Adding the consumer-grade products your clients ask for into their professional-grade systems.

I have long fought the onslaught of consumer-grade products in the custom arena. I still do not see the fit for devices like SmartThings, Wink, and August Locks. However, as discussed in my last blog, in giving our clients more control over their systems, we have also started to explore the world of some of the better consumer-grade offerings. Let’s face it, some of these products are actually pretty solid, offer install flexibility, and are brands clients ask for by name. Two of the big names that we have started to integrate are Nest and Sonos.

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Recently, one of our long-term customers, for whom we had installed and programmed a full Crestron integration throughout their brownstone in NYC 6 six years ago, purchased a newly constructed beach house. The beach house was prewired for speakers and a baseline control system with video and audio distribution, done by the builder. The builder’s integrator had offered a hybrid system of a dealer-only control system along with some consumer-grade sub-systems such as Nest, Sonos, and Alexa voice control. After several discussions, we streamlined a proposal for a more modest solution than what they have in their fulltime, NYC home, building not only off of what the other integrator had offered, but also what the client had seen in friends’ homes.

One key driving factor is that this a second home, with lots of guests, lots of kids, and even the potential to be a rental property for a few weeks a year should the right offer come along. We needed to be sure that the technology would be easy for someone to just pick up and use, without a lot of training or detailed written instructions.

Our final plan included a golf simulator, Sonos, Nest, and Alexa voice control to make it more friendly for guests and children — using interfaces they are more familiar with and likely have used before. We also utilized Crestron PYNG extensively to give the homeowner control over customizing lighting scenes, daily scheduling, locks, etc. The beauty of this hybrid solution is that the client had the ability to customize the house to their liking and current mood, but also made it easy for everyone else to use as well.

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This hybrid solution ended up being such a success with the client that we incorporated some of the elements into their main residence. We did a modest update that included a couple of Sonos Connects as sources into their audio distribution system to give them access to Apple Music and the flexibility to add some Sonos Ones in rooms without speakers and Crestron PYNG to give them more customization control for scheduling and scenes adjustment. We also added Echo dots in several rooms without Sonos Ones to bring in voice control for their entire automation system, making the home even more enjoyable, livable and easy to use.

How have you integrated consumer-grade products in your custom installations?

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