System Processor: Why Do I Need One?
The system processor is the black box that oversees and helps control all of the sub-systems in a smart home—which might include lighting control, heating/AC, security and surveillance, and applications for special needs household members—as well as internet communication, home theater, and multi-room music.
Most processors are proprietary computers which communicate through specialized data ports (over wireless or wired networks) in specialized control languages. Popular brands include Crestron, Control4, AMX, Savant, and Total Control. Some processors can talk only to certain types of peripherals (keypads, thermostats, and lighting devices, for example) made by the same manufacturer. Others are adaptable to a virtually unlimited range of component types and brands.
An important function of the system processor is smart monitoring and control—via dedicated in-wall keypads, wireless handheld units, or even smartphone apps—which allow the user to monitor and manage one or more home integration systems. Because this function is central to effortless smart home operation, these related reports may be of value: Smart Home Control; Very Smart Remote Control Systems; and Advanced Remote Control Features.
Technical aspects of the system processor and peripherals are beyond the interest (and expertise) of most consumers. But the practical aspects—how well a given system will meet your specific needs—are of critical importance, and deserve close attention. Here are some questions to think about and discuss with a smart home expert before deciding on a system:
- Will I want to add devices later (such as additional lighting control switches)? And what are the specific limits of the system under consideration, and is expansion easy and cost-effective?
- Will I want to add new sub-systems later (such as security cameras, or pool & spa control), and how easily can the system processor in question accommodate them?
- What are the estimated programming costs for the system? And does the system programming involve a unique source code, and if so, do I get a free copy?
Choosing the right system processor–and dealer—to integrate your home is a big decision, perhaps as important as deciding which sub-systems you want. For more information on smart home integration, see the Smart Home Planner, Tailor the Tech to Your Lifestyle, and Experts.