What Components Do You Need for Great Outdoor Entertainment?

With the right smart technology, you can transform your outdoor spaces into entertainment hotspots

Summer is here in the Pacific Palisades and Los Angeles, although you might argue it’s almost always summer in Southern California save for January and February. Our mild climate makes it easy to enjoy the plentiful sun and fresh air. With the warmer summer nights, an outdoor entertainment system on your back patio and pool deck can extend the fun outside. With outdoor AV, you can listen to music, watch movies and entertain guests outside anytime you want.

At Haustech, we’ll get you set up with everything you need to start enjoying stellar sound and visuals outdoors. Keep reading to learn more!

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CES Recap from the Eyes of Haustech

You may know the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 just happened in Las Vegas. If you don’t know, it’s the time and place when all consumer focused electronics get showcased. Some very cool items were demonstrated this year! We’ve created a short list with our favorites so that you can get a feel for what’s floating around the Techosphere. These favorited products are listed in no particular order and are not all associated with Smart Home technologies. Hope you enjoy! -Michael

Philips Hue Outdoor Lighting 

In a very up-and-coming category, Phillips Hue offers a very cool (and affordable) solution. With a range of color changing light options the outdoor space will never be the same. And it doesn’t hurt that these lights integrate with Savant (our home automation platform.)

Samsung 8K Bezel-less TV

There are so many beautiful TVs on the market, but what sets this beauty apart from others is that there is essentially NO bezel and it has the highest resolution available today. Imagine putting four of these together for a video wall. It would essentially look like a large projection screen full bright in all conditions. Although the price will be steep year one (+$15,000), it WILL come down and this WILL be a possibility.

Kohler Moxie Showerhead

Ever wanted to have a shower with Alexa? Now you can! This is the Alexa in the shower solution and according to reviews it actually works. This Kohler Moxie showerhead smart speaker brings Amazon’s prolific voice assistant to life in your bathroom. While the water streams through the showerhead, Alexa will stream through your Wi-Fi, and be able to hear, respond to, and act on voice commands as you have your morning shower.

Sony Vision-S

Move over Tesla – there’s a new player in town! Sony? Well, yes. Sony introduced their version of the Tesla killer this year – the Sony Vision-S – and it does indeed show potential. Interestingly, after hearing about a potential Apple car for years, that it’s Sony to actually pull it off.

Some features that stand out:

  • 300 Miles+ range
  • Level 2 self-driving technology – Sony currently supplies sensors, imaging, and entertainment to other car manufacturers which will really help in this department.

Optoma Cinema P1 

This is a new category of home projection systems – the ultra short ‘throw up on the wall’ for a large projection system without the need for a big projector on your ceiling or back wall. This Optoma Cinema P1 is a full 4K image with speaker system for a complete package. It can project a 120” from as close as 14.5” from the wall. Plus, it has an art library to display on the wall!

Sunflower Labs Bee Security System

As we enter a world with more security concerns, it’s crazy what people come up with. A home security system powered by drones? What? Yes! Imagine for a moment a scenario where someone enters your yard uninvited. Within a few seconds of entering your property, the intruder hears a sound like the buzzing of a swarm of bees — and a drone descends from the sky to capture them on video and provide you with a live view of everything the intruder does.

This is the concept behind Sunflower Labs’ Bee, a fully autonomous drone that automatically responds to vibrations and motion on your property. The Bee takes off from ‘The Hive’ and utilizes sensors placed throughout the property called ‘Sunflowers’ that can differentiate between people, animals, and cars while creating a heat map of activity inside the app all in real time.

As a bonus, they also work as yard lights!

The Future of PoE Lighting

Think of all the lights in your house that are currently powered by thick yellow ‘ROMEX’ that can electrocute you and which run to big power panels with breakers that pop and need to be reset. That is the past.

Now think of a data network. Managed by an intelligent network switch that puts out power – Power Over Ethernet – enough to light up your house! Energy-efficiency has driven the evolution of the light bulb, but the next iteration of the light bulb will launch it into the era of the Internet of Things (IoT). As LED lights slowly replace compact fluorescent lights (CFL’s) due to greater energy efficiency, businesses have been exploring the profitability of replacing LED lights’ electrical power source with an alternate but common power source found in the networking world — Power Over Ethernet (PoE).

PoE enables IT personnel and even end-users to install additional LED light sources at nearly any location. With traditional light sources that rely on the power grid of a building, users need to contract a professional electrician and follow extensive conduit rules and regulations. PoE lighting eliminates the need for a costly electrical contractor.

But PoE accomplishes more than simplifying deployment. PoE connects LED light sources to the internet and gives users access to “Smart Lighting.” Smart Lighting enables users to remotely control their lighting systems via a mobile client device using the internet.

