Expert Advice - Smart homes

Although Smart Home Technology has been around for the past 20 years it’s only in recent years that we are really seeing smart technology integrated into the renovation process. Smart homes are a great way to control what’s going on inside the home when you aren’t there. Adjusting the temperature, turning the lights on and off, taking care of regular household jobs and ensuring your house has better security are only a fraction of the capabilities Smart Technology can provide.


We caught up with Chhayna Landschultz from Indigo Zest who fills us in on all things smart technology! 

Photo by IndigoZest


Love Renovate: What type of smart technology is available?


Indigo Zest: There are essentially 2 levels of products/services available.


There are the IoT (internet of things) products which are cloud based off the shelf products that can allow some level of automation and can be facilitated by an app per device that is being controlled. This is a great entry level solution that can offer the opportunity to experience home control.

 

The other solution is a much more considered approach and is usually discussed as part of a building project. These solutions are hard wired, have a central server located somewhere in the property and allow whole house integration and control from a single app or touchscreen. These solutions require much more thought and design and will require the services of a specialist installer.


Love Renovate: What can smart home technology do for your home?


Indigo Zest: Intelligent and automated control of your home. On a basic level it can allow you to control for eg: your heating from an app from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.

 

Modern homes have brought a lot of change in the way that we live, socialise, transition and interact together. The way in which we watch TV is no longer just on one TV or a TV at all and content is downloaded. We listen to music throughout the house and that is usually now streamed through a music service provider. Lighting is no longer simply on and off, and with the advancement of LED technology and Lighting control techniques human centric lighting offers so much more to the comfort and mood of a space. 

Security is another aspect of smart home integration and this encompasses 2 way door entry systems, CCTV and alarms. Integrating these can also offer added benefits and capability. Blinds can be automated to allow ease of control and scheduled settings around sunset and sunrise as well and sunlight shading, which can be automated. Heating and Cooling can also be incorporated to allow individual rooms to be controlled, setting whilst away from the home or detection should a window had been left open and a command can be set to turn off the heating to avoid heat loss. Connectivity and seamless WiFi throughout a home is absolutely imperative now and these also fall into the remit of a smart home service. Offering a robust solid networked infrastructure is the backbone to a successful smart home.

Photo by IndigoZest


Love Renovate: What are the benefits of smart technology in your home?


Indigo Zest: There is definitely the benefit of the wow factor, everything automated and controlled at the touch of one button is always a crowd pleaser, however there is much more to it than just that. It allows you to manage and control your home and have all your connected devices simply work. As I discussed earlier, modern homes have modern demands and being able to have your home respond to the way you live and move in it is a huge benefit. Being able to remove all the remote controls that clutter up the coffee table and just have one button that automatically sets your TV to the correct input, set your lighting to movie mode and set the correct audio mode for that action is a huge benefit. Should your doorbell ring, it can be heard and seen from any touchscreen or TV in the house, and communication can be via the touchscreen or your mobile phone. 

Security and lighting go hand in hand and this allows not only the ability to create scenes and moods through intelligent lighting control it also integrates into your alarm system so when it has been armed it will create a random lighting pattern to give the feeling of an occupied home. Whilst the back end technology is the same, how it can benefit you is completely individual to your needs, requirements and budget.

The final benefit is that if the wiring and fundamentals have correctly been considered then a lot of the solutions can be scaled and added to later as and when required.


Love Renovate: What are the costs of smart technology?


Indigo Zest: An entry level off the shelf solution can be anything between £200-£2,000.

 

A whole house, professionally designed and supported solution can start from a one room solution at £5,000 and can increase to £100,000 if you are having a total whole house integration including a home cinema. On average a solution can be around £30,000-50,000.

Photo by IndigoZest


Love Renovate: Can smart technology be integrated into the home at any stage of a renovation?


Indigo Zest: Essentially yes. Whilst the ideal solution is for it to be considered at the build stage not all properties are having a complete or partial makeover. The products available now can easily be installed as a retro-fit and can definitely offer plenty of integration.


Love Renovate: How can I stylishly integrate smart technology into the home?


Indigo Zest: Smart homes should be experienced and not seen. A lot of what is done is very much behind the scenes. We live for hidden wires and clean lines. Everything is hidden and that is another beautiful part of what we do and why it should be considered early on. We can ensure that the cables are installed into the walls, TVs can be completely flush mounted to the wall or even be motorised so that they can be hidden behind a picture, in a cabinet, in the ceiling and at the touch of a button an automated mechanical arm will appear. 

Lighting scenes can create dinner, romantic, party scenes again at the touch of a button, and the lighting controls themselves on the wall offer beautifully crafted wall plate options. Creating scenes eliminates the need for what we call ‘wall acne’ and the prospect of banks and banks of wall switches.

 Options for Invisible or discreet speakers are available as well to ensure that the look and feel of a space is not compromised.

Photo by IndigoZest


Love Renovate: What are your future predictions for smart technology, will we be seeing more in homes?


Indigo Zest: Smart technology is without a doubt the new normal. We are not only seeing an increase in demand on many homes but the market has broadened and it is being made available for more homes and budgets. Customers are understanding the benefits of a wired solution. It is also being expected in new builds and developers are having to put in a certain level of capability to meet the demands of their customers.

IoT products are improving but in order to make sure that all the systems actually work together and provide safe and secure functionality and to avoid app acne you will need to engage with a specialist installer to make it worthwhile.


Love Renovate: What would be the one piece of smart technology to integrate into your home?

Indigo Zest: In order to integrate you need more than one piece of smart technology, so that’s a tough one I would install an integrator (can control multiple devices) rather than a piece of technology, that will ensure that you get the right piece of technology every time.



Photo by IndigoZest


Love Renovate: How can you future proof your home?


Indigo Zest: It is difficult to promise future proofing as technology is moving at such a fast pace and even though we can hazard a guess at the next big thing, we cannot make any guarantees. The best that we can do is anticipate and prepare for what we think. This would usually be at the first fix phase where we would also allow for more cable and data points then required and mark these on the electrical plans so should a change happen we know exactly how to access this additional power or data feed. It really is all about getting the back bones of the cable infrastructure correct in the first place as this will allow for ‘future proofing’. As I mentioned earlier, the systems that we install allow for scalability and this is all part of future proofing a home. The centrally wired solutions also offers future proofing as all the equipment housed in there can easily be slotted in and out for larger network switches, more powerful amplifiers etc.


Love Renovate: Anything else I need to know?


Indigo Zest: When thinking about a smart home you should also think about a space in your home to house the central server. In new properties a plant room has been assigned however this is not always possible so perhaps space in the loft, cupboard or garage could be considered, around 2m tall and 600cm wide (can be shorter but the width will always remain the same).

Published: May 13, 2019

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