Build the Perfect Backyard with Outdoor Home Automation

outdoor home automation

Smart home automation doesn’t stop within the four walls of your home. While it’s important to have things like smart locks, security systems, and google assistants keeping our home safe and efficient, your outdoor space can benefit from home automation as well. Some of the best features of home automation can be found outdoors, so you can become the ultimate outdoor entertainer.

If you’re ready to spruce up your backyard for summer, and want all the best outdoor automation tools by your side, we have you covered.



Automated and Solar Powered Lights


Whether it’s day or night, it’s easy to entertain your guests with the right outdoor lighting. Leaving on the porch lights is a thing of the past now, thanks to outdoor smart lighting that can be installed throughout your backyard. 

Smart lights have all the same capabilities as your smart indoor lighting system, but the durability needed to stay outside for long periods of time. The key difference here is that you can install spotlights, or even pool lighting, to illuminate your backyard. Plus, outdoor lighting gives you the ability to change the color scheme of your lights, so you can highlight exciting outdoor features. The best part of outdoor lighting is that you can create the atmosphere you want, at the touch of a button.

You can integrate the same smart light bulbs that you use inside, within your outdoor lighting scheme, so you’ll have the same accessibility and control. You’ll never have to go inside once the sun goes down. 



Outdoor Speakers


Outdoor lighting is a must-have for entertaining, or even spending extra time at home, but what is any backyard or patio without outdoor speakers?

While it’s easy enough to ask Alexa to play your favorite music inside the kitchen, it might be a little more difficult once you head outside. However, that doesn’t have to be an issue for you, with the right outdoor speakers.

There are a variety of different outdoor speakers that are designed to blast music, but are also durable enough to withstand wind and rain, without damage. Certain speakers are even designed to blend in with your outdoor features, like rocks or shrubbery. You’ll never have to worry about your speakers sticking out, if you want everything to look natural around your patio. Just as one of our expert technicians about what brands, and designs, are best suited for your needs.



Outdoor Smart Shades and Awnings


Do you have a beautiful screened-in porch you’d like to enjoy, but don’t always love the additional sunlight? While it’s great enjoying the outdoors, it’s difficult to hold conversations if you feel like you’re blinded by the sun.

One of the best home automation devices for your outdoor space is outdoor shades. They’re able to protect your porch, deck, or patio with ease, and you can access them all from your smartphone. What separates these from your indoor smart shades is that most outdoor shades have UV filters that will protect you and your space from sun damage. Some of these are even designed to withstand certain bugs from entering your home.

Most outdoor smart shades come in a variety of sizes and widths, so you can find shades that work the best for you and your space.



Other Smart Devices You Can Use Outdoors

If you’re busy outside and want to know when guests arrive while you’re out grilling, there are still some essential home automation features that will keep you in the loop while you’re outdoors. Installing a few additional smart automation features like smart outdoor security cameras, smart doorbells, and smart locks, are great ways to monitor your home, and know when guests arrive.




Want to continue customizing your home from the inside out? Learn more about our other home automation solutions, like The Top Four Benefits of Smart Thermostats, and What You Need to Know About Smart Speakers.



Best Places to Install Smart Speakers

install smart speakers

When it comes to your home technology, most people think about the clarity of their screens, wireless networks, and the accessibility of their devices. So for some, a smart home speaker is just another convenient, but a wonderful accessory to add to their home automation list. However, these devices are so much more than an accessory.

Smart speakers are essential for streaming music around your home, so you can entertain friends and family, and are the cooking assistant you often need in the kitchen. Digital assistants are incredible gadgets that come in handy, no matter the occasion. For more information check out What You Need to Know About Smart Speakers, before you buy the perfect model for your home.

But, a smart home speaker isn’t something you place randomly in your house. In order to fully use and connect to this smart home device, it’s important to find the right location for it. That’s why we’re here to advise you where to place your smart home speakers – and where you should avoid placing these helpful devices.



Why Does Smart Speaker Location Matter?


Smart speakers, otherwise known as smart home hubs and voice assistants, are designed to bring efficiency and entertainment together. Traditional smart home speakers are devices like Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Smart Home, and Apple’s Homepod. These wireless speakers are controlled through your wifi network, and can be accessed through voice commands, or on their respective Alexa app, Google Home app, or other software application, which can be found on your phone.

Now, because these smart devices are primarily accessed through voice command, placing them in the right location matters more than it would if it was an average at-home speaker. When you go to play music or say ‘Hey Google,’ it’s less than ideal if you’re trying to access your device and it can’t even hear you because of its location. There is no mute button on your speakers – only improper speaker location, which makes them less ‘intelligent’ in the long run.



