Which is better, Savant or Control4?

We get asked a lot. Here are the highlights.

The truth is that both systems are great Smart Home systems.  I once heard a dealer describe it like choosing between one of his two children.  That’s a pretty good analogy.

Savant and Control4 have different strengths that make them both attractive for different applications. Ideally, you would find a place to experience them both.  But since you’re here, I’ll try and give you my honest thoughts about both systems.

When we’re working with a Client to try and determine the best fit, there’s four things we look at: 3rd party Integration; Application; User Experience; and Budget. We’ll take a quick look at all four here.


3rd Party Integration

Both systems now integrate with the popular DIY products like Nest Thermostat, MyQ Garage Door opener, Amazon Alexa, etc.  In this area, Savant is improving, but Control4 has the upper hand.  For other products like your Home Audio, your TVs, your Lighting Control, etc, both Savant and Control4 integrate well.

Here’s a little history for you. A few years ago both companies released major updates.  Savant’s update was user experience driven.  They released a cleaner, sexier app, with a cool new user interface. Control4 focused on improving the ‘backend’ (the programming behind the scenes that’s doing all the work) so that Control4 was set up better than anyone else for 3rd party integration.

Needless to say, Control4 has been the better system for 3rd party integration with popular DIY products in the last two years, but Savant is on its way.


Application

What’s the application? I know that sounds obvious, but the answer is significant.

  • Builders – Are you a Production Home Builder?  Right now we favor Control4.  A lot of our production builders already offer devices like Nest Thermostat, or MyQ Garage Door Openers.  With Control4, you don’t have to add or replace anything.  For $500 you can purchase a Control4 system that will easily integrate with all those smart devices you’re already offering in the home.
  • Retro Fits & Wireless Installs – Do you already live in a home, and the home wasn’t prewired? Control4 is a great solution for wireless installs.  We can do an entire home wirelessly with Control4 and Savant, and it will feel like the home was prewired and designed from the ground up.
  • Home Audio & Video – If your major focus with your Smart Home is your Home Audio and Video, then I favor Savant.  I’ve always preferred the user experience wth Savant for these features.  With their latest App release, they use a ‘heads up display’ similar to Apple’s remote for the Apple TV.  It makes it very easy to use your phone to control the TV and media.
  • Home Security, Lighting & Climate – If your hot button is Security, Lighting & Climate Control it’s a wash. Control4 integrates with door locks, and Savant doesn’t – at least not easily.  Otherwise it’s sixes. Both have compatible Video Doorbells, Cameras, Security Systems, and hoards of compatible lighting control and blind solutions.
  • Business – Are you looking to outfit a conference room, a restaurant, or maybe a Gym? I’d probably favor Savant. Again I favor it’s performance with Audio and Video, so it seems like the better fit in these applications.

User Experience

The user experience may be the most important part of the whole deal, and this is where the answer is personal.  Here’s my opinion on both.

  • Control4 – Control4 is easy to use, initially. The app uses icons in a way that holds your hand through the process.  Because Control4 is so simple to use, we often recommend it for clients who are scared of technology.  However, I think Control4’s app is a little tedious.  After a client becomes familiar with the control, the way you have to do things gets too repetitive. You have to drill down into everything, and then back out to the home page to change gears.  I’ve always wished it was more fluid.
  • Savant – Savant’s app is sexier.  If you want to show off your Smart Home app to your friends, Savant is by far superior.  I prefer the user experience for TV and Audio control with Savant’s ‘Heads up Display’ feature. I think Savant is easy to use, but I’ve seen Clients take a few minutes to get use to it.  Savant’s app is more fluid. There’s less drilling down, and drilling out, but some of what makes the app fluid and sexy, also makes it bloated. It’s room based. So on the iPhone, if you have 20 rooms in your home, you have to scroll through all 20 rooms to find the room you want.
  • Remotes – Both Control4 and Savant offer a slick handheld remotes.  Control4’s remote is great if you have onscreen display, which allows  you to see the App on your TV.  Without the onscreen display, the remote is just ok. Savant’s remote is one of the sexier remotes I’ve seen, and includes a touchscreen and voice control.

Both systems support iOS and Android. So whatever your preference is, it will work.


Budget

Control4 is generally less expensive than Savant. If the budget is the determining factor, Control4 usually wins.  This is especially true with Production Home Builders.

What I use in my home

Clients always ask me which system I put in my own home.  I would be really happy with either system, but If I had to choose, I use Savant.  My favorite part of the system is how easily I can switch between activities: audio, video, lighting and hvac are super simple to get to and control.  If my preference were to do triggers, if and when automations with Lighting Control, Climate Control and heavy custom automation, I would go with Control4.

My point here is that it’s personal.  Say what you want about budgets, applications, and the nitty gritty of each app, at the end of the day the better system is the one that you get excited about.  Both systems perform well, and you’ll be happy either way.


Learn more about Control4 here.           Learn more about Savant here.