What is Control4: A thorough explanation of high-end smart home automation

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You’ve no doubt seen a Control4 system before. Perhaps on a TV show about a celebrity’s home that you watched. Maybe at a luxury hotel where you stayed. You probably didn’t realize it was Control4 since it isn’t marketed in the general media. And there will be no Control4 products for sale at Best Buy or available on Amazon

The history of the company behind Control4 began nearly two decades ago, when Amazon was just a tiny online bookstore. The first Echo device, released in 2015, helped to popularize smart home kit manufacturers and inventors.

smart home automation

On the other hand, while Control4 can control lighting, multi-room audio, HVAC systems, security platforms, smart locks, and more (around 35,000 systems) – using technologies like Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth – it is only available through an approved Control4 dealer.

Want in? Here’s everything you need to know about Control4 systems in order to get started.

All about Control4 dealers and installers

The first thing to know is that Control4 isn’t as simple to install as people may think. You’ll have to locate a legitimate Control4 dealer and then schedule an appointment with them to get the ball rolling.

Control4 suggests getting a few quotations from a variety of dealers before making a selection, but their Product Planner portal is a wonderful place to start. You’ll answer a series of questions and receive recommended equipment lists and setup suggestions after filling out the Product Planner form.

After you’ve selected your hardware, your dealer will install it and provide any necessary assistance. They’ll also customize everything on your system from the software to make connected gadgets compatible with particular settings and scenes.

Unlike Alexa, HomeKit, and specialized smart home hubs like as SmartThings or Wink, the user has no means to change anything on their system. Everything must be set up and amended through a dealer.

Using Control4 Controllers

The Control4 party, according to the manufacturer’s website, requires a controller. A Control4 controller is basically the brain of the operation, serving as a smart home automation hub. It connects to your home network and links up with any compatible technology.

The CA-1 is the most basic Control4 controller, which comes in a small white box with Zigbee and Wi-Fi connectivity (you may add an extra module for Z-Wave). This is the control to help you operate things like your lights, blinds etc.

The CA-10, the most recent upgrade, is the top-of-the-line controller. It has four times the processing power and memory of the EA-5 and is made specifically for huge smart home systems with hundreds or even thousands of connected devices.

Control4: User interface

Controlling your Control4 system, as well as all of the technology you’ve set up within it, is possible in a variety of methods. You can see the Control4 UI on your TV if you have an EA controller connected via HDMI. A specialized ‘universal’ remote control that not only controls your audio and video feeds but also any connected lights

Alternatively, use a dedicated touchscreen panel – Control4 offers 7-inch and 10-inch models that either mount in a wall or sit on a table – is a better approach to managing your system than a keyboard and mouse. These dedicated touchscreen panels can be replicated – with certain restrictions – on smartphones or tablets; there are versions for both iOS and Android.

Control4 also offers keypads that connect to your existing light switches. These may be used to not only turn lights on and off, but they can also be programmed to activate Control4 routines. These scenarios, as the name implies, are sets of actions that automate smart home activities. So you could set up a ‘good morning’ scene that activates your favourite radio station or turns on your kettle ready for your morning brew.

Finally, Alexa compatibility is here (and in 2019 they added Google Assistant as well). It isn’t the most effective means of utilizing Control4 – there’s no denying that – but it is here. Scenes, settings, and devices are all copied over if you include the Control4 skill to your Alexa setup. It takes a significant amount of organizing before it’s even close to being useful.

Control4: Compatible brands, devices and drivers

Control4 is compatible with over 35,000 devices from a wide range of 3rd-party brands, as we previously stated. However, unlike the broader smart home ecosystems, it isn’t simply a matter of scanning your network to discover what you can sync up. You’ll need special drivers for non-native technology; i.e., anything.

It can sometimes be inconvenient, expensive to setup, and hardly embracing the ‘works with’ smart home movement. However, as we previously stated, Control4 isn’t a smart home system for individuals that like to tinker with their own gadgets; it’s designed for those looking for someone else to manage everything. And once it’s operational, it’s a game changer!

Control4: How much does it cost?

The Control4 platform is not cheap. Even for the most basic of configurations, such as reducing your AV controls, you’ll have to spend at least $1,000 on an EA-3 controller and $300 on a remote control; then on top you’ll have to pay for the installation from a certified Control4 dealer.

When you get started, the possibilities are fairly endless when it comes to putting together your Control4 house system. If you want touch panels in every room, multi-room audio, a high-end home network, or anything else, go for it! You can easily increase your budget into 6 figures, if you really wish to have that level of sophistication.

Some individual items give you a sense of the price ranges we’re dealing with here. A 10-inch in-wall touch screen costs $1,200. Some routers Control4 recommends can be around $750. A single load light switch costs about $500. And so on, you get the idea. So, it’s not a cheap setup… but the facility to have one in your home can change the way you live!

Control4: Where can you buy

As mentioned, you won’t be able to walk into a shop and walk out with a load of Control4 kit. You’ll need to visit an authorised dealer – or, better still, have them visit you – and have them configure your system.

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