Where to Install Your Smart Speakers


Once you pick the perfect smart speaker platform for your home, whether that’s through Amazon or Google, it’s time to install your smart speakers.

The ideal placement for a smart speaker in the center of a room. While that might not be ideal – or particularly stylish – hear us out first. The way smart speakers can hear your commands is through their microphones. If you place a speaker against a wall, or in a corner, where it’s out of sight and out of mind, chances are you’re not going to have the smartest home speaker, which means it won’t do what you asked the first or the fifth time.

Placing your speaker in the center of a room, table, or countertop, will give it the ability to hear your voice from the start. You’ll never experience delays, and your smart home device will answer, ask, and play anything you desire. However, dealing with chords can be a hassle, so make sure it’s placed somewhere that can conceal those obscurities with ease.

If you don’t love the idea of placing a smart home hub in the middle of a room, mounting it to your wall is another great option. This is perfect for the Amazon Echo dot, or Google Mini home, which are much smaller than traditional smart home speakers. It will still be able to pick up any requests you make, but it won’t be sitting out in the middle of a room.



Where to Avoid Placing Smart Speakers


Smart home speakers are supposed to be smart enough to assist you – whether it’s just playing your saved apple music, or keeping track of your kitchen timers, those little things make all the difference. So if you happen to place your speaker in the wrong location, it’s not going to be able to pick up your requests or play your music, which is very frustrating.

It’s best to keep your smart speaker away from other speakers, and windows, so it can pick up your voice when you need it to. While it’s ideal to connect your device to another multi-room speaker, like a Sonos or soundbar, your assistant won’t be able to hear your commands while you’re playing music right next to its microphones.

Also, if you place your speaker too close to a window, it can pick up external sounds and noises that might distract it from its primary goal. Be smart about your speaker location, so it doesn’t pick up the background noise. Additionally, if you have to place your speaker near a wall, be sure to keep it at least 8-12 inches away, so it can pick up more audio than it would have previously.




For more smart home tips and tricks, check out how to integrate smart plugs within your home, and learn how to automate everyday home appliances.



How to Mount a TV (Without Using Studs)

how to mount a tv

If you’ve bought a brand new TV for your living room or home theater, but can’t locate any studs behind the drywall, you’re not alone. While mounting a television creates an optimal viewing experience for the entire family, it’s never an easy process, especially if you don’t have studs located in the prime viewing location. Between drill bits, screws, and wiring, you have enough to worry about with your tv. By the end of your installation, all that matters is getting the best viewing angles, so you can enjoy your at-home media experience.

If you have to install your TV without studs, we have a few mounting alternatives that are going to simplify your experience, so you can start enjoying your TV sooner rather than later.



Alternative Ways to Wall Mount a TV


In most TV installs, you can use a stud finder to locate the studs hidden behind your drywall, and hang your TV accordingly. But what if it means your TV won’t be at eye level, or you’ll experience more installation hassles than usual? While studs simplify the installation process, they aren’t essential. If you’re looking for other ways to hang your TV, or your stud finder isn’t picking anything up, we have a few ideas that can help get your TV onto the drywall in no time.




Anchors are a great alternative to studs because they operate in a similar fashion. Specifically, toggle anchors are an ideal solution, because they have the same structural support and durability as a stud, so it can support the weight of your TV. However, toggles can’t always be paired with full-motion tv mounts, so make sure you find the correct TV mount before you begin the installation.

Because toggles anchors are hollow, they won’t add additional weight to your wall, which is ideal for larger screens. They are one of the safest alternative solutions when you have to mount your TV, and aren’t easy enough to buy online. Before you get started, be sure to measure the distance between the TV mounting brackets, so you can drill holes and attach your toggles in just the right spot.


Mounting Plates


Mounting plates are far less invasive than traditional mounting arms, or a ceiling mount, so you’ll be able to hang your flat panel TV in no time at all. When it’s time to install your TV, simply attach the mounting plates to the back of your TV mount, so it can be installed against the wall with ease. Mounting plates offer more surface area support than other attachments, so when you mount your TV, it offers the same amount of support as traditional wall studs. Now, you can invest in a wider flat-screen TV, without worrying about the safety of your TV or wall.



Learn about the SlydLock TV Mount


TV installation might be time-consuming, but part of the struggle rests in finding a TV mount that is perfect for your screen. If you want a diverse TV mount, that is capable of fitting a variety of screen sizes, it’s time to consider the SlydLock Fireplace Nook Mount. You can keep your gaming consoles, DVD players, and smart home accessories nearby, but never have to worry about additional chords or wall exposure when you install your TV.

The SlydLock Mount fits anywhere from 32”-75” TV screens, giving you the ability to upgrade your TV whenever you want. Plus, installation is a breeze, and our home automation experts would be happy to assist you.




