Planning for a Smart Home – Things to Know

Here’s a copy of an article on  I contributed to as a Designhounds correspondent.

Designhounds headed to Miami to participate in the 5 Levels of a Smarthome presentation sponsored by Control4 and presented by the NKBA.

Designhounds correspondent Ann Porter, Principal Designer at Kitchen Studios of Naples, Inc.braved the rain and headed across Alligator Alley in Miami to attend a special South Florida NKBA CEU class sponsored by Control4 to learn about the “5 Levels of a Smart Home.”

My takeaways from control4 smart home presentation

Here’s a bit more about Control4. Control4 is a leading provider of automation and networking systems for homes and businesses, offering personalized control of lighting, music, video, comfort, security, communications, and more into a unified smart home system that enhances the daily lives of its consumers with comfort and energy efficiency.

Ann shared 4 key takeaways during the presentation that every designer needs to know to correctly identify the proper level of integration needed for a client’s home. Here are those key insights:

Customers Want Simplicity
Technology is growing at a staggering rate with 14,000 Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturers worldwide. With technology comes complexity. Consumers are drawn towards the promise of easy installation; unfortunately, this does not always translate into smooth integration. To make that process easier, Control4 highly recommends working with one of their technology integrators.

DIY vs Professional

According to Nicholas Rosado, eastern sales rep for Control4, more homeowners are willing to hire a painter to paint their home than are willing to hire a professional to install their network. There is a growing need for more education to change the “want it cheap and want it yesterday” mentality. It is important to hire a professional,whether that is a professional designer or a professional technology integrator who has the know-how to properly install connected home technology for the best quality, experience and future adaptability.

My takeaways from control4 smart home presentation

It’s All About the Network
On average there are 1.3 connected devices for every American  and all of our Wi-Fi dependent devices are open to vulnerabilities. These days a set it and forget it attitude just won’t do. We need secure networks capable of supporting everything from our Wi-Fi enabled medical device to our remote grilling thermometer. Purchasing a service plan from a tech integrator will ensure a secure network.

Full Integration vs Intuitive Integration
When most homeowners are ready to install a professional Smart Home System, they are expecting the ability to integrate everything with one platform (not just a Wi-Fi router). While this sounds like a top of the line system it’s not necessarily smart. Beyond full automation is predictive automation. The latest IoT sensors and machine learning will require networks to be able to support large amounts of data and personal information to safely and efficiently complete complex tasks. For example, your predictive home system could send you a text message to let you know your garage door has been open for 30 minutes with no movement in or out and ask if you want to close it.

As designers, we all know a good set of plans can be invaluable. The need to discuss Smart Home Integration begins at the planning stage and not when the smart appliance or motorized blinds are being delivered. A key takeaway from my visit to Miami is that it’s okay to start consulting with a tech integrator before you and the client have finalized exactly what level of integration they want – a good system can always be expanded and built upon. Be sure to utilize the Control4 Dealer Locator tool so that their professional team can guide your process from start to finish.

Many thanks to Control4 and the NKBA for hosting a great evening rich with insights in the smarthome.


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