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Smart Home Technology – Is It Right For Your Family?

Published September 21, 2016

Smart home technology is the newest “buzz word” to become a common term familiar to homeowners, builders, contractors and real estate agents. Smart home technology is the term used to describe the integration of the latest advances in technology and services into residential residences to enhance the quality of living in the home.

Have you ever watched an episode of the Jetsons and wished your home worked that way? Wishes do come true! Today, with the advent of the Internet and wireless communication, the technologies that make home smarter, simpler, comfortable and more efficient are a reality. Smart home technology and home automation have developed at an unprecedented pace.

Smart home technology is the happy culmination of years and years of dreaming, research, testing, and development. The idea has existed for as long as television as been part of our lives and has been showcased at each and every World's Fair since.

Not until computers became commonplace and wireless networking existed could these concepts could be put to realistic and affordable use in the average home. Research and development of smart home systems have been taking place at NAHB (National Research Center of the National Association of Home Builders) since the 1880s. Although displayed at electronic and home and garden shows, smart home technology seemed something that was only for the very rich or really nerdy geeks. Wrong! Today, a smart home consultant can make smart home dreams come true.

Over the past decade the unprecedented advances in technology have forever changed our world, as we knew it. Smart home technology has opened up new opportunities for innovative home products and displays the potential for creating exciting collaborations across previously unrelated industries. From home appliances, furnishings, entertainment equipment and surveillance monitoring to pool and landscape maintenance, industries are merging to offer products our grandparents minds could not imagine.

Smartphone are not the only gadget or gizmo these days. Everywhere you look from glasses to toothbrushes manufacturers are integrating “Intelligent” technology into their designs. From energy conservation monitoring to automated landscape maintenance, it seems there is some new and exciting product on the market daily.

Today, families are far more connected with each other, their community and the world than ever before. Now, at the command of your voice your home responds – it’s almost magic.

Smart home technology has grown out of a combination of home security systems and local area networks (LANs), with enhanced capabilities developed along the way. Some of these capabilities may involve pre-existing systems while others are specific to home automation devices.

Smart home technology is currently undergoing a shift from being purely from being primarily concerned with the integration of electrical appliances and equipment within the home to a more diversified perspective, which now includes ICT functionalities.

These exciting changes are most visible in terms of different networks for different aspects of your life. Entertainment, work and productivity, information, communication, and home automation networks merge connecting to the outside world via a residential gateway.

What Can Smart Home Technology Do For Me?

Smart home technology automates the household in a diverse array of innovative ways allowing for the majority of household activity to be easily controlled remotely. Basically a way to allow just about every electronically controlled device in your home to “talk to each other.” If you child forgets their key, you can unlock your door with your phone, security lights illuminate sidewalks, driveways, and entry points whenever someone steps foot on your property or drives into the driveway.

Time-consuming tasks are eliminated as your smart home waters the lawn, automatically sensing when the soil needs moisture, feeds the pets, cleans the pool and takes a photo and alerts you by e-mail when someone knocks on your door.

Fire Protection

From the latest in smoke, fire, carbon monoxide and radon detection and alert security systems, smart home technology can help protect your home in the event of a storm or other natural disasters. For homeowners that live in dry, brushy or forested locations, smart home technology can protect homes from wildfire. If the temperatures skyrocket and the system senses smoke in the outdoor air, roof mounted sprinklers envelop the home in a fire-suppressing blanket of heavy mist. Your home doesn’t have to be threatened by fire in order for you to benefit from the installation. On a hot day in August, a quick command can mist the patio or pool area and lower the temperature by 10-to-15 degrees. Combined with automated thermostats to control the indoor climate, you will be the “coolest” home in the neighborhood.

Home Security And Intruder Defense

Are you sometimes a little scatter-brained or forgetful? Not to worry! Your smart home turns on lights whenever you enter a room and turns them off and lowers the thermostat when the room is not occupied. If you are concerned that you failed to lock the side door or closed the upstairs window in case it rains, just a click of an app on your mobile phone, laptop, tablet, iPad or other wireless device will close and lock all windows, lock doors and activate the security system. Did you leave the coffee pot turned on or something on the stove? A smart home stove will turn itself off if you leave the room while it is still turned on and operating.

Are you out of town on a business trip or holiday? Don’t let your home look as if it is unoccupied and an open invitation to thieves. With a voice command or a click of an app, change the lighting pattern in your home and lower and open blinds and draperies remotely to make the home look lived in. With a discreetly mounted digital camera it is now possible to monitor every area of your home, from the fridge to the furnace, inside and out.

