Project Spotlight: How Sports Bar Restaurant Technology Can Improve Business

It’s football season! And while there are several ways to enjoy a good football game (or games) one of the best is to find a great sports bar that provides several viewing angles and great food. We’ve found exactly that at a local sports bar in Norwood, MA. Conrad’s has recently installed Control4 automation into their bar to give their employees and customers more control and provide the best viewing experience possible. Take a look at the video below.


Control4 Blog

Top Ten Home Automation Features You Didn’t Know You Needed

If you already have a home control system installed in your house, you’re probably enjoying many of the benefits of automation. But there are lots of little “add-on” features that might have never occurred to you. Listed below are some of the less obvious projects and features that can enhance your automated lifestyle. With a little ingenuity and a few additional sensors and gizmos, there’s almost no limit to the cool things your house can do for you.

1. Garage Door Control: If you have kids, you know how frustrating it can be when they leave the garage door open. Cats are another culprit—they always seem to run in and out right when the door is closing, sending the door right back up. Setting up your system to automatically close the garage door when it’s left open for more than 15 minutes is a relatively easy bit of programming that might not even require any additional equipment. If you really want to get fancy, you can also integrate an IP camera with your remote-access  control system so you can accept deliveries safely at home even when you’re at work. With the deliveryman on the phone you can open the door, watch him put your package inside, then shut the door to keep everything safe until you return home.

2. Device Control for Kids: Control your home theater and video game consoles with a touch screen password so the kids get only the amount of “screen time” you want them to have. Mom or dad enters the password, which enables the media devices and starts the countdown timer. When time is up, the devices shut off until the password is entered again. An announcement agent can let them know they’ve got 10 minutes left—that’s plenty of time to save a game in progress. You can even specify different allotments of time for different kids, for different devices or even for different games, and lock them out entirely during specific days or times or under other conditions. As an added bonus, using device control also helps ensure that your children’s caretakers (nannies and babysitters) don’t over-use videos and video games as a babysitting technique.

3. Fridge Door Sensor: An open fridge leaks money and energy. A poorly positioned container of leftovers can cost you a bundle if it prevents the door from closing all the way, and younger kids somehow manage to forget to close the door when they help themselves to goodies. A simple sensor on the refrigerator door can flash the kitchen lights if the door is left open for 15 seconds, or play a house-wide announcement if the timer ticks up to a minute. With this simple upgrade, you’ll never cry over spoiled milk again.

4. Other Flashing Light Ideas: The “flashing light” trick isn’t just for the kitchen. Simple programming can flash the lights all over the house when the doorbell rings, when a phone call comes in, or when a smoke detector goes off. It’s sometimes hard to hear all of your various bells and buzzers when you’re watching TV or listening to music in another room. But these events are hard to miss when the overhead lights let you know what’s happening.

5. Garage/Outbuilding Monitoring: In addition to monitoring the door of your garage, you can also keep tabs ON the temperature inside. Many of us store items in our garage that can be harmed by extreme heat or cold, so take advantage of the “thermistor” that may already be in your garage or shop and have the system send you a text or e-mail (or play an onscreen announcement) if things get too hot or too cold.

6. Faux Guard Dog: If you’ve installed exterior speakers for outdoor parties, you may want to know that you can also use them as part of your outdoor security setup. One neat trick is to have your exterior motion detectors trigger the sound of a barking rottweiler to “discourage” backyard trespassers. Back this up with a couple of low-tech “Beware of Dog” signs and you end up with a pretty good deterrent to would-be burglars.

7. Vacation Home Alerts: If you own a vacation home, you’ve probably got it wired up with security to keep an eye on things when you’re not around. Two often overlooked possibilities involve the weather. If your vacation house is near a coastline, your system can alert you to a sudden change in barometric pressure—which could indicate the approach of a severe storm. In addition to sending an e-mail or text message, a barometer alert could also trigger automated storm shutters. For vacation homes away from the coast, a “hard freeze” alert can let you know if special measures need to be taken to prevent burst pipes and flooding.

8. Power-saving “Mockupancy”: Speaking of vacations, for less than 40 bucks you can add a “FakeTV” ( to your automation system. This simple device simulates the flashing glow of a television screen when you’re not around. Sure, you could use your actual television instead of a fake one, but the FakeTV creates the same effect while using much less power—about as much as a simple night light. Your home control system can turn the device on and off at random intervals when your house is in “vacation” mode, saving energy while creating the illusion that someone is sitting there channel surfing.

