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Smart home no longer a choice between ultra-expensive and cheap DIY (Post sponsored by URC)

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Great news: It’s more affordable than ever to automate your home, while taking all the guesswork and annoyance out of setting it up.

It wasn’t always this way. For most of its existence, home automation has been the domain of both the ultra-wealthy and the DIY enthusiast. The ultra-wealthy regularly have, for decades, paid five figures or more to have professionals program and install automation systems in their upscale homes. For those with that kind of disposable income, the professional custom integrator has and will continue to be like a personal technology concierge. But the cost of entry to access such life-changing services had been too high for the average person.

Meanwhile, many people joining the less expensive DIY class could use a professional’s assistance to get the most out of their cobbled-together systems. DIY home automation products have a spotty record at best. And emerging home automation services from service providers like Comcast and others lack the functionality or performance you’d like to see out of a true home automation system.

But now you can get a professionally installed “DIFM” (Do it For Me) home automation system for under $999. It’s an exciting trend in the home automation space: professionally installed systems from brands that have been working at automation for decades, all at more affordable prices with the most desired features. These aren’t just the latest trendy apps or something you’d pick up at Lowe’s. These are rock-solid systems from proven companies in the home automation and entertainment space.

Case in point: We spoke with URC, a company that practically invented the iconic universal remote control, and has since become a leading player in the pro-installed home automation market. They told us about their MRX-8 Compact Network System Controller, an unassuming little box with a whole lot of automation brainpower. It does what used to cost tens of thousands of dollars for… wait for it… just $599. And that comes with free, unlimited iOS and Android smartphone and tablet apps for you to conveniently control the resulting system.

“We’ve simply made a huge breakthrough in the cost of entry to home automation,” said Cat Toomey, director of marketing for URC. “Now you can get a professionally installed automation system with all the latest features and conveniences for an amazingly low price. This kind of thing is no longer the realm of kings and castles only. And URC is the Everyman of home automation.”

To be clear, the professional installer will charge above the product price for personalization programming, proper installation and other labor. Sienkiewicz estimates that even so, you can get into one of URC’s Total Control systems for under $999. And the system is expandable, so if you decide to add functions, devices or more rooms and spaces to the system down the road, you’re not stuck with a maxed-out DIY solution that has no upgrade path whatsoever. The MRX-8 has plenty of room to grow with your wants and needs.

And thanks to the MRX-8’s offsite programming feature, your URC pro doesn’t even need to come to your house to make most upgrades and changes; he or she can make them remotely. That means you don’t have to wait at home for a service call.

The MRX-8 can sit in any room or in a hidden central equipment rack. What can it do? How about delivering robust control of your entertainment, lights, security, door locks, temperature and more. The MRX-8 is the central traffic cop and the brains of the system. It stores and issues control commands for all your components throughout the house over your home network.

The best part is, you don’t need to lift a finger to set it up. A URC pro installer handles all of that. And when they’re done, simply use the handy app to control everything – your Sonos system, your lights, your shades, your thermostat, your TV, you name it. Want multiple zones of audio? The MRX-8 can control up to 32 of them.

And it’s futureproof, too.

“As your family expands or other lifestyle changes occur, there’s no need to replace this unit as there is with most other systems. This controller remains the heart of your home system,” says Toomey.

Another cool aspect is that the installer can set up “scenes” that correspond with your daily activities. For example, a “Watch TV” scene could dim the lights, adjust the climate control, lower the shades and, of course, turn on the TV and audio system. Or how about “Party Mode” to put on music in multiple rooms and adjust lights accordingly. Or a “Vacation” scene that shuts down all of your house’s systems and locks your doors with a single button push.

“You can control multiple devices all at once with a button press,” says Sienkiewicz. “You can adjust the thermostat, dim lights, drop shades and start Junior’s movie, even if you’re not at home. Mom and Dad will be thrilled to reduce the amount of time and thought it takes to leave the house with presets that lock all doors and shut off lights and music in every room. No need to check! It’s a simple button push.”

Simply put, a smart home has never been this achievable. You can find and choose your own local URC installer here. Just enter your zip code and send your request to the dealer and URC.

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