04 Nov 2020

The Fundamentals of Home Improvement: How to Make a Smart Technology Decision

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Over the last several months, we have all been forced to adapt our living and working patterns to cope with the new normal. As our daily routines have changed, so too have our priorities. In most cases we are spending more time in our homes, bringing increased awareness of the comfort, convenience, aesthetics and flexibility of our environment. This trend has driven smart home technology sales, including new TVs, headphones for all the virtual meetings, smart speakers and voice assistants. Each has the role of improving specific aspects of the home, from entertainment to productivity. Steve Detmer, Residential Product Manager at Lutron, explains further.

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With the proliferation of smart home tech, there is an ever-growing list of products with varied settings, functions and standards. For technology designed to make our lives easier, choosing the right solution has become increasingly difficult and can be bewildering, even for those in the industry. Independently choosing between two solutions, that look almost identical, can be a painstaking task. Anyone who has invested in a technology that was subsequently made redundant (built-in CD or DVD players, iPod docks, etc.) understands the dangers involved.

With technology developing so quickly, looking at individual products can be unhelpful. Instead, it’s more important to focus on the non-negotiable, fundamentals of smart home tech.

Creating a list of rules to stick to, and things to look out for, helps you make the smart choice that will not hamper them in years to come. From how to prioritise the technology to buy, to the role of automation and wireless technology, there are some key aspects that cannot be ignored.

Wireless

Wireless technology has, undoubtedly, been one of the great trends across all technologies – today, in smart home tech, it is a necessity. To create an optimal environment, we need a certain level of intuitive, wireless control to change the setting to suit our needs. Users need to be able to adapt a space based on what’s required, as well as have the ability to install and upgrade simply and cost-effectively. With an increased focus on connectivity to support productivity and flexibility in the home, wireless technology provides a future-proof solution.

Solutions that offer easy-to-use setup and control also minimise the need to call a contractor and save on maintenance costs, while meaning spaces can continue to adapt and evolve with the ever-changing needs of the modern homeowner. Smart lighting solutions, for example, can be installed and upgraded without the need to tear down walls.

With space at a premium, we are looking to renovate and retrofit our property to create more room. On top of control and maintenance, a wireless system has huge installation benefits – they are ideal for retrofit applications and can save costs in new construction. Technology that does not require any intrusive work means it can fit with decorations and cause minimal hassle.

Interoperability

Alongside wireless, the growth of inexpensive voice assistants has been one of the great technology changes of the past decade. Today, products from Apple, Amazon or Google, each with their own unique benefits, can be found in nearly every home. While this comes with benefits, it can make choosing which platform intimidating – what if the next must-have feature means you need to swap? How much extra will it cost?

Unsurprisingly, in the race to own the gargantuan sector, these brands have siloed much of their technology – forcing users to make a choice, and in most cases, stick with it for the long term.

When choosing technology, homeowners need to think about interoperability – the ability for the product to communicate with other products. Ideally, solutions should be able to integrate with all the major vendors and be free from forced loyalties which could pigeon-hole users.

At the same time, the smart home industry is constantly seeing new players enter the market. Some are start-ups that may not be around for the lifetime of your product and may not provide the support you deserve – homeowners need to be sure they choose brands with a solid history.

Flexibility

While we all have the best of intentions when choosing technology, we all make mistakes. When making a decision, we all have to factor in the inevitable changes in our lives over the years to come and ensure that the space continues to meet our needs.

Flexible control is the best solution – adaptable systems are making a solid investment, with the knowledge that they can easily make adjustments following changes in lifestyle, season or daily schedule. By investing in flexible, discreet technology, homeowners can capture and develop style, convenience and comfort with the times. That includes purchasing connected technology that can be wirelessly updated to include the latest features without having to buy new equipment.

Prioritisation

Approaching smart home technology can seem daunting. On occasions, it can seem the deeper you dig, the more you realise you don’t know. Even where to start can seem impossible – AV, heating, security – they are all important, but we all are working to a budget.

The key piece of advice when looking at moving to a smart home is starting with the solutions you use most often, whether you realise it or not – those things that are working away in the background. Heating and lighting specifically should be the first port of call – these solutions will make a fundamental difference to the comfort and cost of your home and should be prioritised.

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