ARTICLE Jason Burgess
Kiwi homes are now morphing into ‘smart’ living environments – with controls that are literally in our hands 24/7, and can be operated from our smart devices anywhere on the planet.
Well-designed smart homes minimise energy consumption, reduce a family’s carbon footprint, and will cost less to operate.
As more households adopt smart technology, integrated living solutions that were once the domain of the wealthy are quickly becoming a reality for those of a more modest financial disposition.
The planning stage of any renovation is the best time to start customising and future-proofing for a smarter home.
For total home control, some companies provide easy retrofit options that use existing electrical circuits, switches and powerpoints to achieve a wirelessly controlled living environment, using appliances that may or may not be ‘smart’ by nature.
In large-scale renovations or new builds, installing a high speed data-wired system means cutting down on circuitry, overall wiring, switches and visual clutter.
Data-wired solutions are more reliable as they are not limited by internet capacity, so best serve homes with multiple appliances like HD TV, entertainment units and gaming applications that demand integrity of signal and speed.
Data wiring also eliminates the need for pre-selecting switch points throughout the home, as they can be fitted later.
Presenting a lighting and floor plan to a home automation supplier will help them find the best solution for your integrated requirements.
While circuitry, security, lighting, AV and music controls have come into their own – the smart appliance market in New Zealand is still a shallow pond.
Many products can be turned off and on by a proprietary smartphone/tablet app, but few currently offer little more functionality.
Consumers buying one-off smart products as they enter the market can end up with as many apps on their devices as they once had remotes on their coffee table!
The good news is 2015 is earmarked by many companies for the arrival of the next wave of smart technology.
From complete home control apps to individual smart products – here are just a few app-controlled ideas to help keep your home secure and running more efficiently, wherever you may be.
Mitsubishi’s Designer EF42 High Wall heat pump with wi-fi, not only meets the most discerning tastes – it allows you to control or monitor your heat pump on the run via your smartphone, tablet or online account. The wi-fi control adaptor can be used to turn on and off, develop operating rules and set minimum and/or maximum room temperatures to meet your living requirements.
Wi-fi heat pump control operates on Apples and Android platforms and requires a Mitsubishi Electric router compatible adaptor and like all the following heat pumps, requires an active internet connection.
The triangle design of Samsung’s Cool Capacity heat pump delivers heat fast and can be controlled by an Apple and Android friendly Smart Air Conditioner App available from the Play Store or App Store.
With app settings options based on current weather conditions and/or the number of people in the room, you can switch from normal mode to single user mode to lessen the compressor capacity and therefore save money on energy bills. The Samsung Smart Check app has an automatic monitoring system and provides back-up advice.
The Daikin SkyFi heat pumps, in conjunction with Daikin’s SkyFi interface and controller provides temperature monitoring and control from your smartphone or tablet via wi-fi or the internet interface.
It automatically displays your zones, and lets you set timers and modes. The SkyFi app can even work with older models.
Samsung washing machine
Samsung’s sexy looking, front-load crystal blue washing machine features a five-inch full touch colour LCD screen and uses the ‘Smart Control App’ so you can keep an eye on your washing while doing other things.
As well as doing everything from timing the wash cycle to start, pause and finish when you want – on completion the control sends an alert to your hand held device. As an added hurrah it encapsulates an Auto-Optimal Wash sensing the ultimate wash cycle, temperature, time, rinse cycle and spin speed to suit each wash.
D-link security camera
From baby monitors and fisheye security cameras to their wireless pan-and-tilt Cloud network camera, the mydlink lite app allows you to monitor your home in real time and also access your Cloud files from anywhere you might be. The mydlink indoor and outdoor Cloud cameras allow you to check up on your home 24/7 with camera controls directly to your Android. Windows or Apple device. No more teenagers getting away with house parties while the parents are away!
Getting the best from your garden can now happen without you having to race home in-between work and outings or organising the neighbours to do it while you are away. Whether it is a household herb patch or an entire hothouse of orchids, the Galcon web-based controller can handle everything from one hose-end to timer to 24-station controls. It can be paired and expanded and can be operated all from your smartphone. The controller unit can monitor the water-meter, control timings and flow. It also has a rain sensor that suspends irrigation when not needed.
Philips Hue lighting
Philips hue lighting range is an easy retrofit option for app-controlled indoor illumination. Hue allows you to highlight areas of your home or create beautiful colour washes throughout and if you sync to existing music apps you can even transform your living zones into a dazzling disco.
