Smart technology at home
Invest in smart technology to create more comfort and security for you and your family at home.
Smart technology has been around for decades, but installing electronic solutions at home is now far more affordable and accessible. Whether you’re building or renovating, a range of products and devices are available to suit you and your property.
Integrate lighting that sets the scene for the perfect dining experience at your command, or choose a bath that fills up at the right time and temperature. The latest technology will help you live in greater comfort than ever.
An automated system can be a simple or an extravagant choice, but the ideal combination can completely transform the look and feel of a home.
‘Automating lighting should be considered at the start of a project when the space is being planned out,’ says Sanjit Bahra, lighting specialist at Design Plus Light. ‘As a rule of thumb, we recommend you start thinking about it at the same time as you look at plumbing.’
Before you work out the set-up, however, consider the lighting needs for each area of the home. A hallway, for example, may benefit from a simple sensor that provides illumination when it detects motion. Or you can adjust the intensity in various zones, perhaps so that lighting is softer if used in the middle of the night.
‘Different settings are important in the bathroom. You may want it to be especially bright in the morning to wake you up,’ says Bahra. ‘And a dimmer night setting creates a haven away from the world.’
‘Budgeting from around £10,000 for an average home is normal, as you could be looking at around £150 per circuit, alongside a processor, keypads and the programming to set up a system,’ says Sian Parsons, senior designer at John Cullen Lighting. ‘Lutron offers a simple one-room system called the Grafik Eye QS, which can also link to control your blinds. Rako has a wireless option, which is fantastic if you aren’t fully refurbishing, own a listed or protected property, or want the flexibility to add more circuits at a later date.’
Whether you choose to install smart thermostatic radiator valves that can be managed wirelessly or a hi-tech thermostat like Nest Learning, you will benefit from lower heating bills.
And by turning your thermostat down by just one degree, you’ll save as much as £90 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. The intelligent and potentially cost-saving aspect of apps, smart valves and thermostats is that you can combine them to zone your heating.
Security & audio-visual
Clever integration between different manufacturers is key to ensure smooth, everyday use. For instance, you can pair the Fibaro system with an existing security or smoke-detector arrangement. ‘The best products on the market are those that link well with your other house controls,’ says Parsons.
You can also throw away the keys and opt for a smart door lock, which can be operated using a code, fingerprints or a card. These intelligent solutions can be programmed to work alongside your existing security. If you’re on holiday you can time music to be played and lights to be turned on, which should help deter any potential intruders.
Your entertainment system can be brought into the mix, too, so you can hear your favourite songs when you walk through the door or when you wake up. Movie nights with the family can become an even more enjoyable experience with a set-up that dims the lights, closes the curtains and starts the film, all at the tap of a touchscreen.