Automation is rapidly taking over homes and businesses across the globe. In fact, according to the Digital Market Outlook, the number of smart homes worldwide is expected to rise to 478 million in 2025 – nearly double the number in 2021. And, as demand for home automation grows, companies continue to innovate, creating incredible systems with long lists of abilities and features.

There are many automation brands on the market, and dozens are considered good options to choose from. However, if you’re serious about building a future-proof state-of-the-art system, Crestron and Control4 should be at the top of your list.

Both systems can carry out a wide range of smart-home functions, including lighting controls, high-quality audio and video streaming, security integration and even bespoke integrations with third-party devices. But, a few differences set them apart and will help while deciding between the two.

Crestron

Crestron is an American electronics company that specialises in automation and audio/visual systems. They’re a staple in the corporate and education industries, offering enterprise, government and hospitality solutions to some of the largest corporations in the world, including Microsoft and Zoom. But, in recent years, they’ve innovated in the residential space, too. Their products are often considered the gold standard for automation, offering unrivalled quality and features.

Control4

Control4 is undoubtedly one of the largest brands in residential control systems. These smart-home specialists have built an array of electronic devices that can be incorporated into an automated home, from fully-featured entertainment systems to whole-house controls. While typically less expensive than Crestron, Control4 systems are reliable, high-quality, and offer an incredible automation experience alongside some clear benefits.

The differences between Crestron and Control4

Crestron and Control4 both have long lists of abilities and features to explore before making your final decision. And, while they offer a lot of similarities, some clear differences set them apart.

Interface & Ease of use.

Crestron and Control4 each have their own unique interface designed to be intuitive and straightforward to use.

Control4 uses a reasonably standard interface built for simplicity. Whether you’re using a  touchscreen, tablet, or mobile app, it’ll look and feel more or less the same. This means little or no training is required to navigate the menus and controls for most people. However, the downside of this pre-built and universal interface is a lack of customizability. You can’t change layouts, icons or customise the home page with buttons, nor can you carry out tasks that haven’t been pre-built or designed.

Unlike Control4, Crestron is fully customisable, and the final product heavily depends on integration and installation specialists. Crestron has two main operating systems: Crestron Custom and Crestron Home. Custom is a bespoke system where the interface is built from scratch for each project by installers. It has very few restrictions, and thanks to its customizability, it’s easily scalable to different sized homes or offices. On the other hand, Crestron Home is a relatively new operating system with an Apple look and feel. It still offers some levels of customisation, but it’s designed around small to mid-sized homes with reasonably standard requirements.

Lighting

One of the most-requested intelligent home features is smart lighting. In a recent study by Cinch, smart lighting was ranked the fourth most sought-after home upgrade, requested by nearly 30% of participants.

Both Crestron and Control4 offer robust and innovative lighting solutions. However, third-party systems like Lutron’s HomeWorks or Rako are some of the industry’s best options.

Luckily, whichever system you choose will integrate flawlessly with Control4 and Crestron systems, allowing complete control from touchscreens and mobile devices. Control of light goes beyond lamps, too, with both systems providing functionality with blinds, shades, and curtains.

Security

Both systems integrate with security systems and operate flawlessly. They connect to cameras that produce real-time feeds, control door and gate access, and monitor perimeter detectors and alarms. Both brands also have tabletop, in-wall touch screens and mobile apps that function as door entry systems, allowing homeowners to control and interact with people at their front door from anywhere.

However, Control4 might be a slightly better choice for home security. Security systems are built into their operating system from the get-go, so accessing these features is quick and easy. And, Control4 is compatible with a wide variety of third-party systems, something we’ll talk more about later.

Crestron is a little more restricted here. While it can carry out nearly all of the same functions, Crestron relies on using its own security products. If you do not have Crestron hardware already or have many third-party products, it may require a considerable investment of time and money to make them compatible. 

HVAC systems

As more homes install heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units, automation systems incorporate them into their software. Both Control4 and Crestron systems can communicate with common HVAC brands, provide readings of or set room temperatures, and come with automatic switching between heating and cooling.

However, Crestron’s near-limitless configuration options are the preferred choice for controlling HVAC units. While Control4 is capable of most basic functions, its reconfigurable nature means that adding controls for something like water temperatures, for example, is not possible.

Hardware

The software is only 50% of the product when it comes to smart homes. Without top-of-the-line hardware, you lose all functionality of your system. With considerable investments in the automation industry over recent years, there’s now an abundance of reliable and valuable products available, with Crestron and Control4 building their own equipment.

Control4’s recent integration of SnapAV has provided them with an incredible range of hardware and boosted their manufacturing and research capabilities. They currently have a wide range of quality hardware available, including security doorbells, smart light controllers, and even sound systems approved by Dolby.

However, Crestron’s 50 years of experience, dedicated manufacturing teams, and rigorous testing processes mean that their products are tried, tested and true to their word. Product lines are continuously updated, and they remain the industry leader in innovation.

Ultimately, both brands have a robust line of hardware that performs outstandingly. The majority of hardware failures occur due to improper installation, a lack of servicing, and in some cases, lifecycle expiration. That’s why we’d recommend finding trained installers, like us, before committing to a purchase.

Integration with third parties

Unless you’re building an entire system from scratch with Control4 or Crestron products, this is probably one of the most important comparisons.

Control4 can integrate with thousands of products and systems, including tech from Google, Amazon, Sonos, and Lutron. These products are easy to set up and link with the Control4 system, and they’re purpose-built menus to control each device. 

On the other hand, Crestron is a little more complicated when it comes to third-party hardware. It’s not incompatible, but more about the level of work required to integrate devices into the Crestron network. Crestron’s adaptability allows programmers to add nearly any device to some capacity, but each will need individual coding to make it work seamlessly with the software.

If a completely tailored system is required for a large home, Crestron offers the flexibility to add an abundance of hardware from a multitude of companies. However, if you’re using mainstream devices from major manufacturers in a small to mid-sized property, Control4 offers a more straightforward set-up experience.

Finding the right system for you

Identifying the right system for your home comes down to the size and complexity of the installation. Both Crestron and Control4 offer top-of-the-line hardware, user-friendly interfaces, and a range of lighting and security features.

Crestron offers more flexibility in terms of integration for large homes using a significant number of devices. If you’re looking for a completely tailored system to business needs, Crestron will also provide the most versatility. However, if you want something simpler and easier to set up that integrates seamlessly with everyday devices like Google Home or Sonos speakers, then Control4 may be preferable.

Our team of experts are ready and waiting to partner with you to find the right solution for your smart home experience.

Speak to a member of our team today.

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