WHAT IS THE BEST SMART HOME PRO SYSTEM
SAVANT - CRESTRON - CONTROL4
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Firstly lets begin to define what a real smart home system is. As you may be aware there are thousands of devices that claim to be complete smart home devices, such as Alexa, Google home, LifX and IOT interfaced devices. These all work well and can be effective but are limited in functionality when you're talking about a completely connected smart home system. Even if you were to use all of these devices together the true feel of a smart home system just isn't quite there. When we talk about a smart home pro system, we are talking about a system that has been completely programmed and customised to meet your smart home needs, giving you a feel of futuristic living and ultimate convenience. The main players in the smart home pro systems we believe are
Control4, Crestron & Savant.
These systems can offer a complete and efficient smart home system that will integrate all of your devices such as security cameras, alarm televisions, home audio , lights, blinds and more into one simple and easy to use interface through-out your home. Wether it be an app on the smart device or an integrated system touchscreen.
We aren't saying that other systems can or cannot do certain tasks and give you the feel of convenience, but from our personal experience as professional integrators these are the systems we use and integrate all of the time. These are the systems that we know work and function as expected. Ask around from any luxury home owner, architect or builder and these will be the names that repeatedly come up. The question we are constantly asked as a professional home automation installer is
So what really is the difference between these smart home pro systems?
Which is smart home system is the best?
Hopefully by now you can understand the difference between a true smart home system and DIY system, we can now explore and compare the main differences between these pro systems.
Different Systems, Same Situations
Over the years of experience, installing these systems and hearing clients requests we know that technology is constantly changing and evolving. And as always there will be a new player in the market that could cause a little disruption and this is great because it can speed up our smart home advancements, Currently in 2020 if you want a true smart connected home system that can control almost every device in your home, the solution you'll be looking for is one of the main three players.
Control4, Savant, and Crestron
Each of these three has invested over a decade of production learnings, have substantial engineering and financial resources, and have solved the last 5% of issues that literally kill the other newcomers and cobbled together solutions you will find on the market today. They all have the ability to integrate the vast majority of lighting control, security, thermostat, music, and TV brands that are out there. This requires an enormous database and tons of experience. Each of the three has generally checked these off. Further, their embedded customer bases are large enough that you don’t need to worry about investing in a technology for your home that may not be supported in the future.
Also, for the purposes of determining which smart home system is best, we are going to focus on the practical capabilities and differences between the systems. We can say with certainty that each manufacturer, as well as any dealers that only sell one of these brands, will tell you that theirs can do anything the others can do and that their system is the best. While it’s true that most of these systems can be programmed to do most anything, what homeowners really want to understand are the practical differences -- how do they function in normal situations, without buying lots of third-party gear or paying for a bunch of custom programming that is hard to change down the road.
Since we're on the front lines of our customers' homes, day in and day out, we know what works well together, what doesn’t, and the individual strengths of each system.
What you will see and use most with your Smart Home System
These are your iPhone/Android Apps, Internal wall mounted touchscreens, wireless touchscreens and system remotes.
While the programming that we do allows all three systems to perform most major automation functions, the user interface is the way you will interact and use your smart home daily. In saying that it makes the UI to you possibly the most important feature of the smart home system
Control4 and Savant each have standard interfaces, although they are quite different from one another. Control4 has been designed from scratch to be intuitive just like the iPhone, anyone should in little time be able to use the system should they walk into a home with it installed. It is easy to use and understand, leveraging large icons for each category. We find that our customers pick it up very quickly.
Savant's user interface is a little sleeker looking, utilizing photography to represent different rooms and scenes. We think that it's a bit less intuitive for first-time users than Control4, but with the number of mobile apps people use today, either of these should become second nature for you very quickly.
While there are two version of Crestron, today we will stick with the custom solution, as it's the most common system available through large Crestron integrators. For this type of system, there is no custom loaded template as such, the user interface is designed by the programmer, integrator. This can be good or bad, depending on the integrator, so be sure to ask to see their interface before you commit. Make sure the Crestron interface is easy and intuitive to use, rather than something that looks cool but no one can figure out how to navigate.
One of the most popular functions in smart home system is Multi room audio & Video -- the ability to play different streams of music throughout a house in any particular grouping. Control4, Savant, and Crestron can each do this.
Control4 has Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Napster, Deezer, Spotify, Qobuz and Tidal all native to every Control4 system. For those who use Spotify, there is a special interface to enable Spotify that is a little bit different.
Savant has also built streaming services into its platform, including Pandora, Deezer, and more.
Crestron, mostly works through third party devices for multi room audio Instead. They generally use hardware such as Autonomics. The benefit to this is that when you integrate a third party system, you can get more services and other advantages. A slight downfall on this is that the functionality of this is only as good as the integrator
In the past Sonos was the better solution for mulitroom audio but in the last few years all of the pro systems can deliver results and now even in higher quality. All three of these systems can do multi-room audio and video, meaning one room can be playing jazz music, the other listening to spotify and someone else playing music streamed from their phone
The ability to control all of the lights in the home is probably the second most used and most requested capability in a smart home. For instance, hitting one button to turn off the lights when you go to bed or hitting one button to set the house to an evening scene or to turn off all the lights when you leave a home. Lutron popularized this functionality years ago and it’s still extremely popular today.
