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Author: GMI Automation

Creston Doctors In The Kitchen

This Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, and for many luxury homeowners, this means one thing, preparing a feast for a large number of family and friends. Afterall, why invest in a beautiful luxury home if you can’t show it off around the holiday season. Fortunately for our clients, our Crestron automation systems not only make their day to day life easier and more streamlined, they take the stress out of holiday events and especially the time spent in the kitchen preparing a large meal.

Anyone who has spent time in a kitchen during a holiday meal prep knows that temperatures can fluctuate as dishes are prepared and people move in and out of the room. As they do in the background of the rest of the year, this is no different environmental control systems automated by Crestron control. Using temperature and occupancy sensors a control system can relegate the temperature for the comfort of those cooking, as well as ensure the kitchen itself doesn’t rise above a set temperature when the turkey is roasting in the oven while the family plays football in the yard. Light levels in the room are also controlled and automated by the Crestron system, allowing family members and hired help the visibility they need to safely prepare a large meal.

A holiday meal prep for a large group of family members and friends can be an especially stressful time for homeowners, or house and estate managers. Temporary additions to staff, managing deliveries and guest access, and keeping family members happy and stress free keep tensions high. Crestron automation linked together with access control and security systems lift many of these burdens, allowing a homeowner or estate manager to grant access to a guest or staff member from any panel in the home, and even remotely monitor the kitchen and other areas of the home directly from their smartphone or device, ensuring meal prep and the days events are running on track.

Of course as we’ve discussed many times, Crestron automation is only limited by your imagination. The ability and expertise of our team of Crestron engineers can create custom tailored automation options for both holiday cooking, and even everyday kitchen use. The world of connected appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, and food storage areas can be programmed and connected into Crestron automation. Imagine getting an alert on your phone or on a Crestron panel at the exact moment a dish needs to be removed from the oven, or an ingredient removed from the fridge for the desired freshness. Combined with intercom ability between any Crestron panel or remote, managing a busy kitchen to prepare a large holiday meal has never been easier.

We at GMI and the #DoneRightNotEasy crew of course want to wish our team, clients and fans the happiest of Thanksgivings and a wonderful holiday season.

Want to become part of the GMI family? Contact us today!

Common Crestron Issues: Server Room and Rack Management

In our combined decades of experience working in home automation and with Crestron control systems, we have seen our share of issues with existing systems. Unfortunately for the luxury consumer, there are a vast number of integration professionals out there who simply don’t have the ability they claim to with regards to properly installing and maintaining Crestron systems. One of the biggest issues we see when diagnosing these systems is the issue of server room and rack management.

Electronic components by nature produce heat and do not operate properly when subjected to the heat they create.  A common failure of others is to not provide proper displacement of the heat created by these components.  We find all too often that pieces of electronic equipment are placed in cabinetry, closets, and other enclosures without proper ventilation or cooling, and in some cases no ventilation or cooling at all!  Equipment that overheats is equipment that fails.  Overheated equipment can run slow, intermittently, or not at all causing a malfunction of the overall control system. Construction of the rack itself and the location and proper number of cooling components is an important factor as well.

Beyond just failing equipment and latency in systems, incorrectly built and placed racks can cause significant safety issues in a home or office. Rooms such as mechanical rooms, boiler rooms or wooden utility closets are often problematic for properly housing electronic equipment. Placing this equipment in proximity to unnaturally high temperatures stemming from boilers or water heaters, leaking or standing water, and significant dust levels could not only lead to system failure, but can be serious fire or life safety hazards. GMI makes sure that our equipment is installed in well ventilated areas. Our knowledge of the equipment we use allows us to anticipate the heat generation of a system and install additional cooling components when necessary.

To prevent issues within racks and service rooms the #DoneRightNotEasy Crew at GMI Automation makes sure that all wire is supported properly from beginning to end. We use supporting bars in our racks and Velcro to guide wire from point to point between component parts. We keep like wires together with each other and organized properly, take heed of bend radius when routing wires, and keep power wires away from power limited control system wiring.

