For those of us “of a certain age,” we remember how cool Star Trek: The Next Generation was when it first aired. A glimpse into the future, the show was filled with the same space travel and interactions with alien races as the original series with a sleeker feeling and decidedly more decorum from the ship’s captain. However, one feature that was particularly appealing to viewers (aside from being able to “beam” anywhere” was the computer operating system aboard the Starship Enterprise. With the ability to do everything from stir a perfect cocktail to virtually transport you to another world, Trekkies everywhere hoped that one day we would be able to simply tell a computer to do something for us and have it do it.

Hold on to your hats, folks because when it comes to whole-home automation, the future is now. These features of the Star Trek computer are well within our grasp.

1. Integrated Speaker System

One of the best parts of Star Trek was the crew’s ability to walk into any room on the Enterprise and have their voice commands followed. While home automation devices like Amazon’s Dot and Echo, Google Home and the upcoming Apple Home Pod provide a lot of voice-activated features, their size limits the power of their speakers. You might be able to play a song in your kitchen where your device is sitting, but it is difficult to have that song played throughout your home. In the next few months, HS Tech will introduce an amplifier system that enables you to connect your automation device to your home’s integrated speaker system. Not only will your favorite song play everywhere in your house, but you will also be able to control your device from everywhere in your house.

2. Voice Activated Climate and Light Control

Who can forget the hologram deck in Star Trek: The Next Generation? These immersive experiences incorporated lighting, climate, and sound into a seemingly endless virtual reality experience. Then, with voice commands, the hologram would change, or the simulation would end altogether. Today, you can integrate your home’s climate and light control system into a total-home automation system allowing you to control everything in your home with the touch of a button. From one panel or one smartphone app, you can turn on or dim the lights or adjust your thermostat, so you are greeted by a cozy house while conserving energy. The next step will be having these features be voice activated rather than controlled with a keypad or app. With the ability to integrate Dot, Echo, Home or Home Pod into your home automation system voice activated controls are here and will only get better.

3. Remote Security Features

It seemed whenever the Enterprise crew were under attack; someone would override the computer’s security system to board the ship at will. Fortunately, integrated home security systems have exceeded the Enterprise’s level of safety. Video doorbells and app-controlled security systems, including the ability to remotely lock and unlock your doors, are already available with many integrated security systems.

While today’s integrated automation system will not make you the perfect cup of tea, this technology makes what was once thought to be a dream, a reality.

In the coming months, you will hear more and more about in-ceilings brackets and wall mounts for the Amazon Dot, Google Home or the forthcoming Apple HomePod. Imagine being able to tell your device to play you part of your playlist through your home speaker system. Then, imagine being able to walk room to room, asking questions, making shopping lists, or changing the song.

Those days are almost here.

HS Tech Group is in the process of creating a system that connects your home automation device to your in-home speaker system. Best of all, you won’t have to find a place on your counter for the device itself. We are designing an in-ceiling bracket that will hold your home device, then cover the opening with a simple speaker grill. You will not be able to tell where it is, but it will always be available to you.

Our proprietary amplifier will also be able to communicate your voice back to your device, regardless of where you are in your house.

Need to hear the next step of your recipe in the kitchen? Simply ask.

Want to hear today’s weather in your bedroom? Your device will hear you.

Our System Solves Three Problems

There are three major problems with the home systems as they are being produced:

  1. There is only so much speaker quality you can pack into a small device. Even with gains in sound quality, the speakers included in home automation systems are still too small to carry effectively from one room to another. By connecting your automation system to your home speaker system, you can enjoy high-quality sound without sacrificing convenience.
  2. The second major problem with home automation systems is that you need to be close to the device for it to function. Have your playlist playing in your bathroom but want to ask a question from your bathroom? Limits on the proximity to the voice giving commands also minimize this type of device’s functionality.
  3. Finally, placing your home automation system in the ceiling allows you to preserve valuable counter space while utilizing vertical space in your ceiling.

The last thing our customers want is another set of volume controls or another touchpad to contend with to work their home speaker system. Our proprietary amplifier works with your existing system and your home automation device to eliminate the need for another set of controls. Simply tell your device what you want it to do, and it will do it.

