The Evolution of Smarthome

Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat

Michael Chagala
Solar and Energy Storage Marketing

Love the idea of a Smart Home? Before you buy, here’s what you need to know.

If you think about it, automated or smart home technology has been around for a long time.  You’ve probably surrounded yourself with smart home devices all your life.  You’ve grown up with them.  Think about it; your garage door opener, the dimmer switch in your dining room, The Clapper.

Ever since the dawn of the industrial revolution, people have been busy replacing manual labor with machinery.  You can thank a bunch of machines for the device you are reading this article on. What about the shoes you’re wearing or the food you’ll eat for dinner?  Machines have allowed the human race to advance faster in the last century than perhaps the previous 10,000 years.  But the industrial revolution is not over.  It’s not a historic period from our past rather it is still very much in full swing.  If anything, the rate in which we are mechanizing the world around us is increasing.  You just need to know where to look.

The mechanization of our environment is not only about replacing factory workers with robots, it’s also about freeing people from the mundane chores of everyday life.  Unlike our ancestors, more time has given us the ability to pursue goals and dreams as well as fit in some leisure time. My great-grandmother made soap by hand, a labor-intensive chore requiring a full day’s work.  Today I can buy a bar of soap on Amazon for 25 cents and have it delivered to my doorstep at a speed that seems to defy logic.  This frees me up to do important things, like re-watching last night’s Game of Thrones.

The mechanization of the home took a giant leap in the 1950s with advanced versions of toasters, refrigerators and washing machines.  Microwave ovens, cordless phones, and the VCR were added in the 70s and 80s.  Computers, cell phones and the beginning of the internet in the 90s.  Fast forward to today and our homes are now a fragmented collection of comfort, convenience, security and communication devices.

Enter the grand notion of today’s “Smart Home”.   The idea of a smart home (also known as or referred to as an internet-connected/wifi-enabled home) has captured the public’s attention because we’ve reached a tipping point.  The exact moment of the tip came when the effort involved in installing, integrating and programming these devices began to outweigh the very convenience they were supposed to deliver.  It’s the modern-day equivalent to the VCR perpetually blinking 12:00 because nobody knew how to program it.  How many remotes would be considered too many on your coffee table?  Five between the stereo, TV and cable box, and another for the ceiling fan?  It’s time to bring intelligence to the simple but sometimes cumbersome things we do every single day.  Here are some examples:  The next garage door opener you buy will have the brain power to open itself as you pull into the driveway.  Your doorbell will ring on your smartphone and you’ll be able to see who’s at the door, no matter where you are.  Your wifi-enabled sprinkler system will detect the weather and behave appropriately.  And with the influx of new smart devices hitting the market daily, the intriguing automated home scenarios go on and on.

But Smart Home is less about the individual devices and more about bringing them into a harmonic symphony of domestic bliss.  The industry has already moved on from the tacky quick-installation ‘smart home’ product you can pick up from your local electronics store.  Today, smart home devices can be integrated seamlessly into your home’s infrastructure and electrical system.  They are now sophisticated systems designed to meet the lifestyle needs of an individuals and families.  Installed by electricians and programmed by experts, the control of your home’s entire ecosystem is suddenly in the palm of your hand.

The question is whom you should reach out for an integrated smart home system?  Most of the individual smart device manufacturers can do nothing more than send you an installation guide.  Others might be willing to install for a fee, but won’t be willing to provide expert consultation and integrate a whole-home system that includes devices from a wide range of manufacturers.  If not careful, you could end up with an expensive set of smart home devices that do little more than add to the collection of remote controls on your coffee table.

So if you’re ready to start enjoying the benefits of these amazing new smart products, look for a home systems integrator with deep experience in the production, management, and use of energy. They should be able to recommend proven yet advanced devices from the world’s leading designers and manufacturers.  And the best companies will program, integrate and educate you on how to get the best out of your new system.  Find a company to expertly curate and integrate the optimal set of smart devices and before your know it, you’ll be relishing your lifestyle, saving energy and money.