An entire information to high-end sensible house automation

You have in all probability seen a Control4 system someplace. Perhaps on a documentary that confirmed off the within of a footballer/rapper/NBA star’s home. Perhaps in a swanky lodge you stayed in.

You in all probability did not realise it was Control4 as a result of it isn’t a model you may see marketed within the mainstream media. And also you definitely will not discover any Control4 equipment on the cabinets at Finest Purchase, or listed on Amazon.

Complete verdict: Control4 sensible house overview

Control4 has been within the house automation for the reason that early 2000s, method earlier than the present sensible house growth took maintain, and when the one echo at Amazon was the one you’d hear should you shouted one thing in one in all its large warehouses.

Nevertheless, whereas Control4 is ready to management lighting, multi-room audio, HVAC methods, safety platforms, sensible locks and extra – working through the likes of Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – and is appropriate with over 35,000 units, it is an unique membership reserved for folks with the money to undergo an authorised Control4 vendor.

Need in? Here is every part it’s essential know with the intention to get began.

Control4: Set up and sellers

The very first thing it’s essential know is that Control4 is something however plug and play. You may should find an authorised Control4 vendor after which prepare for them to pay you a go to.

Control4 really recommends getting just a few quotes from a spread of sellers earlier than you determine on precisely what system you need put in, however an excellent place to begin is its Product Planner portal, the place you may reply a collection of questions and be emailed advised tools lists and setup concepts.

Your vendor is not simply there to put in the {hardware} although. They are going to configure every part in your system from the software program to make connected units appropriate to particular gadget settings and scenes.

In contrast to the likes of Alexa, HomeKit and devoted sensible house hubs akin to SmartThings or Wink, the consumer does not actually get entry to configure something on their system. All the pieces must be completed via the vendor.

Certain, there are some companies akin to When>>Then (Control4’s reply to IFTTT) that allow you to add layers of automations to preset ones, however it’s very a lot a system that is designed for those that need another person to take care (and management) of their sensible house upgrades.

What is Control4: A complete guide to high-end smart home automation

Control4: Controllers

The one core part you may want with the intention to get entangled within the Control4 occasion is a controller. A Control4 controller – primarily the brains of the operation, a sensible house hub of types – connects to your property community and, in flip, hooks as much as any appropriate tech.

Probably the most primary Control4 controller, the CA-1, is a little bit white field that provides Zigbee and Wi-Fi connectivity (you’ll be able to add in a further module for Z-Wave) so you’ll be able to management issues like sensible lights, electrical blinds and linked locks.

Improve to the EA-series controllers – the EA-1, EA-3 or EA-5 – and also you get streaming audio thrown in (the quantity of streams correlates with the quantity within the mannequin quantity, so three on the EA-3, for instance) in addition to HDMI out, for complete management over your TV, digital media and appropriate set-top bins.

The CA-10, the latest addition, is the top-end controller. It boasts 4 occasions the processing energy and reminiscence of the EA-5 and is actually designed for huge sensible house methods, with tons of – and even hundreds – of linked units.

What is Control4: A complete guide to high-end smart home automation

Control4: Person interface

Controlling your Control4 system, and all the tech you will have arrange inside it, is completed in plenty of methods.

If you happen to’ve bought a EA controller going into your TV’s HDMI enter, you’ll be able to see the Control4 UI on that TV. And the best strategy to navigate that’s with a devoted ‘common’ distant management that not solely controls your audio and video feeds, however may management any linked lights, thermostats, safety methods and so forth. You’ve the selection between the usual, SR-260 distant or the brand new Neeo Distant for Control4.

What is Control4: A complete guide to high-end smart home automation

A greater method of taking a extra in-depth and intuitive method to controlling your Control4 system is thru a devoted touchscreen panel – Control4 provide 7-inch and 10-inch fashions that both go in a wall, or sit on a desk.

These devoted touchscreen panels could be replicated – with some limitations – on smartphones or tablets; there are variations obtainable on each iOS and Android.

Apart from touchscreens, Control4 additionally gives keypads that wire into your common gentle switches. These could be configured to not solely flip lights on and off, clearly, however can be the triggers for Control4 scenes. Scenes, as you in all probability guessed, are routines that automate sensible house actions. So you may have a ‘good morning’ scene that activates your favorite radio station, turns off the alarm and switches the kettle on.

Lastly – we are saying lastly as a result of it is the least helpful method of utilizing Control4 – there may be Alexa compatibility. It is not the smoothest Alexa integration, with scenes, settings and units all pulled over should you add the Control4 ability to your Alexa setup. It takes a heck of a whole lot of sorting earlier than it is anyplace close to useable.

In August 2019, Control4 additionally added Google Assistant to the combo as effectively.

