High Tech

Aaron Walbrandt, president of Walbrandt Technologies, talks home automation.

Edited by Melissa Mauzy
Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


SLHL: How do you add a home automation system to an older or existing home? 
Aaron: This is very dependent on the state of the house. If there is an option to run low-voltage, we always try to do so to provide the highest reliability. But wireless options for music, lighting control and more are becoming better all the time.

SLHL: What is the most basic system available? 
Aaron: The most basic systems would probably be those that condense the number of remotes you have to control your audio/video gear into one intuitive and programmable device. And with the systems we install, that single “universal remote” can go from controlling your TV, cable box and streaming device to also controlling lighting scenes, shades and whole-house audio. It even provides an option to add those same controls to an app on your smart phone or tablet for access away from home.

SLHL: How easily can a home automation system be expanded in the future?
Aaron: Very easily. If you are involved in a new construction or rehab project that allows you to run low-voltage cabling throughout the house, we always recommend to do so, creating a strong “backbone” to your home automation system. The better the “backbone” of the network, the more options you have going forward. On day one, it may just be used for strong Wi-Fi throughout the house and control of a few TV’s, but if done right, it can be expanded to provide video distribution, whole-house audio, lighting and shade control, video surveillance and much more.

SLHL: Do they require holes in the walls?
Aaron: Not always. There are plenty of upgrades that can be done without drilling any holes into the wall. Upgrades that, for example, allow you to control your lighting and music through “scenes” that can be created to adjust the lights and music to that perfect setting for a dinner party, dance party or movie night.

SLHL: When building a new home, at what point should you bring in a professional for your home automation needs?
: The sooner the better. We love the opportunity for collaborating with our clients and their architects and designers. This will help provide solutions that fit seamlessly into the aesthetics of the house. Keep in mind that once that drywall goes up, our scope of work changes dramatically.

SLHL: How much can you trust a home automation system? Are they foolproof?
: Creating a secure, reliable network that can properly handle all data traffic is extremely important to us. My background as a chief technology officer for a local investment company has helped foster that mindset. We believe strongly in using the highest quality networking gear to ensure reliability, uptime, upgradability and, of course, security. We provide the option of remotely monitoring our client’s home network gear (just the gear; we do not see online activity) to ensure it is up to date with the latest security patches to prevent intrusions. We often know if there is a problem in the home before our clients do and can proactively work to correct the issue. Our response time on such issues is within a couple of hours.

SLHL: Do you have to make your whole home smart or can you focus on certain spaces?
Aaron: These systems are very scalable. We highly recommend that our clients first concentrate on the central areas they know they will be using to entertain, watch TV’s or have a family movie night. Then, with the proper network in place, along with the right control system, we can roll out upgrades or additions as needed.

SLHL: What is the newest or latest in home technology?
Aaron: Certainly the most talked-about features are 4K video and Voice Control. 4K, also known as Ultra HD, refers to a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. That’s four times the 1,920 x 1,080 pixels found in a current HD TV. That is about 8.3 million pixels, giving you an amazing picture. And everyone has used voice control, be it Siri, Alexa or Google Home. Not only can it sing you a song or tell you a joke, it can integrate with your home control system to activate lighting scenes, play music throughout your home, even draw your kids a bath while you are cooking dinner.

Walbrandt Technologies, 314-627-0346