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

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