How to Select a Home Automation Provider, From Vivint to HAI
A month ago, we did a piece on the advantages of home automation systems and the benefits of installing one in your home. To sum it all up, having a fully-automated home beefs up your security and ensures the safety of you and your family, thanks to its remote assurance and energy management features. In case you missed it, though, you can read all about it here.
So after reading all this, you're probably wondering what you should do next. If you've taken all this information in and decided that you want to install an automation system in your home, then the next (and obvious) thing you need to do is figure out which provider to go with.
Selecting a Home Automation Provider
There are many companies that offer home automation system installations, such as Vivint (formerly known as APX), X10, and HAI. Vivint appears to be a prime contender, seeing as they've just recently got the Central Station of the Year Award.For now, let's look at the top requirements that you should look for in a provider.
Features. The first thing you should consider is, does the provider you have in mind offer the features that you're looking for? For example, if you want a system that includes energy management aside from automation, then you'd have to look for one that offers both. It really wouldn't make sense to settle for a firm that doesn't give you what you want, because the point of getting your home automated is the added convenience and security that it gives you.
Compatibility. Most providers offer systems that are compatible over a range of platforms. Aside from that, you might also be looking to integrate it with currnet software that you're using, like your smartphone or media player. Before taking out an automation package, make sure you ask your provider if what they're offering is compatible with the OS and software you're currently using.
Usability. This is perhaps the most important thing to consider. What use is a system you can't use, because it's too difficult or complicated to tweak? Some systems are simple, some are complicated, but this evaluation is relative to your technical experience. Go as basic or as advanced as you need to; just make sure that you ask your provider for full instructions on how to operate the system beforehand.
Technical Support. Even the most advanced users need help figuring stuff at times. This is where technical support comes in. Some providers offer 24/7 phone support, so you can always reach them anytime you need in case something goes wrong. Others only provide daytime support or online help, which might not be what you're looking for if you're in a hurry.
Home Automation System Certifications
Once you've got a provider in mind, check out their credentials before taking action. Many organizations and institutions evaluate providers or professionals to see if they're capable of doing what they claim to. Here's a list of things to look for when it comes to your provider:
Structured wiring: CEDIA Installer I or II; CEDIA Designer; ISF
Home designer or consultant: CEDIA Designer
Home automation provider: CEDIA Installer I or II; CEDIA Designer; CompTIA HTI+
Technical consultant: CompTIA A+, Network+, HTI+
Networking: CompTIA A+, Network+, HTI+
The Final Choice
Getting a home automation system installed is a huge deal. It also requires a huge investment. So before you shell out any of your hard-earned money, scout the market, evaluate different providers, and ask people you know who already have these systems involved about their experiences with the providers they chose to go with.