Preparing smart home Installations for the future

Matt Nimmons of CEDIA EMEA discusses how to install smart home installations that can stand the test of time, and details the elements that need to be considered when designing a wider home integration project.

The integration of smart technology is fast becoming the norm for households up and down the country.

Every project is different, and every homeowner has different priorities and needs. For example, while one person may want to install multi-room audio, another may want to create a comprehensive AV system that integrates automated blind control, projection screens, multi-room audio, and integrated smart lighting to create an all-encompassing smart home, and each should be carefully considered and planned.

The benefit is that all integrated technology can be controlled from one interface, either through control panels situated throughout the home or via mobile devices, proving the simplicity and ease of managing home automation.

From finger-tip electronic control over any aspect of the home, to pre-programmed settings that turn on your lights and unlock your doors when your car pulls in the drive, home automation is the future of 21st century homes.

One of the most important factors to consider before starting any home integration project is to establish the level of technology you require for the property. The simplest way to do this is to look at a floor plan of the house and highlight the kind of technologies you’d like to install in each room. The best way to prepare any smart home installation project for the future is to ensure you have a wiring infrastructure in place that can deliver all current and new technology efficiently and reliably.

Plan ahead

Any smart home system needs to be expertly planned out beforehand. This will provide a clear idea of how rooms will work once furnished, so TVs and speakers can be positioned in the optimum locations and all power points and cables can be terminated, so as not to be seen when the equipment is finally installed.

A properly designed wired and wireless infrastructure has the potential to deliver reliable content and services throughout the home for many years, but it is essential to work with a technology integrator, as they understand the requirements and can provide a solution that fits with your scheme and your expectations.

Think cabling from the outset

The basis of any smart home project is the infrastructure – i.e., the cables. Not all properties require technology at an early stage, but it is crucial for the correct wiring to be in place so that it is ready for the future. A common phrase heard amongst the home technology industry is “the most expensive cable you have to install is the one that did not get installed in the first place.”

Cables cannot be easily retrofitted, nor can space for the essential boxes driving a system be easily found, once the property has already been decorated. A wired infrastructure can set up the home for future applications, which can then be easily upgraded and expanded at a later point.

Developers can enhance the value of their product by incorporating sufficient wiring that provides the basic infrastructure for a smart home. In a competitive situation a wired home with the potential for deep connectivity is likely to sell quicker than one without. It also allows developers to upsell electronic products, systems and services to meet their customers’ requirements in an approach that can create extra revenue and bring about a more attractive, clutter-free space.

To achieve any degree of wireless technology implementation in the home, a certain level of cabling for power and communications for ‘wireless’ equipment will still be required.

Technology integrators

When working on a project, it is important to build a relationship with a technology integrator from the get-go. They will be the best informed and trained in the latest technologies, design, project management and installation techniques, and will understand that technology in the home is a significant investment. Working with a technology integrator is the best insurance you have that the final system will meet your expectations.

Matt Nimmons is managing director of CEDIA EMEA