There are several advantages to PoE lighting, including automation, remote control, and the cost-efficiency of Cat5 Cable. Haustech notes that “Ethernet cables cost very little compared to heavy duty copper wire and conduit used for traditional lighting.” Cost, mobility, and ease of installation are some of the factors that will attract users to invest in these next generation lighting options.

A New World of Surveillance Has Arrived

Let’s talk about surveillance. A topic that is near and (unfortunately) dear to our hearts these days. There are many options out there making it hard to keep track of what’s best. Traditional systems with a localized hard drive (DVR) and cameras are being replaced with those offered by Nest and Ring.

An easier interface for reviewing camera footage makes everything better.. right? Not exactly. These cameras come with recurring recording costs. With annual subscription costs for Nest around $50 per camera and Ring around $30 per camera, it can add up quickly for a new construction or a retrofit camera upgrade of 6-8 cameras.

This has been the recommended path in recent years because ease of use and image quality being similar to what was being offered by the former DVR systems. Until now. There is a new camera in town and it simply blows the imagination.

Let me ask you a question – when does most of the bad stuff happen? At night when we are sleeping. For this type of surveillance, we needed cameras with infrared night vision, enabling you to see where you would not have been able to in the past.

This is great until you actually try to review footage at night and see that the infrared cuts down significantly on the resolution until you can barely make out the make of a car much less the model on a close up view.

About four months ago, a new technology came out, called Starlight, ColorVu or whatever proprietary name each vendor is using. It’s A GAME CHANGER and is actually a reason why every person with an existing surveillance system should consider upgrading.

Imagine full HD (up to 4K ) resolution in the dark.  See the video below for a great example of what color night vision can offer.  

ARVE Error: Mode: lazyload not available (ARVE Pro not active?), switching to normal mode

Can you see the difference?

One caveat with this new technology. There needs to be SOME ambient light. In total blackness these cameras will still resort to infrared black and white mode. In this case, even that seems better honestly. These cameras show an improved infrared image.

In most cases that we see in Los Angelenos’ landscapes, there is some ambient light available which is why we think these cameras truly provide a new way forward.

In order to take advantage of these new cameras it may require an upgrade of your local DVR as well – some up front costs. What you gain in the end is no subscription fees, a much better (up to 4K) image than offered on the subscription based systems and color night vision. If you are thinking of upgrading an existing wired surveillance system, this may be the time to do it. Even old analog systems can be upgraded to HD using this technology.

Call Haustech at 877-797-HAUS (4287) to talk about your surveillance needs.

Photo © Hikvision © Lorex

A New Way Forward for Your Residential Phone System

We all know that residential landline phones are going away. Many clients these days are opting for cellular throughout. However, in larger residences where intercommunications between rooms and house-to-gates access is very important, traditional phone systems like Panasonic are still quite prevalent. My proposition to you today is that there is a better way!

We’ve all heard about Ring doorbells and more recently, Nest Hello has come on the scene. These are fabulous. Seeing who’s at your door, talking to them, recording the interaction has been revolutionary for our modern lifestyle. But what if you have an electric lock? Or a gate that needs to open? Ring and Nest don’t fit the bill.

Enter DoorBird – the cloud based entry phone that can ALSO open locks and gates – and with potential keypad or RFID access to boot. It’s a great option for people who need more from their access system but also appreciate the ability to communicate and record from anywhere. There are other fine brands out there offering a similar solution but we will focus on Doorbird today.

So here you are – Doorbird installed, accessible by cell phone local and remotely – great right? Indeed! Spare one caveat. Doorbird doesn’t work with traditional phone systems like the Panasonic and many people don’t always want to rely on their mobile device once they are at home. This is why so many people still utilize Panasonic for in-house intercom and house-to-gate communications.

Luckily in the recent years, especially commercially, VOIP (Voice Over IP) phone systems have arrived. Most companies use the Polycom phone tied to a month-to-month service plan ‘rented’ from cloud-based service companies like 8×8, RIngCentral or Vonage but these plans often have a hefty monthly fees and don’t make sense residentially.

What these companies ‘rent’ to you is essentially a cloud based phone line and a PBX system (Private Brand Exchange) which is the ‘brains’ of your phone system extensions/voicemail/call forwarding. To set this up residentially is neither cost effective or desirable due to the over-functionality of the offering.

But what if there was a simple PBX ‘brain’ that could reside locally and with minimal programming offer all the functionality of everything combined! Imagine if you had a phone system that cost less than Panasonic with the ability to:

  • Answer the door with video using DoorBird, Nest or Ring
  • Open the door or gate from said phone
  • Control a system like Savant, Crestron, Control4
  • Scan cameras on Camera app for ICRealtime, Hikvision, or others
  • Control Sonos Music players
  • And more!

What these PBX phone systems can be is an Android device masking as a telephone. We recently started using Grandstream systems.

