These days it’s easy to switch the TV to your favourite series, dim the lights and make sure the air temperature is just right all at the touch of a button. Home automation is the ultimate in convenience and comfort, but there are certain pitfalls that can mar the effectiveness of your system. Follow our tips to make sure you get it right.
• Finding a reputable, accredited specialist is your starting point, insists Jonathan Blackburn of Elite Technologies. There’s no avoiding the fact that this can be a costly exercise, but trying to cut corners may cost you more in the long run: “Most of our work comes from fixing defective systems,” says Blackburn. If you’re concerned about costs, create a budget upfront and work around it.
• Start planning your system right at the very beginning; at the stage where your house plans are being drawn up. Jonathan points out that automation involves a great deal of cabling, and it’s better to plan where this should go before the home is built.
• Avoid making your system too reliant on smartphone apps, warns Warren Husband from Homemation. The huge attraction here is convenience, obviously, but problems may arise if this is your only way of accessing the systems. What happens if your phone needs to be charged, or you need to answer a phone call and your phone is rendered useless as an automation control point? It’s also a good idea to ensure that your system can be operated manually. “When the only way a light switch is activated is by means of a motion sensor and there is no way to manually control a light, you will be left in the dark if the motion sensor fails to operate. This is often the biggest irritation a home owner faces when the system is designed without thoughts of redundancy,” he points out.
• Remember that more inputs make for smarter outputs. The more information your system has, the more intuitive its outputs will be; for example, if the system knows about occupancy in the room and lighting conditions in the environment, it will be able to activate lighting only when needed.
• Make sure that your contractor has a good sense of your daily routines, so that they can design a system that meets your needs and fits into your lifestyle, Husband advises.
• Power conditioning and surge protection is a must, he concludes: protecting the equipment from dirty power ensures optimal performance.