For many potential homeowners, the addition of a smart home integrator to their roster of contractors might appear to be an expensive luxury, particularly when the option exists for homeowners to purchase smart technology online and install it themselves.
While a buoyant community of professional smart home integrators has existed for decades, they have traditionally tended to sit at the top end of the property market, furnishing the homes of the ultra-rich and famous with the latest technological must-haves. Rather like a secret society, the role of the integrator can be a bit of an unknown as far as the homeowner is concerned, which means it’s not always clear what the benefits of involving an installer in a construction project are.
That said, there are serious limitations on how much can be achieved through going it alone. For a potential DIYer there is plenty of choice out there, technology-wise – yet a lot of systems won’t work well with others without significant hassle on the part of the user.
Furthermore, once you get past intelligent control of a couple of rooms, complications tend to set in. There is a significant amount of know-how needed to effectively implement a whole-house smart home project: a would-be DIYer will need to be confident in their familiarity of audio-visual, lighting and IoT (Internet of Things) systems, as well as possessing more than just a passing knowledge of standard construction protocols and electrical installation – particularly when it comes to wiring and networking. Even more importantly, when something goes wrong with the system, they need to be confident enough in the technology being integrated to be able to troubleshoot and fix the fault themselves.
This is where a smart home integrator like Andrew Lucas London will typically step in, bringing their experience to bear on the design and implementation of a smart home system. Like an architect, a smart home integrator will generally liaise with several other parties – including interior designers, M&E consultants, electricians and homeowners – throughout the course of a project to ensure that the smart home system they install fits in with both the needs of the family and the architect’s concept for the space.
As well as their ability to manage an increasingly complex area of a property’s design, there are a number of key ways in which having a smart home integrator involved in your project can make the lives of homeowners, architects and developers alike significantly easier.
A smart home integrator has a critical eye for design
Upon commencing a project, a smart technology installer will nearly always perform a comprehensive assessment of the construction project – including examining the available plans and talking to both the architect and the prospective residents (where applicable) – before making a number of informed recommendations on the ideal smart home system for the space.
This will largely be based on the needs and budgetary limitations of the client, but will also factor in a number of other concerns such as desired functionality, property design and/or location, as well as historical factors (such as what equipment has worked best for similar projects in the past).
While CEDIA membership is an indication that a smart home integrator is reputable, more important is how experienced the business is in installing the technology that is being specified. Ascertaining whether the integrator has certified engineers and designers on staff during the hiring process is valuable, as it shows that the installer understands exactly how the platform they are recommending functions and how it can be most effectively used in your property.
A smart home integrator has the ear of suppliers and manufacturers
While some smart home systems and devices can be purchased directly from the manufacturer, many premium smart home platforms – such as Lutron, Crestron and Rako – need to be implemented by a specialist installer.
A smart home integrator will thoroughly test an installation before completion
Once a smart home system has been put in place, an integrator is expected to perform a comprehensive commissioning regime to inspect, check and test every element of the newly-installed system. This includes (but is by no means limited to) examining each function within the smart home system, assessing the performance of audio-visual equipment and checking that the heat management of the central equipment rack remains within acceptable parameters.
Stress-testing the system in such a manner means that any final system issues can be discovered and ironed out before the smart home is signed over to the homeowner for them to use on a daily basis.