With a smart home system you never again have to answer your door to a stranger. Now when there is a knock on the door or the doorbell rings, you can answer from your built-in whole-home intercom system. Respond by voice from your mobile device from anywhere. The caller has no idea if you are home or not.

When you are working or sleeping in another part of home, keep an eye on and an ear tuned into children or an unattended pet with a remotely controlled electric eye. If the software senses movement, it will send you an alert and video. You can’t put a price on peace of mind.

Easily monitor the exterior or interior of all areas of your home remotely. The camera signal is not monitored and is accessible only with your password so privacy is not at issue. The camera footage is encrypted and is not recorded unless triggered by a pre-programmed on entered command such as setting the camera to go off if the door to your office is opened or someone attempts to get into the liquor cabinet or gun safe. Don’t worry about pets setting the cameras off. Cameras are pet-friendly up to 85 pounds.

Go Green And Save Money

State-of-the-art master control systems bring together all of your smart home technologies including lighting, televisions, home theaters, sound systems, temperature control and home security while allowing you to easily control it all from anywhere in the world with a wireless connection. When homeowners first meet with a smart home consultant/contract, they are absolutely amazed at everything a modern smart home system can do.

The ever-evolving ways that smart home technology can control energy consumption, save water, entertain; manage personal comfort and home security. You’re only limited only by the imagination. It’s fun to be creative. If a household task can be automated, your smart home contractor can design and install the necessary equipment and software to make it happen.

Live Independently

Smart home technology promises incredible benefits for an elderly person living alone, or homeowners that are physically disabled or handicapped. A smart homes can remind you to take your medications, wireless monitor medical devices and equipment, remotely alert emergency services and family members if you fall or have a life-threatening event. Smart home technology can you’re your bath and if you turn it on yourself, even shut off the water running in the bathtub before it overflows. By automating household tasks, installing electronic security safeguards and video monitoring, an individual that would otherwise be dependent on the in-home services or forced to live in a nursing home can maintain an independent life in their own home.

Retrofitting An Older Home

Smart home automation systems can either be wireless or wired. The industry trend has been toward more wireless systems, using wireless Internet routers, wireless remote controls, and wireless phones. Since wireless automation does not require running wiring throughout the house, it is most easily retrofitted to older homes.

Smart home systems are designed for easy additions and upgrades. You can start out with a home security and add other automation options as your wants, needs, and pocketbook demand. Talk to your smart home contractor to determine the products and systems you would like. An older home with pre-wiring connections such as cable, telephone or Internet line to every room offers greater flexibility however wireless options are available.

In new construction or refit situations where a wired network is practical, your smart home contractor will likely recommend a wired network which can carry more data, more security, and less interference, and presents less problems. Work with your smart home contractor to choose the best equipment and software for your system. Products of mainstream suppliers contain a protocol that allows communication between products, remote control features and a central control panel managed by the homeowner. While products of different manufacturers communicate via the same exact protocol it takes a professional smart home technician to integrate all systems in a home so they function dependably and seamlessly.

Doesn’t It Cost Too Much?

Yes, smart home technology can be expensive. In the case of an older home, automation may require costly add-ons that will replace existing fixtures or the purchase of new appliances. Light switches, light bulbs, thermostats and other smart home controls and software will need to be replaced or upgrade.

It costs less, when smart home technology is incorporated into new construction. Talk to your architect and building contractor and determine the level of home automation you want to include in your initial building plans. Smart home technology can save as much as 20 to 40 on energy costs and is an investment that pays for itself with cost-saving, time-saving, and convenience while adding value to your property.

Smart home technology is an attractive and many times required item for new homebuyers. However, smart home technology isn't for everyone. Some people find it too much trouble to learn and adapt to the changing technology of our times; they can’t be bothered. If you are “old-school” and computer illiterate, smart home technology is not likely to suit your lifestyle.

Choosing A Smart Home Contractor

When looking for a smart home contractor or installation technician, ask if they have a CEA-Comp TIA certification. A partnership between the Consumers Electronics Association (CEA) and the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), certification represents proficiency in designing, installing, troubleshooting and maintaining home network systems and equipment.

If you love technology and embrace all the latest hi-tech gadgets, you will absolutely be delighted with smart home technology now and in the future.