Smart home technology can make life more efficient and more comfortable for you and your loved ones
If you’re interested in this technology but not sure how to begin – help is at hand.
You’re at the beginning of a simple step-by-step process to unlocking the power of home automation. You can turn almost any home into a smart home and start enjoying all the efficiencies and peace of mind on offer.
We believe the first vital step is to consider this process as a lifestyle choice - of making your home work for you and optimising how your home functions on a daily basis. Imagine the blinds around your home automatically rising at 7am each weekday to align with your schedule and closing at dusk to keep the warmth in. These basic everyday tasks can be taken care of with the right smart home system.
Step 1: Motivations – What do you want to control and why do you want to control it?
The main motivations people typically have for using home automation solutions are peace of mind, convenience, comfort, entertainment and energy efficiency.
We’ve outlined some of the specific considerations and typical applications: (scroll to the right)
Peace of Mind
You want to have greater insight into the whereabouts, condition and security of the things that matter most to you, be it family members, property or assets. The assurance that these things are safe and protected is easily achieved by a variety of smart home tools, so here are a few clever applications:
- Minimise fire risks by automatically turning off hair straighteners or electric blankets with simple timer switches.
- Receive notifications and control a security scene to flash all of the lights in your home or trigger a siren when movement or sound is detected with a variety of sensors.
- See who’s at the door and choose whether they should be let in with door sensors, cameras and smart locks.
- Receive notifications when the kids arrive home from school and unlock the door, or when a door has opened and there shouldn’t be anyone there to open it.
- Get an alert when there’s a water overflow when you’ve turned the washing machine on and popped out for something
Incorporating smarts into your home can reduce the need for manual or repetitive tasks. Effectively, you can teach your home how you like to operate and then let the technology take on some of the legwork for you.
- Open the blinds, have the hallway lights come on and start the coffee machine to begin your morning routine on the right foot. You can even schedule processes for certain days of the week, protecting your Sunday morning sleep-in.
- Switch on the holiday home fridge and hot water cylinder a few hours before you arrive or turn off the tv from work because your children should be doing their homework.
- Use your smart home app to get the robot vacuum to clean the living area when you’re on your way home with unexpected guests.
Comfort & Entertainment
Control everything from temperature, airflow, lighting, music and more to make your home the perfect environment no matter the circumstances.
- Set lighting scenes for various activities – movie watching, family games night, homework, dinner parties. Or utilise smart sunset dimming which will gradually adjust your lighting based on how light it is outside.
- Use sensors or your smart-home app to ready your environment before you get home by operating your air-conditioning, fans, blinds, louvres or ventilation.
- Schedule the dishwasher, washing machine or dryer to operate on your schedule so that everything is prepared for your manual tasks.
Ensure your home preserves power and takes advantage of off-peak power rates. Use intelligent monitoring to analyse your power usage, see where savings can be made and receive real-time notifications on your power consumption targets.
- Light sensors can recognise when a room has been unused for a set amount of time and turn the lights off.
- Schedule garden sprinklers to turn on and switch off after use. You could even take it one step further and have them operate based on the sun cycle so that watering is done at the perfect time to conserve energy, water and maximise effectiveness for your garden.
- Intelligent power monitoring can not only notify you of your power consumption but can also make recommendations to assist you, for instance the fridge temp is set too high or a gaming machine has been left on overnight.
- If you have solar panels on your roof, you can also analyse power generation and storage. Pick the correct times to charge electric vehicles and schedule charging with a time delay switch.
Step 2: Budget & Scalability – How much do you want to spend and where will you begin?
Now that you’re clear on what you want to control and what efficiencies you want to introduce to your lifestyle, it’s time to start choosing your home automation solution. The great news is that the devices you need to begin your smart home journey can be purchased and installed from a few hundred dollars.
Time delay switches for the heated towel rail or simple light-sensing sockets for night-time lighting are brilliantly cost-effective ways to introduce some passive smarts into your home.
With the latest technology and the introduction of smart home automation apps such as PDL’s Wiser by SE app, you can also have a plan to introduce more automation over time.
The scalability of a smart home solution is endless and you can add more smart switches, smart sockets and scene-setting later on. Everything will be able to communicate with a few taps on your smartphone giving you total control.
Choosing the right products
A key factor at this step is also choosing the right products. There are some important considerations for you to note here:
- Service and support – What customer service and support options are available to you with the system you are looking at?
- Future-focused - Does the system you are looking at keep your options open, and is it flexible to accommodate changes in your home or lifestyle?
- Seeing it in action - Can you trial or see a demonstration of the smart home system before you purchase to make sure it is suitable for you?
- Installation - Who does the installation? Are they experienced in installing and configuring the solution? Have they done specialist training?
Step 3: Get Hands-On – Try before you buy and pick up new ideas.
Now you have a smart home solution in mind, what is your next step? We'd strongly suggest a hands-on experience. Many smart home specialists and manufacturers in New Zealand often have showrooms that demonstrate a range of smart home devices in different applications.
You will be able to see how everything is operated whether it’s scheduling and user-programming, voice activation or using a smartphone for control.
What’s more, you may well see some ideas that you’ll be able to easily implement using everyday electrical products. With so many people adopting home automation technologies to make their lives easier – new approaches and ways to use devices are emerging daily.
The home solutions consultants in the PDL showrooms are extremely knowledgeable and can discuss your unique requirements, home and lifestyle to ensure you’re getting the most out of your decision to introduce smarts into your home. Digital appointments and demonstrations are also available.
Step 4: Talk with your Installer
Many of the devices you’ll choose will need to be installed by a qualified professional electrician or an approved installer for that solution. You’ll be able to talk about all the elements of your smart home design and home layout including:
- Switch and socket locations
- How each room is used
- What you need and want to control or monitor when you’re away from home
- What methods of communication and control you’ll use
- Who needs access
- Are there any particular features of your home design that could be accentuated with a smart home system? ie a feature staircase, a piece of artwork or an outdoor area?
Bring in the Professionals
Whatever solution you choose, the right electrician will knowledgeably take you through the actual installation plan and assess how to make your smart home automation work best for you and your home.
Once your smart home system is installed, you'll get to use the system and your hard work spent planning and discussing your needs with professionals should pay off. Depending on the system you potentially can continue to tinker with the settings until you reach the perfect balance between control and hands-off smarts. You can also set up different users for all methods of control be it device or voice.
Once you have everything just the way you want it, the only job left beyond enjoying your new, smarter home, is deciding if and when you want to add more to it.
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