Clients spend their hard earned money on these luxury control systems expecting them to work properly every time they are used. Without the appropriate rack and server room construction and management, this simply is not possible.

Retaining Clients in a Luxury Space: 3 Questions

For any professional working in a home or office space, client retention is extremely important. Not only does it make good business sense to treat your clients right and keep them long term, but it will also show potential future clients the value of your service.. In the luxury space this becomes even more important, as the value of the time spent worrying about a malfunctioning system can make its utility vanish. Here are the three questions you should be asking yourself if your client retention isn’t what it should be.

Are your clients comfortable?

Crestron automation systems integrate themselves not only into the technology in a home, but into the customer’s lives as well. Due to this intimacy it is incredibly important that your clients have a certain comfort level with you and your service, as well as the system in their home. Have you taken the time to explain to them how the system can be used? People, especially the luxury homeowner set, respond to service providers when they feel like they’ve been treated the right way. No one wants to continue doing business with a company that doesn’t take the extra time to make them feel at ease, especially one as intimate as a Crestron integration company.

Is your service what it should be?

Leaving a customer with a luxury automation system with no service to back them up is like giving them a Ferrari without access to a seasoned mechanic. Taking the time and organizational energy to ensure that even after stepping off a jobsite you continue to serve your customers at the highest level will keep them in your portfolio in perpetuity. This includes installing proactive monitoring of their system to ensure issues can be stopped before they happen; and having the ability to remotely access the system and address issues regardless of how far away you may be from the physical location. When you are dishing out the money for a system as complicated and powerful as a Crestron control system, you expect and deserve the highest level of service.

Do you work with integrity?

Are you honest with your customers about the true costs of their system? Do you work with fellow vendors to ensure they are at the highest level? Do you document your systems to keep yourself in check? Integrity is the most important aspect of every business, and when it comes to client retention working with honesty and integrity in everything you do will pay dividends. In the luxury space, our clients are keen on when someone is attempting to take advantage of them, so it is imperative that you have the integrity to be truthful about how much a specific improvement will cost and what value it brings to the end user. Customers that understand and appreciate your expertise and honesty will continue to come back and turn into wonderful relationships.

In the end we aren’t called the #DoneRightNotEasy crew for nothing, it takes time and energy to bring your organization to this level.

Adding Value With Alarm Integration

One of the main points of pride here at GMI and with the #DoneRightNotEasy crew is our knowledge, experience, and command of not just Crestron control systems, but almost every other system the automation experience touches. What many may not realize is that the most important of these systems, and the one we have the deepest knowledge well in which to draw, is the monitored security and protection of a home or commercial space. This knowledge and understanding of how security and automation work together is just one of the many ways we bring more value to our customers than your typical integration professional.

While other integrators or Crestron engineers may simply add an aftermarket security and monitoring solution on top of the automation system, or worse, leave the newly automated property unprotected, we take the time to fully integrate the security aspects of your home into the automation system itself. What would have traditionally been banal alarm routines, such as arming or disarming your security system, can now be used to trigger any number of automation scenes. Motion and occupancy sensors can also be used to automatically turn off or on lights or entertainment options depending on who is coming and going.

In the event of an attempted break in or other alarm event, the security integrations with the Crestron system bring the protection of your home to the next level. If an alarm is triggered when you are at home, a path can be lit directly from whatever room you are in to the nearest Crestron panel, allowing you to view surveillance cameras pointed directly at the site of the event. This can allow you to ascertain if there is a burglary in progress, or simply a teen or college student returning past curfew. This ability can even be accessed directly from your smartphone or tablet.

Security in commercial spaces such as luxury or high rise office spaces tends to center more on access control and surveillance than a traditional monitored alarm. Biometric or card based access control systems are integrated directly with Crestron control to provide instant identification of who is coming and going from a space. For further security, each card or bio reading can be specifically tailored to access certain parts of the building, meaning that you can secure sensitive areas from overnight cleaning crews or low end associates. Surveillance cameras and intercoms can also be tied directly into video walls or desk based panels to provide access to guests or clients without interfering with valuable work time.

