Jun 10, 2020
It’s official – an English persons home really IS their castle. Researchers who carried out a detailed study found out that one third feel "incredibly proud" of their homes, with half admitting they regularly spend hours ensuring it is beautifully presented.
Therefore the planning for those fortunate enough to be building a new home, or having extensive refurbishments would make total sense - to ensure they get the technology side of things covered, at the appropriate time in the project.
This 'smart home planning' can be a challenge, for starters we don't have a crystal ball for the future, but that's just what is needed to safeguard the home for the next 10 years against future technologies; no-one wants to be in a situation of running fresh cables after the house is finished.
Thankfully there are guidelines you can follow to make it more manageable, efficient and cost-effective. Having the right infrastructure in place will benefit the project, by safeguarding for a variety of home technology services, increase the value of the property, streamline the construction process, and make sure costs and time do not get out of hand.
Read some of the advantages of getting the infrastructure right for smart homes, and download this free Smart Home Infrastructure Guidelines article below, set out from CEDIA the leading industry body.
First fix is an important phase of construction. This is when all the internal services for plumbers, electricians and structural works behind the walls are to be completed. After first fix, the walls are closed and plastered.
Smart home technology needs a variety of cables for different services in the home. Cables for each service run behind walls, from each room to a central location - this is called star wiring. Without the correct cables, the functionality may not meet the homeowners desired brief.
Top tip: don't plan for the cables you need when the house is complete, plan for the cables you might need in ten years time. For example, copper Cat6 cabling is normally used now, but fibre optic cables will soon overtake them due to the added headroom that they can transmit down cables which are a fraction of the size.
The final aesthetic of the home is arguably one of the most important aspects of design. When you are involving smart home technology, the design teams must consider how each piece of equipment is displayed in each room, and how those devices connect to power, the internet, and each other.
Within a smart home, equipment sends audio, video, data, and control commands around the home. This equipment and commands are all managed by a brain (called a processor) in a central location. Cables that are hidden behind walls are run to these devices. During first fix, the home technology company will supply the correct cables and drawings for providing each service in each room.
For example, a TV may need Cat6, coaxial, and fibre-optic cables for different purposes. For example to receive high-quality 4K content direct from the internet, or to access to a Sky or Virgin box which is elsewhere in the house. It would look unsightly if all of these cables were trailing out of the TV to set-top boxes and alike.
So, having everything centralised, with the cabling inside the walls removes as much equipment from the room as possible, along with the trailing wires. Leaving the décor of a room intact without any distracting features.
The image below is a great example of a localised system (on the left) and a centralised system (on the right) which only requires the TV and speakers on-show in the room.
Incoming services are an important aspect in luxury residential properties. It is very unlikely a single broadband router will provide wireless coverage for the entire house, provide a strong connection, and stream constant high-quality content to devices all at the same time on Wi-Fi. There will inevitably be areas where the signal would diminish, resulting in negative effects like slow loading and buffering.
A good integration company can survey the property, identify the locations where the signal is lacking and can boost it by adding wireless access points in strategic locations. These WAPs will be hardwired back to the centralised location via data cabling, ensuring the speed and performance for each area of the house.
A hardwired cable provides a constant and stronger internet connection. This is also, why devices are connected with hardwired connections so they don’t end up sharing the wireless bandwidth with solely wireless devices, like phones and tablets. Other services for telephones, cable TV and satellite all should be considered and routed to the central system.
At first fix, the infrastructure for these services needs to be put into the property so that your integrator can commission and get those services online at completion. By having a structured wiring infrastructure in place, this will guarantee the performance for all smart devices, ensuring the connection and keeping things online.
Your home is your castle. We never know what the future holds. Many families are looking for a bigger space, planning for new arrivals or they are looking to upgrade a current property to sell it on. So, it is imperative that the property is ready for future applications.
More often than not rooms will get transformed, a reception room can become a media room, a bedroom can turn into an office space and the garden could end up as an outdoor cabin for a home office. Regardless of the fate of a room, it is better to be prepared.
When cables are installed they are neatly terminated to a faceplate which can be used for later use. This allows for more devices to be added to that room without destroying walls and creating trailing wires.
For example, after project completion, if you decided to hang a TV in the lounge the cables would already exist in the room. They would be able to hang that TV and connect it directly to their Smart Home system to stream Netflix and connect to a Sky/Virgin set-top box without calling the builders in.
Finally, and perhaps the biggest issue when it comes to planning your next smart home - deciding who to work with for your home technology?
Question: How do you identify a home technology company with an upstanding reputation, solid design and installation experience, world-class expertise, and a long list of happy clients?
Answer: The answer is simple - CEDIA, the certifying body for the home technology industry. Any company can become CEDIA certified, and this is a great place to start, but with over 3,700 members in the UK, you might need to narrow it down a bit further.
Thankfully in 2019, CEDIA launched their Member of Excellence programme to help professionals and end clients do just this. Only those that exhibit dedication to continuing education, customer service, and community outreach, as well as a record of award-winning craftsmanship and dedication to advanced industry certifications, are bestowed this singular title.
To date, there are only 14 Members of Excellence in the world.
We think the Member of Excellence programme is a brilliant way for clients to have more reassurance and peace of mind when engaging with companies who provide home technology services and CEDIA is a great place to start out when conducting research for your project. Any individual or company, no matter the size, can apply to be a Member of Excellence, as long as they meet the standards within the criteria.
If you are designing a smart home then downloading the industry guidelines for “Smart Home Infrastructure Recommended Guidelines” from CEDIA below is a good first step in bringing smart home technology to your next project. The second step would be to get in touch with a CEDIA member company that best fits for you and your project.