up in the house and might be making there way to the front door with a Louisville in hand. Time to scram!
Pictured above is the HC-300. This is the entry lever controller. As you can see from the picture of the back it has 6 direct IR outputs that you can double up on with dual emitters. Dual serial connectors, a relay, contact connection, 10/100 Ethernet connection so you can connect this to a router or the internet and program it or access a computer on the network and use its saved mp3 files to play audio throughout the house. Video connections and twin USB ports that you can connect USB thumb drives or a USB hard drive and have your system access music from there. This all for not much more then a top of the line Harmony remote, but with the ability for much more expansion and control over your house.
This is the default remote that comes with any of the Theater Controllers
Control 4 Thermostat
If you are the one who has the pleasure of paying your utility bills you know damn well that electricity isn’t cheap these days. Control 4 can help save on your electricity bill with a few different devices. Control 4 has you covered for climate control in your house. Control 4 has there very own wireless thermostat. Just take your old one off, install the new one and have it added to your system. With this you can have a button by the front door so when you leave your house for the day it will raise or lower the temperature of your house and set it back to normal just before you arrive home. This will allow your air condition or furnace to be on less during the day when you are not home and save you money while you are not home. If you are going on vacation you can have a vacation mode where it totally turns off your air conditioning or furnace to save even more money. Control 4 will also take a couple more items off the list of things that you fear that will burn down your house while you are not at home.
If you are not yet running compact fluorescent lamps (CFL’s) in your fixtures in your house and are still using some kind of incandescent lights without dimmers this can be a large source of wasted power. By simply dimming an incandescent bulb with Control 4 by a measly 25% you can extend the life of that lamp up to four times and save about 20% on energy. This over a year with two, three or a whole house full of lights (you know who you are) can save a lot of money. With Control 4 you could have a small keypad beside the exit doors of your house. Say the door into your garage or the side door of your house. One of these buttons can be programmed to turn up or down the HVAC in the house and over 58 seconds dim all the lights that have been left on in your house to off except dim the bedroom lights to 70% so it still looks like there is someone there. Then have your exterior lights in your house turn on and you are all set. These are just examples of course, you can have Control 4 do basically what ever you want over almost any amount of time.
There are a few different ways to have control of your home automation system from Control 4. They have everything from switches, dimmers and keypads to in-wall touch sensitive LCD screens and large portable wireless LCD screens.
This is what the dimmers, switches and two button keypads look like.
Pictured above are examples of the three and six button wall keypads. You can order custom engraved buttons with anything you want embedded in the middle of them. You could use these at your front door to control lighting scenes throughout your house and away modes just to start.
Here are the three touch screen interfaces that Control 4 offers to control the system throughout your house. Starting from the top left going clockwise is the "MTS" or mini touch screen device. This can be mounted in a table top box or mounted in the wall. It allows control of everything visually, on the screen by simply touching or dragging something across the screen. From lighting to climate control to telling you if your garage door has been left open, this will allow you to check. Next is the Control 4 LCD Keypad it controls the same things as the "MTS" but it is not as visually appealing and is not a touch screen. It uses 10 buttons and a knob that can be turned to scroll through text or media listing. Last but not least is the 10.5" touch screen. This performs exactly the same way as the "MTS" unit but it is able to display much more information on the screen at one time. Ideal for a home theater where you may want controls for a satellite box including numbers, direction and guide buttons as well as a number keypad. The 10.5" wireless touch screen can display this all at once. It is also by far the easiest to use and most intuitive control option Control 4 has but of course it comes at a premium but for some, it is well worth it. The 10.5" touch screen has a battery built in so it can be carried around the house if you wanted or it can be operated from its charging cradle. The "MTS" and the LCD keypad must be wired into electricity or be wired up with a Ethernet cable to work.
All that said I think Control 4 brings to the table what it claims. An easy to use reasonably priced whole house automation system that the rest of "us folk" can afford with out braking the bank and not skimping out on quality and features. I highly recommend Control 4 and can’t wait until I have this control system installed in a house of my own.