Savant vs. Control 4 vs. Crestron Systems - Which is best?
Learn about each system and decide which will be best for your smart home installation in Beverly Hills, CA
Which brand of home automation system should I choose? This is a question that often comes up when we are talking to new clients and going over their options for their new home in Beverly Hills, CA. Everyone feels that there must be a clear winner in this debate, and usually, the main three that come up are a Savant, Control 4, or Crestron System. They typically feel that choosing the right control brand is the make or break decision that will determine whether they will enjoy their home technology. It actually isn’t. Let me tell you why.
Is There A Best Control System?
You can talk to 100 homeowners, and you will get rave reviews of each brand, and you may also get an equal amount of one-star reviews. How can the user experience vary so greatly? Keep in mind that perception is reality. A control system like Crestron, Savant, or Control 4 touches everything in the home - lighting, shades, video, audio, alarm, pool, locks, thermostats, etc. When a consumer taps a button on a remote, app, or touch panel to turn on a light, and that light does not turn on, it is immediately assumed that the control device is the cause of the problem. Well, sometimes it is the bulb, the fixture, the wire, the Wi-Fi, or some other reason that has nothing to do with the control system. Multiply this by every device you have on the control system. The failure is then reported to the installer, who then comes out and fixes the problem.
Sometimes a homeowner inquires about the actual problem and fix, but most are too busy and ask, "Did you fix it?". As these issues continue to occur with various devices around the house, the perception of "I have a lousy control system" sours the homeowner. It is unfair but a reality. So when I hear a one-star control system review, I take it with a grain of salt. I usually ask who the installer was first (the typical weak link), then I ask what kind of issues they were having. I usually determine that the installer was at fault or there some other brand or compatibility issues that were contributing to the system problems. It is a rare case where I can point to the brand and say that it was, in fact, a systemic issue with the control system. That being said, no control system is perfect. Just like any other technology product, control systems have their glitches. Your installer and programmer's job is to mitigate them as much as possible. Their talent is crucial.
Savant, Crestron, and Control 4 offer similar products. These include touch panels, handheld remotes, lighting control systems, motorized shading, smart thermostats, audio distribution systems, and video distribution systems. They are all compatible with major brands like Lutron, Sony, Samsung, Sonos, and hundreds of other top electronic brands and home systems.
So is there a “best” control system? Not necessarily. There is a “best for you” control system for sure. Let's layout the landscape.
First, let's discuss the two "Luxury" brands. I liken Crestron and Savant to Mercedes Benz and BMW. A luxury product meant for a certain kind of client. More attention is paid to the fit, finish, performance,and reliability of their product, which justifies a higher cost. Like Mercedes and BMW, you can opt for a lower cost experience or ramp up to a higher model with all the bells and whistles, but even their lowest cost experience prices out a bit higher than systems like Control 4, some of the other budget-centric brands out there.
These guys have been in the game the longest and are perhaps the most recognized brand name in the control system space. They are dominant in the commercial automation world and can be considered the pioneers of home control in the luxury residential space. They have two platforms of systems. The first is the SIMPL method of programming that allows for 100% customization of a user interface and no limits on how you can program a system. If you can dream it, you can do it with Crestron SIMPL. It is for the person who has an incredibly complex home, very particular programming needs, or just wants to have a very customized graphical user interface. The second platform that Crestron offers is Crestron Home. This system uses a pre-baked graphical user interface designed by Crestron to work with their devices and a slew of other ones. This is much less customizable but does not require a lot of expensive programming time to implement. So if your needs are not complicated and you dig the interface, Crestron Home should be a consideration.
Savant does not have the long history of Crestron and is often considered the "new kid on the block,"even though they have been in the space for over a decade. Savant takes the Apple approach by completely controlling the user experience. The app and interface are designed by Savant; therefore, the installer does not need to be a software genius to deploy a Savant system. This approach is intended to reduce programming time and create a "Savant Experience" similar to all users. Savant caught a lot of buzz early on since they used an Apple computer as their central brain and were quick to be incredibly iOS compatible. They quickly established themselves in the luxury home automation space with their quality product and sexy app.
I suggest that you download apps for both Crestron and Savant to test-drive the experiences. Both apps have excellent demo modes to show you how their interface works. I find that once a homeowner test drives the system, they often have a preference.
This is the lower cost automation brand for those who are not angling for that "luxury" experience and aim to save some costs. Control 4 has a nicely designed app that is well regarded, and they also make some excellent hardware. If you are not a Mercedes or BMW customer and tend to lean towards something in the Honda or Toyota family, then Control 4 may be the product for you.
Full disclosure, DSI does not sell Control4. Our core clientele typically is willing to pay a higher price to get the fit, finish, and reliability that we can provide with products like Crestron or Savant. Experience trumps cost savings for most DSI clients.
OK, so which one should I choose?
This is the wrong question you are asking. The right question is, "what installation firm should I choose... and what system are they best at?”
The installation firm is the single most important choice you will make when embarking on a home technology project. You can have great experiences with these products or terrible experiences. Think of it like this... is choosing the cut of meat more important than the chef who cooks it? No. Your installation company will make or break your experience. It is their job to make 50+ brands of electronics work in harmony. Their expertise, attention to detail, process, and service will define your home technology experience much more than the equipment they choose to deploy. When choosing between a Mercedes and BMW, you are almost in a can’t-lose-situation. But the quality of installers in the US varies from a 1972 Pinto to a brand new Bugatti… and I am not even exaggerating.
How do I choose the right installer?
You must choose your installer carefully. Get references. Check their online feedback. Find out how long they have been a Creston, Savant, or Control 4 installer. Do they have awards? Are their website portfolio pictures their actual work or stock photos? Find out if they work in homes like yours. A great company specializing in condos may not be the right company for your 30,000 square foot mansion. The easy button for weeding out the thousands of bad installation companies is to hire one that is certified by the Home Technology Association. These companies have been thoroughly vetted and are the cream of the crop. Go to www.htacertified.org to find an installer in your area. DSI is proud to be HTA certified at the estate level if you live in Southern California.
So, in summary. Crestron, Savant, and Control 4 can all be great and can all be terrible depending on who does the installation and programming. If you are a luxury homeowner, look first at Savant or Crestron. Choose the installer first and then let their expertise guide you into a system. You are wise to choose the system they recommend. I can tell you with confidence that an installer will suggest a control system based on what they are best at deploying… and not which one makes them more money (they will make virtually the same on either system). If you want to save some bucks, check out Control 4 or see how low your integrator can make a simpler Savant or Crestron system.
Are you ready to partner with DSI Luxury Technology to turn your home into a smart home? We would love to work with you! Fill out our online contact form, and we will get in touch with you— we can’t wait to hear from you!