The Brain comes in the form of the UCM series which accept either the traditional POTS lines OR Voice over IP (VOIP) lines rented from a provider. You can ‘rent’ a custom VOIP line from Ring Central for $20/month. The model is determined by the number of incoming lines and outgoing extensions. Typically the smallest – i.e. Grandstream UCM6202 can handle two analog lines (POTS or via cable company), two VOIP Lines and up to 500 Extensions which for the most part will be plenty for any residential system.

The Phones:
Desktop Android Phone has the ability to run apps, speak and see door station etc.

Cordless Phones come in Wifi or traditional RF DECT Style:

RF:  Wifi: 

This system includes all the features you could ever want – VoiceMail / Call Forwarding / Paging / Intercom/ Out-of-office Assistant and so many more. All for less than you would spend on a traditional Panasonic System. For example, a priced out Panasonic Phone system installed and programmed with Voice Mail System, Caller ID – 4 Desktop corded phones and 2 cordless hand-sets comes to right around $8700. A similarly specified Grandstream system with Android phones capable of so much more comes to $4300. Less than half!!

So there you have it. We have entered the future and can never go back. It’s been nice knowing you Panasonic!

Sonos and Tivo – A Match Made in Heaven!

– By Michael Fehmers

Remember that sound your TiVo used to make? Blip.. Blip… Blip.. Such fond memories. Did you know that TiVo still exists and is better than ever? You can actually SAVE money on your cable bill by switching to TiVo but more on that later.

Let’s discuss Sonos first. Is there a better music source out there? Better Interface? Better integration with your own music? Better speaker options?

The limitation for larger homes has always been that Sonos ‘doesn’t integrate’ with Crestron, Savant, Control4, etc. It still doesn’t (well), but we at Haustech believe that we have the solution in the form of the new Sonos AMP.

Traditional home systems have utilized a format where all equipment is centrally located and audio / video is distributed over matrix style devices so that your video can match your audio coming out of your architectural speakers. For this convenience you pay a PREMIUM.

An 8×8 video matrix system can easily get into the tens of thousands if you are to utilize new video over IP technologies for getting 4K ultra-high resolution video to the TVs around your house. Combining the cost of an audio distribution system with the control system (like Savant, Creston, Control4) is no doubt an expensive undertaking.

Here is a less expensive, simpler and more reliable option that I lay out for you. Note that this is for new construction/remodel where walls are open but can also be worked for retrofit applications.

For AUDIO ONLY locations:

  1. Decide on a centralized place to house Sonos AMPs. This will most often be the location where your network modem and your network switch (for distributing data to all the Sonos Amps and Wi-Fi access points) will reside.
  2. Decide whether you want in-wall / in-ceiling / or surface mount speakers.
  3. Run speaker wire from here to your centralized Sonos AMP hub.

For VIDEO (TV) locations:

  1. To every TV location decide on a place to store a small amount of equipment. It will need to be accessible either:
    • Behind TV which is mounted on an articulating arm.
    • Below TV in cabinet.
    • In a recessed box flush with the wall – there are many options available.
  2. Have (3) HDMI video cables running to the TV for Sonos ARC return / TiVo / 3rd source like AppleTV or gaming system.
  3. Decide whether you want in-wall / in-ceiling / or surface mount speakers.
  4. Run speaker wire from here to your local Sonos AMP storage area.

The reason for an extra HDMI video cable to the TV is because the new Sonos AMP has a feature called ARC return. It essentially extracts the audio from the TV and whatever it is you are seeing on the screen you will hear over your Sonos AMP. No more wondering whether the AMP is turned on or whether the surround receiver went to the correct input. What you see is what you get. Plus, even better, you are now able to watch one thing (the game for example) and listen to music simultaneously!

When you get these audio-only Sonos zones and video going through Sonos AMPs for viewing and listening, everything is just SIMPLE. You want to hear music – you go to the Sonos app and play something. All areas respond. When you want to watch TV, you pick up your TiVo remote and go. The beauty of TiVo is this – not only does it have best in class interface and app which allows for remote viewing of live TV, but also it has amazing voice features where you can search for anything you want. Additionally, it has all the apps you need built into the unit like Netflix, HBOGo, Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube etc.

Long story short – get your TiVo back! All TVs share the same content (singe DVR with 6 tuners) with best in class interface. One source for everything and it sounds great.

Want surround sound? Add a second Sonos AMP in the room desired and run it to some surround speakers for a full surround sound setup.  Add a Sonos Subwoofer for that extra bass if that’s the call!

Now, back to how you can save money with TiVo. Did you know that your cable company charges your for DVR service? Often $15-20 per month per each DVR. This can easily add up to $50 per month in recurring fees. With TiVo that fee gets cut down to $2.50 for a cable card.  Although there are up-front costs (equipment and license) for TiVo that can be very quickly made up by savings made on your cable bill. In my personal experience, it has taken 9 months to cover the costs accrued before I started making money by switching to TiVo but I’ve never looked back.

