The term ‘smart home’ has been around for a while now. Initially, it described a residence that was wired throughout and connected to the Internet. Now, the word ‘smart’ in smart home implies some kind of remote control, most likely from – take a guess – a smart phone.
For installers, this is an opportunity to integrate this new feature using enclosures for high speed cabling. This will save you headaches down the road if your client, or homeowner, decides to add the latest smart device. So, keep in mind that all kinds of devices are being marketed with the ability to be controlled with a smart phone.
Some seem to be more obvious candidates than others, but the capability is expanding into almost every area of our home. Examples includes:
People have used timers on their lights for years especially as a deterrent to burglars. Now, all aspects can be controlled remotely including brightness and even color. What’s more, some lighting can detect the presence of occupants in the room reducing energy waste.
Garage door opener
A wireless garage door opener was one of the first remote control devices to enter our homes. Ever misplace the remote or have it in a different car? Not to worry, most of us carry our smart phones at all times and can use them to open garage doors.
All aspects of an HVAC system – heating, air conditioning and de-humidifying – can be controlled from a learning smart thermostat. Even if you don’t have a whole house air conditioning system, standalone air conditioners and dehumidifiers are now available in smart versions.
Security systems were an early adopter of smart technology. Remote monitoring was a service originally offered over regular phone lines but now connection through high speed data lines has allowed security companies to branch out into all aspects of home security. Integrating door locks as well as fire, smoke and CO2 detectors has been added along with moisture monitoring to detect water leakage. They can even be adapted to include hot tub or swimming pool heating and water quality monitoring.
In its early stages, smart appliances and gadgets for the busiest room in a household are rolling out. Wouldn’t it be useful to cook and defrost food remotely? One idea that is taking off is the smart crockpot. This can be left on for hours but a smart feature allows users to adjust the temperature as needed.
Wiring a smart home
Many of these devices can run with just WiFi and a smart phone. The challenge, sometimes, is that there’s a lack of consistent and optimal coverage throughout a house.
Hard wiring, along with a smart home hub, is the best option especially if you are dealing with a new build. In this scenario, you have a choice on where to locate the hub and what type of wiring to install. It makes sense while walls are open to put in as much wiring as possible in anticipation of connecting multiple devices in every room of the house, perhaps even the bathroom.
With this amount of wiring there is much debate as to what amount of future proofing makes sense. Some installers insist that with its lower price it makes sense to use Cat5e wiring as it can still handle gigabit speeds. It can be used for phones, data, television and media servers. There is also the option of Power Over Ethernet (POE), where the power needed to run something like a wireless access point or camera is supplied as well.
Others say it’s worth paying the extra for Cat6, Cat7 and even fiber. One thing for certain is to consider future expansion and get a panel for your hub that is big enough and can handle enough capacity as more parts of the home become connected.
An optimal enclosure would be WiFi transparent to allow the installation of a wireless router. This way it can manage both your wired and wireless networks from a central location. Your ISP modem would provide the Internet connection and from there the data can be spread using distribution modules that allow easy access to connections.
Labelling cables at both ends will save time and frustration and general tidiness will make your smart home experience a delight.