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BSEE


Smart technology is growing in popularity – fast. Building services professionals working on residenal properes are finding that occupants expect smart tech to be implemented into their home in some way. As consumer demand grows, it is imperave that engineers are able to keep up with technology trends to implement the most ecient soluon in their development. Richard Hopkins, Lead Markeng Manager at Legrand UK and Ireland, explores the consideraons building services engineers must make when selecng soluons for their smart residenal buildings.


A


ccording to a recent survey of 1,000 UK


consumers by Legrand, two thirds of people have a


smart device in their home and over half have plans to purchase more in the near future. Demand for smart technology is clearly set to grow, and with it will be an expectation that building stock will be smarter.


Given this exponential growth, building services engineers will need to consider smart controls and systems when selecting solutions for their developments. As consumers begin to expect the presence of smart technology, selecting the correct level of equipment that will optimise user comfort and promote efficiency whilst remaining cost- effective will be key.


With such a wealth of devices and systems on the market, there are many functions that can be integrated into a home automation scene. It is down to a building services engineer to select solutions that have all of the necessary features that deliver comfort and convenience to end users, without being too complex.


Residential controls


In order to give advice on smart building controls for residential applications, building services professionals must first be aware of the available innovations those living in their property may expect. There are a number of home functions that can be controlled using smart devices, all of which can be integrated in scenes operated through apps or control panels. For instance, lighting can be set to scheduled, operated remotely and use sensors to change according to light levels outdoors. When a building’s occupants are rushing to work or going on holiday, there is no need to question whether lights are switched off. Reducing unnecessary lighting use can also lower electricity consumption overall, saving costs for an increasingly environmentally- aware and sustainable demographic of end users.


For those with increasing awareness of home security, smart door and gate entry systems can be implemented, which use smartphone apps to see, communicate with and allow entry to visitors. On top of this, smart cameras can be installed easily to the interior and exterior of a property and integrated with smart lighting to further deter intruders and make footage clearer for end users. Some camera devices, such as those from Netatmo, can detect different types of movement, like that from a person, animal or vehicle. Facial recognition is also available, discerning whether to send alerts to the end users’ smartphone, or trigger a siren.


As colder weather draws in, smart heating technology will also be high on the list of end user priorities. Able to be integrated with scenes, smart thermostats, radiator valves and outdoor weather sensors control heating within a home exactly when required, adapting with changes in weather and occupant habits over time.


Whether installing a handful of devices into a home, or creating fully smart residential developments, electrical contractors who have undergone relevant training have the knowledge to deliver the specified system. By having the expert knowledge, they can ensure the property’s smart controls are completely ready for use by the occupants, as well as being able to answer any queries or provide expert maintenance later on.


This includes heating earlier to reach the chosen setpoint temperature at the exact time indicated in the heating schedule. As characteristics of the home and accumulated weather data are learned, the system optimises space heating across the property by intelligently calculating and controlling the amount of heat needed and temperature of the circulating water.


As well as these, audio and multimedia systems, shading controls and voice control devices can be integrated in scenes within a residence. While consumers have often garnered an understanding of these devices individually using the internet, they may require an electrical engineer or installer to set up and initially programme. Therefore, it is imperative that not only the system that specifiers or consultants select is one that is easy to operate after installation, but that electrical contractors working on the building have the right


understanding of smart controls and home automation.


The people question


With demand for smart controls on the increase, it is clear building services engineers will need to make sure they choose efficient, cost- effective solutions expected in residential developments of today. Installing devices and systems effectively is also imperative, so finding contractors who are confident when it comes to smart installation and configuration should be a priority.


Often suppliers of smart controls and systems will have directories of verified contractors who have been trained to install, programme and maintain solutions. For example, companies such as Legrand have a network of contractors trained in the installation and programming of the MyHOME_Up home automation system that specifiers can utilise if they choose the solution. On top this, there are many who are Pro Installers of Netatmo smart devices, meaning building services engineers can benefit from the services of electrical professionals who can implement entire scenes and systems covering all functions. To ensure any issues during installations are avoided, support is available to these contractors from manufacturers to ensure they are equipped information whenever required. With any residential project, building services engineers with the latest smart control trends and technologies knowledge will be best placed to select suitable systems for the application facing them. In such a consumer-directed market, staying ahead of smart technology growth is important. As this efficient and convenient technology begins to form part of a sustainable future, being up to date with innovation will mean building services engineers can ensure their projects are future- proof.


For more information on Legrand’s smart home ranges, visit: www.legrand.co.uk/products/user-interface/


22 BUILDING SERVICES & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER NOVEMBER 2020 Read the latest at: www.bsee.co.uk


BUILDING CONTROLS Taking control with smart buildings


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