Spring has Sprung! 18 Tips to Get Your Backyard Ready!

Best practices for outdoor A/V remains largely unchanged with the exception of a few fun trends. Here are 18 tips and tricks for getting your space ready, not to mention creating an out-of-this-house A/V experience: 1. Wireless audio is your new BFF. While we always prefer a hardwired connection for audio quality, wireless home audio systems are great for getting music outside, without a lot of planning or structural wiring. 2. The more outdoor speakers, the better. For those purists who want to get the best sound, we suggest more speakers dispersed throughout your patio or backyard for even coverage aimed toward the home so that you won’t annoy the neighbors. 3. Create fun playlists. Without tunes to liven things up, it’s not really a party at all. 4. Plan for permanent fixtures. It’s important to plan for permanent outdoor electronics. For example, you need to install pool speakers before the concrete is poured, and conduit will need to be run to any permanent outdoor video displays. 5. Look for speakers that blend in. Compact speakers designed with flexible mounting options are increasingly popular because you can place them in trees, bushes or virtually anywhere. 6. Involve us from the beginning and wire for more speakers than you need. You may decide later on that you want more! 7. Allocate the proper space for in-ground subwoofers, which produce great bass outdoors. 8. Invest in a waterproof, rugged iPad cover or remote for outdoor control. 5 9. Never use indoor gear outdoors. You can’t simply take your TV outside, install it and expect it to hold up to the elements....

Personal Fitness & Technology

These days, personal fitness and technology go hand in hand. Technology is helping people not only lose weight and stay healthy, but is increasingly moving in the direction of sports and athletics for both professionals and amateurs. And while wearable fitness trackers are currently the rage, in 2017 there will be a shift from focusing on just fitness to overall healthcare. Look for technology like wearable smart phone-controlled hearing assistance and smart bands that double as blood pressure monitors. Also look for less obtrusive ‘invisible’ wearables that are better integrated into everyday items like a keychain or an item of...

Integrated Environmental Controls

We’re in the dog days of summer, and the temperature isn’t the only thing rising. Blasting the AC may keep your home cool, but it can take a toll on your energy bill. What if you could take total control of your utility usage and eliminate energy-wasting habits from your lifestyle? It turns out you can. With the help of environmental controls and smart thermostats, you can maximize your home’s energy efficiency, and do your wallet-and the earth- a favor. Connected thermostats At the most basic level, replacing your thermostat with a Wi-Fi controllable model will give you greater control over your home’s climate. For one, it can be controlled from your smart phone or tablet wherever you are. Out for the day and left the AC running? No need to worry about wasted energy; just open your app and turn off or adjust your AC, no matter how far you are from home. When it’s time to head back, adjust your AC again to have your home a cool oasis by the time you return. Zone control One of the benefits of an integrated environmental control system is that you can set up your house to heat and cool based on different zones. For example, why blast the air conditioning in the living room when everyone is asleep? Conversely, during a hot summer day, why cool the bedrooms when no one is using them? You can shut down entire areas of your home for even greater energy savings. Integrated environmental controls A truly integrated environmental system is where the magic really happens. In addition to programming a thermostat...

5 Ways to Up Your Home’s Value with Smart Home Technology

Have you ever wanted to install a smart automation system in your home so you can effortlessly power up your home theater system or control lighting scenes in your dining area, kitchen or backyard? If so, it may be good to know that automation systems can not only increase your enjoyment today, but also enhance the value of your home tomorrow. In this short guide, we give you our top tips for increasing the value of your home with home technology systems, while creating a more convenient, more entertaining and more secure environment for your family. There’s an app for that As the “Internet of Things” becomes more pervasive, a prewired system keeps you future ready. We are moving into a world where everything will be connected resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and convenience. Each “thing” is uniquely tagged and will allow you to operate, see or communicate with all the systems in the home through your smart phone. If you need retrofit solutions for a home that is already built, we are very capable, willing and available to design and install a system to meet your needs. Wire now, thank yourself later While wiring may not be the most exciting part of a smart home, it is certainly one of the most important. Ideally, installing wire should occur during the early stages of home construction. We often need to run conduit with fiber optic and CAT6 cable—the most current cable standards available for your home. You can even run appropriate wires and cables outdoors for lighting, audio and video; your home will be easier to sell as homeowners...

Light Your Way to Energy Savings

No one looks forward to receiving their electricity bill, and actually opening it can be an anxiety-inducing monthly ritual. But energy bills don’t have to be your enemies; there are ways to get them under control, plus manage your home’s energy efficiency and even help out the Earth with just a few tweaks to your lighting habits. Switch to LED and never change a bulb again According to Energy.gov, residential LED bulbs use up to 75 percent less energy and last a whopping 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. In fact, some can last for more than 20 years. Although more expensive that traditional light bulbs, LED bulbs are worth the investment, and pay for themselves (and then some) over the years. Refit all your home fixtures with LEDs and start seeing savings immediately. Dimming is a bright idea Dimming your lights can also save energy and money. Put every light on a lighting automation system and watch the bills go down as you have more control over how much light each bulb emits. According to one manufacturer, using a dimmer instead of a standard on-off switch can save you 4-9% in electricity costs, even at the highest dimmed lighting level. Dimming also extends bulb life, adding to your savings. An added bonus? The positive, relaxed mood evoked by a comfortably dimmed room. Turn it off! Occupancy/vacancy switches Dimmers are great for mood and efficiency, but what if you never even had to think about turning off a light again? Occupancy and vacancy sensors do the trick. Occupancy sensors automatically turn the lights on when you enter a room...

Color the Night with Landscape Light

As Americans are increasingly spending more time outdoors, backyards are transforming from simple landscaped yards into primary entertaining spots. In fact, a study conducted late last year by the popular home improvement app, Houzz, showed that out of 4,500 users, a whopping 56 percent planned to improve their outdoor spaces for entertaining. What better way to do so than with a little light and color to set the mood? Here are some tips and tricks for turning your backyard into a glowing escape or party space. Creating luminous outdoor nightscapes is more exciting, convenient and fun than ever as homeowners literally have millions of colors to play with thanks to color-changing LED lighting that integrates easily with your entire smart-home system. It all starts with a little planning. Whether you are updating your backyard with landscape and LED lighting or you are starting from scratch, it’s very important to call your electronic systems contractor early on—even earlier than you think. For example, the cool glow of underwater lighting for pool and spa is irresistibly fun and you can control it from a color wheel offering 16 million colors on an iPad®. If you want this feature, it’s better to get us involved before the pool is filled with water to avoid a potentially tricky (and more expensive) underwater retrofit situation. If you want your pool lighting to change colors gradually and automatically, we have solutions for that too that swap out with your existing pool lighting. Making sure you have electrical in all the appropriate spots also takes a little forethought; call us early, and save time and money...