How to turn your old house into a smart home

Have you ever wondered if you would like to have your food already cooked when you come home? Or to have your house warm when you open the front door without starting your boiler? Would you like to be able to check that everything is alright, even in your long-term absence? Or set up everything from your sofa where you are now via your mobile due to laziness and idleness? To be able to have your doors open for you, switch devices off and on, play music, pull the blinds, or many other tasks?

Welcome to the 21st century where everything is possible. Smart living offers you countless options for a good price. There are manufacturers around the world engaged in producing devices for smart homes, and many other companies making household equipment for communication with smart wiring. So why would you like to turn your flat or house or hotel or commercial building into a smart home?

The biggest motivation for most users is reducing energy consumption, comfort, automatization, remote monitoring and safety. The difference between classic and smart wiring is that you don’t need to expand a lot of cables but just have one data cable. Data cables combine into a central unit for the whole system from each plug-in, sensor and switch. The benefit of this wiring system is that you have the option to expand the system for new functions without any damage to the wall.

You can choose a wireless solution if you don’t want to put distributors in your house for any reason. This installation is comparatively easy. You can buy small boxes you can implement under the cover of your switch, plug-in or light and connect it to the network. Download the app to your mobile and you can start to control your smart home. Devices for wireless solutions aren’t expensive when you compare them with everything they can do. The usability of the system is between 50 to 60% of the usability of smart wires, yet comfort and the saving of energy costs will be a big benefit in every aspect.

Wire installation pays off if you are going to do a refurbishment of your flat or house. Before you start to install cables your electrician should already have experience with the system you want to install. Some systems can save a lot of money because they don’t need to use classical cabling, instead they are expanded by one data cable communicating with a central unit and control, basically all switches, sensors, plug-ins and lights on 12/24V. 220V cables are almost not needed with some smart wires.

When your cables are installed all around your house or flat you can set up lights, switches, plug-ins, sensors etc. Now you are coming closer to having your smart home. The most important and most expensive cables are placed in a central unit, which is basically the switchboard of your house or flat. This central unit will be equipped with a considerable amount of relays and actors, communicating with particular parts of your house, such as lights, switches, cooker/stove, heating, sun blinds, consumer and entertainment electronics, and many others. As I said above, the benefit of this system is having the option to expand it for further functions in the future by adding relays and new actors. Later on you can add irrigation systems for your garden, pool heating, and control solar panels, heat pumps, air conditioning etc.

Before you start with the installation of your smart wires you should think about where you will place your plug-ins, switches, sensors etc., as you can use them later on when you add any new modern tweaks to your home.

When everything is extended and ready, it’s time for the programming of all the functions for your household. You will need an experienced smart wire programmer, who you will find via the producer of your system. Some systems have basic functions implemented in advance, but because every user is different and has different requirements, setting up for your own needs will be vital.

An important question for smart homes is their safety. “The security level is the same as the security level of your internet connection from outside. You access it via the internet, which means if you have good internet security so that no-one can access your computer when you are surfing on the internet; this means that your system is secure. For more security, every box (both smart wire and wireless) has its own level of passwords for the user, programmer and serviceman.” Says Jiří Konečný chairman of the Czech association of smart homes.

The wireless system uses its own circuit and is completely independent of Wi-Fi or data. This increases its security. Only in cases where you want to access the system via mobile app or remotely from anywhere around the world is it necessary to have a quality secure internet connection.

You don’t have to control your smart home via a mobile app only. Most quality producers offer their own modern touch displays equipped with buttons for basic functions within your household. Better producers offer the option to add new buttons personalized for your needs, which can be for example, a coffeemaker that gets your coffee ready before you go into your kitchen when you wake up in the morning.

Many producers of consumer electronics offer compatibility with particular smart wires. It is always vital to check or ask your smart home supplier for compatible electronic devices. It would be wasting your money to buy something that is not fit for your system.

Design matters. Most users who decide to do a refurbishment will be interested in a modern and attractive design for switches and plug-ins. Better producers offer, mostly in cooperation with another supplier, a quality customer service and a choice of these home accessories. A quality producer will offer you an attractive panel that will attach to the wall to control all of your home. Unsightly thermostat boxes and other devices will not spoil the design of your refurbished walls.

If you decide to look for the best smart homes supplier, you can use the CEDIA website www.cedia.org the world’s leading authority on residential automation technology, which has associations with more than 3500 companies around the world. Before you contact your potential supplier, prepare the questions you will need answers to, as buying your system from such a producer will allow you absolute flexibility and options for expansion of the system, including a customer and technical service if anything goes wrong. Don’t be scared to look for this abroad as well.

And to finish, a small tip because Christmas is coming. Starting a wireless set can be a great gift for your family.

written by Lord Charles

photo by Lord Charles