Aug 20, 2020
There are two Smart Home systems that we use at NV Integration - by purchasing the necessary hardware and software, and then customising them to each project: Crestron and Control4.
Both systems are capable of carrying out the Smart Home functions you are aware of: lighting control, high-quality audio and video streaming, security integration and bespoke integrations with third party devices. However these Smart Home systems can go far beyond these simple functions.
Read on below to learn about each system, and which one might stand out for your next home or project.
Control4: The way that Control4 looks and feels is standard across all devices, whether it is a touchscreen, tablet, or mobile app. The interface has been purposely designed for ease of use, and speed of deployment. With simple navigation to commands, and a bright interface. Homeowners will be able to use this system intuitively without the need for prior training.
However, you cannot customise this interface. You will not be able to change layouts, icons or customise the home page with buttons for a specific request or command that is not within the template.
Crestron: For Creston systems there are differing systems that we can use, depending on the size and scope of the project: Crestron Custom, and Crestron Home.
Crestron Custom is a fully bespoke system where the interface is built from scratch for each project by our in-house team. This means the interface will be able to display as much or as little information as you want it too - making it tailor made for the clients preferences. At NV Integration we have Crestron templates we have refined for the best user experience in residential homes, and can offer varying styles to suit.
Left: Crestron Home Interface | Right: Control4 Interface
Crestron Home is a new operating system for small to mid-sized high-end residential. Their interface resembles iOS in design and experience. With a smooth, sleek layout, it will easily blend into the background of a home with luxury interior design. The look and feel of the layout is not bespoke, making it more constricted in this area, but considerably faster and cheaper to program and commission because of it.
Creston Home is a relatively new product to the market. This means that the third party integration possibilities are currently more limited, albeit expanding quickly; and you may find that restricts the possibilities of using Crestron Home, or just having more limited choices over what and how you integrate it with other systems.
Control4's interface and controls can be customised to an extent. Similar to Apple’s iOS there are set commands and control over devices, with varying degrees of customisation for third party devices. Control4 have heavily invested in integrating 3rd party devices, with a large library of drivers to enable integration with the other systems in the home - such as Nest or Heatmiser heating systems.
Creston Custom, as we mentioned earlier, is a fully customisable system. So every layout, colour, fonts, and icons can be changed. But this also means that every interaction between devices can be programmed to work more efficiently - making the integration possibilities limitless. As we have installed more and more Crestron Custom systems we have found what works and doesn’t, and have refined our user experience for homeowners.
As Crestron is a programmable system, we are able to accommodate your specific requests. For example, a morning scene can consist of: shades opening, the TV will turn on to a news channel at a set volume, ventilation brings fresh air into a room, and tuneable lighting will emit a colour tone similar to the early morning sun, which tells your body to awake.
Furthermore, Crestron Custom has scalability built-in. Whether your home is a small apartment in Central London or a vast manor in the home-counties. Crestron Custom will work for any size home and with more agility thanks for the bespoke layouts, compared to Control4.
Creston Home sits in the middle between a completely customisable system, and a set system like Control4. There is customisation in Crestron Home as well as programmable features to give homeowners a unique tailored home experience.
Control4 has invested heavily in integrating third party products and can integrate with thousands of products and systems from companies like Google, Sonos, Lutron, Amazon, and KNX. For these products, to work there are drivers which allow for the devices to communicate with each other.
Crestron Custom, the smarter the device is the more control Crestron can have over it. As Crestron requires a programmer, devices are coded together to work seamlessly together - and the only limitation is really the limitation of the device that Crestron is integrating with. For example imagine a simple doorbell that rings, compared to a full colour video entry system with audio, door release, and notifications.
Out of the two systems, Crestron has a clear advantage as more control over devices can simply be programmed, and presented in a way which is tailored to the device - i.e. a motorised blind or curtain will appear completely different on a page in a way that is intuitive to the user, compared to a lighting circuit.
Left: Control4 & Alexa | Right: Crestron & Sonos One with Artificial Assistant Alexa/Google Home
Both systems are able to integrate with security systems and function very well. Being able to integrate into cameras with live feeds, door and gate entry as well as perimeter sensors and alarms. Control4 has an edge here by offering a larger range of door systems that they can communicate with, but the most reliable offerings work with both.
Control4 have a security system built into their operating system so that it can be set-up quickly, and accessed easily. They have spent a lot of effort making sure the security interface is simple and intuitive so homeowners can access security feeds as quickly as possible, via a secure cloud connection, without having to first access a VPN.
