Archive for 'Home Automation Boca Raton'

Top Quality Home Automation Installation Companies

home-automation-installation-companyQualities of a good system for home automation Boca Raton

The most common means of acquiring a automation system for your Boca Raton home, is purchasing it from a reputable home automation installation company like Seagull Electronics. Prior to making such a purchase, it is important to ensure that the system meets certain criteria. The first criterion that this system should meet is functionality. This means that it should be able to do what it is meant to do. You can verify functionality by visiting a home that uses such a system or by having the vendor demonstrator this functionality at his office. When checking functionality, ensure that the system is reliable. It should do what it is supposed to at all the times it is supposed to perform a certain task.

Expandability of a home automation system 

When you decide to purchase a system for purposes of home automation in Boca Raton, you might not include all tasks that you would like to automate. However, in the future you might want to include such a task in the automation system. Therefore, it is important to leave room for expandability of the system at any point after purchasing it. This would prevent the need for purchasing a whole new system.

Genelec Adds G Two Models to Its Active Speaker Lineup

SEAGULL1102Genelec is popular for its active, or powered, speakers that can distribute a good home theater kick.

This Massachusetts-based company’s new G Two Active speaker models might not be great in size, but they can surely pack a punch from their condensed dimensions.

This Genelec speaker is available in black or white, and features a four-inch woofer and 3/4-inch tweeter.  This places it relatively in the middle of Genelec’s G Series lineup that includes the marginally smaller woofers in its G One and slightly bigger woofers in its G Three.  Genelec’s G Four models also contain 3/4-inch tweeters.

For bigger thump you can add Genelec’s F Series active subwoofers that can accompany the G Series products.

The G Two models deviate from your typical bookshelf speaker design in their curvy cabinet structure that was a product of Genelec’s engineers teaming with award-winning designer Harri Koskinen.

Genelec says the design not only provides striking looks, but also helps the speaker’s acoustical features by reducing the acoustic reflections sometimes caused by sharp edges on a speaker. The company says that, combined with its Directivity Control Waveguide, this allows the G Two to deliver a smooth frequency response both on and off axis. Genelec’s 8.1-pound speaker frequency response is rated between 65 to 21000 Hz.

Married to Technology: Inside Kevin Jonas’ Home Automation

Credit Line Required: © Matt Greenslade/photo-nyc.comPop star Kevin Jonas lets a sophisticated Home Automation system simplify his everyday life, at home as well as on the road.

Kevin Jonas can’t avoid the life of a busy pop star. He has been traveling the country on tour with his brothers, Nick and Joe, in their hit band, the Jonas Brothers; releasing songs and creating buzz for the band’s first album since 2009, V.  He’s also been performing with his brothers at special events such as the Miss USA competition while leading the role of reality TV star on E!’sMarried to Jonas; and, oh yeah, getting ready for parenthood with his wife, Danielle, who is pregnant with their first child. If there’s anyone who can be grateful for the comfort of home automation, it’s someone with a hasty schedule like Kevin. The Jonases’ home automation system manages to bring a considerable amount of simplicity to an already hectic life- both when the couple is home and, more importantly, when they are not.

Self-described as a “tech guy,” living with a home automation system and the countless subsystems it manages has Kevin in high-tech heaven … even though the initial setup proved to be monstrous. Thanks to basically an entire overhaul of the original system, though, every piece of his connected home now hits the right note with this musician.

“You’d think this would be simple. You just plug in a TV and it should work. But really there’s a whole other world happening,” he says of the masterminds behind his smart home. “What I most enjoy is that it works well and it’s easy. I think people are amazed when they come over. They think, ‘Oh, it looks like there’s so much,’ but really you just have a lot of choices. The home automation system and its controllers are the easiest thing you’ll ever use.” 

 Turning a Flop into a Hit
Unfortunately, Kevin’s home automation system was not always the effortless system that it is. Most of the equipment was in place, but it was chaos. Like any other industry, the custom electronics business has professionals whose work can range from oustanding to below par. While the original setup in this 7,200-square-foot house looked fine on the surface it hid some major issues underneath. With so many home automation subsystems involved—home theater, distributed audio and video throughout the house, security/alarm, surveillance cameras, lighting control and HVAC control—those issues were just waiting to be revealed.

