Adding a home theater system and finding the right Home Theater installer for speakers, TVs, projectors and audio video components can be challenging. You may need someone skilled in routing wires in the walls of your home, someone with the required insurance to install in your office or business or just someone who is familiar with the components you want installed.

LCD TV installed over large rectangular rock fireplace in a family room

Here are key questions to ask:

Industry Certification? Many installers have industry certification from CEDIA (Custom Electronic Installation Assoc) or are certified by one of the referral services like Home Advisor or 800Contractor. If no other information is available, these sources indicate some background review has be given and some level of expertise established.

On-site Survey? For most installations, having a survey and getting detail recommendations for your Home Theater installation is a must. Find where components will be located, how cabling will be “hidden” in the walls, timing to start work, how long to finish and, most important, a written pricing quote. Evaluate the survey individual and their follow-up pricing quote. Look for details on the quote and pricing with all items broken out.

Experience? Pick your most important concerns and get a feel on the installers experience. For example, do you specialize in routing Home Theater speaker wires inside the ceiling? Do you program a certain brand of remote controls or audio component? How high would you place the TV over the fireplace mantel? Where would the overhead projector be placed? What size projector screen for my size room? Can you hide all my Home Theater components in a closet? If the installer stumbles on your questions you will want reevaluate.

Licensed Contractor? Having a licensed contractor is often required for a business or new construction but may not be important for smaller home projects. Regardless, a Low Voltage, General or Electrical Contractor license indicates a higher level of skill. Also, licensed contractors provide additional consumer rights through your state contractors’ board which can verify license status and let you know if there are prior problems on file.

Insurance? Not so important in a residence as your homeowner’s or renter’s policy usually covers visiting vendors and housekeepers. When concerned, it is usually workers’ compensation insurance in case of personal injury. For businesses, General Liability and Worker’s compensation is usually required and you will want to request your business or property agent be issued an additional insure certificate. Often an installer with insurance coverage indicates work experience in larger commercial projects – a plus.

Skills?  You will want to consider general skills for specific work. That is, you may wish to modify a media cabinet or wall niche with new shelving and will need the installer’s skill with cabinetry and carpentry. You may need wiring routed inside the wall and will need to know if he installer will repair, re-stucco and finish the wall when there are dry wall access cuts. This is a great test question as the skilled installer will use special pull rods to have a minimum of dry wall cuts and is usually the installer who quickly indicates they fully dress any openings (if any), sand and make ready for paint touch-up if needed (painting is usually not included as stucco needs to dry first). If the installer suggests you will need to call in a dry wall contractor to complete – this will not be your installer.

Equipment Provided? The ideal situation is the installation company being an authorize reseller for the components you need in your Home Theater. Having a single source for equipment, delivery, installation and warranty service creates a lot of advantages: the installer know the produces being installed, has recommended components are matched for best performance and, service for equipment warranty or installation is one telephone call away.  When one company sells the components, another, another installs and another provides warranty service, then who is responsible if a problem. Even if you eventually purchase components on-line, you will feel comfortable in knowing these are the components recommended by the installer. A win, win.

With thousands streaming movies immediately available with Dolby Digital surround sound – just like at the movies – having a Home Theater surround sound system has become more important than ever; however, selecting components and the installer may seem daunting. Hopefully our questions to ask list will be helpful. And for even more information, call one of our tech advisors at Interstar 1-800-833-8080 or visit at www.interstarTV.com. We look forward to assisting with your Home Theater project.