Your Guide to High-End Accessories Page 9

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The main benefit of ZigBee and Z-Wave - besides the fact that they're wireless - is that the systems can control electronics as well as lights. Z-Wave universal remote controls from Logitech and Monster Cable, for instance, allow you to dim the lights before a movie, turn on a TV, cue up a DVD, and set the volume on a receiver. You can also switch on lights in the next room when you want to go get more popcorn and even control Z-Wave and ZigBee devices remotely over the Internet.

Lighting-accessory manufacturer Lutron offers an RF system called RadioRA that can cover areas as large as 2,800 feet per floor. It also allows you to control your lights from your car when you pull up to the house. Digital surround receivers from Kenwood, Denon, and B&K, as well as remotes from Universal Remote Control's Home Theater Master series, come programmed with codes for the RadioRA system. Remotes from Philips, Yamaha, Onkyo, Sony, and Marantz can also learn the codes.

Total Control Of course, you can also do all this - and more - with a whole-house audio/video/security/climate-control system such as the ones offered by Crestron, Elan, AMX, and other companies. But these tend to be expensive. And because of their complexity, they should be installed by an electrician or a custom installer when your house is under construction or when you're doing a major remodel. Regardless, these systems - which are typically controlled via wall-mounted or wireless touchpanels - can give you total dominion over all the lights and anything else electronic in your house.

For whatever you can dream up - and for whatever your budget - you'll be able to find a lighting solution. If you're getting off the couch several times during a TV show or a movie to turn lights on and off, you're still living in the dark ages. - Doug Newcomb

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