Are you looking for additional smart home support, but don’t know what service options are available? Keep technology at your fingertips with our Remove Service Packages. Never experience technology or installation friction again, with Carolina Custom Sound, your home automation experts in the Piedmont Triad.



Illuminate Your Home with a Smart Lighting System

smart lighting system

If you’re someone who forgets to turn off the lights before you leave for work, and don’t love the high electric bill that ends up waiting for you by the end of the month, it’s time to rethink your home lighting system. Luckily, this problem has a pretty quick fix that gives you all the power over your home lighting system – and electric bills. The solution? A smart lighting system, that’s completely accessible from anywhere.

Now, we’ve talked about the importance of automated lighting and shades before, but there is a whole world of knowledge that applies to smart lighting systems you might not have heard about yet. With smart lighting, you can just touch a button and completely control your smart lighting system. So, if you’re ready to learn more about the world of smart lighting, let’s take a closer look at all the benefits it can bring to your home.



What is Smart Lighting?


Smart lighting is a smart home feature that gives you complete control, and flexibility, over your home lighting fixtures. Whether that means turning on your bedside lamp while you’re getting ready for bed, or setting your living room lights on a timer, smart lighting gives you complete control over any space with the right lighting technology.

To get started with your smart lighting system, simply purchase the proper smart light bulbs, that can be installed in your lamps or recessed lights. These can be found at a variety of retailers, or you can ask your local smart home automation expert for their recommendations. 

From there, these smart bulbs will sync up with one another, becoming one giant lighting ‘network’ you can access. All of these lights can then be controlled individually, or together, just through your wifi network. All you have to do is connect the proper smart home lighting hub into your router to gain access. Other devices that are connected to your wifi network, like a phone or tablet, can then access and control your lights, from anywhere in your home. Turning on the lights just got a whole lot easier.



Smart Lighting Connections


One of the best features of smart lighting is how well is this system can be integrated within your home. Home automation isn’t all about having the best smart home devices – sometimes it’s just maximizing the amazing devices you already have. For instance, with certain smart lighting systems, you can connect your lights to your existing dimmer switches and motion sensors, so they’ll turn on automatically for you.

Another great way to access your smart lighting? Your smart assistant. Many platforms like Phillip’s Hue system allow you to integrate your smart lighting with a Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Smart Home Kit. It’s easy to install your smart home lighting system – using voice control just takes the simplicity and convenience of smart lighting to the next level.



Long Term Investment


There are plenty of smart home automation solutions that are both practical, and efficient. For instance, smart security cameras and systems, door bells, and other practical smart home solutions can be a great long term investment for your lifestyle and budget. But maybe you’re wondering, where smart lighting falls on that scale?

Smart lighting is another great long term solution that can reduce your energy consumption, keeps your home running smoothly, and regulates the lighting atmosphere of your home. Many smart lighting systems have different colors, temperatures, and effects that can change the feel of a room. Your next at-home movie night will feel just like a real theater with the right smart lighting. Plus, you won’t ever forget to turn off the lights again, because you’ll be able to ask your smart home system to do the work for you or check the status of your lights while you’re away.

If you want to dip your toes into the world of smart lighting systems, talk to a local home automation expert about investing in a starter kit. You’ll be able to test the way smart home lighting works in your house and can start applying these smart devices to the rooms that need the most illumination. Take the kitchen on a test run, or see if these lights enhance your at home theater experience. Whatever you decide, you’ll start seeing and experiencing the convenience you’ve been waiting for.




If you need more assistance with your smart home solutions, check out how to Automate Your Home With Carolina Custom Sound. We love bringing home automation services to families throughout the Piedmont Triad – all it takes is finding the right home automation systems for your lifestyle.



The Best Home Theater Trends for 2020

home theater trends

When it comes to designing your home theater, it’s important to have all the proper technology and design ideas on deck. It’s going to be much easier to convince all of your friends to come over for a movie night if you have all the right technology waiting for them in your basement or media room.

If you want to bring your family and friends the ultimate home theater experience, we’ve rounded up the must-have home theater trends of 2020, that will bring your home entertainment center to the next level. You’ve never experienced at-home audio and video like this.



Explore Sound Bars


If you haven’t heard about the latest trend in sound, you’re really missing out on some highly innovative technology. Soundbars are high-quality audio technology, that can immerse you in a surround sound experience like never before. Unlike more traditional speakers, these can be connected to wifi, your HDMI devices such as blu ray DVD players and cable box, even your smart assistants. You could access your speaker using voice control, so you can turn up the volume while your eating popcorn. These high tech gadgets are a little different than traditional smart home speakers, but are just as effective.

