Designing Your New Smart Home
It’s Easy When You Plan Ahead
As a homebuyer, you are excited about the prospect of building a new home or planning a major remodel of an existing one. It’s easy to get consumed with a mountain of details to consider, such as material selection, plumbing fixtures, colors, appliances, lighting, wall finishes, and so much more.
Smart home technology requires thought and detailed planning too, and the choices made can affect construction as well as finish-out details. The last thing you want is intelligent technology that looks like an afterthought and is not well-integrated into your carefully designed spaces. That’s why it’s critical that a smart technology professional is involved early in your planning process with your architect, builder, and interior designer.
So if you’re planning a new residence in Houston and you want today’s — and tomorrow’s — intelligent automation features, here are some reasons why you’ll want to bring a local smart home professional early into the design phase.
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How Much Technology Do You Need?
When we work with homeowners, one of the most important questions to answer is how much smart tech they really want now, and what might they want in the future. A truly smart home is more than a collection of smart devices, it is one there is sophisticated control and automation of lights, window treatments, entertainment systems, security systems, climate control, and even control of pools and irrigation systems. The sophistication comes from the ease with which you can control these things to suit your lifestyle, and more importantly, how much effort you have to expend to have it all work properly.
Maybe you’re not interested in every bell and whistle available with smart technology today. But that doesn’t mean that in a year or two there won’t be something that you think will be a huge aid in your day to day life. Part of our job as smart home professionals is to plan for the infrastructure and the technology that can accommodate your future needs and desires. While it’s impossible to anticipate all future technology, there are smart decisions that can be made to allow the flexibility.
Let’s start getting into some specific considerations. With lighting control systems, there are both wired and wireless solutions available. Whenever feasible, custom wiring is the best approach to enable the most flexible solutions. If you’re customizing your home, one consideration is where to place switches and keypads. The nice part of this is that with smart home systems, wireless technology gives more flexibility with control points compared to conventional electric wiring. Even if your dream is full control of your house from your iPhone or iPad, it’s always wise to have smart physical control possibilities and redundancy — making wiring placement critical. As professionals, we assess the needs of various systems and plan for all the types of wiring that’s needed, including extra wiring for things that may come down the road. After all, if a new system comes along in the future that requires some wiring, the last thing you want is to open walls for that in your carefully finished home.
Audio and Video
While wireless networks continue to gain in speed and range capabilities, the needs of today’s high-resolution audio and video formats can tax wireless networks. For the best experience — and because it’s easy to do in the right construction stage — professionals like us like to extend low-voltage wiring to every room (and outside space) that will have entertainment options. Combining 4K video and high-resolution music to multiple rooms without skips and stutters requires high bandwidth, and a wired solution is optimal. Where those wired connections get placed in a room is critical, as it affects the layout of a room. Think about where a TV screen or projector may go in a room, where speakers will be located, the acoustics of the space, and your sense of aesthetics. All these factors need to be considered together.
There are many layered options when it comes to planning for security technology. Would you want to get an alert when your child comes home from school? Are you concerned about a water leak turning into a major problem? Are you interested in smart locks to have remote access to your home’s entries? To enable these capabilities, there are technical and aesthetic considerations. Do you want your security cameras visible to deter intruders? Do you need two-way audio to monitor children or an elderly relative? Do you want your motion sensors visible or out-of-sight? These types of decisions can dictate wiring and electric power requirements, as well as the specific equipment that may provide the unique features or the right aesthetics.
Integrating smart thermostats like a Nest or other smart thermostat is not technically difficult, and the wireless technology they rely on works well for monitoring and control tasks. But where to mount thermostats is often a vexing design consideration. Also, where to place additional temperature and environmental sensors is another one. Depending on the HVAC installation (which may involve humidifiers and dehumidifiers) the placement of the control thermostats and sensors in zones need to balance function, convenience, and aesthetics. Regardless of the thermostat and sensors used, some wiring will be involved, and it’s better to plan it early than to see equipment in an unsightly location.
Consulting a professional early in the design process is the best way to ensure your Houston home is going to be smart for years to come. To find out more, reach out to us today or just click below to be connected with one of our smart home design experts.