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12:50 PM Tue, Sept. 25th

Ask the Contractor: Most homes retrofitted with Smart Home tech

Lock, unlock doors, turn off lights remotely

We are building a new home in Yavapai County and are considering some Smart Home technology. Should this be installed during construction or after the fact as DIY?

— Bert and Donna, Prescott

Times are rapidly changing and with smartphones we are now able to combine the power of interoperability, connectivity and machine intelligence for smart home technology. Managing our automated devices is at our fingertips. By connecting devices and appliances to everyday tasks, from opening the garage door to detecting break-ins to providing security for our property, to switching on and off lights our smart technology solutions are creating connectivity solutions for smart appliances that offer remote monitoring, diagnostics and so much more. How cool it is there is smart technology on the market that lets users check the contents of the refrigerator while at the market, turn on the air conditioning on the way home from the office and even lower the oven temperature so the main dish won’t burn when meetings run late.

Securing the smart home starts with connectivity from the DIY easy-install automation products and/or building your new home with automation products installed at the onset. Do you know that security cameras will soon know the difference between an intruder and Grandma, and the front door can be opened remotely when a family member forgets their key?

I have been there; when not at home, that nagging little doubt start to crowd your mind. Did I turn the coffee maker off? Did I set the security alarm? Did I unplug the hairdryer? Did I close the garage door? With a smart home, you could quiet all of these worries with a quick glance at your smartphone or tablet. You could connect the devices and appliances in your home so they can communicate with each other and with you.

What is a Smart Home?

A Smart Home is one that provides its home owners comfort, security, energy efficiency and convenience at all times, regardless of whether anyone is home. Smart Home is the term commonly used to define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio and video systems, security, and camera systems and appliances that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule, from any room in the home, as well as remotely from any location in the world by phone or internet.

Installation of smart products gives the home and its occupants various benefits such as convenience and savings of time, money and energy. Most homes do not have these appliances and systems built into them; therefore the most common and affordable approach is for the home owner to retrofit smart products into their own finished home.

An emerging important feature of a smart home is conservation of the earth’s limited resources. More and more people are becoming aware of the ability to make their homes truly smart — and green — by utilizing home controllers integrated with all home sub-systems to increase savings by controlling lighting, window coverings, HVAC, irrigation and by monitoring usage. Many home controllers have built-in monitoring systems whereby they calculate and log usage by all connected devices, giving the home owner heightened awareness and the knowledge to make changes as necessary. These systems can even be accessed over the Internet from anywhere in the world so the homeowner can adjust consumption at anytime, anywhere.

Any device in your home that uses electricity can be put on your home network and at your command. Whether you give that command by voice, remote control, tablet or smartphone, the home reacts.

The idea of a smart home might make you think of George Jetson and his futuristic abode. Once a draw for the tech-savvy or the wealthy, smart homes and home automation are becoming more common.

What used to be a quirky industry that churned out hard-to-use and frilly products is finally maturing into a full-blown consumer trend. Instead of start-up companies, more established tech organizations are launching new smart home products. Sales of automation systems are anticipated to balloon to $44 billion for 2017.

Much of this is due to the jaw-dropping success of smartphones and tablet computers. These ultra-portable computers are everywhere, and their constant Internet connections means they can be configured to control myriad other online devices. It’s all about the Internet of Things.

Smart homes may make life easier and more convenient. Who wouldn’t love being able to control lighting, entertainment and temperature from their couch? Whether you’re at work or on vacation, the smart home will alert you to what’s going on, and security systems can be built to provide an immense amount of help in an emergency. For example, not only would a resident be woken with notification of a fire alarm, the smart home would also unlock doors, dial the fire department and light the path to safety. How about instantly creating mood lighting for any occasion or programming your television so that your children can watch only at certain times? A smart home can warm the bedroom before you get out of bed so that it’s nice and toasty when you get up or even turn on the coffee maker from bed.

Smart homes also provide some energy efficiency savings. Systems put some devices at a reduced level of functionality, they can go to sleep and wake up when commands are given. Electric bills go down when lights are automatically turned off in empty rooms, and rooms can be heated or cooled based on who’s there at any given moment. Some devices can track how much energy each appliance is using and command power hogs to use less.

Smart home technology promises tremendous benefits for elderly people living alone. A smart home could notify the resident when it’s time to take medicine, alert the hospital if the resident falls and track how much the resident is eating. If an elderly person is a little forgetful, the smart home could perform tasks such as shutting off the water before a tub overflow or turning off the oven if the cook had wandered away. A Smart Home could also allow adult children who might live elsewhere to participate in the care of their aging parent.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s “Hammer Time” every Saturday and Sunday morning 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 AM/99.9 FM or 95.5 FM or the web kqna.com. Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry, meet your local community partners, nonprofits and so much more. Sandy says “this is an hour of enlightenment and entertainment.”