While this type of system is still in the works, we at HS Tech are excited to begin offering it to our customers in the coming months. Home automation systems like Amazon Dot, Google Home, and the upcoming Apple HomePod are not going anywhere. The technology will only continue to improve, and we will do our best to ensure it is ready, available and convenient for you in the walls of your home.

When we talk about home security, we often think about cameras, alarms, and motion sensors that sound an alarm when someone is trying to break in. Yes, these things are important, but there is a bigger threat to your home, and it is already inside your four walls.

We’re talking about fire, water, and carbon monoxide.

These environmental factors are often more costly, more dangerous and more likely than a break-in. Choosing a security system that includes environmental alarms such as water detectors, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors will not only alert you when you are home, they will protect your most valuable investment when you are away.

smoke detector house

Your normal, everyday smoke detector only alerts you to a few hazards.

All Environmental Detectors are Not Created Equal

For the sake of argument, let’s pretend your dishwasher begins to leak just after you leave for work.

It is possible to go to your local hardware store and purchase environmental detectors such as a water detector and install it under your sink, near your washing machine, next to your dishwasher, or in another area where water is likely to enter your home. These detectors emit a loud, high pitched noise when they sense water and can alert you to turn off the water to your home before catastrophic damage occurs.

But what if you’re not home to hear the alarm?

Tied in Environmental Sensors Make Sense

Now, consider the difference a water detector can make when it is tied into your home security system. A leak under the sink triggers an alert in your monitored security system. You are immediately notified of the issue and can either call a plumber to meet you at your property or go shut off the main water valve to your building yourself. Suddenly, rather than dealing with three feet of water throughout your property, you may have an eighth of an inch of water in the location where the leak occurred.

Remote Shut Off Valves + Tied In Environmental Sensors Can Save Your Home & Sanity

electronic remote shut-off valve

An example of a flo Logic automatic electronic remote shut-off valve

If having environmental sensors tied into your home security system is better than sensors alone, adding an electronic remote shut-off valve is considered the Cadillac in home protection.

Going back to our scenario, let’s say your water sensor is triggered and the home security monitoring company cannot reach you. They will begin to go down the list of people you have designated as emergency contacts to alert them of the situation. All the while, water is pouring into your home causing damage to your structure and belongings.

Having an electronic, remote shut off valve installed into your main water line can effectively eliminate water damage in your home. Should a water sensor be triggered, your main water line can be turned off remotely by your security monitoring company until you can assess the situation. No more soggy carpet, no more ruined hardwood floor, no more damaged sheetrock, no more insurance claims.

While preventing an invasion is an important aspect of security, preventing damage due to environmental causes is just as important. For more information on how HS Tech can help you protect your property from water, smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide, call us today.

In today’s age of Skype and Facetime, having a camera with 2-way audio in your home security system may seem like an unnecessary upgrade. However, this system can not only provide an added peace of mind for you; it can give you some unintended benefits for your family members as well.

You are likely wondering…

What is a Camera with 2-way Audio?

Much like the intercom systems that adorned homes in the 1970’s, a camera with audio and video (two-way cameras) offer users the ability to talk from one point to another. The major difference is that two-way cameras of the 21st-century offer high-definition digital video and clear audio without having to press “talk” and “listen” buttons. Two-way cameras are easy to install into existing home security systems and allow you to communicate with both audio and video with those inside of your home. They require both a power source and strong Wi-Fi for operation. They are easy to use and can be controlled via a smartphone app.

But why not just call on the phone?

No Phone Necessary

Picture in your mind the people or pets you care about that are unable to use a smartphone. Want to sing your infant to sleep while you are away on business? Position a two-way camera in their room, pointed at the crib. Want to talk to your dog while you are at work? Position a two-way camera on a ledge in their room. Want to check in on an aging parent who does not have a smartphone or iPad? A two-way camera in their bedroom or kitchen allows you to easily check in without teaching them how to use an app. Two-way cameras also allow you to communicate with people in your home regardless of whether they answer your phone call or not.

