The Backbone Of Your System Exploring The World Of Home Automation

Magnolia is known for offering premium audio, video and home automation. And while everyone knows what audio and video are, the term home automation often needs more explanation. What is it, why do I want it, and aren’t home control and home automation the same thing? As it turns out — no. To clear up some of the confusion around this ever-growing category, we sat down with Josh Fettig, Magnolia’s Category Manager for Home Automation.

With home automation, pushing the button to open your garage door can set off a host of events, from your house lights turning on, to your audio system coming to life.

What’s in a name

When it comes to home control and home automation, many use the terms interchangeably, but the reality is, they are very different. Home control refers to being able to control the devices in your home with your smartphone, tablet or computer. For example, you may have controllable light switches that allow you to turn your lights on and off from your smartphone. These controllable light switches may also let you set specific usage times for these lights, allowing you to program when they go on and off. But in the end, it’s basically just control.

Home automation takes control to a whole new level. As Josh put it, “Home automation at Magnolia is about taking all the connectable devices in your home and building one ecosystem around them that’s customized to you. For example, for home control, you can buy devices that allow you to control your garage door from your phone, which is great. But when you add the home automation aspect to this equation, you add a host of cumulative events to that one command. So now, in the home automation world, not only does your garage door open, but at the same time the yard lights come on, the lights inside your house turn on, your thermostat changes to a pre-specified temperature and your audio system comes to life. And all this happens before you even drive into your garage.”

“Home automation at Magnolia is about taking all the connectable devices in your home and building one ecosystem that’s customized to you.”

DIY, the gateway to home automation

Most people would rather test the waters in the home automation world before diving in, so they start with control, and that often means “do it yourself” solutions. And that’s just fine with Josh, who finds it’s a great way for people to learn about the potential of home automation.

“Inevitably, there is a larger market for a DIY customer than there is for a custom-install solution, and that’s true of just about everything we do. But I think it increases awareness. So if someone is interested in the DIY space, the selection of products at Best Buy® is a great place to start. Then, if that customer wants to move into a more integrated space, Magnolia gets involved.”

To achieve this whole-home automation solution, you need something that brings all these different products and brands together. Magnolia’s primary home automation brands are Savant and Control4. It’s these brands that use hardware and software solutions to take everything in your home and make them all work from a single app or program on your tablet, phone or computer. Your lighting, fireplace and thermostat controls, shades, home monitoring system, all of your home entertainment gear and even your sprinkler system can work together as a singular ecosystem, where one command can automate all of these devices at once. As more and more companies are realizing the need to be part of this home automation world, they are making their products compatible with these home automation brands, so no matter what you want to control in your home, it can work together in this singular automated system.

But this all-inclusive solution doesn’t work with every company that offers home automation. Many new companies that are getting into this space don’t offer home entertainment products or solutions. So your home is connected by one system, and your home entertainment system is controlled another way. Because Magnolia offers both home automation and home entertainment, they are able to connect both of these systems seamlessly. “That’s what Magnolia is all about. We do end to end – the entire home,” Josh told us. “If you just want one thing, we can do that, and do it really well. If you want your music to come on when you get home, we can do that. But if you eventually want to do a lot more than that, and as your appetite and budget grow, we can expand that to your entire home.” And with Magnolia’s Engineers, Project Managers and Installers, you have a dedicated team trained to get your system up and running to utter perfection.

This team of Magnolia experts will also work directly with your architect and builder to assure that any new build project is ready for this technology. Not only will they assure the latest specs, wiring and infrastructure are in place, but, because home automation allows you to control your house from your tablet or smartphone, you could potentially eliminate certain light switches and thermostat boxes in the home. In their place, you can either have nothing, or install home automation touch screens for a cleaner, more techno-forward look.

The future is here, and more is coming

We’ve seen countless advancements in smartphone capabilities. It does a host of things in an ultra-compact device. It’s this device that does much of the driving of home automation today, and will in the future. As Josh told us, “A smartphone is a lot of things; it’s a mini computer, it has a lot of processing power, some even have near-field communication (that’s where you touch your phone to another phone to transfer data). It’s that ability that could have your electronics knowing you’re in a room, all without you having to alert it with a button push or app swipe.”

In the near future, you could walk into your home and your smartphone would ping the room telling it you are there. Consequently, all the technology in that room would adjust to your personal settings; lights, thermostat, TV channels, everything.

Josh also points out that, “Manufacturers are looking at what can be done even if you don’t have your phone with you.” Nest thermostats are a good example of what is possible. The company has moved into smoke detectors. Why? Because you have a smoke detector in nearly every room of your house. So by putting motion sensors on these smoke detectors, Nest can adjust the temperatures of rooms when people are in them, and readjust them when people leave. This has further implications for the home automation world. Some day, similar sensors could identify who is in the room, what they want, and adjust everything in the room to that person’s pre-determined standards. They could even be programmed to have certain settings in the morning, afternoon and night, or settings when you’re alone or have people with you. The options are nearly endless.

It’s time to get your steak sizzling

At Magnolia, we don’t sell things that most people need to have, we sell things people want, and then we work on the cool factor,” Josh told us. “We work on the sizzle, not the steak.” Home automation is that sizzle; it’s the backbone of every connectable device in your home, and it not only makes life easier, it turns a regular home into a very fun, integrated smart home.

Josh Fettig,
Magnolia Category Manager for Home Automation and Member of the CEA TechHome Board
Josh was recently elected to the Consumer Electronics Association’s TechHome Board. The board is comprised of manufacturers as well as retailers and custom integrators with a focus on increasing consumer awareness and knowledge of home automation. They also create wiring standards for contractors to build tech homes. As Josh told us, “As a board member, I’ve learned a lot from these veterans in the home automation space.”

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