GMI and the #DoneRightNotEasy crew strive everyday to gain more and more knowledge about the unique ways Crestron automation systems interact with every part of the home or office. Security and protection of these spaces is top priority for many of our clients which makes it paramount for us as well.

Interested in learning more about how GMI can secure and automate your home or office? Contact us today!

Common Crestron Issues: Consistency of Quality

We have discussed many times in this blog the ways that GMI and the #DoneRightNotEasy crew separate ourselves from others in the industry. Our combined decades of experience designing, building, and programming Crestron automation systems has given us a unique perspective into both the systems themselves, but also the needs of our luxury clients. Having been around so many failed Crestron systems we’ve been hired to replace, we’ve noticed a significant trend, that is the failure to keep a consistent quality in every part of a system.

A quality system begins with the design and consultation stage. Many integrators will use this step of the process to show off the kinds of high end audio and video systems they’ve installed, attempting to lure customers into purchasing a big ticket item that may not fit their needs. By working directly with our new clients and asking second level questions about the way everyone will be using the system, we can streamline the specifications of a Crestron system specifically to our end users. While the needs of every customer will vary, the process by which we work with them and design their system remains the same, and this consistency in processes sets us the right way.

While the end user experience will determine the nuances of how a Crestron system is built and placed, consistency of design is still important across jobs. One aspect of this is equipment placement and centralization. Centralizing control racks and equipment leads not only to more efficient control systems, it also reduces the need for complicated maintenance and builds customer confidence in the product and your work. We often find other integrators having control equipment distributed haphazardly throughout a space, which can lead to failure, or worse, a danger to the property and the clients themselves.

Once we begin to build out a new control system, or takeover a non-functioning system, our consistency of quality becomes apparent. The most important aspect of a well functioning and high powered Crestron control system is cleanly installed racks and wiring at every level. Each wire is not only selected and designated for it’s own unique function, but is labeled at each end for easy replacement or diagnostic re-seating. Additionally, every single wire is terminated and run cleanly and orderly, even when the customer cannot see it. This is done in this fashion because we understand what it takes for a system to run properly, and this consistency is paramount to our success.

As a system is being built, another level of our consistent quality becomes more and more important, that being the simplified and powerful Crestron coding and programming. As Albert Einstein said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Simple though does not mean easy, this is where the name #DoneRightNotEasyCrew comes from, we aren’t just programming automation commands, but full fledged conversations between gear who oftentimes are speaking different programming languages. The more consistent and streamlined our code is, the better all of the systems we build work at the highest possible level.

It’s easy to see why consistency of quality, from design, to installation, to programming, is important for a powerful and reliable Crestron automation system. Before you decide on an integrator for your next luxury automation project, be sure to understand how they approach quality on every level.

Interested in learning more about automating your luxury home? Contact us today!

Automated Outdoor Lighting and Safety

Halloween is here! While many luxury homes are set back behind gates and away from trick or treating youngsters, Crestron automation systems often find themselves in luxury gated communities and large developed neighborhoods where tonight the sidewalks and streets may be filled with children and families enjoying the popular holiday. Luckily for these folks, outdoor lighting is one of the many home systems that can be automated through a Crestron control system. Today we will be discussing how this automation helps ensure the safety of not just young candy seekers on Halloween, but also yourself and your family throughout the entire rest of the year.

Outdoor lighting comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but generally falls into three main categories. Entryway lighting for front, back, and garage doors, guide lighting for pathways, driveways, and walkways, and of course accent lighting for windows and home features. All of these types of outdoor lighting can be linked together and controlled through luxury Crestron automation. Imagine opening your front gate a path of light illuminating up your driveway directly to the front door of your home. For those homes without gates that might get a trick or treater or two, scenes can be manually adjusted to ensure the walkway and front landing of your home are safely lit, providing parents with a sense of safety and relief.

