Behind the Smart Home Trend—And How to Get Yours Up and Running
Smart homes integrate technology and efficiency to boost convenience, security, comfort and ambience.
You’re finally home after a long day. You scan your fingerprint to get inside. Then, with the press of a button or a voice command, your shades are drawn, the air conditioning kicks in, ambient lighting turns on, and your favorite music begins to play. You are safely and comfortably in your nest, customized to your exact specifications.
Welcome to your smart home, a haven where technology and energy efficiency combine to meet the tech-savvy homeowner’s needs and provide cost savings. “Smart homes used to be a luxury. Now technology is a necessity,” says Anika Ruff, sales director of Out of Sight Technologies in Maitland.
Whether you’re retrofitting an existing home or building a new one, it all begins with a strong network that will stand the test of time as devices and features are added to the home. “Nowadays, you don’t really think about the quantity of connected things, but the number gets quite large—whether it’s iPads, televisions or speaker systems. You need bandwidth, you need speed, and you need uniform connectivity,” says Brock Nicholas, division president for Lennar’s Orlando region.
Lennar’s Storey Park neighborhood incorporates a Wi-Fi “highway,” as Nicholas calls it, that will continue to provide uniform connectivity as homeowners add smart features. The homes come equipped with solar, security systems, Ring doorbells, keyless entry, automated lights and shades, smart thermostats, wiring for smart TVs, and USB ports throughout. Occupancy sensors control lights in closets and bathrooms. All features can be controlled via apps, a panel, or a cloud-based device such as Alexa.
Though customers appreciate advancements in building science that result in durable, energy-efficient structures, they also enjoy the instant gratification that in-home technology provides. “These devices are giving people a chance to interact with innovation and voice control in their own homes,” Nicholas says.
No two smart homes are exactly alike because no two families are exactly alike, notes Ruff. “One of the things we do that I think is very important is have a conversation about the client’s lifestyle. Everything is modular once the network is in. Then it’s thermostats. Then it’s cameras. Then it’s maybe different types of music streaming.” Smart home features can include pool controls, outdoor lighting, fireplaces and appliances. All features can be controlled remotely. Smart appliances can even be diagnosed remotely, Ruff says.
According to architect and custom home builder Phil Kean, smart home technology has increased in breadth while decreasing substantially in price over the past 20 years. Also, different manufacturers are creating products that can be controlled using a single system, such as Control4. “It used to be a lot more propriety. Technology has gotten so that all these things can talk to each other,” Kean says.
Smart homes promise to change the way we live. Nanotechnology that will soon allow you to change the color of your room without using a paintbrush, will also help us to keep living. Health sensors throughout the home, along with monitors in mirrors and waste testers in toilets, will track health and detect illness. Says Kean: “Homes of the future will be not just a place to sleep or have dinner, but they will be your first defense against illness.”