According to Smart Home Week, more than 57% of British homes have at least one smart device. And the number of smart homes now stands at 2.2 million in the UK. A smart home is defined as one that has a central hub, and this smart hub controls at least 2 smart devices that are connected to it.
Smart home penetration is only increasing and is pegged to reach 63% by the year 2025. With this high rate of adoption, chances are you have considered making your home smart at some point. So, what are some of the most important decisions that you need to make when it comes to smart homes?
The Smart Home Components
The most important would be the ecosystem. There are 3 main ecosystems in the market now. Google Nest, Amazon Alexa, and Apple HomeKit. The next would be the method with which you would control the ecosystem. This could be through apps, speakers, or smart displays and the wireless standard which they use. The available ones are Bluetooth, Wifi, or a proprietary smart hub.
One final consideration that you need to make is based on the stability of the power grid in your area. The most important component of a smart home is a stable and uninterrupted power supply. If you face occasional power supply outages, you can consider backup power supply options like generators or batteries.
Diesel generators provide the backup energy needed to run smart homes in case there is a power outage. Modern diesel generators of 30kW can be used to power medium-sized homes. The modern generators run quiet and come equipped with acoustic covers that can further dampen noise pollution. If you are concerned about air pollution, you can consider green generators.
Let’s get into more detail on these components.
Google Nest: Google’s voice assistant is the main USP of the Nest system. It supports a conversational style of commands. The response to follow-up requests and complicated commands is also better than either Amazon Alex or Apple HomeKit. If you have any android devices, then Google Assistant is already installed on those devices. It will offer up smart home shortcuts.
Amazon Alexa: Alexa was the first to market when it comes to smart home devices and it supports the largest range of smart home products. It supports "Alexa Skills" which work like smartphone apps. They are a part of the smart displays and smart speakers. The Alexa compatible devices also happen to be the most affordable. However, if you want to use your phone for voice commands, you must keep the Alexa app running. This isn’t a problem with Google or Apple.
Apple HomeKit: Like other apple products, HomeKit is the most restrictive of them all. If you already have several apple products at home, this is your best choice. While Apple may lack openness, it has the most smooth operation. The strict control on certifications means that it has the least amount of glitches. Apple’s HomeKit environment is the most beautifully designed and intuitive of the three. But its voice assistant Siri is the weakest in the group.
The Control Method
It is possible to control all the smart home gadgets through a smartphone. However, it is recommended that you control them through smart speakers and smart hubs. This is important if you have more than one person living with you. Wireless speakers are always on and have sensitive microphones.
You don’t need to shout out commands to them. Smart displays are very intuitive and are easy for almost everyone to use. Remember that all smart speakers collect personal voice data with Amazon Alexa collecting the most.
Wifi might seem like the obvious choice for connecting all the smart home devices. But, if you live in an apartment building there is a concern for signal interference. Bluetooth is the solution here. Bluetooth is slower but offers more stability through dedicated smart hubs. If you do decide to opt for Wifi, consider getting the newest 6 GHz routers to future-proof your smart home.
Since 2020, domestic generator demand has gone up by 100%. Issues with gas supplies and rising costs especially during winter have contributed to this spurt. Storm Eucine in 2022 left 55,000 homes in the south and east of England without power for over a week. Many smart homes were left paralyzed during that time.
Diesel generators in the country are available for sale and rent. Even if you decide not to purchase one, you need to plan in advance and retrofit your electrical system for a contingency. If you are in the midst of a power crisis, this would simply mean that you hire a diesel generator and plug it in temporarily.
When you build a home, you make sure that the foundations are strong so that you can add additional structures to it. Similarly, you need to plan the foundations of your smart home with these principles so that you can keep adding more components to it.
Remember, you might have the best smart home devices but they will not run without power and strong connectivity. The last thing you want is for you to be left stranded because your smart door lock is not functioning due to a weak ecosystem or a power outage.