If you are considering getting some home automation features to tidy up your bachelor pad, then we can highly recommend only one solution and that is Control4. Now, the biggest problem with Control4, “as we are telling you up front” is that it technically does require a certified installer to “program” your system. Is there a way around this, yes there is but it’s not easy, or necessarily cheap.

If you play the nice guy, and are willing to fork over a few thousand dollars to unlock your system, you can pay for training to obtain the certification yourself and as a bonus you can resell the products and provide installation or programming services to your friends. But if you think you can find the parts you need on E-Bay, and just install and go then you will want to rethink your strategy. Now, the reason why , despite the certification requirements we say Control4 is the way to go , is that it’s really the only system that supports just about any type of hardware you can throw at it. It’s an XML based driven platform, that requires a PC to program, but the configuration is uploaded into any of the “Brains” that can sit on a shelf or mount in your towering closet server rack.

We’ve been following the home automation industry since X-10 was first conceived using outdated X-Wave technology. While , X-10 Home Automation was surely onto something neat, it relied on one way communication between the DIY devices in your home and programming was limited at best. So in short, when you pressed a button to turn off a light it never communicated back to the brain to say “Yes I am off”. Over the years, we’ve seen improvements and the creation of bi-directional ( two-way ) communication between devices and the RF ZigBee Pro is on top of it’s game in today’s standards. Control4, is considering the upper portion if the middle class brands of home automation. While Crestron sits above them, and a few no-names are below Control4. Creston at best is just pricey, and doesn’t specifically do anything better than Control4. In our opinion, we also fully believe that Control4 has a lot more to offer and especially on the User Interface side of things.

Now , once you have a sytem installed and you don’t have the need to add more hardware yourself, you can get by with managing your media and lighting scenes with the Composer Home Edition , which is limited to just that, and won’t allow you to manage adding new hardware without access to the installer only, ComposerPro. The great thing about Control4 , is that you can piece it together as slow or as fast as you want. For less than 600.00 you can control an entire media cabinet to do much more than you ever could with a similar priced “Logitech Harmony” remote.

At the entry level , pricing is fair and competitive. It’s when you get addicted to the convenience and find yourself scraping your piggy banks to buy just one more switch to control that garage light you’ve been drooling to control remotely. Anyhow, it’s a great system and when you spend the time and money to get home automation installed, the right way you want it to work and we’ve not come across any other system that works as reliably as Control4, so if you think you can do it yourself with the no-name brands, think again as you will spend a lot more time than it’s worth changing channels, programming what probably isn’t even possible , or returning hardware after a few weeks because it overheated. Stick with Control4, and if you want to do it right take it slow, and for the ones who want to “Go Big or Go Home,” the sky is the limit. Arm your alarm, lock your doors, and close your garage door if it’s open and enable your wake-up scene all with the touch of 1 button. Convenience is pricey, but if you do it right, you can also factor in ways that the system can help save you money on energy costs while keeping lights off, that you didn’t know were normally on, or controlling your thermostats more precisely while in our out of your home remotely. It’s all very much worth it.