What is Control4: A complete guide to high-end smart home automation

Control4: Appropriate manufacturers, units and drivers

As we talked about up high, Control4 is appropriate with over 35,000 units from an enormous variety of manufacturers. Nevertheless, in contrast to the mainstream sensible house ecosystems, it is not only a case of scanning your property community with the intention to see what’s obtainable to sync up.

You may have to get devoted drivers put in for non-native tech; i.e. something Control4 does not straight make itself. And you may have to get your vendor to put in these drivers. Typically – effectively, more often than not – these drivers will value you cash.

It is a bit of a problem, it is costly and it is hardly embracing the openness of the ‘works with’ sensible house motion. Nevertheless, as we stated already, Control4 isn’t a sensible house system for individuals who like configuring their very own units; it is designed for those that need another person to care for every part.

If that is you you then’ll be happy to know that a complete host of main sensible house units, together with a lot of the mainstream digital audio and video companies, play properly with Control4, together with Philips Hue, Nest, Sonos, Apple TV, Yale, Netflix, Amazon Music, Lutron and extra.

What is Control4: A complete guide to high-end smart home automation

Control4: Native units

Control4 additionally gives purpose-built merchandise – and that is actually the place the corporate excels. The tech it makes is severely high-end and, should you’re seeking to splash some money on an excellent multi-room media setup, otherwise you desire a skilled grade house community, you then actually ought to take into account Control4 above a few of its higher recognized rivals.

Beginning with digital media, these EA controllers we talked about earlier work alongside a variety of audio switches, amps and audio system – some branded Control4, some branded Triad (an audio firm it acquired in 2017). You may add third-party audio parts to the combo – akin to Sonos – though you may get a a lot better, and pure, expertise should you preserve all of it in-house.

There’s an enormous array of audio and video options from Control4, from one-zone methods designed to take a seat underneath your TV, to vastly highly effective matrix methods that may dwell in a rack and energy the audio and video for the most important of mansions. There are even out of doors speaker methods just like the awesome-looking (and sounding) Triad Backyard Array out of doors system pictured above.

One other large Control4 acquisition, Pakedge (bought again in 2016), ends in a house community that may blow even the perfect consumer-grade mesh system out of the water. You do not want a Pakedge router for a Control4 system however every part simply works a lot better should you do. Particularly should you add in a Pakedge NK-1 wi-fi controller that fixes glitches in your community with out you even understanding they’ve occurred, and likewise permits your vendor to entry your system remotely to make adjustments with out paying you a go to.

Once more, as with the audio aspect of issues, there is a huge vary of switches, entry factors and community equipment which might be obtainable to create a world-class community in your home.

Control4 additionally has its personal sensible doorbell answer. The Door Station DS2, syncs up with the Utah-based firm’s SmartOS 3 app (no want for the separate Intercom Wherever app these days) to can help you remotely talk with whoever is knocking at your door.

There’s additionally a brand new Chime Doorbell, launched in 2020, which is a bit sleeker than the Door Station vary.

Ding dong: Control4 Chime overview

Sensible video doorbell model DoorBird was formally licensed to be used inside a Control4 system in 2021.

Which means, relatively than utilizing premium third-party drivers, DoorBird IP door stations can now be built-in straight into Control4 methods, utilizing an official – and crucially, free – driver.

That is not it although. Control4 additionally gives sensible shops, safety cameras, thermostats, centralised lightning panels, movement sensors, KNX units and rather a lot, lot extra.

What is Control4: A complete guide to high-end smart home automation

Control4: What it prices

Control4 doesn’t come low cost. Even for probably the most primary of setups – for example simplifying your AV controls – you may should fork out, say, $1,000 for an EA-3 controller and $300 for the distant management; and you then’ll should pay for the go to of an authorised Control4 vendor on high to set all of it up.

From that primary setup, the sky is just about the restrict when compiling your Control4 house system. In order for you contact panels in each room, multi-room audio, an expert grade house community, a cinema room – you get the thought – then you’ll be able to simply run up a five-figure invoice. Heck, go for a house like this and also you’d in all probability be taking a look at six figures.

The price of some particular person objects provides you an concept of the price-brackets we’re coping with right here. A ten-inch in-wall contact panel is $1,200. The Pakedge router Control4 recommends is $750. A single load gentle swap prices from $500. A 2.1 system with a Triad Soundbar, an amp and a subwoofer can be round $4,000.

Even the Door Station video doorbell is dear. That is $1,050 by itself, with a $99 subscription on high.

You get the thought. It is costly.

Control4: The place can you purchase

As talked about, you will not have the ability to stroll into a store and stroll out with a load of Control4 equipment. You may want to go to an authorised vendor – or, higher nonetheless, have them go to you – and have them configure your system.

To get began merely find a dealer located near you.