22 Feb Home Automation Solutions With Ryan Wight From Century
Jason: Good morning, folks. Welcome back to another podcast episode. Today, I have Ryan Wight joining us with Century Entertainment and Furnishings. We’re going to talk a little home automation, home audio, home video and anything related to that, and who knows what else. Ryan, welcome, why don’t you tell folks a little bit about you and maybe how you got interested in home audio or how you ended up where you are right now.
Ryan: Hi, Jason. Thanks for having me here today. I started with Century Entertainment about 10 years ago when we opened the company. We started out as just a small audio, video, even did some car stereo back then and kind of grew from there to the all encompassing of cabinetry, audio, video, home furnishings that we do today. I’ve always been interested in electronics. Before I worked at Century Entertainment, I worked at Circuit City for 10 plus years. I always had interest in electronics and grew from there, I guess.
Jason: I guess is that where you met John Poynter, the owner of Century. Didn’t he work at Circuit City back in the day?
Ryan: Yes, we worked at Circuit City together for 10 or 12 years there and then left to start Century Entertainment going on 10, 11 years ago now.
Jason: Good deal. With Artisan, we’ve been using Century Entertainment for, gosh, probably since its inception almost. We’ve enjoyed a good relationship with you guys and think you do good stuff. What I wanted to give folks a little bit of background maybe on is home automation. Everybody is intrigued about home automation. I don’t think a lot of people understand what it is and what it can do for you. Maybe you can give me a little background on somebody’s going to be building a new home, what can they expect as far as home automation?
Ryan: That’s a good question. There’s a lot of preconceptions out there that home control meaning, “Hey, I can buy this device and I can open an app on my phone and control it.” But that’s automation. That’s not really home automation. Home automation is taking all those things that you can maybe use a separate app for and combining them all where they talk together so that for instance, when you leave the house, that your thermostats would go to away mode. Your lights would go off. Your alarm would arm, all with one touch of a button. You could be notified while you’re gone. It’s really making all those smart little devices work together rather than just having an app per se that control everything individually.
Jason: You’re not having a separate app for your receiver or separate app for your garage door opener. It seems like anytime I’m watching TV or looking at an ad nowadays, everything is wifi enabled and has an app for that. I guess you’re going to really put a whole package together and put all that in one spot maybe.
Ryan: Correct. You can go anywhere these days like you said and buy something that has an app for it. But the stuff that we do uses a lot of those type of devices but instead of just an individual app makes them all work together to make your life more convenient, move security conscious and easier.
Jason: Is there a certain, I think we’ve used a lot of Control4, is that the system you guys enjoy using or are there others?
Ryan: There’s others on the market. Control4 is our main system. We’re a Pinnacle dealer which is their top of the line dealer that they offer. We’re the only one in this area so that’s … if you’re looking for a Control4 system, it means we’ve done quite a few of them.
Jason: Is that a system that, would it be best to prewire for that system or is it going to be done wirelessly or what’s the best? Somebody’s going to get started with home automation and they’re building an new house, when should they get started in the process and start talking with you about it?
Ryan: Definitely, if it’s something and you’re doing a new build, we’ve love to start talking to the customer in the early stages, maybe even in the just plan stages or early framing stages. Because although some of the stuff can be wireless, there’s a lot of stuff that’s better and will better perform wired and still need to be wired. For instance, like speakers throughout the house, surround sound, stuff like that, definitely still needs to be wired is the best way to go.
Jason: What about keypads, controlling the system. Do you like those hardwired in the wall or is an iPad suffice these days? What are you seeing?
Ryan: It’s about a 50-50 there. We still do a lot of keypads in the wall. Those being hardwired are the best way even though they can run wifi if someone some to retrofit them in their house but we definitely recommend they be hardwired. A lot of people are just using their iPhones, tablets, iPads to control stuff. That’s really just a matter of personal preference. The pad in the wall is always one and always there, always open ready to go whereas you may have to find your phone or open an app on an iPad or a tablet.
Jason: Good deal. I know these systems can be expanded. If somebody wants to get started and at least get a basic system, what are most people coming to you for that they want to control with their home automation system?
Ryan: Usually, it starts out with just … they just want to start out with something basic and small. We offer a one room package. It’s now $599. That comes with a remote and the home controller. That would typically do like one room, universal remote control for your theater, your media room. But then from that, you can add on lighting, thermostat, security system, cameras and all that good stuff. It can scale up from there.
Jason: If you buy the basic system, it can be expanded to add … we have a few customers that like the security and they like the cameras. Is that something you can control from the iPad, if you’re sitting at the office, you want to see if the kids are home? Can you actually view your iPad and see the camera, what it’s recording back at home?
Ryan: Correct. You can view your cameras. You could just typically arm your alarm remotely, disarm your alarm or even have door locks that you can lock and unlock remotely. You can even assign pin codes to the users. Even garage doors that you can unlock and open remotely.
Jason: That would be cool if somebody was needing to work on the house or pick something up. Could you actually tell when they were there and when they left?
