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How to find a Qualified TechHome Integrator

So you’ve decided that your home automation dreams are more complex than what you can pull off with your own toolbox. That’s OK; there are lots of home integrators, or electronic systems contractors, all over the country skilled at designing and installing control systems of all levels.

You should take as much care when choosing the person or company to install your automation and entertainment system as you’d take when choosing someone to remodel your bathroom or install new kitchen cabinets. You want to make sure your integrators are professional, experienced and focused on your satisfaction.

First, don’t necessarily shop by brand or product. You may have specific systems in mind, but be open to the designer’s suggestions. Many of the top manufacturers in the home automation industry are not exactly well-known household names, so depend on the professionals to know the most reliable products. Plus, remember that you’re purchasing an experience, not a product. Something that sounds impressive in a review may not be perfect for your home or lifestyle. A professional system integrator will know the strengths and weaknesses of many kinds of systems.

One of the best ways to look for an installer is to ask around. There’s a pretty good chance that someone in your neighborhood or workplace has had a project done. Ask how the friend liked the purchasing and installation process. Did the installer follow up after the job was complete? Was any fine tuning necessary to the programming, and was the integrated willing to do that? Has the system lived up to the owner’s expectations? Has the installer had any projects profiled in enthusiast magazines on won any industry awards?  

Ask the system designer if the system you’re interested in is expandable. Often homeowners don’t really know what they want a system to do until after they’ve lived with it for a while. Your needs may change, your family may grow and new technologies may emerge that you want to integrate into your home. Pick a system that can be built upon and an installer you can depend on to support you as your needs grow.

Ask about certifications. There are several certifications your installer may have earned, including certifications from Eletronic Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA), Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) and Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

Make sure you check your installers’ references and look for a history of successful jobs. While every installer has to start somewhere, you don’t want your home to be the place where he or she starts. A quality installer will happily supply a list of references, show you a portfolio of work and answer any questions you may have. When checking references, ask if the company completed the job on time and on budget, if the system worked as promised and if the company quickly responds to service issues.

If you don’t know of any local electronic system contractors, CEA has an excellent integrator search tool.