Much like the lighting inside a home, outdoor lighting can be tied directly to the year round security of your home itself. It has been shown by many studies that automated lighting  can help discourage potential intruders, and this goes double for outdoor lighting. When you are not at home for an extended period of time, perhaps visiting relatives for the holiday or at a winter home, your lighting schedules can make your home appear lived in and busily occupied. For example, if while commuting regularly you arrive home at the same time everyday, your front porch lights illuminating as you touch a button on your phone, you can set the front porch light to activate at the same time each day you are away, creating the appearance of occupancy for any would be burglars.

Outdoor lighting and safety measures can be useful in commercial spaces as well, especially with Daylight Savings Time beginning this weekend. Soon the end of the work day will align with the setting sun and can create dangerous situations in parking lots or entranceways that are not properly lit. When tied into an access control system, Crestron automation can ensure that the lights in and around your office building are active down to the last person coming or going. In the event of an unauthorized attempt to access, lights and sirens can be triggered instantly giving a potential intruder little place to escape.

So as the year ends and the daylight hours wane, safety in and around homes and businesses becomes more paramount than ever. Luckily, Crestron automation is here to protect residents, guests, or employees at your luxury home or office.

Learn more about how Crestron can automate lighting for your luxury space.

Going Deeper: The Next Level of Automation

A Crestron automation system in a home or office is the epitome of luxury. Wired and seamlessly connected to every aspect of your home, these systems, when properly built and coded by an integrator such as the #DoneRightNotEasy crew, simplify and streamline not only your home, but your life as well. To us, it is more than just this simplicity that brings true value to our Crestron automation systems, our value comes from taking our automation to the next level by going deeper into traditional automation concepts to truly revolutionize a space.

Today we will be looking at three ways we take traditional Crestron automation to the next level through proper coding, programming, and installation.

Shading and Lighting – The aesthetics and beauty of your luxury home are important to you, and one of the main ways a Crestron automation system adds to this is through automated lighting and shades. These systems are integrated together and programmed to provide your desired level of light at all times throughout the day and night, either through programmed buttons, or through timed automation.

To take these systems to the next level we provide an in house interior design solution. This ensures that not only are the lighting fixtures and window treatment choices powerfully automated, but that they complement and enhance the aesthetics of your home as well. In addition to this, those luxury homeowners who have invested in fine art pieces will find our automated lighting for these pieces helps protect the longevity of these investments through proper automation or light type and levels.

Distributed Entertainment – The ability to have audio and video entertainment instantly streamed to devices throughout your home is one of the biggest selling features of Crestron automation. With the evolution of both HD video and quality streaming music, to do this effectively requires a detailed and deft understanding of both how a system is physically built, and how it is programmed on the back end.

Distributed 4K video can be one of the most difficult tasks to conquer for an integrator, and there isn’t always one right way to accomplish this. GMI and the #DoneRightNotEasy have a variety of weapons at our disposal, including extensive knowledge of how to navigate ever changing HDCP protocols, and how to equip our systems to deliver the same 4K quality to every screen in the home through centralized source equipment and scaling devices.

Security – Home security and protection may seem boring, but in reality is one of the most important bedrocks to an automation system. Either by protecting your home directly through 24/7 monitoring, or by more tacit methods such as automated lighting scenes designed to make an empty home seem occupied, the protection of your home is both constant and out of sight.

Integrated security not only protects your home, but it combines directly into automation programming to allow for a new world of possibilities. Room occupancy sensors, door contacts, and access control, work directly with your Crestron system to trigger lighting, and entertainment choices simply by entering or leaving a room or opening a specific door. Even in the event of an attempted break-in, the entire home is programmed to react to deter any potential intruders.

Are you interested in taking your luxury home to the next level with Crestron automation?

Vendor Relationships: Architects and Builders

Any integrator will tell you that the opportunity to work on a new build home, either the entirety of the building or an extension, is one of the best opportunities to build a truly one of a kind system. This type of opportunity only comes to those integration professionals who have a deep understanding of how homes are built and designed in the first place. We’ve discussed many of the ways Crestron automation touches every part of a home, and why GMI automation and the #DoneRightNotEasy crew take a holistic view of every job site. This attitude is especially important when working alongside the ones responsible for new build construction and home expansion: architects and builders.