Control4, Savant, and Crestron all have the ability to control lights throughout a home of any size.
To compare and contrast the systems, this time let's start with Savant. Savant sells smart LED bulbs that integrate with its system. However, most integrators have historically used Lutron lighting controls with Savant. Ask your integrator about the pros and cons of using Lutron vs. Savant blubs.
The upside to Savant using Lutron is that they are a leader in the lighting space. Their products are extremely reliable and their choice of colors for switches, keypads, and faceplates is unmatched.
Crestron created its own lighting system, which largely emulates Lutron. It has slightly fewer color options, but most Crestron dealers would tell you that the capabilities are very similar. Most Crestron integrators either use Crestron lighting or integrate the Crestron system with Lutron lighting, the same way it is done in Savant systems.
As Control4 grew, it invested heavily in its own lighting control system. While some Control4 integrators use Lutron lighting, most have embraced Control4 lighting. By using Control4 lighting keypads, you get some advantages. For example, Control4 also has an ambient light sensor built into their keypads, which we think is pretty cool. It enables the backlighting to turn up or down based on the light in the room it’s in. For example, you can have the backlighting turn off in a master bedroom when the lights in the rest of the house turn off.
When considering putting controlled lights in your home, the most important thing to consider is whether the company that makes them will be in business for a long time. We’ve seen dozens of new startups enter the space over the past year. Many have already gone out of business and most won’t be in business 5 years from now. You don’t want to invest in a system integrated into your house that won’t be around for the long term. We are confident that Control4, Crestron, and Lutron will be supporting their lighting systems for the long haul.
Also, the design capabilities of your integrator are crucial for lighting control. Regardless of which system you choose, if your integrator is great at designing keypad layouts, scenes and how all of the lighting works together, your final solution will be dramatically better than one that is cobbled together. Think of it this way -- you can hand the same brushes, same paint, and same canvas to two different people. If one is a great artist and one is not, the outcomes will be dramatically different. It’s not just about the materials, but what you can do with them.
Control4, Savant, and Crestron will all tie into a security system so that you can arm and disarm your security. All three also support cameras, camera DVRs, and electronic door locks. Currently, Control4 has a slight edge in the number of electronic door lock options natively supported and fully integrated into the interface.
All three smart home systems integrate well with thermostats. While Nest has gotten a lot of press, we believe that using the thermostat sold by the smart home manufacturer gets you a better thermostat that is more fully integrated into the smart home capabilities.
As an aside, you really don’t want to have your HVAC constantly turning on and off every time you leave the house -- which can actually consume more energy. All three of these smart home systems get rid of the gimmick sound bytes of turning systems on and off, and instead, actually focus on getting the job done and integrated into your whole smart home system.
If whole house intercom is important , the superior solution today is Control4. Their panels all have a full video intercom systems built in and the user interface is terrific. The Control4 wall and tabletop panels also double as doorbell interfaces, popping up video and the ability to talk to someone at the door. You can also call between rooms, make announcements and it can also be pushed through to your app while away from home. Popping up door cameras on Savant and Crestron panels can also be done but it's a little different than Control4’s integrated intercom interface.
Control4, Savant, and Crestron all have basic integrations with Alexa, meaning that you can program them to react to basic voice commands. Our own testing and customer feedback has been that voice control is much better today for getting a quick news briefing than it is controlling a large or advanced home. This is both true standalone and when connected to a full smart home system. Alexa or Google Assistant would be fine turning one light on or off, but reliably and intuitively shutting down a house and arming security is a whole new level.
In reality, we have found that most customers don’t use their voice assistants for smart home functions for a variety of reasons, including reliability, false positives and negatives, and the simple difficulty of having to memorise all of the phrases. With that being said, the popularity of voice control and these devices is exploding. We predict that voice control will likely have a key role in integrating into automation system in the future. Each of the big three will be ready for it.
SMART HOME SUMMARY
If you choose any of these three options you should feel confident knowing that you have a system that will last for years .
Currently we would advise staying away from the DYI systems out there. They have a long way to go to have the backing and reliability of Control4, Crestron, and Savant. Remember, you are choosing a platform that is highly sophisticated and can make your life dramatically safer and more fun if implemented well.
Of course, this is only a general overview and there are a host of details that we cannot include as they may only be relevant to a small percentage of homeowners. The most important step is choosing a smart home integrator who has substantial experience in these systems -- a company that you trust will take care of you and your home for many years to come.
When you hire our team of smart home professionals be sure that your home is in the right hands, all questions answered truthfully and with confidence.
Don't risk using an untrained contractor in the field of smart home wiring and installations