Two-way Cameras Audio Allow you to be in Two Places at Once

B.F. Skinner’s psychological theories of reward and punishment suggest that the most effective way to keep a behavior going or prevent a behavior from happening in the future is to randomize the reward or punishment. Imagine how much more productive your children will be after school if you randomly pop in on a two-way camera to check in on their homework progress. Likewise, unexpectedly communicate with home assistants and maintenance specialists about project progress or job completion. With a two-way camera, you can effectively be at work and home at the same time and offer feedback and input on your schedule.

Can be Used Alone or as a Part of Your Home Security System

It is not necessary to have a home security system to take advantage of the dividends a two-way camera can pay. However, these cameras can be seamlessly integrated into your smart phone-managed home security system. No need to download a separate app to communicate with loved ones and home helpers at home. Simply touch a button from your existing home security app.

At HS Tech Group, we proudly install Alarm.com cameras with built-in audio. For more information on two-way cameras or to have one installed in your home, contact HS Tech Group for a consultation.

One of the most exciting pieces of surveillance technology coming to the market soon is the upgraded, integrated video doorbell. Usually, a video doorbell is designed to alert the owner’s cell phone whenever someone pushes the doorbell. Normally, a video doorbell sends a push notification to the user’s cell phone that activates a video and audio connection between the integrated camera and the smartphone app.

Useful, right?

Now, imagine if that video doorbell was connected to the alarm and lock system inside of your home. Not would you be able to have a conversation with someone on the front doorstep, you would be able to disarm the alarm and unlock the front door to let them inside.

Why would you want to do that?

1. Let caregivers into your home

From the dog walker to the babysitter to the medical staff ready to care for aging family members, an integrated doorbell can allow you to authorize entrance of any number of caregivers into your home. Imagine reducing the fall risk of an elderly parent, trying to get out of bed to answer the door. Let your babysitter in to care for your children without them having to answer the door. Allow emergency personnel to enter your home when you are not there. An integrated video doorbell allows you to keep your family members safe, even when you are not there.

Contact HS Tech Group today for information on the Skybell Video Doorbell. Also, watch the two videos in this post!

2. Maintain control of your home security

With the newest, fully integrated video doorbell the days of making keys and giving out alarm codes are gone. The ability to remotely unlock the front door and disarm the alarm allows you to retain control of your home security system. As much as you would like to trust that your housekeeper is maintaining positive control of your house key and alarm codes, a fully integrated doorbell allows you to keep your house keys and alarm codes to yourself while your home helpers still do their jobs.

3. Monitor the comings and goings of home helpers

Best of all, you can monitor when caregivers come and go to ensure your loved ones are receiving the services you have paid for. A fully integrated video doorbell not only allows you to disarm the system and lock the door, but it also requires any home helpers to contact you to rearm the system and lock the door. This virtual time card can allow you to track the comings and goings of home assistants to ensure you receive an accurate accounting of their time.

You can currently add a fully integrated video doorbell to your home security system. Let HS Tech Group handle all of your home security needs with a Wi-Fi enabled alarm system that keeps you in touch with your home, even while you are away. From motion detectors to environmental sensors, let the professionals at HS Tech guide you through the home security process. Call today for a consultation and to find out how we can help you protect your home and loved ones.

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Security, in your home or business, is about controlling access. Defined as the selective restriction to a place or resource, giving someone access control assumes authorization to use, consume or otherwise control the protected good. Whether you are trying to protect your intellectual property from would-be counterfeiters or you are trying to protect your belongings from thieves, every security system begins with how you control access to your home, shop, business, or another environment.

Types of Access Control Systems

It is easy to assume access control systems are high-tech gadgets that prevent would-be intruders from entering an area of a property. In reality, these systems can be divided into one of two categories, physical access control systems, and technological access control systems.

card entry access control

An example of card access

Physical access control systems were a fancy term for locks, guards, or other physical barriers to access. Once upon a time, only those with a set of keys were able to open doors that contained important information, goods or property. The only problem with such physical control systems was that they were operated by humans. Keys are lost and remade or unaccounted for in personnel changes. Salaries for security are costly, especially for small businesses and private homeowners.

