Making a Scene

June 19, 2013

When I first got my Control4 system, the guys kept asking me what kind of “scenes” I wanted. Blank stare. I had no idea what they were talking about. Five years later, scenes are my best friend. A “scene” in Control4-world is a combination of controlled events that are activated at the touch of a button, or if you choose to automate them you can set them to trigger based on a time of day or some other event, like a garage door opening. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Away (Day)” – This is a button on my keypad by the back door that I use constantly. Especially because it usually takes me about 3 tries to get out of the house with everything I need for a busy day of work, yoga, kid activities and errands. When I push this button, every light in the house turns off. Every single one. It’s awesome. Even better, the temperature resets to 78 in the summer or 65 in the winter so I’m not burning a bunch of energy heating or cooling our house when no-one is there. The security system arms. And here’s one last thing that’s kind of cool. We have about a gazillion office computers, printers, etc. plugged into a power strip. They just sit there sucking power all day long while we’re away. Not any more! Now that power strip turns off so all of those devices are actually powered down for a good 8 hours. Same thing with the coffee pot and my flatiron…things that we notoriously left on for hours at a time before we got “smart.” It might not be a huge energy savings but it makes me feel better!

We have an Away (Night)” setting too which leaves a few lights on inside and they’re actually programmed to mimic our actual behavior so it looks like someone is in the house – people around here call it “mockupancy.” The exterior lights are timed to go on automatically based on the sunset time so we don’t have to include that in this scene. Our “Away (Night)” setting doesn’t change the temperature dramatically since we’re likely to be gone for a shorter period of time in the evenings, but it does set the security system.

“Goodnight” – I think this is pretty much our favorite scene. We have three floors in our home so making the rounds to flip off all the lights is a little pre-bedtime exercise I had grown to despise. Now I just pick up my iPhone and use the app to put the house to bed. All the lights go off with a few exceptions. We leave the kids’ bathroom light on at about 15% so they can find their way in the middle of the night, the front exterior lights stay on until midnight, and our bedside table lamps stay on for 1 hour from the time we set the trigger. Hey, sometimes we need a little reminder that it’s time to stop reading or watching TV and get our beauty sleep! We also have motion sensors in the kids’ rooms, the main hallway and the front entrance. Once we hit goodnight, we’ll get alerts on our phones if anyone is moving around – quite handy considering that our three-year-old is a little midnight mischief-maker. The temperature drops to the mid-60’s so we don’t roast, the security system arms and it’s off to dreamland.Control4 Scene Setting

“Exercise” – This one is fun. We have a little home gym. Okay, it’s a treadmill and a bunch of weights but it works. My husband likes to work out to music so we have his set to turn the lights on bright, fire up his “Gym Rat” playlist from his iPhone through the Music Bridge (and, yes, I set the max volume so it doesn’t get too loud upstairs. I don’t care what he says, it’s just not cool to lift weights to really loud Neil Diamond.), and turn on a floor fan so he doesn’t work up too much of a sweat. I, on the other hand, prefer a “cardio cinema” experience so my “Exercise” button dims the lights and turns on the TV so I can decide what movie to watch while I’m doing my miles, and since I’m usually a little cold I don’t have the fan start automatically. The cool thing is that we have it set so that once we’re done, the treadmill “locks up.” We have two little kids and have heard a few too many horror stories of how they can injure themselves playing on a treadmill so we make sure that without our special button presses, they can’t turn it on at all.

By now you’ve probably got a million cool ideas for your own scenes swirling in your mind, right? So how do you actually “make” them? The first option is to have your dealer create them for you, either when you set your system up (so start thinking now!) or once you’ve lived with it for a while and have a better idea how you want to personalize your Control4 world. I am busy and not super technical so it’s easier for me to paint a picture for my dealer and then he can just remote into my system and magically (but for a small fee), my dream becomes reality. If you’re more of a do-it-yourselfer, you can use Composer Home Edition to customize simple lighting and audio media scenes.

Be forewarned, creating scenes can be a little addictive. I’ve got more ideas for scenes than I know what to do with, like a “MommyTime” button that automatically locks the bedroom and bathroom doors and queues the speakers above so I can enjoy a nice hot bath with some great music, and no interruptions! If only I could figure how to automate a pedicure into that one, I’d be set!