After telephones, computers, and televisions, household appliances and home technology are increasingly being networked. The market for smart home applications is growing steadily. But what is smart home technology? Smart networking can make living safer and more comfortable and also save energy. A smart home can be created in new construction as well as retrofitted. Entry-level sets are available from just a few hundred euros; the sky’s the limit.
If you want to remain flexible, choose an open system that can also integrate products from other manufacturers. Before installing it try to answer some questions, to save energy with a smart home. Can a smart building be manipulated from the outside? What does a smart home cost? How can you recognize qualified specialist companies? And what should consumers look out for when purchasing and using a smart home? Here are the 6 questions about smart home technology you need to answer.
SMART HOME – WHAT IS IT?
Today’s new buildings, as well as modernized old buildings, should be economical, sustainable, energy-efficient, comfortable, and usable in the long term. Against this background, a steadily growing market for technology-assisted living is gradually establishing itself. Individual products and the networking of home technology, household appliances, and services are increasingly being offered in the areas of home automation and electronics as well as communications for private living. These technical solutions should interact intelligently and securely and be intuitive to operate.
HOW DOES A SMART HOME SYSTEM WORK?
A smart home typically consists of several elements: from the end devices, the so-called actuators, which are to be included in the intelligent control. These include, for example, radiator controllers, lamps, shutters, blinds, and ventilation systems, but also televisions and stereo systems or speakers. Some washing machines and stoves can also be integrated into a smart home.
The devices could also be touch displays, room temperature controllers, tablets, and smartphones, but also classic-looking wall switches. Control via voice commands is also becoming increasingly widespread. With the help of these interfaces from humans to the smart home, it is easy to check whether the lights in a particular room have gone out or the room temperatures are in the desired range.
HOW TO OPERATE A SMART HOME SYSTEM?
How do you operate a smart home? Smart home systems can be operated in different ways. Very simple operating variants, such as radio switches for switching lights on and off, are used no differently than conventional light switches. So, it even goes unnoticed that there is a smart home installation behind it. Another option is to use control devices such as small rotary switches, which can be used, for example, to increase or decrease the room temperature centrally.
In addition to these more traditional control options, wall-mounted control panels with touch displays are often found in smart homes. Here, the user’s home installation can be used and controlled with provider-specific user interfaces. Logical function groups are often combined. For example, there are separate control panels for lighting control, heating, and ventilation, or air conditioning. But the room-by-room display of all functions is also conceivable.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A SMART HOME SYSTEM?
The benefits of a smart home depend not only on the products and system chosen but also on the user’s expectations. Added value can occur when energy is saved, comfort is increased, and/or security is improved. A popular and effective application, for example, is the automatic lowering of room temperatures during absence combined with reheating in good time before returning home. Depending on previous behaviour, this saves between two and eight percent in heating costs and increases comfort.
Another typical example is equipping the house with energy-saving lighting and motion detectors. This increases comfort and safety at typical tripping points in the house, such as stairways or narrow hallways, and consumes less energy. Motion detectors in the exterior of the house and house access also improve burglary protection. Anyway, many smart systems are just used for entertainment – for example, as with Alexa, that will switch on the online casino Canada on your PC.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DIFFERENT SMART HOME SYSTEMS?
There are many different technologies for smart homes. Open systems have a standard supported by various smart home solution providers. This means that products from different manufacturers can be combined. Except for the latter, all are radio systems. Closed systems, on the other hand, are not compatible with devices from other providers. If there is no technical solution for a particular task from one supplier, it is not possible to fall back on the technology of another manufacturer.
DO I NEED TO INSTALL SYSTEMS YOURSELF OR HAVE THEM INSTALLED?
Some simple systems can be installed by yourself with a little skill and craftsmanship. Wired systems, however, require planning and installation by professionals. Even with more complex wireless solutions, it is advisable to call in professionals. If programming is required, an installer or building system integrator should carry out the initial programming in most cases. In the meantime, the market also offers systems that are delivered already programmed, but still, allow the user to make changes.
ARE SMART SYSTEMS SECURE?
The use of smart home products often involves extensive collection and processing of personal data. Usually, smart home devices are controlled via an app using a tablet or smartphone. The use of these apps usually requires the creation of a user account with the provider. In the course of this, personal data such as the e-mail address, and in some cases also the telephone number, date of birth, or postal address must be provided for authentication. If possible, make privacy-friendly settings for the associated device apps during setup. Look at default settings during setup and change permissions, such as location tracking, if they are not necessary for app use. Settings can also be used to adjust access permissions after the fact.
In conclusion, if you are thinking about installing the smart home system, it makes sense to seek advice from an architect who already has experience in planning smart homes or to call in an appropriately experienced building services company.