Technological access control systems have augmented and in some cases replaced physical systems. Homeowners and businesses no longer must rely on keys and guards for security but can manage control points electronically. Access cards and card readers, control access keypads, biometric locks, key fobs, and electric lock hardware is becoming more commonplace in businesses and homes. The ability to control access remotely via a central location or even smartphone app has added to the complexity and security offered by technological access control systems.

Access Control Devices

The number and type of access control devices vary based on the complexity of the system. For our purposes, we will focus on the three basic types of readers that are available in security systems.

  1. Basic readers. Users gain access by inputting a PIN into a keypad which then triggers a locking mechanism to unlock the door. The system does not make decisions about who is permitted to enter but simply gives access to anyone with a code.
  2. Semi-intelligent readers. These readers have everything necessary to control a door (access to a lock, a magnetic door contact, and an exit button) but do not make access decisions based on who is trying to get in. If a person presents a card or enters a pin, the reader relays information to the main controller and awaits a response. These systems can be adjusted to allow certain people access to certain places, but always requires a person to input that access into the controller.
  3. Intelligent readers. Controlling access points like semi-intelligent readers, intelligent readers take the technology a step further by connecting directly to a PC that can fully integrate access information, track a person’s whereabouts, time signatures and activities and provide an owner with an overall picture of what is happening while they are gone. Intelligent readers are especially useful in home security systems where people can check up on their home, kids or pets remotely from their smartphone.
access control systems

Manage your entire staff’s access control from one central location or from individual devices

Whether you are searching for a way to secure your home or make your business safer, HS Tech Group offers personalized solutions for every environment. Call today for a free consultation.

At HS Tech Group, we want you and your family to be safe. Therefore, we’ve come up with 10 security tips that you should know and subsequently implement if possible. Does your home have a security system? Even if you’ve answered yes, there is important information below that you’ll need to know. Without further ado, here are 10 security tips to increase your security presence:

Have a Professional Security System Installed

Protect all accessible doors and windows, utilize interior motions and or glass break sensors, and use Enhanced Call Verification to reduce False Alarms.

Contact HS Tech Group today for a consultation for a new professional home security system!

Already Have a System?

Make sure you test it throughout the year, replace the backup battery every 3-5 years, consider updating your home security system to the latest technology. Also, make sure to have yard signs and window stickers visible

Does Your Security System Use a Phone Line?

Burglars are aware that the security system uses a phone line to call the monitoring station. They have been known to cut the line outside the home. Make sure to use a cellular backup or a primary cellular form of communication for your security system. If you do not have a cellular line, it can be added to your system. There will most likely be an additional monthly fee.

cut phone line

Go wireless by adding a cellular phone line to your alarm system

Double Check That You Armed Your System

Make sure to arm your system during the day. The percentage of overall burglaries per capita has been decreasing over the past 4-5 years. However, the percentage of daytime time burglaries has continued to increase.

Install Wireless DIY Cameras

DIY installed systems (such as Nest or Dropcam) are usually connected to the Internet and can send you alerts when they see movements and are very effective for receiving alerts. They require some wiring for power and need a very strong Wi-Fi signal. Arlo is an entirely wireless system but will require you to replace or recharge the batteries on a regular basis. These wireless cameras can be installed by yourself, or you can contact a professional security company to install them.

small business video surveillance cameras

HS Tech Group utilizes the Alarm.com platform of wireless cameras which allows you to view a live video as well as play recorded clips for the past 30 days. It’s controlled from the Alarm.com App on your phone, and you can have the video image or clip emailed or texted to your phone. The system also knows if you are home (i.e., your cell phone is home with you), and not to send the texts messages. The system will send you texts only when you are away from your home, usually a mile or more (this is called Geofence Technology). Alternatively, you can have the cameras only work when your home security system is armed.

Professional Cameras are a Serious Upgrade

Professional cameras function a little differently. They utilize a recording device, whether cloud-based or on-site, called a Video Recorder, and they are hardwired to cameras designed for a specific purpose. These cameras can see in the dark, can capture license plate information, can detect heat patterns, can see smoke, and some have speakers and microphones so the monitoring station can speak to someone on the property. A professionally installed system designed for one of these purposes will provide video footage to assist in the apprehension of the potential suspect. These systems typically cost thousands to install (compared to hundreds of dollars for the wireless DIY cameras).

