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What makes my home Smarter – Part 1?

Control and automation technology in homes isn’t really a new phenomenon, but we are seeing a whole lot of new innovations and innovators in this space. Some of the technologies and products seem simple and yet elegant (like Nest) with instant benefits, while there are others (like Tesla’s recent PowerPack announcement) that seem positively revolutionary.

But choosing the right way to approach home automation for the first time can be complex and confusing. In this note, we’ll try and help simplify these decisions for you and suggest some practical tips for you to make your home smarter.

Our team believes that the following ‘features’ should be priorities:

1. Smarter means – awareness and waste elimination

One of the best ways to ensure that the costs of your smart home upgrades don’t become impractical is, to begin with, systems that can monitor and actively reduce waste of energy in your home – lighting and air conditioning/HVAC are low hanging fruit. Most homes can achieve considerable savings in these areas, and this should be the first thing that you look to address and implement.

Automation of many simple things (turning off appliances, cooling/heating, and lighting) is well worth investing in since changing the habits of every member of the household is a tough ask. The next step could be daylight harvesting, but wait till you evaluate the potential improvements this can bring in your particular home space.

2. Simplifying device and appliance overload

The sheer complexity of electronic devices and appliances in our home today is astonishing – when we choose to think about it. Simplifying how these are managed and controlled is a critical benefit of a smart home system and one well worth embracing. It’s best to design for multiple types of controllers to make sure that you have a fall-back in case one controller has a problem (like running out of batteries). Room switches and device remotes provide a very useful backup for the popular touch screen devices.

Often you can create a smarter system to even reduce the number of products you have – by eliminating redundancies with Networked AV.

3. Network every room for AV and data, and ideally every device

Smart homes are really about the power of the network, and enabling and leveraging this is really the heart of any smart home upgrade. Whether it is centralized media systems for everywhere audio and video delivery of entertainment content, or connecting to the internet to monitor what’s going on, the network is what makes most smart features tick. This does mean that you are likely to need an upgrade to your internet connection and higher bills for broadband.

It’s also best to opt for a simpler signal distribution system to cut down your cabling costs and simplify network maintenance in the future.

While these are the first things we suggest you embrace, there are several other benefits (large and small) that home automation can bring to you. One way to ensure that you make good choices that deliver great value is too very clearly define what “good enough” means to you in different areas – audio quality, video quality, convenience, ambiance and so on. This helps ensure that you spend your money where it most matters to you and your family, and not in rarely used features.

We’ll share more tips on this topic in Part 2 of this series, coming here in the next few weeks…