Another A/V company was brought in when multiple aspects of the overall home automation system began failing. Almost every subsystem had some sort of issue, from the alarm system to the cameras. Kevin also had some lightning strikes, so a portion of the cameras were bad, and the door locks and alarms weren’t functioning. Part of the lighting worked and part of it didn’t; the HVAC never really did work right. So it was really a top-to-bottom makeover of the system, as well as reprogramming everything.

A trip downstairs to the equipment rack room is all the proof you need to see why the original home automation system was unfolding.  It looked like a bad DIY job. All the equipment for the system was stuffed into a half rack rather than a more suitable full-height equipment rack. The wiring was a jumbled mess and badly bound together, with poor and insufficient power supplies supporting the components; while the security system wasn’t even plugged in at all.

On top of the bad rack job, there was a combination of custom-interconnected wire, Velcro, prefab cables, zip-ties, and electrical tape. Most of the Apple equipment was literally dangling on an array of wire. There were extension cords plugged into power strip outlets, which were plugged into power distribution centers with splitters you would get from a hardware store. In the original home automation rack there was only a nine-outlet power strip. The hot water heater, the HVAC system and the lighting control were also plugged into those extension cords.

It took the audio/video company and his team about two weeks to first figure out where everything was connected and then re-design, re-wire and re-program the entire home automation system.  This included the Honeywell security, Lutron lighting and IC Realtime cameras that had already been set up but now needed to work well with the overhauled home automation installation and all of its control options, such as the iPads, iPad minis, iPhones. They installed a new Middle Atlantic BGR rack and spruced it up right down to the custom screw covers.

Singing the Praises of Automation
It certainly doesn’t take much to get Kevin Jonas talking about all of the day-to-day advantages that he enjoys from a fully functioning home automation and A/V system. For a person who has spent a great deal of his time on stage and in front of the camera, he’s got a natural charisma when displaying how he uses different aspects of the home technology. When asked about the motorized scissor-lift that can lower his living room TV into viewing position at the touch of a button, Kevin happily grabs an iPad from the kitchen counter and in about two seconds the big screen is on the move. He enjoys showing off the fascinating home automation technology because his interest for it is genuine. Kevin and his father-in-law installed the ComfortVu TV lift themselves, although they had to drill it twice because they didn’t have it level the first time. He even shared a video of the DIY project with his 3.5 million Twitter followers.

Kevin researched a variety of home automation systems and decided on an Apple-platform system after visiting a showroom; where he saw firsthand the integration possibilities and the recognizable control options. “I had a few ideas. I really enjoy the whole home automation functionality, especially in a home of this size,” he says. “I hated having to walk around to flip off all the light switches when there’s a much more effective way to do it; not only for you, but from an energy efficient standpoint. I knew how easily this system was integrated into iOS and everything that was already going on with my phone, my tablet and my computers.”

He’s so skilled with his home automation system and his iPad that he can dart through setting up a customized user interface page, putting in all of the desired icons for controlling whatever subsystems you’d want as shortcuts for a specific room, in minutes. He also went as far as to say that he’d love to go through the same training and programming courses that were offered to the custom home automation professionals. “The great thing about this system is you can modify it,” he says. “I just enjoy having everything at my fingertips, but if I really wanted to I can throw a new icon in, add a new button, and then edit it.”

Selling Points
Besides triggering his TV lift by touching a button on his iPad, there are other highlights that Kevin likes about his high-tech home automation system.

Security and surveillance: Video from eight surveillance cameras, in important areas such as the front door and front gate, can be viewable from portable devices and fed to iPads and TVs throughout the house. Scheduling and Alarm system functionality can also be done remotely. Kevin’s home isn’t in a gated community, but on a cul-de-sac in a residential neighborhood. As a celebrity and owner of a relatively large house he can expect any number of caretakers, guests, handlers, TV crew people, workers, and others showing up. Since Kevin is away from his home so much being on tour and traveling, the key piece for him was being able to monitor what goes in his home from anywhere in the world. There are times when he had to let someone into his home and he didn’t give them the key, but was able to unlock the door, turn on the lights and disarm the alarm for them.  All this was done from Brazil. Kevin get alerts, so he can instantly look at the camera feed to see who’s there. The home automation system has allowed the Jonases to feel way more secure in their own home.