Create a Physical Barrier

If feasible, install a gate at the end of your driveway, it’s a great deterrent.

security gate

This is an amazing example of a security gate

Always Lock Your Doors

Make sure to lock your interior garage door at ALL THE TIME. It is a very easy door for a burglar to break into. Remove the pull string from your garage door inside, so the release cannot be circumvented.

These Go to 11

Make sure to have an exterior alarm siren sound loud enough to let neighbors hear, the older sirens used to sound forever, newer sirens timeout in 15 minutes. If you don’t want to do the sirens – you can always flash several lights in the house, this becomes annoying for anyone inside as well.

Knock, Knock

Lastly, add a new doorbell camera. This allows you to receive audio and video of someone that approaches and leaves your front door while you may not be home. Alarm.com offers the Skybell and is compatible with the HS Tech Group security system. You can also speak and see who is at your door when they ring the bell, and let them know you are busy and to come back later without letting them know you are not home.

skybell doorbell

HS Tech Group now installs Skybell HD doorbells

First, a little history about LiteTouch

Founded in 1978, LiteTouch was a leader in the customized lighting control industry. They developed products for both residential and commercial properties. They were in a very small specialized market and their systems were costly compared to standard lighting installations.  They did however offer the most futuristic options back in the day. These systems involved true automation by incorporating a central processor (CPU), a specialized wiring system, controllers, power supplies, enclosures, custom keypads and programming.  Pricing for these systems could range anywhere from $25,000 to hundreds of thousands depending upon the size of the system.  They were scalable and could also be incorporated into properties with conventional lighting control as well. You could actually have a home or building in which some room’s deployed lighting control and others had the conventional light switch.

These components were the backbone of the LiteTouch system and required regular support and maintenance, like any electrical/mechanical system with current running through the components, things do happen.  LiteTouch supported these systems by utilizing a network of independent trained integrators, designers and electricians, who were trained to offer support, service/repairs and programming for these systems.  You could not buy LiteTouch on the open market through Big Box retailer or the local hardware store, you would need to work directly with an authorized electrician or integrator.

LiteTouch had some competition. Their major competitor at the time was Lutron, who actually had a majority of the market share. LiteTouch was more affordable and offered customization that Lutron, at the time would not.

Personally, I always considered LiteTouch to be more of a boutique offering for a customized lighting system. If we had a special request from a client, LiteTouch would be willing to entertain almost anything.  I could place a call to the manufacturer and within days have pricing and a new SKU to order to solve my clients’ concerns.  We could customize wall plates to look like wall paper or any painted finish the customer could imagine.

There was a buzz over lighting control.  

Lighting control offered several very impressive benefits to those that could afford the costly installations:

Pathway Lighting

You decide to get up at 1AM, and press one button and certain lights throughout your home illuminate at a very dim light, just enough for you to walk through the hallways, and automatically turn back off in 30 minutes.

Emergency Lighting

You could press an emergency button and all the exterior lights would come on and begin to flash while providing light for a majority of the interior rooms, surely your home would be easy to find for emergency responders.

Reduced Energy Costs  

Dimming your lighting will save you $$ by using less energy.

Better for the environment

Using less energy is good for the environment.

Extends the life of the bulbs

The light bulbs themselves will last longer by reducing their daily consumption.

Preset scenes

Very easily configure certain keypad buttons, such as Night time, to have certain lights throughout the home, inside and out, come on for a set period of time, these are called scenes.

Ability to use schedules

By programming the system, lights can be set to come on and off at predetermined times.

Ability to trigger lighting to come on using inputs/relays etc

We have used this feature to control lights in a nature center, as you would walk by the exhibits the lights would come on and the exhibit would come to life.

Landscape Lighting functioning from an Astronomical clock

It’s nice to have your lights come on based upon when the sun sets and rises without adjusting a timer or using a photocell.

Daylight harvesting

Being able to use the light from outside to automatically adjust the lighting inside, is called harvesting. Sensors would be installed in rooms in which there is natural light to feed information into the lighting control system telling it to dim the lights when there is an abundant amount of natural light.

