We interviewed home automation installer Rodney Lackie of A+ Automation to discuss his expertise on smart home devices and security systems, current trends in home technology and tips for homeowners managing second homes and vacation rentals.
HOME AUTOMATION 101
Lighthouse Contracting Group: Why has home automation become so popular recently?
Rodney: For the majority of homeowners, home automation is the key to keeping an eye on their property. For peace of mind, homeowners can utilize smart thermostats, locks, lights and security cameras. This technology makes it easy to monitor and manage the property. Therefore, ensuring everything is safe and in working condition.
Lighthouse Contracting Group: What are the benefits of home automation? What are the drawbacks, if any?
Rodney: Professional home automation helps the homeowner monitor and control their home from one place. As a result, they do not need to worry about accessing multiple devices and applications.
I highly recommend Control 4. It is an intuitive platform, allowing customers with no experience to control what they need easily.
Home automation will not be effective without a reliable and stable network from your internet service provider. However, even with a system failure, most smart home devices will still be functional if you manually control them. For instance, a thermostat, television, audio system, lights or locks.
Lighthouse Contracting Group: Which areas of a home are worth automating and are worth the investment?
Rodney: The most beneficial smart home investment are devices that allow you to control the main floor, which is the core of the home.
Lighthouse Contracting Group: What are the current smart home technology trends you are seeing in the Lakes Region?
Rodney: I recently completed several projects in the Alton Bay area. Each home owner requested feature rich, home automation systems. For instance, a combination of home security, cameras, door locks, lighting controls, indoor and outdoor audio, heating and air conditioning control, TV distributions, shades, water sensors and TV lifts.
In addition, I have noticed a trend in home theater rooms, multipurpose rooms and home gyms.
“The most beneficial smart home investment are devices that allow you to control the main floor, which is the core of the home.”
HOME AUTOMATION: INSTALLATION PROCESS
Lighthouse Contracting Group: What does the home automation installation process look like from start to finish? Specifically, for a customer working with A+ Automation?
Rodney: Firstly, we meet with the client to gauge their understanding of smart home features and home automation technology. The goal is to determine what the homeowner expects the system to do for them.
Secondly, we provide a preliminary estimate. This includes, equipment, options and benefits discussed during our first meeting.
After that, the homeowner can decide what they want and agree to a budget. A+ Automation begins the initial stages of installation as the plumbers and electrical contractors get to work.
A+ Automation completes the install of the smart home devices after the finished electrical work is done. Once that is trimmed out, we perform the programming and testing of the system.
Lastly, we train the homeowner and modify the system to fit their needs.
CONTROL4: AUTOMATION & NETWORKING SYSTEM
Lighthouse Contracting Group: Tell us a little about the Control 4 platform and suite of products?
Lighthouse Contracting Group: What are the minimum components needed to get started?
Rodney: A router, small network switch and a controller are all you need to start your home automation installation.
Lighthouse Contracting Group: What differentiates Control 4 from an off the shelf product? For instance, Nest, Nexia, etc.?
Rodney: Professionally installed systems work together in perfect harmony versus individual control of an item that does not talk to another item. Plus, a single app controls all systems throughout the home working in unison with one another.
A+ Automation can program products to work on their own. For instance, all the shades can be programmed to come down at sunset each day. In addition, lights can be turned on at night while you are on vacation to make the house look like someone is home.
HOME AUTOMATION: SMART LIGHTING & SHADES
Lighthouse Contracting Group: Tell us more about your partnership with Lutron? Who are they and what home automation systems do they specialize in?
Rodney: Here is a bit of history for you! Back in the late 1950s, Joel Spira invented a simple rotary light dimmer. By 1961, he and his wife incorporated Lutron Electronics. The global company is currently based out of Coopersbury, PA. Lutron sets the bar for all other lighting control companies.
Lutron is also a premier shade manufacturer. They have a DC motor that is extremely quiet, reliable and can handle over-sized shades. A+ Automation has installed 10′ x 25′ Lutron shades at Plymouth University. Shades can also be custom designed to meet any and all configurations whether they are triangle, arched, etc.
HOME AUTOMATION: SECURITY
Lighthouse Contracting Group: Which smart home products would a homeowner need to keep their lake house, second home or vacation rental protected?
- Water Sensors: These have a shut off valve so that if any of the sensors sense water, they shut it off at the main. You are then sent a notification.
- Thermostats: These help you to know if there is power at your property, if the furnace is running or if the temperature drops.
- Security System: Keeps the burglars out.
- Door Locks: Control who enters your home and when with the use of custom entry codes. For instance, if you need to send the oil company over to check on your property. You can set up a new code to allow access for them. Once the work is complete, remove the entry code.
- Security Cameras: Not a necessity, but nice to have. You can see if a renter made it to your AirBnB or if the cleaning company arrived. With your permission, vendors can also access the cameras. For instance, the plow company can check on the condition of the driveway to see if it needs to be plowed before you arrive.
HOME AUTOMATION: STREAMING DEVICES
Lighthouse Contracting Group: With the proliferation of streaming and multi-devices in the home, are customers looking more seriously at wired vs wireless networks?
Rodney: When you think of wireless networks, think portable devices such as cell phones, tablets, etc. Most importantly, it is best practice to hard wire items that are fixed in place. Wifi is half the speed of wired connections and much less reliable.
HOME AUTOMATION INSTALLER: A+ AUTOMATION
Lighthouse Contracting Group: What is the largest scale project A+ Automation has installed? What was the homeowner’s vision behind the smart home automation? Which products did you integrate into the system?
Rodney: A+ Automation had a homeowner that wanted to control and monitor his entire home in Franconia, New Hampshire. He requested every smart home feature we offer. Here’s a list of everything we installed:
- 12 zones for music
- 4 TV’s/home theatres
- Lutron Lighting throughout
- Strong wifi everywhere with 4 access points throughout the home and yard
- Outdoor landscape lighting
- Security Cameras
- Door Locks
Lighthouse Contracting Group: How can an interested homeowner contact you to start their home automation installation process?
Rodney: The best way to reach A+ Automation is by calling me at 603-444-0957. I will return the call the same day. Another communication options is email at .
A great time to start your home automation installation is during new construction or a home renovation project. Combining your Lighthouse Contracting Group project with an A+ Automation installation is a win win!