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The Ins and Outs of Home Automation: An Interview with Bill O'Connor of Constellation Home Electronics

By Bill O'Connor

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Constellation Home Electronics is a Santa Fe-based company that handles all types of home electronic systems: security, lighting, shading, thermostats, audio, video, etc. Our strength lies in creating simple ways for our clients to control these disparate systems, whether it is just a surround sound system with multiple components, or a full high-performance home control and automation system.

Can you briefly explain what home automation is?

A home automation system is simply a control overlay for the many different types of electronic systems in a home (security, lighting, shading, audio, video, etc.). The homeowner gets to choose the level of automation - that is, events that occur without the homeowner having to push a button. For example, turning on the landscape lights at sunset or lowering the shades if it's over 80 degrees outside.

What's the current trend that you've seen for the automation of home electronic devices and systems?

The most popular thing we are finding right now is with lighting and motorized shade systems. We are seeing a rapid growth in these areas because a properly controlled lighting system is the best way to highlight the amazing art and architectural features present in so many homes in Santa Fe. And shade systems - it does get hot here!

What are some of the basic options that a homeowner will need to decide on with this technology?

What level of control do they want? How do they want to control it? From a remote control, a touchscreen on the wall, a keypad, a smartphone, etc.? Whom do they want to have access to this control, and from where. Inside the house or anywhere in the world via the Internet?

How does the initial financial investment compare with the long-term savings that homeowners will get?

This is a hugely variable question depending on what they control and how the homeowners use the home.

Do you have any general advice to help people who are considering home automation technology?

Do your homework on the company you work with. Talk to them, ask to see floor plans of systems they have previously done, how they designed their work and how they integrated with other trades. Finally, can they show you, in their showroom, some successful examples of the type of work they do? How much can they demonstrate and how much is "take our word for it"?

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

The Constellation Home Electronics showroom, located at 215 N. Guadalupe, is a great place to start. Our design consultants can demonstrate many of these technologies, while helping the client determine if and how any particular technology can enhance their lifestyle, or make their home more secure, easier to control and more efficient.

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