Home automation or “Smart home technology” is the residential extension of building automation and involves the control and automation of audio, video, lighting, heating (HVAC), security, (and more) as well as home appliances that use WiFi for remote monitoring. Early control of these devices included interfaces such as keypads, tablets, smart phones and touch screens. Modern systems now incorporate the latest technologies including voice control, VR and cloud based technologies. As with any automation project it starts with the processor, (the brain or gateway). This is what issues commands to every device through a number of protocols such as X10, Ethernet, IR, RF, RS-232 / 485, Bluetooth, ZigBee and Z-Wave.
GiCor is a full service automation dealer meaning that we design, install, program and service what we sell. Through a series of meetings we work with you and your design team to create a project that is both functional and affordable. The goal is to incorporate a variety of technologies and bring them together into one system where control is simple to use and easily expanded as technology or your needs change.
Planning & Design
The best time to start is at the beginning. Sounds strange but too many clients call us after the drywall has been installed. Once you have found the builder that you want to work with, it is recommended that you bring us in to discuss your automation project so that we can incorporate the necessary details into your drawings including wiring and power requirements, backing locations as well as any product specifications to ensure that ALL items are properly accounted for in the final installation. Details such as lighting, ventilation & acoustics cannot be overlooked! And keep in mind, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. Once the project is complete, it needs to pass the “babysitter test”. Only then will we consider the project a success!
Control4 is our platform of choice as we feel that it has the greatest range of products that have been tested and proven to be compatible with that platform. When we design your system, we make product recommendations based on the overall scope to ensure that each component is best suited for the task that it is intended for. Some of the other brands that we lead with include True Audio, Denon, Integra, BenQ, Samsung, Screen Innovations, Luxul & Lilin. We can also incorporate other brand name devices into the project that are “open platform” such as Amazon Alexa, Nest, RadioRa, & Sonos just to name a few. We will even incorporate some of your existing equipment into a project as long as it is compatible and consistent with the overall scope of the project. We even offer FREE builder workshops to help get the ball rolling.
As a retrofit, Control4 dimmers and keypads are interchangeable with standard light switches so most installations can be completed without the need to pull any additional wiring. If you are renovating or working on a new build, you may want to consider panelized lighting systems to reduce the number of switches required as well as to save on overall wiring costs. New technologies such as Dali lighting also offer performance and cost saving advantages.
There are a variety of monitored and unmonitored systems available that are designed to protect your property and what’s inside. In some instances, only a sensor may be required to send you a text when a door is opened. Other installations require more sophisticated designs that incorporate monitored security systems, cameras, recording devices, alarms, gate controls as well as motion and contact sensors. No matter the requirement, design and planning is key to ensure that you, your family and your possessions are kept safe.
Audio / Video
When designing distributed audio / video systems we need to consider the number of zones, the sources for each zone as well as how we get communication to each zone. There are a number of solutions that can be considered but we believe that if you can pull wire, a hardwired system is preferable. In the days of old, each zone had its own stereo and cable box. Today systems are designed with efficiency in mind where all of the equipment is located in one central location and wiring runs are feed from there to each zone. This serves to reduce the amount of equipment that is required as cable boxes can now be shared within a space and audio is available from every conceivable device including streaming from your smart phone or that precious iTunes library that you have been working so hard to maintain!
Climate: A thermostat is an easy retrofit as long as the wiring is of todays standard. Temperature sensors can also be used to eliminate the need for visible T-stats in a home. We believe however that it doesn’t stop there! Typically we look at the energy triangle in order to maintain a comfortable living environment. This includes shading, lighting, thermostats and sometimes the use of motion sensors. If they can all work together, case studies show that a considerable amount of energy and therefore dollars can be saved. If the sun is out, the shades can be lowered before the room heats up, if cloudy, shades should be raised to reduce the need for artificial light. In the winter months, shading should also be open to bring natural light and heat into the room. If no one is home, the system should be able to function on its own to reduce the energy footprint and keep a comfortable temperature in the room for when you do get home. This type of setup can also increase security by moving window treatments and changing lighting conditions. Also when travelling it is convenient to change temperature setting from vacation to home by remote access.
With over 10 years under our belt, we bring the latest technology to each project, all the while working with you to keep things practical, functional & affordable. Call us to book a no charge consultation in your home or our fully automated showroom. In the meantime we encourage you to watch some of the videos in our gallery section to see where we have been,,,,,so far.
Smart Film for Glass
Smart Film Which Applies to Existing Glass & Windows to Change From Clear to Opaque Instantly Once seen on the Jetsons as futuristic, Switchable Window Film is the latest and greatest product that can change from clear to an opaque state, on demand. For more than a decade, switchable glass technology has been utilized for commercial, residential, transportation, healthcare and government applications. Now you can achieve this functionality using a topical film applied to any glass surface using a patented new technology called PDLC.
How it Works This self adhesive Smart Window Film applies to any existing or new smooth glass surface. A simple ON – OFF mode switches the PDLC film from the clear (transparent) to a frosted (opaque) state. In clear mode, an electrical current is passing through the PDLC (Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal) interlayer which aligns the microscopic crystals along a number of parallel axes, thus allowing vision through the glass. Conversely when electricity is switched off, the liquid crystals return to their normal scattered positions changing the film from clear (transparent) to opaque (frosted), essentially acting as an electronic blind providing privacy and security for any glass, window or partition. Custom shapes and sizes are available and multiple pieces can be joined together to create large switchable glazed panels or partitions.
Exterior Shading Systems
Exterior shading systems can be a very effective way of controlling both heat and damaging UV rays before they can penetrate the building envelope. Typically the most effective and suitable product is a commercial rated roller shade combined with a perforated screen fabric. Smaller openings can be treated using light commercial shading systems that run along guide wires to keep from being damaged in the wind. Larger openings such as gazebos, garages and open patios are better treated using zipper systems which ensure the stability of the fabric and keep fabric edges tight and within the guide channels which can be extremely effective in keeping bugs from entering into the treated space. Controls options for both systems can be either manual with chains or cranks OR the more preferred method using electronic shading motors. This option includes a variety of technologies that allow for switch, wireless RF, RS232 serial commands as well as intelligent motors and adaptable components suitable for integration with home automation systems. Other options include sun / heat sensors to automatically lower shades at a specified threshold in order to maintain a consistent temperature inside and out. Wind sensors can also be added to retract the shades in high wind conditions at a moment’s notice. Control devices include remotes, wall switches, computers, tablets and smart phones.
With respect to fabrics, not all are created equal however most screen fabrics are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. A fabric range of 5% to 45% open is generally suggested, each providing a varied degree of protection from heat, glare and insects. Darker colored fabrics provide a better view outside than lighter fabrics. Click here and go to the “Fabrics” tab, then open the pdf entitled “Choosing your Shadecloth” for further details.
Remember, mounting and electrical details vary from application to application so call us as early on in the project as possible to ensure that your installation turns out just the way you envisioned.