9. Lock Programming: Don’t burden your teenagers with the responsibility of home security. If your teens are old enough to be coming home by themselves late at night, you can integrate your passcode door locks with your security system so the alarms automatically stand down when your son or daughter codes in after hours. The system can then re-arm the house after a reasonable interval so they don’t have to remember to do it. A text message or e-mail notification can also let you know exactly what time your teenager actually arrived home, so you can grill them about it in the morning.

10. Bed Sensor: If you get up in the night, chances are pretty good that you’re heading to the bathroom. Why not use a sofa/bed sensor with time-conditional programming to light your way to the toilet if you have to get up, say, between midnight and 5:00 a.m.? The bathroom light only needs to be ramped up to 20% or so — just enough for you to take care of business and get back to bed. The same sensor that triggered the light can then turn it back off once you’re tucked back under the covers.

If any of these ideas piques your interest, it might be time to meet with your dealer/integrator and discuss the various ways your existing home control system can do more for you. Most of these projects can be implemented with some smart programming and a minimum of additional equipment.

Happy brainstorming!

Control4 Blog

Home Automation’s Power to Simplify Your Life, Reduce Expenses, and Increase Security

We are starting the week off right with a great blog post from one of our excellent Control4 Dealers, Harry Saini:

In today’s costly world, homeowners are fully aware of the expenses related to inflated energy costs and inefficient home security systems.

Guest1There is nothing worse than receiving an electricity bill and being shocked by the amount owed at the end of a month or stolen possessions that could have been more strategically secured. Such realities have led homeowners to seek technologies that can help them beat the current system.

A growing number of homeowners are educating themselves on basic energy management and security devices, which often combine the use of innovate shade and control systems. For instance, Control4 offers a number of solutions that help homeowners monitor and control their home lighting from an iPad, iPhone, or wireless remote. With Control4, you can pre-program lighting levels and reduce energy output.

It is also amazingly easy to set lighting to turn on and off at specific times. This significantly reduces the possibility of a light being left on throughout the night, or for several days while a homeowner is on vacation. Additionally, with Control4’s remote access service, no matter where in the world a homeowner travels he or she can turn lights on or off with a simple touchscreen command.

To make the management of lighting much easier to maintain, Control4 offers keypads with captions that can read “kitchen,” “hallway,” “master bedroom,” “patio,” and more. With a push of a single button, lighting is ignited in a desired location. The Control4 suite of products also offers dimmers that allow for lights to be set to a particular level.

Another ground breaking product for ultimate lighting, shading, security, and energy control is the Lutron RadioRA 2. The system is a holistic approach that combines total light and shade functionality. Radio RA 2 has the power to adjust the amount of daylight and electric light in a room throughout an entire home. Shades can also be lowered, electric powered curtains closed, and lighting ignited at pre-programed times.

For instance, if particular rooms within a home are in direct sunlight in the afternoon, the lowering of window shades and closing of curtains can significantly reduce room temperatures. Or when the family is on vacation and dusk approaches, lowered shades, closed curtains, and automated lighting can offer higher levels of security. And for the family that has developed a high-tech home theatre, with the single push of a button window shades can be lowered and lights set to a particular level to create the perfect ambiance.

Many homeowners love the fact that both the Control4 and RadioRA 2 systems are fully scalable. This provides homeowners the power to start with a single room and expand when time and budget permits.

Seeking to automate your home for added simplicity, comfort, energy efficiency, and security? The beauty of 2012 is that homeowners have more control than ever before.

The secret to discovering and installing a solution that best fits your needs is to consult with a personalized home automation expert.

About the Author:

Harry Saini is the founder and owner of Digital Smart Homes and DSH Pro, two Electronic Systems Firms that focus on Residential and Commercial projects respectively. Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Harry has over 23 years of professional hands-on experience with a vast array of electronic devices and systems. In his spare time he loves to surf, SUP, rock climb, snowboard, wakeboard, cycle and has trained in several martial arts throughout his life. Traveled around the world, his favourite place is home, Vancouver.

Control4 Blog

Did I close the front door?