Increased comfort

When the systems are programmed properly, most owners are very satisfied with the ease of use and the benefits it contributes to easy living in their home or business.

Vacation Mode

One simple button to press when you leave for vacation. The lighting control system can actually remember which buttons and routines run throughout the week. Switching the system to vacation mode actually has the system turn lighting on at random times although somewhat on the regular schedule. In most conventional systems, the “timer” turns the lights on at 6PM every night. With the Vacation mode, one night might be 5:50PM, one night might be 6:20 PM, it gives the house a lived in feel while you are on vacation.

“My favorite” Wall Acne reduced

Yes homes can have wall acne. Picture walking into a friend’s home and stepping into their main living area and having never been in the new home, you go to turn on the lights, and realize there are 6 switches in a bank at the entry to the room, which light do you turn on?  Decorators and Interior Designers also love having one decorative switch/keypad instead of 6 switches side by side.

There are other benefits to lighting control, but I covered the more popular ones above.

LiteTouch began to face more competition in the small slice of the pie that they already had

Unfortunately, the market began to change, especially with the onslaught of different options. Vantage, Crestron, Control4 and Lutron started to increase their offerings as well as other companies.  LiteTouch was sold to Savant in early 2012,  originally to fill a void for Savant in their much needed lighting control division, however Savant soon realized that they had inherited a large base of systems that needed ongoing support/customer service as well as a tremendous number of SKUs to support from the past 30 + years of installations.  Savant soon thereafter discontinued a large number of options and within three years of purchasing LiteTouch (2015) decided to abandon the entire program leaving thousands of commercial and residential clients without a manufacturer to support them.  Many dealers and customers began to scramble to try and find parts to support their aging systems.

LiteTouch acquired by Savant:

http://www.cepro.com/article/savant_acquires_LiteTouch_home_automation_meets_lighting_control/

Savant Kills LiteTouch:

http://www.cepro.com/article/savant_kills_LiteTouch_works_with_lutron_on_fix_hardwired_lighting_control

So you have a LiteTouch system and you are having some issues?

Having serviced various types of lighting control systems, there are several consumable parts that I would consider having in stock.

First and probably the easiest part to replace is the fuse.  

How to Replace the LiteTouch Fuse

The lighting control modules utilize one fuse for each switch leg in the enclosure. If you find one of your switches no longer working a fixture, good chance it could be the fuse.

First, you would want to manually flip the dip switch for the switch leg that corresponds to where the feed is wired to the module. By manually switching this little switch (you will need a very tiny flathead screwdriver).  Once you flip the switch, if the light comes on and stays on, then the fuse and module would be ok, but most likely it’s the programming. (Another day on that topic).

If the Light does not come on, it’s either the module or the fuse, so it’s best to have some spare fuses around to see if it’s an easy fix. Replacing the fuse requires a small flat head screwdriver and you would insert and twist until the fuse holder pops out slightly and then you can remove with your hand, swap the fuse and replace the fuse, push back in and turn again with the screwdriver slightly until it locks in place.  ALWAYS make sure the current to that switch leg is off, meaning no power is being fed to that circuit.

See Diagram #1 below for Fuse Location

The 8 channel Relay Module uses a 12 Amp fuse (Old Part # 3613-012)

The 8 channel Dimmer Module uses a 15 Amp fuse (Old Part # 3613-020)

Once you have the new fuse inserted, test by flipping the corresponding dip switch, see diagram #2 below.

Example of a LiteTouch Fuse

Example of a LiteTouch Fuse

Diagram 1 Showing LiteTouch Fuse Location

Diagram 1 – Fuse Location

LiteTouch Dip Switches Diagram

LiteTouch Dip Switches Diagram

So, the simplest repair you can do yourself, is checking to see if it’s the Fuse or the module or programming.  To recap.