You choose how hue behaves. As well as creatively lighting up your living spaces, the hue bulbs can also serve as indicators for weather, stock and shares, sports scores, emails, even social media alerts. They can change colour to signal rain or blink for an urgent email.
Whether you want to illuminate gradually at sunset, trigger on and off or change colour automatically on arrival or departure. The hue app allows you to set any mood even when you’re not home – without your device leaving your pocket.
The affordable hue starter pack feature three hue bulbs that screw into your existing lamps, and a bridge that plugs into your home wi-fi router. Once you download the hue app you can begin to experience home lighting in a completely fresh way.
Philips hue starter packs can be ordered online via the Apple Store, and from January 2015 will be available from Home Concepts.
Sonos wireless hi-fi system beams music to multiple rooms of your house from any media source of choice, using a single app on your smart gadgets, tablets or home computers as a controller.
Whether your digital music collection is stored on your hard drive, a home network device or Cloud, Sonos can play selected tunes simultaneous throughout the home or a different song in every room. Sonos also streams via music sites like Pandora or Spotify.
Sonos can play through your existing wi-fi network but for interference free reception the Sonos ‘Bridge,’ add-on sends audio over a ‘mesh’ network instead of your home wi-fi, inevitably improving the audio quality and experience.
If budget is an issue, you can experiment in a single room and then add-on to expand later.
Taking the music outside is made easy with Sonos. While entertaining your guests you can simply just control it how you want it from your smartphone.
ILI OneTouch home automation
Home automation is made easy with ILI OneTouch system. Using a single app you can control your total living experience from anywhere on your property or for piece of mind security from anywhere across the globe.
OneTouch hosts multiple smart products in one simple to use app that controls the whole house; including full AV and entertainment, lighting, blinds, electrical controls, HVAC, security including camera’s and lighting, garage doors and sprinklers.
OneTouch are continually developing the system to encapsulate the latest technology as it comes one stream to provide an easy to navigate and consistent user experience.
OneTouch cleverly has produced a standalone server that centralises, stores and streams all your digital media to any smart device of choice.
They can advise and handle all installation whether you are retrofitting and/or data wiring. OneTouch work with you to incorporate quality wireless technology into your building envelope, as you need it.
Like the OneTouch system, Fibaro brings smart home technology in on app.
Even when you’re out and about, Fibaro can be used to control your security, lighting and home entertainment and can even set your roller blinds to their preferred height. Fibaro offers a simple cost-effective option for a non-invasive wireless home automation retrofit.
Using the services of a registered electrician, Fibaro’s miniature modules can be installed in any wall switch box and coupled with the controller and appropriate sensors can manage everything in your home from appliances to security, heating control, systems diagnosis and energy management.
For super fast responsiveness and reliability, Fibaro uses a unique Z-wave technology, which is a two-way wireless communication, which is separate from your wi-fi network. This avoids any network interferences.
Flexibility is key with two central control options or ‘Home Centres’ that allow for future expansion and ever changing smart tech requirements in your home.
The good thing about Fibaro is that the devices are not permanently connected to your house infrastructure and can be simply removed if renovating or making over.
If your home is running renewable energy systems then a Splash web-based monitoring system will ensure your home is operating at optimal efficiency, while keeping you up-to-date with energy usage wherever you may be.
Whether for solar water heating, solar PV, indoor air quality, swimming pools, wind turbines or space heating; Splash provides easy to read 24/7 data, live streamed and updated every 10 seconds to a smart device of your choice.
Simple infographics are key to Splash – their monitors are often employed as solar educational tools in schools.
In your house a Splash streambox sends data back to the user. Technicians and owners can view via a Splash login page on their devices or share publicly on the Splash website.
As well as real time readings, you can access the performance of your dwelling over the course of the year.
Splash can observe, predict and refine behaviours based on seasonal and weather changes.
In addition, Splash will alert your device of any system faults, with a diagnosies of the fault and parts and materials needed to fix any issues. There are also alerts for dirt and shading on solar units.
So you have got a healthy and more efficient home, but what about a smart way to a healthier, fitter you? Fitbit OneTM is your personal lifestyle monitoring device.
During the day, Fitbit tracks your steps, distance, calories burned and stairs climbed.
At night, it measures your sleep quality, helps you learn how to sleep better and wakes you in the morning.
The OneTM clips easily on to a belt, automatically syncs to PC, Androids and IOS products and brings you real time data about the life you are living, anytime of day or night.
This article by Jason Burgess featured on page 90 of Issue 014 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
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