Phones: Phones aren’t usually very exciting but don’t tell that to Kevin. His home automation system has a sharp IP-based telephony system that allows people to make calls from their iDevices’ apps or operate room-to-room intercom basically all as one integrated home automation system over the home phone line. Kevin’s just as excited to demo iPad calling as he is brandishing A/V systems. It’s an addition that the Home Automation company integrated, while also boosting the communications by using three cordless phones that work off of cell antennas so the signal can bounce around smoothly as you go from one end of the house to another. You can page from one room to another or transfer calls, regardless of whether you’re on a wireless device or Apple device, a cordless phone or the touch-panels in the rooms. He also has the paging feature, which means you can page through the home speakers, and it mutes whatever is playing on the speakers. Plans are being made to remove the old doorbells and gate control interface and replace them with a new IP phone interface to complete the telephony package and basically include it with that exterior security.

Skype: There are televisions throughout the Jonas home, but the one that Kevin uses frequently is the Samsung TV in his office because it has Skype. He does all his conference calls from there.  Kevin chose to live in New Jersey because he loves it there, but he needs to be in L.A. a lot, so instead of jumping on a flight, he has a camera on top of the TV in his office. He can just Skype in a session and talk to anybody.

Lighting Control: The Lutron lighting throughout the house, along with being controllable and monitored under the support of the home automation system, provides a strong way for the different areas of Kevin’s home to be both aptly illuminated as well as energy friendly. Due to the fact that he is eco-minded, he’s already thinking about switching to LED lighting and about the prospects of incorporating an energy management solution in his next home. For now, he’s happy to applaud the quality of what lighting control is already accomplishing. “The amount of energy saved with a lighting control system like this is incredible. When you turn on a light switch it’s usually at 100 percent but none of my lights are 100 percent. My lights are all at 65 percent, which is bright enough everywhere but people don’t realize that they’re dimmed. If I really needed it to be 100 percent, I could just press a button and it all turns to 100.”

HVAC: Heating, cooling and humidity control is clever and highly customizable. If you’ve ever watched Married to Jonas, you’ve probably noticed that some of the individual interviews take place next to Kevin’s spacious wine room. A sensor in there monitors the temperature and the humidity, which will send a notification if the conditions rise above a certain level. Throughout the house, indoor and outdoor zones are easy to schedule by temperature, time of day, season or other marker. Settings can also be copied to other zones, created and edited not only by the Home Automation company, but by Kevin himself.

Audio and Video: Being an entertainer Kevin spends a great deal of time using the multiroom A/V operations within his home as well as the dedicated theater room with a 110-inch screen and comfy seating for movie viewing. The housewide A/V system can access all of the music they have stored in Mac Minis or on a separate hard drive from any where they are using an iDevice as well as throughout the house. Apple TVs route iTunes and streaming content to TVs and speakers so that individual playlists and music libraries can be easily accessed through the couple’s own personalized user interface pages. When Kevin’s creative juices are flowing he can record some music into his Logic Pro demo rig or even connect his guitar pedals and amp and play it back over the home audio system. One of his favorite features of the A/V system is that obtaining pretty much any feature of the home tech subsystems doesn’t interfere with whatever audio or video the Jonases are enjoying on TV.  This is all because of the home automation system that simply overlays the interface features and navigation onscreen, allowing for lightning-quick progressions to lowering the heat, viewing camera feeds, or anything else.

Like the operation of all things tech-related in Kevin’s house, it’s smooth and seamless —which bodes well for this Jonas brother’s next big technology achievement. “I’m a big kid at heart, and these are my toys,” he says. “Dani loves the home automation system and she kind of let me go for it. She knows we’re contemplating moving now, and that in our next home it will probably be even more extensive.”

Custom Home Theater Design: Be Flexible, Be Happier

HomeTheaterOne of the more fun things about home electronics is how the market and technology is always changing; and nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of custom home theater design, where it seems there’s a brilliant new product or technology every week, something that we all think would be a great addition to nearly any system.

The best way to take advantage of these ever-evolving new products is to maintain a certain amount of flexibility within your custom home theater design. This means being able to update individual components as it seems appropriate, rather than having to re-build an entire system from the ground up.