Relationships with architects and builders is important for any type of vendor working on a home, as these are the professionals that by their nature have the greatest understanding of the entire site. Automation and integration professionals specifically benefit from cultivating these relationships due to the importance of pre-wiring. The ability to have early access to building specifications allows us to be more efficient in our design, knowing exactly how much and what type of wire we need to appropriately automate a home and distribute audio and video. Working closely with these vendors also allows us to identify structural issues which may stand in the way of the homeowners desired automation experience, and correct them on paper early, saving ourselves, the builders, and most importantly, our clients time, money, and frustration.

When working with a builder on an existing structure that is being renovated, oftentimes the placement of a control room or even a new theater can cause unexpected issues. Take for example the luxury theater we installed in a client’s Bedminster New Jersey home. When building the specialized and acoustically treated room, we came upon an important support beam when it came time to remove a wall. In this case we were able to leverage our relationship with the builder on the project to procure appropriate materials and working alongside the builder to complete the space as designed. All of this while staying on schedule and ensuring that our client got the theater they expected.

Working closely with architects and builders doesn’t just increase the value of our own automation services, it enhances the value of their services as well. Often in first time Crestron installations we often find ourselves working with vendors who don’t have experience with automation systems. When this happens we take the time to educate and ask second level questions about their work and process so we can ensure everything will play nice in the end, leading to positive performance and improvement all around. Builders and architects are especially interested in growing their knowledge base when it comes to automation, as nearly 75 percent of Americans surveyed say they are looking for automation technology in their next home. The knowledge attained by working with an experienced team like the #DoneRightNotEasy crew can easily lead to more jobs and higher margins for an architect or builder who is looking to the future.

Whether you are a builder or architect experiencing automation for the first time, or have worked with professional integrators many times, the value gained by joining forces on a job site with GMI and the #DoneRightNotEasy crew is invaluable. Our experience with Crestron automation system is unmatched in the industry and our ability to look at the bigger picture of any job site makes this a match made in heaven.

Are you a luxury home architect or builder looking to incorporate automation into your next project? 

Distributed Streaming Music: The CD Rack of the Future

In the world of luxury homes, perhaps nothing has evolved more over the past few decades as the media or listening room. While speaker, amplification, and other audio technology has certainly seen its share of improvements, the most significant changes have come in the media technology itself. The first digital music players began popping up in the late 1990s, and pretty soon digital music was as ubiquitous as vinyl records were at the dawn of the rock and roll era. With this rapid change in the way we obtain and listen to music, the listening room of the past has taken on an entirely new direction, and with through distributed audio and Crestron automation, homes have been transformed like never before.

While the ubiquity of streaming music is hard to deny, effectively distributing streaming audio throughout a space is a much more complicated endeavor. With so many streaming options available to consumers these days, each streaming at different bandwidths, it’s important to optimize these streams for consistency of quality. This means utilizing our go to streaming device, the powerful MMS-5 streaming server by Autonomic Control, which allows our music loving clients to stream from pandora, spotify, and any other streaming music service they desire with optimal sound quality throughout their home.

Streaming music from an online source such as those listed above is only one piece of the puzzle. Music purchased in either a physical form or purchased files need to be stored on a physical hard drive and distributed effectively throughout a Crestron control system. Luckily, the aforementioned MMS 5 can be powerfully integrated with Google Drive. This integration allows us to link music stored in a hard drive at one location into a custom built cloud streaming platform giving access to a music library in any part of the home or even an off site location without having to duplicate and store large music files in more than one location. This means that when an end user purchases and downloads a new record or song, it is instantly available from all of their Crestron enabled devices.

To us and to our clients alike, one of the most important features of a Crestron automation system is the ability to simplify and streamline as much of their lives as possible. With what seems like endless choices for streaming music we at the #DoneRightNotEasy crew take steps to ensure that selecting what music to listen to is as second nature as grabbing a CD or Vinyl record off of a shelf. To do this we work closely with our customers to understand their music listening habits, and design user interfaces and automated systems to deliver exactly the music they need when they need it.

Are you a music lover looking to stream audio throughout your home the right way? Contact GMI today to learn more.