As research shows consumer demand for smart home technology is increasing, Loxone’s Omid Nikroo explains why housebuilders should be giving it more consideration, and the benefits of an ‘ecosystem’ approach.


mart home technology is increasingly becoming a ‘must have’ for homebuyers, with our research suggesting that one in five homeowners would prefer a smart home to a conservatory and 17 per cent would be happy to sacrifice an additional bathroom to have a full home automation system.

According to research by Barclays, over a quarter (28 per cent) of homeowners are willing to spend up to 4.5 per cent more for a property with the latest smart home technology. It’s not just about their convenience; buyers are contemplating the potential impact of smart technology on the value of their property. 30 per cent of homeowners surveyed online believe installing technology in their home will increase its value and help the property to sell in future.

Smart home technology is particularly popular among ‘millennials’; A 2016 report from Accenture suggests that 61 per cent would like a digital application which can allow them to track their energy usage and automate their home’s temperature within the next five years. Naturally, a generation that has grown up with the internet and smartphones is seeking homes with the technological infrastructure to keep pace with their technology-driven lifestyles.

OFF-THE-SHELF VS ECOSYSTEM Lighting, heating and security are the most popular aspects of the home for automation, followed by blind control, AV and energy management. The market offers consumers a spectrum of solutions for advanced control of these areas; however, their functionality and scope varies widely. At one end of the spectrum sit several

off-the-shelf, cloud-based solutions that typically serve a single function, such as a smart thermostat for heating control. These products offer an affordable route to

home automation and therefore have been instrumental in opening up the market to a much wider audience.

The disadvantage of these products is that they often lack integration and compatibility with each other and have limited functionality, causing consumer frustration. Also, they do not like the inflexibility of not being able to update or extend the system in future, and have security concerns regarding storing such personal data in the Cloud. Furthermore, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to consumer education: According to Barclays’ Digital Home Report (2015), 42 per cent of those surveyed felt confused about the current range of technology available to install in the home and what they should be buying for their home.

When looking at consumer awareness around smart heating control, it’s easy to see why confusion and despondency has arisen; smart thermostats set the expectation for consumers that heating needs to be manually controlled via an app. A much more convenient and efficient

option, however, is a dynamic, ‘learning’ heating system that knows when you are using rooms within your home and adjusts temperatures automatically. It will switch off the heating automatically when you are not at home and switch it on ready for your return, all without the need for an app. Not only that, such a system can also take weather conditions and forecasts into account and make intelligent decisions which will compensate accordingly. By integrating the heating as part of a wider smart home system, it can even go a step further and can recognise when a door or window in a room has been left open and lower the heating in that room to save energy. This level of automation is typical of an ‘ecosystem’ solution.

‘Ecosystems’ are whole-home solutions designed to run a home automatically and efficiently. Typically centrally managed, they have a central logic controller or ‘brain’ to integrate the home and ensure systems such as heating and cooling work in tandem rather than against each other. Although such solutions typically require a higher upfront investment than ‘IoT’ solutions, they have several advantages.

While the majority of new constructions will have a wired home automation infrastructure, there are wireless options available which are popular with retrofit projects and as an expansion option to a wired system. These offer the homeowner the power and reliability of a holistic, wired smart home system without the inconvenience of rewiring or chasing walls. Whole-home automation systems avoid the need for constant manual adjustments, and one motion sensor can provide the foundation for automating multiple smart home functions such as lighting, burglar alarms, music and more.

Some systems have the capability to integrate renewable energy sources such as solar PV and MVHR systems, in addition to electric vehicle charging. Electrical load can be balanced, intelligently optimising energy usage by switching off power-hungry devices and appliances left on standby. Home automation is not just for technophiles, it can offer excellent family-friendly features, such as a notification on your smartphone when the kids are home from school. In addition, if the customers include older people or those with restricted mobility, non-intrusive, passive monitoring can be used to help people live independently in their homes for longer.

Omid Nikroo is a home automation specialist at Loxone


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52