Home automation is a hot topic, not just among the technologically savvy crowd and remodeling enthusiasts, but also among increasing numbers of mainstream homeowners.
Automation is quickly picking up speed as the must-have consumer technology, and for good reason. From setting the alarm via smartphone to turning on lights automatically and programming the air conditioning, technology brings enhanced convenience, comfort and safety for consumers where they need it most—at home.
Many homeowners have already taken advantage of this technology, and more are joining the ranks every day. Homeowners who are planning to make the switch to an automated or smart home should consider three factors: what system features are important, who is qualified to install the system, and how to select the right company for the job.
With technology evolving at such a rapid pace, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the possibilities. To avoid feature overload, homeowners should think about what they want out of their system and how those features will fit into their home, budget and lifestyle. For example, if security is a major concern, a system with automated door locks and remote access to alarm controls would be near the top of the list. By thoughtfully creating a must-have list of components, a homeowner will be able to clearly communicate the vision of a smart home to a professional who can turn it into reality.
This leads us to an important point: Designing and installing a home automation system is a task that’s best left to professionals. Home automation systems can be complex, and should be installed by a licensed professional who is trained to understand the details of a customized system. By using a professional with expertise in automation, homeowners will receive a well-installed system, along with personalized attention and training tailored specifically to their needs. They’ll also get continued support from experts.
John Knox, president of Knox Integrated Systems in Knoxville, Tenn., has been a security industry professional for more than 25 years, with more than a decade of experience providing automation services to homeowners. Knox, who also serves as the president of the Electronic Security Association (ESA), says homeowners should pay special attention to the systems and providers they choose to automate their homes.
“The idea behind home automation is to make life simpler,” Knox said. “But when a homeowner chooses an inexperienced provider or products that won’t work correctly, they may be making their life more complicated. Homeowners need companies that can give them tech support whenever they need it.”
When a homeowner installs a home automation system, a great amount of trust is placed in the provider’s hands. Not only will a company enable homeowners to easily control the everyday functions of the home– such as lighting and temperature– but they will be responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the residents.
That’s why security companies are a logical choice to handle these responsibilities. Their demonstrated expertise in the installation and operation of security systems makes them a natural choice when adding home automation services.
But, as Knox is quick to point out, not all security companies that offer home automation services are created equal.
“Home automation is not a ‘plug and play’ type of service,” he said. “Homeowners need to seek out security companies who have specialized training and experience in home automation.”
Homeowners can use Alarm.org to find trusted security companies within their area. After narrowing it down to two or three companies, homeowners should ask each company the following questions:
• How long has the company been in business?
• Can you provide references for previous home automation work you’ve completed?
• Are your employees licensed to work on different systems, such as heating, air conditioning, and lighting?
• If your employees don’t have the required licenses, with which companies do you subcontract to do the work?
• What kind of support and training do you offer once the installation is complete?
It’s also important that homeowners thoroughly read and understand the contract before agreeing to installation or service, Knox said. A professional, credible company will be open to questions and never try to rush through closing a deal.
With a little bit of imagination, a lot of planning, and some solid support from a skilled provider, homeowners can truly create a smart home that will give them what they deserve: a secure lifestyle with enhanced control and convenience for years to come.