Here is a great story from one of our employees at Control4. His name is David Phillips and he is one of our Area Sales Managers in the United Kingdom:
front door“I have a Nyce ZigBee Contact sensor on my front door, which I’ve programmed to send me an email whenever my front door is opened. This way, if I am out and the door opens unexpectedly, I can call a neighbour or family member to check it out for me. That’s cool by itself, but I found a better use for it.
I popped out to the local shops to pick up some essentials in my car – it’s only a few minutes away. When I returned home after 10 minutes, I found my front door wide open! I rushed in to make sure nothing was missing, realising I must’ve slammed the door and it had bounced back open without me knowing.
Time for a reprogram… I put a 60 second timer in place, so if the Contact sensor isn’t closed after 60 seconds, I get a second email letting me know my front door has been left open! This means I will now get no further than 60 seconds from my home before Control4 notifies me that my front door has been left open.
This gives me huge piece of mind, and I also know I’ll never do that again! And of course, it’s affordable, wireless and small… there is no reason this can’t be done on every project.”

Control4 Blog

Baby – or rather, Husband – Monitoring

baby monitoringI’m a first-time mom. And a nervous-wreck of a mom at that. I purchased a baby monitor well before my 10-month-old son was born and I immediately hated it. Hated the static and the unreliability. So I trashed the monitor and installed an In-Wall Touch Screen with Camera and use my Control4 system to monitor my son now. MUCH better.

However, I don’t only use it to monitor my baby. In fact, one of the best uses I’ve found is to monitor my husband.

Corby, is great at a lot of things. He’s a one-man circus act for our son. He’s a great disc-golfer. He can make a mean shrimp pasta. But when it comes to dressing our son, he falls a little short. I’m talking lime green socks, red sweatshirt and pinstripe overalls.  So you can imagine how I love being able to direct… er…, assist him over our Control4 system, all while curling my hair (because, like many women, timing is where I fall short).

I must say though, the small, special moments are what make the system the most valuable to me. Those special moments that I catch because my son doesn’t know I’m watching. Seeing him wake up and play peek-a-boo with the stuffed dog in his crib, listening to him mumble-and-hum himself off to sleep, spending a few moments watching my boys “talk” to one another…


Control4 Blog

Home Smart Home Digitized!

Smart Home

FREE iTunes Magazine Download for Smart People–yes, I’m talking to YOU!

If you’ve picked up an issue of Home Smart Home, you’ll know why WE are thrilled to announce its launch as an iPad app! You, on the other hand, will be thrilled to know it’s absolutely FREE and ready to download right now.

We launched the magazine last year at the CEDIA show in Indiana. We knew the magazine format would be a wonderful way to showcase the amazing work we see being done by Control4 installers all over the world.

As the editor, I fell in love with the idea because it truly puts home automation and control into real-world context. Through our features and photos, it becomes crystal-clear that what Control4 is “selling” is so far from just a “product.” It’s a way of life. And it transforms not just buildings and places, but people and their families–sometimes in amazing and beautiful ways. (Have you met Brody yet?)

We’re fast and furious working on the next issue, which will hit the shelves, virtual and otherwise, this September. I can’t tell you what features we’ve got up our sleeves, but in the meantime, you can re-live the stories from last issue, including (among many others!) the spy-worthy ski chalet in Hakuba, Japan, built especially with James Bond in mind. And yes–we captured it all on video, too! Just one or two clicks and you’ll be there, Dorothy… Home Smart Home.

Control4 Blog

Are Monitored Security Systems Worth The Money?

Today, with home owners trying to save money on expenses, the monthly service of their monitored security system sometimes enters this equation.  A lot of home owners look at the monthly service as just monitoring of the security system; when in fact the monthly monitoring provides more value than just the security monitoring.

A majority of monitored security systems have a low-voltage smoke detector or CO detector connected to the system that can notify somebody away from the premises when there is an alarm activation.  The standard (required) 120 volt smokes and plug in CO detectors will only sound locally and if there is nobody home, or the occupant is unconscious, this does not provide life safety or notify the authorities before the situation escalates.

Most alarm keypads have medical, police panic and fire emergency buttons on the face of the pad that can be pressed if there is an emergency.  These features are only of value to the occupant if the system is monitored.

