Outwit your Smart Home!
Finding Solutions That Simplify

Our title, borrowed from the title of a presentation made at the recent Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) Expo event, aptly describes the all-too-often issues that arise as consumer demand for smart home technology continues to explode.

Behind the scenes, NAHB’s The 2021 New American Home® (TNAH)  the Control4 system does all the heavy lifting to deliver video and audio signals to the desired TVs and speakers. Control4 wall-mounted keypads, multi-room audio systems from Triad and Episode offering professional grade sound and nearly invisible aesthetics with in-ceiling and in-wall speakers, and LG OLED ThinQ TVs paired with Control4 Neeo remotes are some of the smart home technologies from various SnapAV brands have been demonstrated in some of the recent show homes built for the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB)’s International Builders Show.  Other SnapAV brands featured in the IBS Show models have included Sunbrite outdoor HD TV and Triad in-ground outdoor speakers,  ClareOne security panels and Luma surveillance cameras. Photo courtesy of Jeff Davis Photography.

Oftentimes, the more “smart” products you add, the harder it becomes for everyone at home to actually use and enjoy the home.  Significant design problems and frustrating user experiences create the desperate need for affordable solutions that make it easy for everyone to control everything.

Crestron Home pledges to make the complex simple: The monotonous automatic; the tedious quick. Whatever you want, wherever you are, it’s a tap. The most common systems, such as entertainment, lighting and shading, and security are built directly into the Crestron Home OS.  You can easily add almost any specialized systems or devices that are not already included on the app, such as kitchen appliances, irrigation systems, and weather stations.  Crestron and the Delos Wellness™ platform work in harmony to bring wellness enhancements, such as dawn simulation, circadian rhythm lighting, and air purification, into the home.

The simplification solution, according to Brilliant™, is a control and automation system that transforms any house into an easy-to-use smart home at an unprecedented price point.  Brilliant’s goal is to make it feasible for every builder, even builders of entry-level starter homes, to start selling homes with an integrated system of controls, sensors and devices built directly into the walls. Brilliant’s in-wall touchscreen control system is as simple as swapping out a light switch for a Brilliant touchscreen control panel and adding a couple of complementary smart devices like a smart thermostat, video doorbell, smart lock, smart switches, or a garage opener. Brilliant works with the top smart home products in every category including Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Ring, Schlage, Kwikset, Honeywell, and Sonos. Brilliant also makes Smart Dimmer Switches and Smart Plugs. Every Brilliant system includes an all-in-one mobile app to control the home from anywhere.

Schneider Electric focuses on addressing the issue that arises due to all the added smart gadgets, homes are on track to become the single-largest consumer of electricity.  Its systems are designed to protect the system from surges, while monitoring and increasing efficiency of each and every connected item. Schneider’s solutions include the Square D Energy Center integrating whole-home surge protection, EV connectivity, a Quik-Connect solar inverter, backup interface module and backup-ready panel.  Add Schneider’s Wiser Home Energy Monitor into the home’s electrical panel and Square D Wiring Devices to control room lighting and you’ve got a smart system that tracks energy use for all electrical devices across the home.

Besides selecting the right integration partner and preferred system, it’s important for the home to have the right infrastructure to support–the right switches and plugs, wiring, WIFI capability, etc. 

Wireless protocols such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE have done away with the need to install complex and expensive whole-home electrical systems just to control your smart home system remotely.  All you need is a smartphone and a Wi-Fi router.  But there are still some key devices you are still going to have to hardwire so you’re your system can communicate with connected heating and air conditioning systems, smart garden sprinklers and irrigation, and the electrical wires running through your ceilings and walls.  You’re going to need more than copper wiring to support fiber internet service benefits, but fiber has been complicated and too expensive to install before IROVF.  Its “all in one” fiber optic SMART CABLE fits in a ½ inch conduit, consolidating all your wires in one.  Protected in a special sleeve to prevent construction dirt, you just pull this cable and you immediately have these features simultaneously: 8K home theater with Dolby, internet fiber optic speed, loudspeakers, smart home commands, and a single remote control that controls them.

The Chime Video Doorbell is the first video doorbell solution designed to leverage all of the capabilities of the sophisticated Control4 OS 3, Control4’s lighting solutions and the design-centric NEEO remote line-up.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) named Swidget from PropTech the Technology/Educational Service of the Year at the 2020 Global Innovation Awards.  Swidget is a unique, patented design that separates the base device (outlet or switch) from the modular smart control insert so you can easily upgrade your functionality as new technologies emerge or your needs change. Swidget outlets and switches are installed “smart ready” and function just like regular plugs until they are paird with one of many Swidget smart inserts.  The modularity and constant innovation make Swidget a winner with the tech, HVAC, and home building industries.

Be aware that technology in the home environment has also become an open portal for personal and corporate cybercrime. Many IoT devices have less sophisticated security mechanisms than the average computer outfitted with a firewall and antivirus software.  It’s recommended that you check permissions for apps that control IoT hardware and learn to say “no” to privileges.  You may also want to consider placing IoT devices on a separate Wi-Fi network or band than the computers and hardware in your household.

Finally, it’s important to have a plan for eliminating “wall acne.”  Whether it’s a thermostat, light switch, iPad, surveillance camera, Wi-Fi access point, or control touchscreen, the same amenities that deliver convenience, comfort, and efficiency can clash with a home’s architectural and interior style. Products from Hide-A-Trim and Wall-Smart offer innovative mounting hardware concealing common household electronics within wall and ceiling surfaces and are designed to be compatible with all the leading brand name devices.   Hide-A-Trim perfectly camouflages installed electrical devices offering quick and simple installation for electricians and carpenters. Wall-Smart’s mounts recess into standard stud bays and ceiling joists for a flush appearance can be finished with drywall or a low-profile, paintable or material-matchable bezel.  Retrofittable white and black finished bezels are available, too.

The bottom line:  There’s no cutting corners when designing a ‘smart’ home. Faulty technology that doesn’t work will leave your clients frustrated and regretful and your reputation tarnished. Partner with a home tech company that knows the importance of a strong foundation for any budget and can deliver it with confidence.

When you are going with wireless control, it’s important to understand that WiFi mesh is a static system supposed to provide home-wide WiFi coverage through a series of extenders.  But as the demands on the system grow, the response remains the same and slowdowns and drop-offs occur.  Furthermore, while Wi-Fi and Z-Wave are the standard now, tomorrow it’s going to be 5G and Wi-Fi 6.  Plume HomePass® is designed to resolve the issue of today’s homes that are stuck with yesterday’s WiFi.  The HomePass ADAPT system uses AI and machine learning to map WiFi channels and usage around your home, learning from your connection patterns to distribute WIFi perfectly, any time.  Simply plug in the tri-band SuperPod hardware with WiFi 6, which can replace your router if you choose, and connect to the HomePass app.  Since HomePass is cloud-powered, features and updates install automatically.

Wall-Smart mounts can installed into virtually any surface, including drywall and plaster, as well as concrete, brick, wood, marble, glass, and metal to seamlessly integrate tablets, touchscreens, light switches, voice assistants and other networking equipment.  Photo, courtesy TYM Homes.

DOWNLOAD THIS ARTICLE FROM BUILDING SAVVY MAGAZINE SPONSORED BY DEVANCE ELECTRONIC LIFESTYLE
LISTEN TO OUR INTERVIEW WITH DANA AND MATT DEVANCE ON THE BUILDING SAVVY BOTTOM LINE.