Control4 Security Interface and Door Entry Solution
Tabletop, in-wall touch screens and mobile apps also function as door entry systems allowing homeowners to control and interact with people at their front door from anywhere.
Similarly, Crestron offers a security system that integrates directly with security systems. Crestron Home and the traditional Crestron system both can be programmed with a variety of devices, such as cameras door entry, sensors and alarms to provide a robust and reliable system of security - for example, displaying images from the CCTV cameras on TV screens when the doorbell rings.
Crestron Home Security Interface with 2N Door Entry Solution
Heating Ventilation & air conditioning (HVAC) are essential parts of the home to create a comfortable environment for homeowners. Crestron and Control4 can both integrate with HVAC systems. KNX is a scalable building management system that NV Integration use for controlling HVAC; it unifies all of the different heating and cooling sources in the home, and allows us to display that information in a consistent way for each room.
As KNX is a purpose built building management system, it allows more control than if Crestron or Control4 were to integrate directly with the heating or cooling systems, and provides a clean line of demarkation for future servicing and maintenance.
Both smart home systems can communicate with KNX for the most common commands: such as reading or setting room temperatures, or the mode of climate between heating and cooling.
For this section the points must go to Crestron however, because should the homeowner want to add any function over and above Control4's limitations - for example a button to turn on or off the hot water then this is not easily achievable within Control4, due to their fixed layout.
Left: Control4 Interface for HVAC | Right: Crestron Interface for HVAC
Control4 and Crestron are more than just software. They require hardware so that devices like TVs, speakers and lighting can connect and communicate together. This hardware is stored in a central location and connects to every device in the home that needs to be controlled by a smart home operating system.
Generally the larger the home the more equipment you need to control all the devices. For example, an apartment in London may only have a couple of rooms which have TVs, speakers and Wi-Fi access points. While a Manor House may have as many as 50 rooms with the same devices, therefore it would require more equipment to connect and control those devices together.
Crestron was initially built as an enterprise solution for large companies, so scaling for homes isn’t an issue and requires the same level of hardware to handle the variety of equipment in the home. Control4, have really targeted themselves at a volume market, selling a handful of devices, to a wider base that can afford the smaller outlay - so when it comes to the larger projects, we generally see Crestron as the go-to.
On the point of hardware Crestron and Control4 manufacture their own equipment in-house - making compatibility and control guaranteed. Control4 has recently merged with SnapAV, which in the coming years will give them an enormous arsenal of hardware to use as well as more manufacturing capabilities.
However, Crestron which has been around for over 50 years has a dedicated manufacturing team that puts all of their products through rigorous testing. Extreme heating and cooling, drop and stress testing, overloading software. They are constantly updating their product lines, and remain the industry leader in 'first to market' innovation.
On average hardware fails are due to improper installation, lack of planned servicing, or useable product lifecycle expiration. This lifecycle is one of the greatest smart home questions, and varies from device to device. For example an in-ceiling speaker would be good to last 15+ years, however a flatscreen TV would likely be replaced more frequently as the technology advances.
Smart Lighting is the most requested feature of the smart home. It is now one of the top 3 smart technologies consumers own, and since 2015 the number of consumers who have bought smart lighting has increased by 40%.
At NV Iintegration we can work with both Crestron and Control4’s lighting solutions. Both are very powerful and add value compared to a simple light switch, however frequently we prefer to use a Lutron HomeWorks lighting control system, for this part of the scope.
One of the biggest reasons we like Lutron is the engineering quality - and this shows in their reliability, and the quality of their keypads. However a well designed lighting control system can do so much more with lighting - and whichever system you choose it will flawlessly integrate with Control4, and Crestron so it can be displayed and operated from touchscreens and mobile devices.
Lutron goes beyond just controlling lighting and can take control of window treatments, like blinds, shades and curtains. They have a huge range of luxury fabrics that to suit the interior scheme.
Both Crestron and Control4 will do the essentials in your home; controlling media, security, lighting and HVAC systems. Control4 boasts a more basic and simple interface with limited customisation; while Crestron has a more powerful system that allows for bespoke ground up customisation and integration with any device.
If you are satisfied with a Smart Home that does the basics, then Control4 may be right for you. However, if you are looking for a tailored solution then we feel that Crestron Custom or Crestron Home is the best system to take control of your smart home needs.
The most important take-away from this article is that our experienced sales consultants are here to help you decide which smart home is right for you. Get in touch and start the discussion in developing your smart home journey with us.