Most contractors enjoy relative clarity with regard to their business name and the work they provide. After all, it is pretty easy to figure out what you’ll be getting when you call DJ’s Drywall, Perry’s Plumbing or Fiona’s Framing. But who are Ira’s Integrators?
A few years ago, electronic systems contractors adopted the term ‘integrator’ as an industry classification. Although the professionals working in this industry appreciate the comprehensiveness of the term ‘integrator’, consumers and industry partners are still coming to understand the breadth of services provided by these electronic systems professionals.
So, what the heck is an integrator and when would you need to hire one?
Integrators provide the design, engineering and installation of low voltage electronics. Integrators are the experts responsible for all of the wiring infrastructure and equipment to support the comfort, convenience and entertainment elements of the home.
Comfort: lighting systems, surveillance, motorized window shading, HVAC management
Convenience: telephone, cable, satellite, internet, secure wireless networking, intercom, programmable remotes
Entertainment: home theater, media rooms, video displays, distributed audio, surround sound, outdoor music…
Most importantly integrators marry these individual disciplines together through thoughtful engineering and control devices which enable the homeowner to access and operate all of these home enhancing technologies with ease and reliablility.
In a non-integrated home, you might have an electrician installing computer and phone wires, a security contractor installing cameras and in-wall speakers and an HVAC contractor putting in programmable thermostats. Great! No, not really.
- Who will design and install the home computer network, ensuring the system is properly sized and wired to interface with the security system, music controls and thermostats?
- Who will make sure that the thermostats can communicate with the security system when you leave so that heat gets turned down?
- Who has calculated the gains and losses on your television wiring and sized the proper amplifier and downstream hubs to ensure optimized TV picture, free of snow, lines and pixilation?
- Who will provide the specifications to your cabinet make to be sure that all of your components will fit, have easy access and remain properly ventilated?
- Did any one mention the important benefit on energy management by using lighting control systems and motorized window treatments that can harvest natural sunlight?
- Who makes sure all of these devices are lined up properly on the wall, intuitive to use and properly coordinated?
- Who will make sure you have enough wire, infrastructure and product mix to accomodate future electronics needs?
- Who of these contractors has formal training and certifications in designing, engineering and implementing multi-discipline systems?
These are the roles of the integrator. Who to call? Ask your builder, designer or architect who they have come to trust on their projects.