  1. If the Dip Switch works and turns the light on and off manually, then the fuse is ok, module is ok, but you most likely will have an issue with the actual keypad or in programming.  (another discussion)
  2. If the Dip Switch doesn’t work, than the problem is either with the fuse or the module, and changing the fuse will help test this quickly. If you don’t have time to get another fuse, you can always take a fuse from another circuit; again, remember to kill the power to these circuits at the breaker before inserting and removing fuses.  If you find the fuse works, than the module is good and you just repaired your LiteTouch system, congratulations! (Don’t forget to make sure you replace the other circuit with a new fuse as well)
  3. If the Fuse didn’t fix the issue, then unfortunately you either had another bad fuse (I always double check), or it’s the module.  Modules are no longer being repaired so you would have to find one on the black market, EBAY, there are some usually there for sale.  If you can’t find the exact model, you may be able to exchange a 4 channel dimmer module that went bad for an 8 channel dimmer, they occupy the same space and you would only use 4 of the dimmer modules’ connections.  One note, if the other switches are still functioning on the module but you only have one bad switch, sometimes, you can move that switch leg to an open location in another module. This would require an electrician as its line voltage you are now playing with, again topic for another day.  In all of my years of installing and specifying, we usually have some spare locations on modules for just in case, when a client decides to add more switches to the control system, they have capacity available, this also works for bad modules, so hoping you may have some spare locations.

How to Fix a Keypad Button that Sticks or Isn’t Working

LiteTouch Keypad

LiteTouch Keypad

With regard to troubleshooting other components, the second most common service request we find is the actual keypad button is sticking or no longer works, but the light does work when you manually flip the dip switch in the enclosure.

So how do you repair the keypad. The actual keypad comes off the wall, the face plate is magnetic, just need something small to pry it off the magnet and the faceplate should come right off.

Once you remove the faceplate, you have 2 small Philips screws to remove, be careful, do not lift anything off, you will need to flip the black cover plate that is holding the engraved buttons, so they don’t all fall out.

On the older keypads, you will probably see a little piece of cellophane laying inside or loose that holds a small thin piece of metal with a little dimple in it. This little dimple is what depresses to activate the button and the little piece of cellophane used to be the tape that held the button in place. The newer designs circs 2008-2010 replaced this older design.  A small piece of scotch tape can usually do the trick, but it will take time to cut the tape and get the small piece of metal back in place.  Be happy to help someone over the phone if they need some direction on this, since I don’t have a picture readily available.

As you can see, the keypads and the fuses are repairable, however the modules, the main controller (CCU) and the required programming and wiring in place will not be so easy and you really should involve a trained individual to assist with these repairs, even if they are possible, which brings me to my next question:

Should I even waste my time repairing this system?

The short answer is, if it’s a fuse or a keypad, it’s a simple fix (simple in layman terms). If it’s a module, a little bit more complicated but still doable. If it’s the programming or CCU, then you will need to involve a professional to assist.  You will be spending a considerable amount of money since the parts are no longer being made and the programmers and CCUs are in limited supply online.

If you are staying put, then the short answer is how much do you want to invest in repairing the system and for some, that may be the only answer. If you are selling the home, or upgrading the home, then the correct path would be to upgrade the entire system. We have had a lot of success using Lutron and they have been around the longest and I am confident that they will be around for a lot longer, which is now something you need to consider.  Vantage, Control 4 and some others are fairly new players in the lighting control industry and I would be hesitant to go through the same situation 2 times.

How much will it cost to replace the entire system?

Here is a link to an article below by Julie Jacobson from CEPro

http://www.cepro.com/article/options_replacing_savants_LiteTouch_system_how_much_will_it_cost

I haven’t seen any systems in homes of 2500 sq feet and I think the cost to do the upgrades could be more than double what she proposed.  Upgrading a LiteTouch System will also require you to be down for several days depending upon how big the system is. So you have to factor not having any light in the home and possibly temp lighting for the contractor to work with.  Once you upgrade, you’ll be happy to know there’s a cool APP for almost any system you upgrade to and the flexibility and control of the lighting has been improved as well.

Final Thoughts on LiteTouch Repair Services & Replacement Options

Some systems you just can’t repair. Many of the older series modules have non-replaceable fuses, which means you would have to disassemble the module to replace the fuse, doable, but not for the novice.  Most of the newer systems, say 2000 and after, had field serviceable fuses.  Again keypads are repairable, and it really depends on what is installed and what you can steal from Peter to pay Paul.

