Technology over the past decade has become more easily controllable and automatic, responding to the touch of a finger or the sound of a voice.
This extends from our smartphones and tablets to our cars and homes. Some technology for control and automation is relatively simple to install and use; some of it is so complex it requires the expertise of a professional electronics integrator.
Homeowners on the Upper Cape who are looking for an integrated system to control lighting, thermostat, entertainment, security and other technologies have many options, whether they are building a new house or renovating an existing one.
Two Upper Cape-based home automation integrators areNew England Home Automation in Falmouth andTechnical Operations And Development, or TOAD, in Bourne.
New England Home Automation, formed in Hyannis in 2016, will open a showroom with its partner, Vineyard Home, at 587 Main Street in Falmouth next month.
Vineyard Home on Main Street in Falmouth
"We're planning to open our showroom February 1," said Jacob D. Avakian, a Bourne resident and owner of Vineyard Home since 2018. "We focus ongas fireplaces, audio and video, custom closets, outdoor living and home automation."
His partners are Addison Alder and Thomas Crabtree, both Barnstable residents, of New England Home Automation.
"Home automation is definitely the way things are going and the customer have gotten accustomed to smart technology and are coming to these in their homes," Mr. Avakian said, noting that builders, architects and homeowners sometimes shy away from "smart home tech" because they do not understand it.
"A smart home is really just a connected home, and though it sounds complicated to them, we can provide the knowledge and education," he said.
Jacob Avakian, owner of Vineyard Home (left) is opening a Falmouth showroom with Addison Alder and Thomas Crabtree of New England Home Automation.
A customer testimonial on the company's website says, "They installed a complete audio/video system, security, including cameras, alarm and remote, keyless door access, lighting control, HVAC monitoring and swimming pool electronics and provide monthly equipment monitoring."
A decade ago, there was great demand for a universal remote to control multiple devices in one device, Mr. Crabtree said.
"It's the same with home automation. You can take a few devices and integrate them together, like individual musical instruments, to create a symphony orchestra," he said.
"Rather than having multiple apps on your phone, you have a single interface to learn, and that's where the convenience comes in," Mr. Alder added.
The company has recently worked on new and existing construction projects with Longfellow Design Build and Pinsonneault Builders in Falmouth, along with builders and architects throughout the Cape, Mr. Crabtree said.
Developer Mark Bogosian, owner of Longfellow Design Build, said his company "is seeing an absolute increase in demand for home automation, everything from a smart thermostat to a total integrated home system. Vineyard Home and New England Home Automation have taken care of everything we need, and the partnership has been fantastic. They can coordinate directly with our clients."
"In the Cape Cod market, we have clients, builders mostly, who are approaching us, and for some reason we find that builders are somewhat afraid of technology," Mr. Crabtree said. "What we like to do is be that bridge to bring the mysterious world of technology to their clients, the homeowners. There's an information gap."
Providing dependable customer service is a huge priority for the company, Mr. Alder said.
"A lot of big Boston companies have satellite offices on the Cape. They'll come in and sell the system, but if something needs to get fixed, you might need to make an appointment weeks out, but that's not what these clients deserve or need. We're that local, full-service company that can meet their expectation quickly," he said.
The company primarily works with the Control4 home automation platform and also uses individual products such as the Google Nest hub, Mr. Crabtree said.
Control4 "has the best third-party integration" and is modular and expandable in design, Mr. Alder said.
"A basic system is between $1,000 and $2,000 and can expand to hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said.
In addition to whole-house systems, the company installs one-room systems, such as dedicated home theaters and media rooms with projectors and surround sound.
When working on new construction or major renovation projects, the partners recommend "future-proofing" a home by installing structured wiring before the interior walls are completed, Mr. Crabtree said.
"Everyone seems to think that WiFi or wireless is the way everything's moving, but a hard line is always better for reliability," he said. "Even in today's world, we still want to run a wire to everything. When you're building a new home or renovating, a prewire is relatively inexpensive, and it gives you options, even for resale. It gets much more expensive later on, when you're ripping out walls."
Builders sometimes overlook prewiring because they do not understand the benefits, Mr. Alder said.
"You might not want to install something now, but in the future, when you do want those components, the wire is there, and that is a cost saver in the future," he said.
Homeowners often ask the partners why they should install a certain technology when it will likely become obsolete in a matter of years, and this is where future-proofing makes the most difference, Mr. Avakian said.
"A lot of the cabling we use is a universal cable. In 10 years, most likely that cable can still be used for whatever they're trying to accomplish. You might ask, 'Why would I put a touchscreen on my wall if in five years there's going to be a new touchscreen?' But it's the same wire that runs to the touchscreen," he said.
New England Home Automation is a Barnstable-based company that is partnering with Vineyard Home in Falmouth.
Mr. Adler added that, while the end-user experience is often WiFi-based, "what gives you that connectivity is that solid wire."
Along with its residential work, New England Home Automation also does commercial work for businesses and corporations.
"We're working with a relatively large Falmouth company, and we have done the structured wiring in their corporate office. We're now in the design phase of a restaurant and store they're opening off-Cape," Mr. Avakian said.
The company mainly uses social media to market its services. Once the showroom is open, it will offer consultations and education sessions for homeowners, builders, architects and real estate agents, Mr. Avakian said.
At TOAD, which is headquartered in Buzzards Bay, Mark Hooper, a Bourne resident and former US Navy SEAL, formed his company in 2000 and now has clients across the Cape and Islands as well as along the Route 3 and Route 128 corridors. His business is 80 percent residential and 20 percent commercial, he said.
"We began only with audiovisual technology, but as home control and automation technology evolved, I came to offer a full suite of services," he said. "This trade mirrors a little bit of the complexities of being a SEAL. There are a lot of elements to master, and you have to be a hybrid electrician and switch specialist."
Recent Upper Cape projects have involved working with Jill Neubauer Architects, Hutker Architects and C.H. Newton Builders in Falmouth, as well as Archia Homes in Duxbury.
"Not everybody gets a full-scale smart home. Some only do an aspect of it," Mr. Hooper said. "The demand is growing because a lot of companiesApple, for instanceare advancing, teaching people how to use their devices, with the idea of how to streamline that process."
In the past TOAD installed systems from Crestron, RTI and Control4, but its go-to system is now from Savant, based in Hyannis.
"Savant is the first Apple-based system, and it is simple to program," Mr. Hooper said. "Being part of that hometown team helps with clients, and having Savant here on the Cape has been a great resource."
To future-proof a home, Mr. Hooper recommends installing a system of interlocking copper tubes as an in-wall infrastructure for structured wiring, with access points to allow for upgrades and expansion.
"If you do nothing else, let us put in the tubes. It allows customers to take advantage of new technologies and will save them hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years," he said, noting that TOAD installs state-of-the-art Cat8 wiring and fiber optic cable in certain projects.
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