Ryan: Yes, you could also have it send text messages to your phone that when someone arrived and unlocked that door for you or when someone leaves.
Jason: I know a lot of people do the distributed audio, what are, I guess, the services, what’s the best way to stream audio? Is that Pandora or are there other sources that are better for that?
Ryan: Pandora is a big one mainly because it’s free.
Jason: Maybe that’s why I like it. Always looking for a good bargain.
Ryan: Pandora is a good one and also Tune In Radio which is basically over about 70,000 internet radio stations that are streamed throughout the world. Some of those are local, some of those are Russia and European and whatever flavor of music you like. Both of those services are free and integrated into the Control4 system. Those are two main services. Then Control4 also supports Rhapsody, Tidal and Deezer which are all pay per subscription services.
Jason: Does it make sense to pay for a service like that or I guess you’re not just getting the ads maybe, is that why you would pay for a service?
Ryan: Correct. If you do the pay per service, you’re not getting ads. You have access to basically 3 or 4 million song library right at your fingertips, as long as you keep paying subscription. It’s like you have a 4 million song library. You can create your own playlist. You can search and find a specific song if you want it. Also, Tidal and Deezer offers some high resolution audio which is nice if you really want the best sound quality possible. Those two services support high resolution audio.
Jason: Now, do people still come to you with a collection of CDs nowadays or do people buy CDs anymore or is it all streaming audio?
Ryan: It’s getting to be more streaming. Depends on the generation. A lot of people have CDs, recommend that they go ahead and digitize those, Control4 will catalog all those, put them in a nice little tab for you so you can search for by your artists, your genre, whatever you like and then they’re all right at your fingertips instead of having to pull out the CDs anymore.
Jason: Good advice there. That I think covers a pretty good covering of audio. As far as speakers go though, where do people like to put speakers in the home. Are they just putting them in the main areas or do they like them outside, in the bathroom? What do you find?
Ryan: I would say our top areas are your kitchen, master bedroom, master bath, outdoor areas, entertaining areas basically. Then some of the personal space, getting ready in the morning, master and master bath areas.
Jason: Got you. Setting the mood there. I like it. Speaking of setting the mood, one thing I’ve always been very intrigued about is lighting. I think you mentioned that earlier, that you can do some lighting control with some of these home automation systems. Is that becoming more popular these days? How do people utilize that service?
Ryan: Yeah, the lighting control is a popular thing. Some people do it in just a small fashion. We’ve also done a whole house lighting control. Most popular is for people to get their outside lights on the home automation system and maybe a few indoor lights that can be maybe seen from outside for security purposes. Control4, one, offers a feature where it’s all astronomical clocks so you’re never having to reset timers, control your outdoor lights.
Jason: That’s nice.
Ryan: You can say lights always come on 30 minutes before sunset and go off four hours after sunset which is nice. Also, they offer what’s called a Mockupancy which makes it, your house looked lived in when you’re away. It will automatically turn on lights randomly for you on the inside and those can even be at a reduced level so you’re not using as much electricity as you normally would which is nice.
Jason: Do most of those have a dimming function, would that be the case then?
Ryan: Yes. It’s not a whole lot more to make a light dimming function rather than just on off. With the dimming, really allows you to create some nice scenes, lighting scenes within your house, evening scenes, morning scenes and utilize less electricity also.
Jason: When I think of lighting control and home automation, I automatically get a little scared and nervous that it’s going to be tens of thousands of dollars. If somebody wanted to do maybe a basic system and a moderate system, I know it’s going to vary based on the size of the house but what can you start a basic lighting package at do you think? Just an estimate.
Ryan: A basic lighting package, usually around a thousand dollars will give you a good five or six lighting loads to start out with and this base controller with that, it comes with a remote, that would be your universal remote for your home theater system. It might be $1,600 to start out with.
Jason: That’s not too bad because everybody likes to have a welcoming home when you get home from work at night and if the lights were automatically on, hopefully you’d be home before it was dark, but by chance you’re not, it would be nice to come home and have the lights on for you. Where do you guys find that latest and greatest ideas? Through continuing education? Do you go to trade shows? Where do you find your most current trends?
Ryan: We always go once a year to something called CEDIA, Custom Electronics Design Association. That varies wherever it is. But they’re always going to showcase the latest and greatest in home automation technology, televisions, projectors, that type of thing. Also, a lot of reading online these days.
Jason: Good deal. It looks like we’re running short on time, Ryan. But a couple of things you mentioned that we didn’t get a chance to talk about were TVs and maybe home theaters. Maybe you can join us for another episode here in the near future and we can hit some of those hot topics as well.
Ryan: I appreciate that. That’d be great.
Jason: Ryan, if somebody wanted to get a hold of you, how would they contact you or Century?
Ryan: You can call us at 502-231-6922 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to come out and or meet with you in our showroom and take a look at your plans and you’re design.
Jason: Good deal. Thanks again for joining us today, Ryan.
Ryan: Thanks for having me.