For example, if you’re setting up a system that has X number of wireless surround sound speakers as part of the rear and side speaker set-up, you don’t want to be sitting on a system that isn’t scalable to whatever Y number of speakers future formats will present. Or if you’re picking out a display, limiting yourself to lower resolutions — despite there being a seemingly limited number of media presented in the resolution currently — and specializing your entire home electronics suite to match that lower-resolution display means you’ve set an expiration date on your system from the moment you install it. And that means you’re wasting time, effort and — most importantly — money.

Try to incorporate components in your custom home theater design that are interchangeable, scalable and swappable, especially if you’re making decisions to go with less top-end components as a budgetary measure. You don’t want to be stuck down the line with an entire system built around its weakest link, only to find that replacing that link means replacing the entire system.

And use the best components you can, as soon as you can; you’ll have a better custom home theater design going forward, and you’ll be happier with what you have longer.

Home Security in a Smart Home: Data = Peace of Mind

smart-home-integrationIn the era of home automation and the advent of “smart home” technology, homeowners no longer have to leave responsibility for the security of their home in the hands of strangers — or rely upon a mere sign or sticker to deter criminals. One of the biggest reasons home automation systems are so popular is how well they integrate with home security systems — and how those systems can evolve and expand, allowing introduction of the latest technologies as they develop without having to necessarily start from scratch with an all-new home automation plan.

In a smart home, home security isn’t just a series of sensors that can tell when a window opens — although that’s part of it. Home automation experts design home security systems to collect large amounts of data from multiple sensors throughout your home, as well as from outside it on pathways and driveways, bringing all that information back to a main control center which can report, analyze and even act upon information it receives if you aren’t there to make decisions.

Knowing your home is secure when you’re away gives great peace of mind; being able to check every window and door, every lock and bolt, even knowing whether you left the refrigerator door open — that’s the possibility offered by home security systems integrated with home automation. Smart home technology means you can automate lights to come on and off throughout your home in a random and varying pattern that gives the impression someone’s home — deterring burglars before they even try a doorknob. And if they do, home automation systems are ready with integrated cameras that can capture images even in complete darkness — and record them, or transmit video to your smart phone halfway across the world.

For more information about home automation, home security and “smart home” systems, contact us today!

Shade Control: A Critical Component to Home Automation

We’ve had a lot of experience over the years installing and maintaining home automation systems. And while lighting control has been a fundamental component to every home system practically since the concept was invented, we’ve noticed more and more customers taking advantage of the possibilities that present themselves when your home automation system incorporates shade control into the whole-house package.

546_NewYork_1.jpgWhat an automated lighting control system is during the night time, a comprehensive shade control system can be during daylight hours. For most people, the control they have over lighting in their home takes place mostly at night, when lights can be adjusted for particular moods or settings. And home automation systems, pardon the pun, truly shine in this regard; lighting control systems can raise and dim lights throughout the house in response to direct control from a homeowner, or as part of a scheduled program that can be adjusted to fit your routine.

But during the day, the same sorts of convenience and benefit can be derived simply by bringing whole-house control to the blinds and drapes, and adjusting how much sunlight is cast across different rooms at different times of day. Shade control can effectively control mood and ambiance in a home, using the available light to its fullest potential — and blocking it off when it’s too much for the particular application, such as when you want to watch television or a movie during the day.

Perhaps most interestingly, shade control can be utilized to take advantage of passive solar gain, and incorporated into a home automation system as part of the environmental controls. When the timing is right, the heating system can be augmented by letting natural light spill into an area, improving the efficiency of the system dramatically by using a free, renewable natural resource: the sun!

Streaming Home Theater: Welcome to the Future

The days of running to the corner rental store for a DVD or Blu-Ray are quickly fading; indeed, the days of simple walking across the room to choose from among a stack of discs may soon be fully behind us as well. That’s because the future of watching movies at home has arrived, and film buffs have discovered they no longer have to limit themselves to the selections they’ve found for themselves, or even what their local stores have to offer.