The best part? There are plenty of companies who design soundbars exclusively for home theater rooms. For instance, Dolby Atmos has a few specific soundbars they make that cater to music, movies, or ultimate surround sound. You can incorporate your soundbar within your existing audio system, and together, you’ll have an incredible audio experience you’ve never heard before. For more installation ideas, check out our favorite Home Theater Installation Tips.



Premium TV Screen’s


One of the biggest technology game-changers that’s emerged in 2020 is 8k resolution. Most TV’s on the market are 4k – which is high quality, but nothing like this. 8k screens offer more density when it comes to their total pixel count, which means screen resolution, colors, and movement, are incredibly sharp. Your movie could practically come off the screen with these TV screens.

So far, it appears only select streaming services are looking into 8k resolution, so it’s not picked up speed quite yet. However, you can still use your 8k TV to translate 4k resolution movies and get even higher TV quality when you’re streaming. If you want to prep for the digital future, consider looking into 8k TVs now, so you stay up to date with the latest home technology.

Another fun way to view your home movies? Short throw projectors! These devices are capable of expanding your screen display up to 80” – which is far greater than your average TV screen. Depending on your viewing preferences, short-throw projectors are a great way you expand your screen and still achieve high-quality viewing.



Innovative Home Theater Design


Sometimes it’s not all about the audio, video, gaming consoles, or multiple screens. Simply being proactive about your home theater or media room design is going to impress your guests, and keep them engaged with the movie the entire time. A few ideas we recommend are:

  • Including a sports bar, or wet bar, in your basement multimedia room. This way your guests can still grab drinks and movie snacks without missing a moment of the movie!
  • Automated shades, so you can adjust the sun’s glare from the touch of a button.
  • Open sectional seating, so your home theater can become a gaming or media room when you’re not streaming movies – we have plenty of creative seating suggestions you can explore
  • Add fun decor or quirks that make your viewing experience more authentic! Take the time to make the space completely your own.

If you’re wondering where to begin, read How to Get Started with Home Theater Automation for technology and design ideas.




Love the idea of new smart home automation trends in your home theater, but aren’t sure what tech is within your budget? Read our completely free guide, Is Affordable Home Automation Really an Option, to learn exactly how affordable home automation can be.



How to Integrate Smart Plugs within Your Home

Smart plugs

Every smart home still has it’s regular, non-automated devices – after all not every lamp and home appliance can be automated to suit your needs. Or can they?

What if there was a way to connect your basic home necessities to your smart home, so you didn’t have to worry about operating them manually? Well, now there is, thanks to smart plugs!

Smart plugs are an affordable innovative smart home solution that can connect to your existing home devices. Now you can turn on small appliances through voice control, or set a timer to turn off your bedroom lamp, all thanks to these handy gadgets. You can make every device a little bit smarter thanks to smart plugs.



What are Smart Plugs?

Smart plugs are exactly what they sound like – they’re smart devices that plug into your existing wall outlets. You simply plug in the smart plug, and from there, attach a device of your choice, and set up the appliance to respond to your plug.

These are very unique smart home gadgets, because like other smart devices, they’re able to connect to wi-fi smart plugs just need a reliable internet connection to start working.

These plugs have the ability to connect to our devices and turn them on or off through voice command. Alternatively, you can remotely control your plugs through downloadable applications, and software that’s compatible with your smart home hubs.


Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant Compatibility

In order for a plug to work with your smart home, you have to find a model that works with your respective device. On the packaging, it should say if it’s an amazon smart plug, or google home smart plug – a variety of these plugs are compatible with different smart home hubs.

Once you’ve plugged in your smart plug, go to the respective smart plug application. You’ll probably have to create an account so you can access your smart plugs from anywhere. From there, you’ll be able to sync the plug to your application.

Next, to go your respective Alexa or Google application. Search for the previously downloaded smart plug application software, or the skill you want your smart home hub to operate. From there, the app will prompt you with how to finish connecting your plug, and set up will be complete!


Advantages of Smart Plugs

Smart plugs are great for a number of reasons. You can set schedules on your lights, so they know when to turn on and off. Or, you can turn on the coffee machine every morning using the automatic time feature – so you’ll have a fresh pot ready and waiting for you every day.

The main reason smart plugs are so great is that they can limit your monthly energy usage. We have so many devices plugged in and sucking up energy throughout the day, it’s difficult to keep up with energy monitoring, and avoid those high monthly bills.

Rather than install smart lighting or smart home devices in areas that need simple solutions, smart plugs are an easy, affordable way to begin your home automation journey. From there, you can begin to find what areas in your home require automation, and create a fully customized plan to suit your needs.



Want to explore even more affordable home automation ideas? Take a look at our free eBook, Is Affordable Home Automation Really an Option and 3 Budget-Friendly Home Automation Options.