AUTOMATING YOUR HOME

BY BARRY WALDMAN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

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It’s often said that consumers vote with their feet and walk away from a vendor if they are dissatisfied. Customers of Fox Home Solutions vote with their feet by returning to Fox again and again.

Take the local family that worked with Fox nine years ago for their first build. They wired their home for music in a few rooms and placed security cameras overlooking the pool and front yard. Fox recently worked on a larger system for their third house, fully automating the lighting, HVAC system, cameras, music and entertainment systems. All controlled by a handheld remote, any webenabled mobile device and even voice commands.

The family can see who is at the front door and talk to them on the cellphone. “If it’s the UPS guy, they can tell him to put the package in the garage, push a button to open the garage door, watch him leave and then close the door,” says owner Frank Fox.

Fox also wired the house for remote climate control. The family has a wine cellar and a humidor, so temperature and humidity must be monitored around the clock. If anything goes awry, the system diagnoses it, makes adjustments, and contacts Fox and the customer.

Fox Home Solutions, in fact, installs and services a full array of home automation devices and systems, including lighting, video, home theaters, energy management, irrigation, central vacuum systems and more. Using its systems, a homeowner can set lights and HVAC to anticipate their departure in the morning and arrival in the evening. Alerts can indicate when the children arrive home and show video of them in the house. The temperature of the pool and the hot water heater can also be adjusted, all automatically, and overridden remotely at any time.

Some homeowners may be tempted to buy a router or an automation system from a retail store or the cable provider. These systems are fine for basic internet usage and to control one or two lights but are not designed to control larger homes and systems.

Fox, on the other hand, wires a house so that wireless is reserved for wireless devices only. Clients always ask Fox why they should wire their home for a network when everything has wireless connectivity. Here’s why: Consider a hardwired internet package that provides up to 180mbps and serves seven devices. A recent test of such a system delivered 180mbps to all seven devices. Connect these devices via Wi-Fi and the speed drops to 7.6mbps. Now consider that Netflix requests a minimum of 5mbps for streaming video. Add in three or four tablets/phones and you will be watching the movie a few days from now!

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Fox maintains a secure, constant remote connection to your network that is monitored 24-7. Systems are constantly updated with the latest security protocols, alerting Fox, in real time, to any outages or potential issues that the company can correct—even remotely.

Customers vouch that service is Fox’s hallmark. “I would recommend Fox Home Solutions to anyone looking to upgrade their home media,” says Bobby Johnson, former head football coach at Furman and Vanderbilt universities.

Frank Fox is obsessive about service. The company’s phone forwards to his cellphone 24 hours a day to ensure a prompt response. “Good enough is not enough,” Frank Fox says. “I truly believe that perfection is an attainable goal. We treat the client’s house as if it was our own … or better.”

That might explain why most of Fox’s work comes from repeat customers and referrals.

The next big thing in home automation is what your kids are doing already—streaming. Many have already cut the cord for their entertainment content. By the time you join this parade, Fox will be building homebased network systems controlled at warp speed by mobile devices—all with stringent security protocols that update automatically.

So, if you’re hiring professionals to automate your home, you might as well consider a company that’s fanatical about great service.

Barry Waldman is principal of Big Fly Communications, a PR/marketing firm for nonprofits and small businesses.