Content on-demand means home theaters can now stream high-definition video and audio selections into the home over the internet instantly, choosing from a nearly limitless number of titles offered by dozens of providers. Films and television episodes are available the moment they’re released, and can be viewed in whatever order and timeframe you choose; instead of conforming to the studio or network’s broadcast schedule “must see TV” now waits for you, not the other way around.

This brave new world offers a lot of benefits, but it’s important to ensure your existing system — or the home theater we’re helping you design — is ready for it. This means that in addition to using the highest quality and best-suited audio and visual equipment for your space and budget — e.g. high-definition displays and screens as well as exceptionally lifelike speakers  — you must be certain to have a sufficiently robust internet connect to support the high data rate inherent in streaming high-definition audio and video content . It’s also critical to make sure you’re incorporating a streaming device that can successfully decode that data and produce the best sound and picture possible — and are using cables that are rated for the high-bandwidth workload they’ll be under whenever you’re watching streaming movies or television.

Streaming content from the internet isn’t limited merely to films and TV; a variety of exceptional services have popped up to offer audio selections as well, at a level of quality suited to everything from casual music in the kitchen to audio sampling in the world’s finest listening rooms. Contact us today to discover how to expand your horizons streaming home theater and audio!

Seagull Electronics sells the right electronics. We don’t sell the stuff you’ll find in boxes at your local shopping mall. We design custom systems using some of the world’s best electronic components. Serving Tequesta, Juno Beach, Jupiter, Jupiter Island, Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach, Singer Island, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and North Miami.

kalomirakisOne of the most well-known names in luxury home theater design is Theo Kalomirakis. He’s an influential leader in this industry.  His designs take a home theater beyond being merely a room with a big screen and lots of speakers, into a place with its own personality with lighting control and home automation.  The homeowners will have a total sensory experience from the moment they cross the threshold of their home theater room.

Kalomirakis-designed home theaters have won recognition from Electronic House Home of the Year Awards. Kalomirakis recently gave a presentation at Crestron’s Design Showroom in New York City.  He talked about common mistakes people make when building a home theater, the importance of home automation and how he approaches his designs with lighting control.

Q: Are there any frequent mistakes that people make when planning or building their home theaters?

A: It’s become like a little cottage industry for me, talking about the mistakes people make that started by mistakes I made. You don’t learn unless you make mistakes.

Mistake number 1: You get into a home where a designer is involved, and they have put the home theater seats on cement. This is not good for sound. If you don’t have carpeting on the floor the bass doesn’t hit you in the heart. It’s just like having a violin having its cavity filled with cement.

Mistake number 2, Risers: People think that if you separate the seats in your home theater by one step you’re going to see over other people’s heads. But it doesn’t work that way. If you have a screen that’s all the way to the floor, you’re going to have to do a lot more than one step. You’re going to have to do sightline risers, and this is something Home Theater Designers usually don’t know when designing a home theater room.

Mistake number 3: People think that if you put acoustical treatments on the wall, it seals the home theater from the rest of the house.  You have to be prepared to do both room isolation and room acoustics as they are two totally different things. These are the technical mistakes that I see people do. I’ve seen a lot of architectural mistakes, as well as made them myself in the past.  Hopefully I don’t make them anymore.

Q: What are some of the different enhancements that you can bring to a home theater that clients may not have thought of themselves?

A: I want to understand the design that goes into the rest of the house so that the home theater is not an ugly stepchild of the rest of the house. I believe that the home theater should follow the design direction of the home, but bring it to a new level without making it totally isolated.  I wouldn’t put an art deco home theater in the middle of a classical house.

What I think I bring to my clients is to educate them to actually justify the cost. I try to prevent them from making mistakes. I want them to be able to live in a home theater room that is heightening the experience without being so aesthetically different from what they have in the rest of the house.

You have to interview them. You have to learn what they like. Some people may not like the red curtain that seems to hang in every home theater room.  They may want something more neutral. You have to listen to them and be an interpreter of their dreams. I’m trying to tune into what they want and direct them into realizing their dreams without imposing myself on what they want to do.

Q: What can home automation bring to the experience of a home theater?

A: Everything. Without home automation you get a bunch of electronics that don’t communicate with each other.  There is nothing more frustrating for a client than having to hit ten remote controls to turn the lights down, open the curtain, or start the system. Home Automation is probably the most vital aspect for enjoying your home theater.

