Dec 4, 2020
From a high-end residential architects perspective, appointing a dedicated home automation professional is often seen as an unnecessary, and perhaps lavish addition. Especially when considering consumer focussed 'Smart' devices are now readily available in the marketplace.
However, there are a number of professional home automation companies who have been installing and upgrading the homes of the wealthy and famous with the very latest technology, providing the occupants with the complete smart package, which is not only functional but also beautiful. This industry is rapidly expanding, and as such the need for integrators continues to grow accordingly.
But why do you need an integrator and what is their role in the project?
Read on below to find out what it is like to work with a smart home automation professional.
Before we begin to discuss integrators, we have to state that DIY smart homes are far from an optimal solution. Whilst most consumer smart devices are relatively inexpensive, they are not without flaw; often becoming unreliable and eventually outdated and obsolete.
There are a number of systems that claim to control a multitude of functions in the home. However, enabling these to communicate and interact with each other, from a DIY standpoint, can prove overly complicated and longwinded.
For a single room, the DIY approach is somewhat manageable. However, when considering a 7 bedroom, 5 storey townhouse, it is almost impossible for a DIY smart home to work effectively.
Without an in-depth understanding of audiovisual systems, intelligent lighting control, HVAC, wiring and network infrastructure, or what to do when a device or component fails, it can become more of frustration than a convenience and the novelty can quickly wear off.
This is where the home automation professional steps in. With extensive experienced in design, install and commissioning of complete and efficient smart home systems, we ensure that the system is simple to use, reliable and intuitive.
Home automation professionals work alongside architects, interior designers, M&E consultants and contractors to build a beautiful home, meeting or exceeding the clients brief.
Home automation professionals should be brought into the project as early as possible, ideally at the very start. By doing so, they can meet with the architect to review plans, discuss ideas, and suggest efficient ways to control the home.
They should also meet with the client to establish a brief, to understand how the client lives and what is important to them. This way they can then suggest suitable solutions to meet the client's needs.
We often meet architects and clients at one of our two showrooms in London.
Often when people think 'smart home', we imagine a complicated maze of menus and sub-menus, adding complexity and stress to our lives. When in actual fact the opposite is true, the aim is to make life simpler. Through the use of technology, we make recommendations aimed at improving the quality of life.
Whether it's gently waking you up with natural or artificial lighting, improving air quality, or transforming your traditional lounge into a fully-fledged home cinema at the touch of a button, an integrator can create the perfect solution for you.
Recommendations are not only based on budget, space and desired functionality, but also location and historical aspects of the building. We work on many Grade I & II listed buildings where there is a specific focus on preserving historical significance.
One of the home automation professionals main responsibilities is to work with the architect to ensure the system they are designing is clear to understand for all parties involved.
This is achieved by producing detailed design documentation outlining the specific equipment required room by room. They will also produce elevations, and possibly even 3D visualisations, meaning there is no confusion on site.
The home automation professional will also actively interact with all other consultants and contractors to ensure that if their works need to be controlled, it is integrated into the control scheme of the home.
For example, the lighting designer will need to provide the integrator with necessary information such as lighting loads, fitting types etc. so the integrator can implement an intelligent and reliable lighting system that doesn’t suffer from overloading.
Exemplary lighting with Lutron
The same applies to M&E consultants. The integrator can ensure the HVAC system is controlled centrally and as part of the light and shade control, as opposed to independently via separate wall panels or buttons. Providing greater flexibility when determining the mood of the room.
A good integrator will endeavour to design a system whereby the benefits are felt but not necessarily seen, with as much hidden technology as possible. We understand that black boxes such as amplifiers, TV set-top boxes, and wires strewn across the floor are not visually appealing.
We aim to shift as much equipment as possible away from rooms and into a central location. This is typically in the basement where we would install an AV cabinet housing all necessary equipment.
Having the design of a smart home system outlined and transparent for all parties involved makes construction a lot simpler, easier and lowers the margin of error on site.
The home automation professional takes full responsibility of installing all smart home-related equipment, this includes any third party device integration. TV's, speakers, keypads and on-wall control panels in rooms are all installed by the integrator.
Two finished AV Cabinets
As previously mentioned, the AV cabinet will typically house most of the equipment which isn’t to be on-show in a room. The AV cabinet alongside almost every other piece of hardware is set up and pre-commissioned off-site.
This allows the engineers to extensively bench-test every piece of hardware and software, looking for any potential bugs, faults or errors. Also testing heat output of the assembled AV cabinet as well as stress testing for extreme use.
By doing so, we almost guarantee all equipment will work immediately. It also means the integrator is not on-site for long periods of time during install, potentially delaying progress of other works.
After our pre-commissioned hardware arrives on-site and is installed, it is then wired to all of the equipment in the home. Lighting, HVAC, security, control, network, audio and video services are all connected and then tested.
We test every piece of hardware, no matter how small, to ensure everything is working as intended for our client. This includes testing every single lighting circuit, speakers, heaters, TVs, and more, to make sure they are carrying out their correct functions.
This is also the time when we can tailor interaction with our control systems to the clients liking. If the lights come in a manner they do not like or the blinds move too slowly or the remote needs a dedicated button for a particular channel then we can make sure their needs are met in the commissioning process.
When the client moves into their home then they will be able to enjoy these services without any issues.
CEDIA is an international association for companies who design, manufacture and integrate technology in the home. Members are typically fastidious when it comes to learning, education and furthering their technical ability. Doing so earns them additional certifications meaning they can undertake more advanced installations.
NV Integration is a part of the upper echelon of installers, CEDIA Members of Excellence. Only 14 companies in the world hold this title.
A smart home integrator can add significant value to your next project. Their extensive product knowledge combined with technical knowhow means they can design and build a system that works for you and your needs. They will provide a comprehensive design package that will give a transparent overview of their work.
All equipment will be pre-commissioned by the integrator off-site by their experienced engineers minimising the risk of teething problems post install.
If your client demands a design focussed, intelligent, functional home that is tailored to their needs, then you need an integrator to bring it all together.
If this sounds like it might be you, get in touch to discuss your next project.