As the number of connected devices at home keeps growing, so does the challenge of keeping it all working harmoniously. “Techorating” your home can elevate your lifestyle when done properly, but when implemented poorly can hinder more than it helps. The difference is design. Smarthomes need to be designed with foresight and a detailed attention to user behavior. The earlier technology can be brought into the conversation on a project, the better the end result will be.
While every smarthome is different, there are a few guidelines we’ve found remain true through almost all of them. Consider the following…
Less is More
A lot of people make the mistake of wanting their home to do absolutely everything. The best smarthome solutions accentuate things you already do. Try not to come up with solutions for problems that don’t exist. Try not to be a box collector either. Instead of having an Apple TV, a Roku and a Sling, pick one and stick to it. The ease of use will win over the extra content for most people, and managing all of those different logins and passwords (even for multiple Apple TVs) is a pain.
Avoid any streaming service built directly into your TV. One day they won’t suck, but today is not that day.
Keep Control Intuitive
As cool as it might be to launch your favorite scene with a triple-tap of the foyer keypad, no one but the person who requested that feature will use it. You can remind others all you like, but unless the controller is clear and intuitive the moment you look at it, people will forget how to use it and convenience will be eclipsed by frustration.
Don’t Skimp on the Unsexy
Nobody talks about the foundation of your smarthome, but a strong one is vital. Your network is the backbone on which every piece of connected tech depends. Solid networking infrastructure (usually not the router your ISP gave to you), cabling and thorough Wi-Fi coverage are the unsung heroes of a great smarthome. Anything less, and an otherwise perfect setup will have problems. And whenever possible choose wired over wireless – you can’t beat it for reliability.
Invest in Tech that Holds its Value
People get fixated on the newest flat screen or streaming device, when these things lose their value the fastest. A premium pair of speakers from Bowers & Wilkins or Sonus Faber holds much of its value over time. Another big consideration here is ecosystem. It’s not just about technical specs anymore. It’s about how dedicated the brand is to rolling out software updates and keeping their customers compatible as the ecosystem keeps pace with the industry. Beware of a flashy product from a company that hasn’t been in business for a long time.
Tune your TV
A TV out of the box is programmed to look its best in a showroom full of other TVs. This is way too bright for a dimly lit living room. It’s also worth comparing the differences between your TV’s presets, as watching a movie on ‘sports’ mode rather than ‘cinema’ mode will look drastically different to the discerning eye. Finally, avoid any streaming service built directly into your TV. One day they won’t suck, but today is not that day.
Keypads and AV Don’t Mix
Keypads are great for lighting and shading. AV on the other hand is a more complicated beast, and one that’s best controlled through an iPad, touch screen or handheld remote. With so many options, something as simple as a keypad just won’t feel intuitive.
Don’t Overdo the Kids' Room
Most kids tend to gravitate to their own device, and will likely want to control everything from there. Any other means of control will likely go ignored.
Let Go of the Past
If you’re working with an integrator, don’t force them to reuse old equipment sitting around. The labor and long-lasting compatibility issues will likely outweigh the perceived savings.
Finally, avoid broad strokes bids that aren’t preceded by a thorough design. Guessing at a solution and troubleshooting later can work out for smaller systems, but whole home automation requires foresight.
This article was written by Brick & Wonder members Cloud 9 Smart.