In my mind the most unique thing you can do is through lighting control. You can set up the levels of the home theater room so it’s lit up architecturally, not generically. In the home theater, lighting has to create drama. Home Automation allows you to create presets in the lighting control that gives the client the ability to see a variety of things.  Such as the slight illumination of the speaker grills when you watch a movie, or not seeing them at all, or having the step lights shown.

Q: At what point in the consultation does home automation customization enter the conversation with a client?

A: At the end of the project.  It’s very important that you separate all the lighting control sources in circuits. Step lights on one circuit, column lights on another, and curtain lights on yet another. So you can play with different levels, bringing certain lights up and down to the client’s desire. I don’t do that by myself. Each client will have different aesthetic preferences, so I sit down with them and ask them what levels they like their lights at and then have the Lighting Control Integrator hit the lighting control button and show them.

Q: Have you noticed any trends or shifts in what people are asking for lately?

A: There is more and more focus on multipurpose home theater rooms and less on dedicated home theaters because people are misinformed. Younger people, especially in the 20s and 30s, are used to experiencing media on tablets and iPhones. So for them a dedicated home theater room is not as important.  I see a trend toward not having a home theater in the center of the house. In my opinion you have to have both. You have to be able to watch your movies on a tablet while on a trip, but you don’t want to watch a movie on a tablet at home. And you don’t want to watch an epic movie on just a 50 or 60-inch TV. You want to be engrossed in the experience with home automation and lighting control in your home theater room.

Q: Do you have any advice for a reader who is interested in having a home theater installed but doesn’t know where to start?

A: Talk to their Home Theater and Home Automation designer. Designers are getting more perceptive about home theaters. Have someone take you by the hand and guide you through the process, show you what’s available with regards to lighting control and home automation for your home theater room.

SmartHomeIf you’re looking for a way to connect the technologies in your Smart home, our Home Automation package is your answer. This package features all the products in the Home Security and Energy Management packages plus a lot more Home Automation.
  • Go!Control Touch-screen Panel with Remote Internet and Smart Phone Access
  • Window and Door Sensors
  • Glass Break and Motion Detectors
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
  • Smart Thermostat and Energy-Efficient Bulbs
  • Small Appliance and Lighting Controls
  • Video Surveillance
  • Automatic Door Locks

Lock your doors, turn off lights, adjust your thermostat, arm your Smart Home system, and much, much more. No matter where you are in the world, you can manage your entire Home Automation system through any of your devices such as your smartphone, computer, or tablet.

From premier security to heating and cooling your Smart Home, to access control and video surveillance, our Home Automation package meets all your needs in your Smart Home while helping you prepare for a smarter future.  For more information on Smart Phone Home Automation and many other services, contact us today!


blind controlIn recent decades, homes have been built more and more with energy efficiency in mind – windows are tighter, doors close more completely; indeed the climate within a house is rarely exchanged with that beyond its walls, with most HVAC systems finding peak efficiency in keeping their system closed-off throughout the day’s heating and cooling process.

These systems are quite efficient; however there are drawbacks to excessively conditioned air and some people are more sensitive to a lack of constant fresh air than others. Until recently, however, there were no automated systems that could compare in efficiency to a fully closed-off air conditioning and cooling system; fortunately, with the advent and widespread use of home automation systems that incorporate window, shade & blind control, there are 21st Century solutions that, in many ways, feel like a step back in time.

Before central heating, builders knew to get the most “solar gain” heat from the sun, a bank of south facing windows would add warmth to a home on the coldest day – provided the sky was clear. And before air conditioning, it was commonplace to open windows at night to let cool air in, then close windows to trap it until things cooled off again. But this requires you to stay on top of things.

Today, home automation systems can open and close windows, shades and blinds in direct response to conditions outside and the desired temperature inside – greatly improving the efficiency of any central heating or cooling system, and simultaneously increasing the amount of fresh air brought into the home when the time is right. Window, shade & blind control systems can bring the knowledge of the past into your home’s future; for more information about these and other home automation systems, contact us today!

Seagull Electronics is a Home Theater and Automation leader in home, business, and yacht integration systems since 1988. Servicing Jupiter, North Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, Boca Raton, Miami, Florida.

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