You want to learn more about this solution for your home?  Call us at Haustech:  (877) 797-HAUS

Surveillance with Dome Cameras

We love surveillance – and dome cameras make it easy.

There are few things more of a deterrent to potential robbers than the site of cameras to catch their every move. Not only are dome cameras highly functional with infrared ‘night vision’ reaching up to 100 feet, some of them have automatic zoom and focus which can be adjusted from your smart phone.

Aside from function, our clients want the cameras to look great as well. A small white or painted dome on the surface of the wall does not intrude too much with the general exterior aesthetic and it gets the point across – to the intruders! Cameras in this featured photo are from Hikvision.

Do you have questions about adding surveillance to your home? Leave a comment here or come ask us on Facebook.

Haustech (formerly called CBA Technology) has been involved in hundreds of home automation and audio/video projects throughout the Los Angeles area and we bring years of high-end AV/Automation expertise to each project. Contact us today!

DIY in Home Technology

My name is Michael Fehmers and I am a technology valueist, standing at a precipice in home technology!

Technology is changing rapidly. Moore’s law just keeps proving itself over any over – and it’s true in the home too. Whereas we have traditionally held many hands wiring and installing systems in large residential and commercial spaces, the times are changing. Our team is excited to now offer assistance in the DIY landscape.

Retrofit installations for music (Sonos), HVAC (Savant, Nest, Honeywell), Lighting (Savant, Lutron), Networking (Araknis, Ubiquiti, Eero), Security (Schlage) make anything possible for anyone with a few extra dollars to spend.

Heard of Apple HomeKit? I’d like to say that it’s an APP, but it’s not. It’s a platform built ‘behind’ the Apple IOS front that works with a select group of quality products that will allow for natural integration.

For example, Haustech comes and helps you install a Honeywell Lyric Thermostat, some Lutron Caseta Wireless Lighting, and the Schlage Sense Lock – and we get them all configured as separate apps on your IOS or Android Device. THEN, in the case of the iPhone, you are natively able to tell Siri what to do. Press your little button and say “Siri, turn on family room overheads” or  “Siri, lock the door” or “Siri, turn the cool the house to 60 degrees (I like it cold).” All at your own fingertips!

As much as “DIY” means Do It Yourself – sometimes it’s not that easy. Changing light switches, updating thermostats, setting up a wireless music system, programming remotes, installing smart locks… the list continues to grow. Though much simpler to do these kind of updates then in the past, you may still need some assistance. That’s the future and Haustech is here to help you help yourself.

I believe what scares many people about home automation, even those that can afford the super expensive systems, is the reliance on a company to manage their technology needs. Technology has issues – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Haustech can help anyone be in command of their technological future at a value never before seen.

Do you have questions about the DIY Smart Home? Leave a comment here or come tell us on Facebook.

Haustech (formerly called CBA Technology) has been involved in hundreds of home automation and audio/video projects throughout the Los Angeles area and we bring years of high-end AV/Automation expertise to each project. Contact us today!


The New Savant Remote

The new Savant remote is a game changer in the do-it-yourself Smart Home landscape. It integrates easily with products you probably already have like AppleTV, Roku and DirecTV but the coolest feature is its integration with Sonos.

The remote has a touch screen interface and also can be controlled by your voice with prompts such as “Watch Netflix” or “Listen to Adele.”

Its sleek appearance and easy functionality will make it a must-use accessory in the home. It can control between 1-4 zones of entertainment, music and lighting. At $499 this is an incredible value.

Learn more about the remote from Savant.

Savant Remote Favorites

Haustech (formerly called CBA Technology) has been involved in hundreds of home automation and audio/video projects throughout the Los Angeles area and we bring years of high-end AV/Automation expertise to each project. Contact us today!

A Knack for Racks

We pride ourselves on building an organized head-end rack, which is the brain in any smart home.

When possible, we deliver pre-configured racks with tails ready to be connected to the finished wall terminations. Our method of terminating all of the pre-wire on the wall can save much time in a very tight construction schedule.

In that each wire is labeled, service is also affected in a very positive manner. Gone are the days when only the technician who designed the “beast” knows what is what.

Working out appropriate cooling and wire management makes everything work that much better. Every time.

Plus it’s equally imperative to know where the brain will live in your house. It’s amazing how often this is overlooked in the process, especially for new construction.

Check out some of our recent racks below.

Haustech West LA Rack

Hautech Bel AirHaustech Bel Air Rack

Haustech_Pacific_Palisades_RackRack Hidden

Haustech (formerly called CBA Technology) has been involved in hundreds of home automation and audio/video projects throughout the Los Angeles area and we bring years of high-end AV/Automation expertise to each project. Contact us today!