Here’s what you need to know…
A well-designed home automation system should make your life easier, make your household run smoother, and save you plenty of energy. But which systems can meet all your demands, now and in the future?
Systems integrators, like ourselves, typically tailor a solution to provide all the benefits you desire. But you can make our his job easier by considering a few key aspects. We reviewed what both manufacturers, and professional installers recommended, and some of their answers might surprise you.
So, before you jump in and spend a lot of money on your new home automation system, here are a few things you might want to consider first:
Not all systems offer this, but we think this is a no-brainer. Jay McClellan, president of Home Automation Inc., says, “Automation is all about being able to control things in your home, and part of that is being able to change the settings quickly and easily if your plans change.” And most of the time plans change when you’re not at home. That’s why being able to communicate with your home auto system remotely has become one of the most revered features of a good system.
Typically, remote access allows you to monitor the status of your home’s devices, as well as change their levels or settings of the lights, thermostats, alarm, or surveillance system. Also, we believe remote access should be free of charge.
A well-designed home automation system will have the ability to link diverse electronic devices together so that they can operate as a single unified system. For example, when you press a ‘Good Night’ button, you expect the interior lights to switch off, some outside lights to switch on, the alarm to arm in Stay mode, and the thermostats to either turn off, or go to an energy saving set-point.
If your home automation is a retrofit project, make sure that your installer understands what existing equipment need to be integrated. You don’t want to buy a dozen new thermostats just because they’re not compatible with the home auto system.
Tried & Tested
Don’t let the installer learn to shave on your face. Look for an installer who’s been around for a few years, installing the same brands. Their company websites should provide you with case studies or historical projects.
If your installer tells you that some of the things you want the system to do “are impossible”, then either he or the manufacturer has failed you. Look elsewhere for somebody who is willing to take on a challenge.
Commitment to energy savings
This again is a no-brainer. A well-designed home automation system should be an energy management system in its own right. We have had tremendous success in reducing our client’s electrical bills by utilising our load management algorithms.
Make sure that the solution your installer provides is upgradable, and expandable. many home automation systems bring out a new version every ten years or so, which makes the old version redundant. Look for a system that can be upgraded into perpetuity.
Also, look for a modular system that can easily be added onto without the addition of more control processors. You never know what you want to do with your system a year or two after first installing it.
Strong dealer network
Last, but certainly not least, it is very important to make sure that the installer’s training and expertise matches the quality of the equipment. Only use certified technicians. Good home automation manufacturers go through a lot of trouble to create a strong dealer network, by offering continual education and training. To protect yourself should your dealer close up shop, demand that he provide access to your project file. You’ll have all the documentation you need should you ever need to hire someone else.