Hands On: Crestron Pyng Shines Spotlight on Future of Home Automation
The Crestron Pyng system supports HVAC, security, whole-house audio, shades, lighting and other subsystems. In addition to its support of iOS, dealers can use other interface devices that incorporate smart graphics for more intensive user needs.
Over the years I’ve watched the home automation market from mostly afar, focusing more on passions such as audio and video. But the introduction of Crestron’s Pyng system has helped pique my interest in the home control category, and when the Rockleigh, N.J., manufacturer offered a system review I couldn’t resist an opportunity to dig in to the technology.
Starting with a preview of the product line last summer at Crestron’s headquarters, I drove home from New Jersey thinking to myself that Pyng could be a revolutionary step forward for a category that, despite attempts at mainstream growth, has to this point remained a relatively niche market. After seeing that preview and experiencing the system in my home, I’m convinced that my early impressions of Pyng were accurate.
Features and Setup
Pyng emerged last year as an app-based control system (programmable from mobile devices such as an iPad) with a cost-friendly smart hub as the main hardware component. In my opinion what sets Pyng apart from other app-based automation systems is that it leverages Crestron’s vast line of infiNET EX devices. This means dealers don’t have to learn new products and carry specific items to fit specific installations. As most Crestron dealers already know, infiNET EX offers devices to outfit connected homes with whole-house audio, security, HVAC, lighting and shades.
As noted, the central component of the Pyng system is the hub enabling setup and control of Pyng is Crestron’s iOS app, which is designed for iPhones and iPads.
Saving me the education of training for an entire product line, Crestron enlisted Massachusetts-based residential and commercial electronics firm Riordan Brothers Integration to install the system. Installing five zones of lighting, a zone of shade control (two windows), and HVAC (one thermostat), it took a two-man crew roughly a half a day to physically install the subsystem hardware as well as the Pyng hub.
Completing my setup, company principal Tim Riordan installed the Pyng app on two iPad Minis, an iPad2 and my iPhone 6. Using the iPad2 for the programming, Riordan admittedly did not have a lot of experience with the Pyng software but he zipped through the configuration in 75 to 80 minutes. Setup included creating lighting presets for the four-key hard buttons on the lighting keypads, a couple of onetouch lighting scenes, heating schedules for day/night operation, and scenes for the shades.
The Pyng app is simple to navigate, easy to read and, once it syncs, responds quickly to commands. Icons on the bottom of the screen indicate the various subsystems and zone pages for the systems are clearly defined during setup. In my case zones were named for my children “Carina” and “Nicholas,” as well as “Kitchen,” “Master Bedroom” and “Media Room.”
Before delving into the day-to-day interactions, I want to point out that it takes a little time getting used to system syncing. The system tracks home usages such as the manual adjustments of lighting, heat, etc., and accounts for this when a homeowner picks up his iOS device to use the app. Anyone who has picked up a universal remote and not been able to turn on their A/V system that was operated manually for a period of time should understand this.
That minor caveat for end users being said, here’s how easy and intuitive the system is to use. One night after tucking my 10-year-old daughter to bed I was leaving her room and about to turn off the lights. Before I walked out of the room, she said, “don’t worry about the lights, I’ll get them.” Then she grabbed her iPad and turned off the lights without me even showing her the app (she had actually discovered it on her iPad and started navigating it on her own), never mind explaining its functions.
Another aspect I think homeowners will appreciate is the ease with which components can be added into the system. Between the replacement of my old lighting hardware with the infinNET EX devices and the management capabilities afforded by the app, I was able to install LED light bulbs into the five zones of Pyng lighting. My electric consumption as reported by my utility company’s monthly usage summary dropped by 19 percent.
My gas utility doesn’t provide the same monthly reports and I can’t quantitatively say my gas bill has lowered, but my heating system seems to be running more efficiently. Summer may give me a better idea, but I can note that my gas bill is running about the same cost as 2014, even though Boston’s 2015 winter was much harsher and like most utilities my local provider hiked its winter rates. One more thing, despite being app-based the Pyng system’s performance isn’t necessarily affected by network outages. In such circumstances, I was still able to manually control my lights, and there are provisions to do so for the shades too.
Living with Pyng has helped me to “see the light” and understand others’ enthusiasm for home automation. In my 15 years with CE Pro I’ve seen a lot of control system hype that really up until recently I had dismissed. Now, I can’t wait for system updates that will allow me to integrate my Autonomic whole-house system and Kwikset door lock. I am also excited to integrate future Crestron products into my home.
I believe Pyng represents the future of automation and I hope that eventually the public’s level of excitement matches mine, because it could be a boon to the entire custom install market.
CE Pro Verdict
Pros: App-based programming eliminates cost and headaches of writing code; easy-to-navigate app allows for consumers of all experience to operate the system; Pyng features a central hub and utilizes company’s existing infiNET EX line of products.
Cons: Dealers that rely on labor revenues from programming will have to find ways to make up those revenues; Pyng is flexible, but Crestron’s traditional solutions will be necessary for large installations and projects that call for unique features; not really a con, but coming purely from a homeowner perspective, system updates and additional product support could be faster.
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Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at email@example.com
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