When we quote a system, even to very high end customers, the question often comes up “Can you do anything about the price?” We understand that. Even clients who want the very best in an automated home also want to know that they are being treated fairly. When a home automation system is installed, it is often done at the same time as a major upgrade in home entertainment, and therefore there can be a bit of sticker shock when all the figures are added up.
The answer to the money question is “Yes, there are some places you can save.” But there are also some parts of the system you won’t want to touch, even if it saves a few dollars. Let’s look at a typical system and see where you may be able to economize.
Save on Design
A proper design for the system will save you a world of trouble later in the process. You can pay a designer to do this, but one way to get around spending the money is to use a reputable full-service company that offers design services. If you bundle design, sales and installation with one supplier, you can negotiate a big discount or rebate on the design as part of the package and definitely save money. A warning: If the company you’re considering doesn’t supply or require a complete design before beginning the install, walk away.
Save on Labour
The best way to save on labour is to start with a really good design. A properly designed modern system will use less cable and more wireless equipment. That means a quicker install and less labour to repair any wall or ceiling damage from cable runs. This is one of the areas where paying just a bit more for the wireless option can save you big money on man-hours.
Save on Speakers
All speakers are not created equal. You don’t need the same speakers for background radio in the kitchen as you do for theatre quality surround sound in the family room. As you work with your contractor, make it clear what your expectations are for sound quality from every area of the house. You may find that a $100 speaker is just fine for the foyer and that may free up money for that awesome subwoofer in the home theatre.
Save on Touch Screens
It is important for a complete home automation system to have at least one manufacturer’s touch screen as part of the system. A hand held remote is a good idea too. Once you have those, you may want to look at i-devices for extra touch screens. While they have their limits (including long start-ups from sleep mode), for a few hundred dollars you may be able to get something that will do the job in place of a manufacturer’s panel that could cost in the thousands of dollars. The applications are easy to load and some basic control apps are even free. Tell the integrator early if you plan to use them so they can be properly added to the system.
Save on Home Security
You may have been tempted by the home security systems that offer ‘no money down and a monthly monitoring fee’. It sounds like the equipment is free, but we all know there is no such thing as free equipment. You are locking into a long-term contract that is charging triple the normal monitoring rate. You’re paying for that alarm equipment in the long run. Why not have your security system installed at the same time as the home automation system? It is an economical upgrade, (the installers will already be on site) you own the equipment and most of the system can be driven by the hardware you’re already buying. You may find that a system sending you alerts by text or e-mail is all you need, or you may want to install your system and then subscribe to an economical monitor-only service. It will still save hundreds a year compared to the ‘free’ system.
Save on Equipment
Home owners are always interested in re-using equipment they already have. That may be possible, but it also may not. You may have a big screen television, but the technology changes so fast that even a fairly new screen may not reach the standards of today’s units. It is very important to meet with your home automation integrator and discuss what pieces you may want to keep in the system. They can evaluate the age and condition of the component and tell you if it is worth the risk. This also comes with a warning. If you re-use a component and it fails, that will not be covered under an installer’s warranty. You will be on the hook for a service call. It may be cheaper in the long run to make sure the entire new system is the same age and quality. Once again, you may be able negotiate a discount with the integrator if you buy a turn-key system that includes all the hardware.
Save on Upgrades in the Future
One of the least expensive things you can do is to have your integrator pull extra cable while the job is being installed. For a few cents a metre, you can have extra Cat6E cable inside your wall that could save you thousands in cable pull and drywall work in the future. Technology is coming that will require far more bandwidth than we need today. This is the most economical way to be prepared.
At OneTouch automation, we are professionals with a career commitment the industry. We always make it clear to our clients that a truly worthwhile system is a major investment, but it is also totally fair to expect value for your money. The designers at OneTouch Automation are there ito make sure that you invest wisely in a system that will create the electronic lifestyle you always dreamed of. Call us today for a no-obligation no-cost consultation.