With the smart home market set to grow over the next few years, Lightwave RF sets about busting some popular myths surrounding the emerging sector.
Smart lighting is the number one category that consumers are looking to invest in after the purchase of a smart speaker – the common entry-level device. However, growth is not just confined to the retailing of smart gadgets. Electrical installers could be set to cash in on a growth in demand for tech that requires some professional attention. Once upon a time, smart home installs would have been seen as a specialist job, but now that’s not always the case.
MYTH 1: Smart homes are too complex
Historically, yes, this assumption would be correct. However, the days of rack-mounted banks of computers, miles of cabling, and the need for a degree in computer science are firmly in the past. The rapid evolution of the smartphone and wireless technology has revolutionised the way that we can communicate with and control smart devices.
Data cables have been replaced by wireless signals. Rack-mounted computers have been replaced by smartphones and miniaturised computer chips that are now implanted into individual devices. Most households already have smartphones and/or tablets, along with a wireless network. So, all that is needed is the smart device (typically a retrofittable switch or socket) and, in most cases, a small gateway hub plugged into a WiFi router, to send and receive messages.
MYTH 2: Home automation isn’t affordable
Again, this would be true in the past. Plus, established brands like Lutron and Reko will not come cheap. But this space is being disrupted by new retrofit technologies, pioneered by brands such as Lightwave, which are able to enter the market at a much lower cost by simplifying the install proposition without compromising performance.
MYTH 3: Smart homes require very specialist training
When carried out properly, retrofit smart tech means that existing switches and sockets can be substituted for existing ones (or fitted as standard to a new build) without any extra cabling or changes to wiring plans. This means that a competent, qualified electrician won’t need a wealth of training to install what are otherwise familiar trappings of the trade. However, a bit of advice on how to get the best out of new smart functions is perhaps a good idea (for example, Lightwave recommends that installers attend its one-day training sessions to get to grips with all the tricks of the trade). Certsure HTI also provides training for electricians on smart home.
MYTH 4: It’s all about smart bulbs
Smart bulbs certainly have a place, and popular products such as Phillips Hue lightbulbs perform well whilst providing satisfying results in limited room-based scenarios. However, performance limitations including wireless range, lack of ability to extend the system and true integration with existing fittings mean that they are not a serious proposition for the professional smart home installer. Installing switches and sockets with smart tech in-built remains a neater and cleaner way to go smart.
MYTH 5: A lot can go wrong with ‘smart’ installs
What about maintenance hassles? Future-proofing? Internet connectivity? Compatibility with other new technologies? Well, these are always concerns when it comes to the introduction of new technologies, and they remain valid. However, whilst not eliminating the issues, the move towards simpler retrofit technology is drastically reducing the amount that can go wrong with a smart install.
Intelligible controls – a smart light switch looks very similar to a traditional one – mean that clients shouldn’t be calling up because they can’t understand how to turn their lights on. Updates and tweaks to clever features, such as timers, grouping and energy monitoring, can be done at home from an App, or by a simple update without the need for a site visit.
MYTH 6: Decent, retrofittable options aren’t readily available
With rising demand for smart tech, more wholesalers are beginning to stock these kinds of retrofit devices, so they’re easier to get hold of than ever before. Lightwave has smart home switches and sockets that are now fully stocked in the UK.
Lightwave has been pioneering and perfecting retrofit smart devices since 2008, and it offers a path into smart home installation for qualified electricians. There is expert over-the-phone advice on offer, as well as in-person training, for those who are interested.
Lightwave RF has a full array of videos covering smart installation and the best ways to get the most out of its products. To see more click here.