Check with your insurance company on the discount you can get for a monitored security system with a smoke and/or CO detector.  Most alarm companies have a form that is sent to the insurance company for verification of the monitored service.  Secur-Tek, Inc  charges no additional monthly fees over its low monthly monitoring fees to add a smoke, CO detector or medical notification to your system.

Secur-Tek Blog

Not All Alarm Companies Suck!

Home Alarm Monitoring recently wrote a blog post entitled: “10 Reasons Most Alarm Companies Suck” that was too good not to respond to.  You can read the article HERE, but they do an excellent job of pointing out how many home alarm companies do a terrible job for their customers.

They cite:

1.  Lengthy Contract Terms – sometimes up to 5 years, which can often come as a surprise to customers who have never met with a live agent and have dealt only with web and telephone based sales.

Note: Secur-Tek, Inc. offers yearly agreements and does not require customers to sign 5 year contracts.

2.  Harassing Sales Calls – customers who shop around and choose not to renew a contract can sometimes be subjected to months of calls from persistent salespeople.

Note: Secur-Tek, Inc. respects the decision of its customers and does not harass them if they decide to discontinue their monitoring agreement.

3.  Proprietary Equipment – after an expensive purchase and installation, many people find out that their installed security system is not theirs to use as they see fit and is almost always proprietary from use by other companies.

Note: Secur-Tek, Inc. uses non-proprietary equipment, so if you sell your home and the new home-owner has a relationship with another alarm company, that alarm company can use the existing equipment.

4.  Billing Tactics – many customers have discovered that their credit card or bank account continues to be charged AFTER they’ve cancelled their account.

Note: Secur-Tek, Inc. is happy to offer automatic billing as an option to our customers, but we are vigilant about stopping our bills if service is discontinued.

5.  Misleading Sales Spiels – many people are receiving misleading sales pitches offering a ‘free’ system which quickly snowballs into hundreds of dollars in start-up fees or high monthly monitoring, with the unappealing parts of the contract hidden.

Note: Secur-Tek, Inc. does not offer free security systems as a sales ploy.  The systems we install are purchased systems with a lower monthly monitoring rate that will cost our customers less when multiplied out a few years.

6.  Automatic Renewal of Complicated Contracts – contracts with a home security company can be very complicated and some even institute an automatic update policy, so that customers are enrolled in another term of service without ever being informed.

Note: Secur-Tek, Inc.’s yearly monitoring agreements can be discontinued with 30 days’ notice after the first year.

7.  Monitoring Problems – It’s not uncommon to find out that alarm systems have gone unmonitored or disturbances were not reported by the alarm company.

Note:  Secur-Tek, Inc. installed systems send test signals to verify that the alarm panel is communicating with the central monitoring station.  However, it is up to the customer to periodically test their system for normal operation.

8.  Lackluster Technicians – “morning” or “afternoon” windows for service calls create the necessity for a half-day’s cleared schedule.

Note:  Secur-Tek, Inc. schedules its service calls on hourly windows for the technician to arrive.  We strive to meet this scheduled appointment and hope the customer understands if a prior appointment causes the technician to be a little late.  The technician will always call if their appointment times change.

9.  Faulty Equipment – many home monitoring companies have come under fire for the sub-par equipment they provide at a premium price.

Note:  Secur-Tek, Inc. installs Honeywell security products and does not purchase inexpensive equipment at bulk or discounted rates.  Over 95% of Secur-Tek, Inc. systems are still in operation today with some over 20 years old.

10.  Poor Customer Service – The single biggest complaint about most alarm companies is that their customer service is completely incompetent or unfriendly.

Note:   Secur-Tek, Inc. prides itself in providing a high standard in customer service whether it’s a field technician, office employee or sales person.  By not locking in a customer to a long term contract, Secur-Tek, Inc. has to provide a quality service or the customer can look elsewhere.

Not all home alarm or security companies suck!  But there are plenty that do.  Please do your research and choose wisely!


This blog was brought to you by the good folks at Secur-Tek, Inc. located in Apex, North Carolina at 809 B Center Street.

Phone: 919 387 1800

Fax: 919 387 3727

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Half Term Fun

It’s with a mixture of pleasure and apprehension that we welcome this year’s first half-term holiday (11th – 19th February). If you’re lucky enough to be at home with the kids, we know how difficult it can be to keep them entertained for the entire week. Especially when there’s housework to be done as well.
Dirt Devil

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