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It is that time again—time to make New year’s resolutions and then feel horrible when you break them a week later. Let’s face it, forming any new habit is a daunting task, no matter how hard we try. This year, though, can be different. This year you can make a small change that can support a network of other changes that can vastly improve your life.

Home Automation as the Flashpoint of Real and Lasting Change

Real and lasting change always starts with smart foundational changes. When you get the foundation right, the potential for change is limitless. Home security and automation technologies provides that foundation and can provide support in nearly every other area of your life. That means you can finally make those New Year’s resolutions and be confident you can keep them.

Common Resolutions and How Home Automation Technologies Can Help

Most resolutions have their root in several common areas, such as finance, health, and productivity. The problem most people encounter is that change takes a lot longer than anticipated, and difficult to sustain without helpful tools already in place. Home security and automation offer a unique blend of capabilities that can support the formation of new habits and lasting change. Here are a few examples.

Increased Savings—Everyone wants to increase their savings and improve their financial outlook. Home automation technologies help your home run at optimum efficiency, resulting in cost reductions in heating, cooling, and electricity. Those savings add up and are all achieved before any lifestyle changes take place.

Better Organization—Organizing our life is always a plus. Home automation can help increase your organization by helping you manage all of the various pieces of your life such as package arrivals, knowing the kid’s whereabouts, energy management, and security.

Improved Productivity—Increasing productivity always leads to other befits such as increased leisure time or improved earnings. Home automation can help you achieve more in the day by managing a ton of time robbing tasks as well as a tool to support other aspects of your life that will help improve productivity, such as lights and entertainment going on or off at certain times.

Better Health—How can home automation support better health? With all that organization in place, you have extra time to develop a healthy eating plan and increasing the time you spend in health activities.

HS Tech Group designs and integrates custom systems for homes and businesses that make life better.

Increasing home safety seems to be on everyone’s long-term to-do list but something we never quite get around to. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Improving your safety does not have to be complicated, labor intensive, or expensive. That is great news, especially if you want a realistic goal for the new year that will add a huge benefit to the whole family. So we want to encourage you with eight fast and easy ways to add security.

Change your Social Media Practices

You have heard it before, but chances are you are like most Americans and still post messages, pictures, and videos that compromise your safety unknowingly. This year, before you post ask yourself how much information does it provide and can that be used to jeopardize your safety.

Do a General Inspection of Your Home

If you have not given your home a thorough once-over in a while, a home inspection can do a lot of good and improve your safety. Go to the home and look for repairs that need to be made and test the condition of things like your plumbing or heating and cooling system.

Get Ready for Disaster

Thinking about the possibility of disasters like earthquakes, severe storms, fires, flooding or other disasters is not comforting but being prepared for them is. If you have not already, make this year the year, you make a disaster preparedness kit. Include food, water, clothing, medication and safety supplies enough for at least three days for each person in the family. You can check out the Red Cross or CDC websites for suggested supply lists.

Install Home Automation

Home automation is for a lot more than convenience. It can add a tremendous amount of security, too. With home automation, you can do things like look like your home even while away on vacation

Install Home Security Cameras

Being able to see your home remotely is beneficial no matter where you are. If you are inside, you can spot trouble outside, and if you are away from home, you can detect trouble and take action immediately. Security cameras are also a proven deterrence against crime.

Switch to Smart Locks

The front door is a burglar’s primary point of entry so fortifying it with smart locks makes a lot of sense. Smart locks allow users to have unique codes and get alerts when the codes are used, so you know who gets home and when. Also, if you forget to lock the door when you left for the day, you do not have to drive all the way back home. Just lock the door remotely and rest easy.

Get a Smart Smoke Detector

It is so simple you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Smart smoke detectors never leave you without protection because they automatically test battery levels.

Increase Outdoor Safety Features

Make your home less attractive to burglars, vandals or other criminals by adding outdoor lighting, fencing, and security cameras. Trim back bushes, hedges, and trees to increase visibility and reduce the possibility of someone using it for cover.

With HS Tech Group, home security and home automation technologies have finally evolved. If you have questions about HS Tech Group can help you improve your home security this year, please give us a call.