Category Archives: Residential

Get to Know your AV contractor

Just as many businesses specialize in a type of food; Italian, French, fast food, etc., those working in the audio/visual industry also specialize. Why is this important to know? While we would love to be the “go to” for all residential and commercial AV needs, just like our colleagues we have our own specialization. We encourage you to identify your needs based on the information below and seek out the best contractor for the job.

Not all AV companies service homes. Some, such as ours, service homes & businesses. But, each contractor has their own specialization for both residential and commercial customers. I will focus solely on residential AV work.

Large home theater and whole house AV – These companies specialize in building large home theaters and/or designing & setting up video & audio experiences in the entire home. Theaters include projection and sound systems, seating, a sophisticated control system and even the construction needs, such as platforms, acoustical walls and such. Most home theaters start at $30,000 and go up from there. Most of these companies need a multi-man crew to work on these jobs and may only do 1-2 theaters at a time depending on the size of their company and the size of the theater. When a customer wants an entire home set up with AV, these companies are the best to use. Most of these companies stay away from jobs that can be done in a day or two, since their crew is usually tied up on large projects. They also generally do not perform service calls for anyone other than their past customers.

Basic AV installations – There are companies that focus primarily on what we call “plain vanilla” TV wall mounts. This involves running cable within the wall, mounting the TV and setting up the cable company remote control. They also may be able to run wires for speakers. Many of these companies price per package rather than on an hourly rate. They are great for simplistic needs that don’t involve any design work or more complex work that requires senior level technicians. These companies generally do not perform service calls because they do not have the needed expertise on staff to troubleshoot and repair.

Custom installations (mid size) – These companies fit between the large & small AV contractor. They have the expertise to create a custom AV experience. However, medium sized AV companies vary greatly in services, products recommended & level of experience. Just as we specialize in networking infrastructure, others may not have a networking specialist on staff. However, they may sell & install sophisticated control systems that we don’t such as Crestron or Control 4, motorized blinds, vacuum systems and outdoor cameras. The best way to identify between these contractors is to visit their website and read what they offer. There is more to a custom installation than a picture, so go beyond the gallery to really understand what they offer…or don’t.

Independent contractors – There are AV people who can be found on places such as Craig’s list. While they may be able to inexpensively set up an AV system, most of these people are not licensed, do not offer warranties and don’t carry insurance. Most of these contractors work as subcontractors to licensed AV contractors, but take on their own work as well. They are also going to use inexpensive materials so that they can make more money since they don’t have relationships with distributors, so be wary of brands.

We encourage you to visit our website to see more about what Home & Office Network Solutions specializes in. If you are unsure whether we are the right fit for your next project, just call and we will let you know if we are a good fit. We would rather turn away business to those who would do a better job than take on something that is not in our wheelhouse.

What is considered a “Custom” Home Technology project?

The definition of custom is “made or done to order for a particular customer.” Since all home technology installations are not “off the rack” by definition alone they are custom made. Even the most basic TV mounting on a wall is generally custom made. One customer may want just the TV mounted, wires hanging down to connect to the cable outlet. Another may want the wires run through the walls to their cable connection & components. A third customer may want the TV mounted, and wires run to components within another room, utilizing an IR relay set up to manipulate the components. Then there are a variety of mount types to choose from; flat, tilt, articulating, down & out, that can be selected to customize just the TV mounting.

Add speakers or a sound bar, a universal remote control and networking for streaming and you’ve got an even more custom made entertainment system.

How about audio? In-ceiling or in-wall speakers, wireless speakers, multiple zones with separate controls by room and outdoor speakers with weatherproof wiring & casements, all connected to a central amplifier inside the home.
Head spinning yet? How about accessing all the video & audio components with your iPad or smart phone? Trading out the 5 remotes for a universal remote that is custom set for your audio & video needs.

It can get even more complex. Add lighting, a central control system, racks, a large home theater with projection and sophisticated sound & acoustics.

The possibilities are nearly endless with home technology these days. Don’t shortchange your needs with package deals. Get a true “custom” designed system that fits “your” needs now & in the future.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player Now available from Samsung

While 4K has now been about over a year, Blu-ray DVD players have not been able to show movies in 4K quality. Consumers have been dependent on streaming to see 4K movies. But, now Samsung has produced a 4K ultra HD Blu-ray player for your added enjoyment. It reveals up to 64X Greater Color Expression than Conventional Blu-ray and Fast Action Moves Super Smooth Across the Screen with 60 frames per second.

Add this player to your 4K TV and watch your favorite 4K produced movies again and again.

Spring Storm Preparedness

Protecting Your Technology

Are you running around the house shutting down your TV and computers, pulling the power cords out of the wall as you hear a storm approaching? If so you are doing the best thing possible to protect your investment. You read that right, unplugging the power cables from the wall outlet is the best thing to do when there is a storm approaching. The reason behind this is simple. NO household electrical protection device will stop a direct/near direct lightening hit.

Thankfully most of us will never experience a direct lightning strike on our house. I’ve seen them and the results are catastrophic. We will however have our electricity flicker, spike up, drop down and go off as a result of a storm. This is where power protection devices can save the electronics that are connected to them.

In a home and small business there are typically two types of power protection devices deployed; Power Strips with overvoltage protection and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) also known as battery backups. The type of power protection device used is dependent on the electronic device that it is protecting. TVs, audio components etc. are typically protected by Power Strips. PCs, surveillance cameras & DVRs are usually on a UPS. The correct device to use starts with a couple of simple questions. Do I need the electronic device to keep working through a small power disruption? Does the electronic device have moving parts like a hard drive that could be damaged during a momentary loss of power? If the answer is yes to either question then a UPS is the direction to go. If the answer is no to the two questions then the use of a power strip will most likely do an adequate job of power protection. If unsure then you should always go with the UPS.


When do I plan for my home’s technology set up?

Whether it’s time for a new bathroom, kitchen or even a deck, it is best to plan early for your data, video, audio and possibly telephone needs. Let’s face it. You always have some sort of technology altered/installed in any project nowadays. Your contractor should be asking you about these things when discussing your renovation project. If they are not, then you need to address it with them. If they don’t work with an AV integrator, then you will need to bring one in at the planning stages for design and an estimate. Deciding after the project has been started by the contractor could result in major headaches from poor budgeting, renovation delays, and worse case…not being able to get what you want or who you want to perform the installation because you waited too long.
Here are some popular add-ons to rooms that are generally not thought to need AV or data.

Kitchen: an in-ceiling speaker, a small mounted TV or iPad docking station. How about a centralized charging station for the household cell phones?

Bathroom: in-ceiling speaker with controls, small TV

Deck: multiple outdoor speakers, outdoor TV, outdoor box for control of audio, network expansion

Household Networking: How does it perform? Is the Wi-Fi signal getting to the right places? Are your streaming media devices using Wi-Fi instead of being hardwired? (which they should be) Remodeling projects are a great opportunity to run a few cables to increase the overall usability of the network.

Keep in mind too that remodeling contractors are not AV integrators. Most electricians want nothing to do with low voltage wiring and while the contractor may offer to run cabling, their main skill set is not in AV. If they don’t bring in an AV integrator, ask about their in-house person’s experience in AV. Would you hire an HVAC tech to run your electrical wires? Then don’t hire a carpenter to put your AV system together.