5 Awesome Home Control Options

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You can put in cost effective home control solutions for a peaceful, cohesive atmosphere. Photo courtesy of Lutron.

So you want control solutions for your homes? They don’t need to be big, expensive systems with racks full of ugly equipment. And they don’t have to control the whole house. Many solutions today can control just what you need them to, are cost-effective, and look great. Take a peek at these.

Nest Home Control?

5 Awesome Home Control OptionsPhoto courtesy of Nest.
Control4 integrated with NestPhoto courtesy of Control4.

Of all the smart and connected thermostats now available, you’ve got to love the Nest Learning Thermostat, which is easy to install, easy to use, easy on the eyes and can automatically learn your routines via its artificial intelligence and sensing technology. It’s a great way to snazz-up home decor and get clunky looking thermostats off the wall. Now, Nest is opening its cool little climate controller to be interoperable with other systems, from home control systems to appliances. First in line is control and automation company Control4, which will integrate with Nest to see the temperature of a room and operate the thermostat from its controllers and mobile apps. That should be available in the first part of 2014.

Many solutions today can control just what you need them to, are cost-effective, and look great.

Total Controller

URC (Universal Remote Control) isn’t just about remote controls. The company’s wired or wireless Total Control system unifies audio/video, lighting, thermostats and more; all from a touchscreen, remote control or mobile device like an iPhone or iPad. The system and some URC remotes can also work with the TED (The Energy Detective) energy monitor, which measures a home’s electrical consumption at the service panel. Six new sensors can also be added to perceive the presence of video, light, audio, current, voltage or contact closure connections to monitor or enact automated events. For example, a connected light sensor can perceive changes in ambient light as daylight changes, such as dropping the blinds to a specific level and turning on certain room lights in the home.

5 Awesome Home Control OptionsPhoto courtesy of URC.

Total Control is also opening up to control and operates the many wireless products using Z-Wave radio frequency communications, such as door locks, cameras, lighting control modules, smart plugs, thermostats, garage door openers and security systems. An optional annual subscription service allows online access for control of Z-Wave devices. It allows users to monitor the status of connected Z-Wave products and even receive email or text notifications when doors are opened. Total Control is sold through authorized dealers, with system and installation cost of a base system priced at about $1,500.

The Invisible Tuxedo

Honeywell Tuxedo TouchPhoto courtesy of Honeywell

We love Honeywell’s Tuxedo Touch because one touchscreen with a built-in web server can provide automation, video surveillance, entertainment and energy management by controlling wireless Z-wave devices throughout the house-at an affordable price. It can also work with an existing Honeywell Vista-based security system to turn that into a complete home control and security solution. Coming in early 2014 is a new scaled-down and even more cost-effective version called the Tuxedo Gateway Home Controller-featuring Z-Wave connectivity, web browsing and IP-camera connectivity to mobile devices, sans the touchscreen functionality. Think of it as Tuxedo Lite. Features such as a security system can be added later. The blank wall plate can be mounted in a closet to receive and send the wireless signals. Honeywell is also planning a rollout of a voice-activated Tuxedo Touch (the demo was very cool, but more on that later).

Want Shades?

Honeycomb cellular shadePhoto courtesy of Lutron

Motorized shades can be very expensive, but a couple of years ago Lutron broke the price barrier with a battery-powered wireless motorized Honeycomb cellular shade, which is great for its insulating value, for just $299 MSRP. That was sweet. Now the company is introducing battery-powered Serena roller shades as well, for an MSRP of $399 each. They run on D-size batteries and can be operated as standalone shades, by a small Pico wireless remote, or as part of a larger Lutron system, such as HomeWorks or wireless RadioRA 2 systems. For the custom builder market, Sivoia QS Triathlon roller shades (starting at $589), available as either low-voltage wired or battery-powered, can be easily integrated into Lutron RadioRA or HomeWorks systems. Lutron has a variety of new fabrics available as well.

Adorne that Home

We dig the look of Legrand’s adorne collection of switches, dimmers, outlets wall plates, under-cabinet lighting and wireless home systems. Switches, dimmers and outlets feature a distinctive square design, fit flush and snap in existing electrical boxes for fast and easy installation, eliminating the need for visible screws. Finishes include cast metals, natural woods, leather, and an array of vibrant colors and styles from traditional to contemporary.

Legrand Traditional BathroomPhoto courtesy of Legrand

Light switches include a touch switch that uses touchscreen technology to power lights on and off, a wave switch that turns lights on and off with the wave of a hand, and an energy-saving SensaSwitch that turns lights on and off when people enter and leave the room. Most designs are available with complementary dimmers and feature convenient locator lights.

Rounding out the collection are easy-to-install wireless systems for the home that provide single-room or whole-home lighting control, music, and video intercom solutions.

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