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Wired Wonder: Inside the Luxury Automated Home


Life & Style

When you think of the future home, do you picture self-operating kitchen appliances, robotic vacuum cleaners and motorized window shades timed for certain times of day? How about fireplaces that turn on when you walk into the room? Or voice-controlled televisions that drop down from the ceiling? Up until recently, living in such a digitalized environment was a technological pipe dream, but now, more affluent homebuyers want it to be their reality.  A recent Coldwell Banker Previews International® survey with the Luxury Institute found that one-fourth of ultra-wealthy individuals want a fully automated home environment.  

Reid_SMallThe growing market for home technology has kept companies like Vantage Controls on the edge of innovation over the last few years, as it continues to launch new interfaces that control everything from lighting and climate to audio, video and security for large luxury spaces (John Elway is a well-known fan.) Previews® Inside Out recently sat down with Reid Cram, director of marketing at Vantage, to talk about the advancements in the home automation space and why the technology is increasingly seen as a must-have amenity for luxury homeowners.

Previews Inside Out First, are you surprised to hear that 25% of ultra-wealthy individuals want a fully automated home? Do you think the number should be higher?

Reid Cram Yes and no. Many ultra-wealthy individuals are looking for ways to simplify their hectic lives, and home automation is a great way to simplify things with a single button. On the other hand, there is still a fear of technology. If people knew how easy it was, that percentage would be higher. 

Previews Inside Out Do you think it will increase as younger affluents enter the luxury marketplace?

Reid Cram Yes. I think it will be one of those home features that will eventually be expected.

Previews Inside Out Why do you think more affluents view home automation as a luxury?

Reid Cram We recently conducted a study of our own, surveying affluent homeowners with a variety of automation systems. They told us that they wanted technology that 1) simplified their lives, 2) allowed for easy user updates and changes and 3) adjusted to changing circumstances and changing environments. They see all of these attributes as luxuries.

Previews Inside Out It’s interesting that you mention changing environments since many affluent homeowners own multiple homes. Where does home automation fit into that scenario? 

Reid Cram Right. When they arrive at their vacation home, they just want to settle in and enjoy it. They don’t want to worry about setting the thermostat to the appropriate temperature, adjusting the light levels or getting the hot tub and the pool ready. With a well-integrated home automation system, you can get the house ready in anticipation of your arrival.

Previews Inside Out Looking over the last few years, what has been the most significant luxury shift for home automation?

Reid Cram The biggest thing for us has been the explosion of mobile technology and mobile applications. People want to control their home from their smartphone.

Previews Inside Out If you could look into your crystal ball, what can we expect from the home automation industry in the future?

Reid Cram Home automation systems are going to do more on the go. You’re going to see even better mobile access and more personalization. You’re also going to see more value for your dollar.

Previews Inside Out What will the luxury home look like in 20 years?

Reid Cram It will be sustainable and more intelligent, with seamless integration between the cloud and what we call “the tangibles”—lighting, temperature control, entertainment systems, appliances, etc. This home will automatically save you energy and identifies the most efficient sources of energy, adapting to the changing needs of the family. It knows when there is a big group gathered for a party, and it knows when there is a smaller, more intimate group. We call this a “self-aware environment,” and it will make living in the home very natural and comfortable. I also think technology will continue to be minimalist. It will not be in your face. It will continue to work behind the scenes.


Previews Inside Out Walk us through a typical Vantage home.


Reid Cram The homeowner will never walk into a dark home. The lighting will always be set for the scene. If you are just coming home from work, it will light up the hallway to the kitchen for dinner time. With a simple press of the button, it will turn on the music and immediately cue up your favorite playlist or streaming music station. It will even turn on the fireplace in the fall and winter. After you enjoy dinner together with your family, you can cue up a movie via a touch screen or mobile app. When you’re ready to turn in for the night, all you need to do is to touch a button: the security alarm will be armed and the security cameras will be turned on. 

Previews Inside Out In terms of your current offerings, what is the most popular model and why?

Reid Cram The Equinox family of touchscreens with companion mobile apps and our EasyTouch II key pads with programmable buttons are our most popular offerings. Equinox delivers a rich media experience for up to twelve luxury systems (audio, video, cameras, security, lighting, and more). Our EasyTouch II keypads offer backlit engraved buttons that are fully programmable. Both offerings look sleek on the wall. That’s what you would see in a typical Vantage home: very powerful technology that is very well hidden.  

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Previews Inside Out What is the cost range for a Vantage system?


Reid Cram These systems can go for $50 to $75 per lighting load and up. In terms of total costs, you might be looking at $6,000 to $8,000 on average, with programming running around $50,000. It can reach up to well over $100,000.

Previews Inside Out Do you know if this kind of technology increases a home’s resale value?

Reid Cram Anecdotally, yes. When you have a 10,000-square-foot home and need to turn all of the lights off in the home, it can turn into a project—so this kind of technology is an easy sell to a homeowner of this caliber of home. Add the fact that you can also show off your art and entertain easily, and it all kind of falls into place for the luxury homebuyer. 


More information on Vantage Controls can be found at

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Wired Wonder: Inside the Luxury Automated Home

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