Home automation is easier and more affordable than ever


It wasn’t that long ago that the concept of being able to control every system in your house with the push of a button, whether you were at home, down the street or on another continent, seemed to be closer to science fiction than to fact. At the very least, complete home automation was an option available only to the rich and famous.

That is no longer the case, of course. Today, using a computer, iPad, tablet or smartphone, you can check on the security of your home, bump up the temperature a few degrees so you’ll arrive to a warm and comfortable environment or even let guests in the front door if you are unable to greet them personally. It’s almost like being home and away at the same time.

You can now do all of this and more for less than half of what home automation cost eight years ago, according to Frank Panezich, a manager for TeQHom. TeQHom is a service offered by QEI Security and Technology, Inc. (QEI), an offshoot of Quality Electric, Inc., a company that has been serving residents along the Carolina and Georgia coasts, as well as the Columbia, S.C., area, for 35 years.

“Back then, it cost $40,000 to $50,000 to completely automate your home,” says Panezich, who brought his years of experience to the TeQHom team last October. “Now home automation costs half of that or less. It’s definitely more affordable than it used to be. Every customer has the opportunity to get involved.”

Since QEI Security and Technology was established by Chad Sanders just five years ago, price is not the only thing that has changed in the home automation market. The equipment takes up less space, is much more advanced and is accessible over the Internet. QEI’s 30 employees remain up-to-date on products, systems and trends in the industry, constantly completing training programs provided by the manufacturers whose equipment fuels the fast-moving field of home automation.

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And Sanders is committed to keeping pace with the times: “The industry grows, we grow. Technology changes, we change,” he says.

QEI Security and Technology was a natural extension of Quality Electric, a company started in Charleston by Sanders’ father and grandfather in 1979. With locations in Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach and the Hilton Head/Bluffton areas, the company was thriving. Sanders considered the present, peered into the future and saw that QEI’s customers had other needs besides electrical work. They were looking for ways to make their lives simpler, to make everyday tasks more efficient and less complex.

“We wanted to get that business as well,” he says, explaining why Quality Electric expanded into the world of home security and home automation.

Companies come and go in the ever-changing world of home automation and home security. Some survive while others fall by the wayside. Sanders is certain that the top-notch customer service provided by the company his father and grandfather established has played a key role in the success of QEI Security and Technology. He pointed out that the stability of being part of a 35-year-old company has proven to be a major advantage in the company’s rise to prominence in South Carolina and Georgia.

“We are a small company within a larger company. We’re going to be here tomorrow, next year and 30 years from now,” Sanders says. “We feel like we have set a standard of excellence with 35 years of making things right. If something does go wrong, we’re going to make it right.”

More than 10,000 homeowners have trusted their home technology needs to QEI Security and Technology, and, according to Panezich, the relationship between the company and its customers does not end when the initial work is completed. In many cases, QEI must update the software that runs a home system, especially if a new product is added to the mix. He points out that with today’s technology, QEI has the ability to correct some issues remotely, eliminating the need to send out a technician.

Although QEI Security and Technology also does some commercial work—for example, they put together security, lighting and music systems for Stars Restaurant in downtown Charleston—the company concentrates its efforts on new and existing homes, offering a wide range of automation and security services. QEI can completely automate your residence so you can easily control everything remotely—from music, television, heating and air conditioning to ceiling fans, lighting and appliances. You can even heat up the water in your spa or swimming pool in advance so it will be just the right temperature when you’re ready for a dip. All of this is possible whether you are home or away and can be accomplished with your favorite electronic device.

In addition to automation, QEI also offers services such as installing televisions, surround sound systems, home theaters, intercoms and outdoor entertainment systems. The company also pre-wires homes, installs security systems and provides 24-hour security monitoring.

“No job is too large or too small,” Sanders says. “We are Charleston’s one-stop shop. There is no other company like us. We provide every asset for a house. And we offer the backbone of being in business for 35 years. We know how to treat our customers.”

Brian Sherman is a Charleston-based writer.

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