Imagine waking up to your favourite song playing softly in the background, a freshly brewed cup of coffee and your home already at the perfect temperature. All without having to lift a finger.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, not exactly. While we’re not living in the age of artificial intelligence (AI) controlling and optimising every aspect of our homes, we are living in a time when smart home automation and the internet of things (IoT) exists. This gives all of us the ability make that dream morning scenario a reality.
Some people believe that true home automation can only be done by integrating smart technology into the home as you’re building it but that isn’t true.
“We do offer ‘retrofit systems’, which can be installed in an existing home. This can give you control over lighting in your home, for example. This is a great way to get acquainted with home automation, from there one can explore AV distribution and other areas of automation,” says Mauricio Tavares, marketing director at Cinema Architects.
Retrofit systems like these aren’t the only way to create a smart home automation set-up, “plug and play” options are also available.
Lighting is one of the easiest ways to get started with home automation. Not only are smart light bulbs fairly affordable and easy to find, they also require the least amount of effort to set up. The benefits of automating your lighting is that you not only get a personalised experience (which can have a huge effect on mood) it also acts as a security measure as you can have the lights switch on at a preset time, making it appear as if you’re home.
Your home environment can also be automated by using a simple internet connected temperature and humidity sensor, which you then sync with your compatible connected air conditioning or fan and it can adjust your home’s temperature by adapting to the weather conditions or switch on a humidifier or air purifier should it be needed, all without you having to even open an app.
One of my other favourite things to automate is cleaning. A device like the Hobot Legee D8 robot vacuum cleaner and mop is perfect for automating cleaning. Thanks to a combination of technologies, the robot vacuum adapts its cleaning routines to the various areas and surfaces of your home and is able to navigate around items without knocking them over. It also has an optional cleaning and charging station so that you don’t even have to worry about emptying it out once it has finished cleaning.
Don’t expect everything to work perfectly from the get-go. “There is a normal ‘soak in’ period that will take place for a few weeks after the initial programming. The client will then better understand the system and its abilities, if required, changes are then made until the perfect synergy is found,” says Tavares. This is true for any type of home automation solution, preinstalled or not.
Powering all of these devices is usually where things become more challenging. As Eskom becomes increasingly unreliable and renewable energy sources become more attractive, the ability to remotely monitor and automate your power supply and consumption is a must. EcoFlow’s PowerStream is a smart microinverter that allows you to power your entire home via compatible solar panels and compatible battery power solutions such as the Delta 2. Once you’ve set everything up you’re able to power your home with renewable energy and monitor everything via the compatible app. If you pair this with EcoFlow’s smart plugs, you’re able to monitor how much power each connected device is using and switch connected devices on and off, as well as automate when you want your Delta 2 to recharge.
Here’s where things get a bit tricky. Many of the solutions mentioned are reliant on a specific ecosystem and if you don’t live within that ecosystem or you purchase things from various brands that are optimised for different ecosystems, you could have a less than stellar experience.
This challenge is being addressed by a new open-source connectivity standard for smart home and IoT called Matter, which aims to improve interoperability between different manufacturers and ecosystems.
Whether your smart home ecosystem is built into your home, retrofitted or is a plug and play set-up, one thing that you need is a great internet connection.
“A good home automation system can only work on a solid network, most problems related to home automation can directly be related to the network, this is why when installing a home automation system, we will also do the required network installation,” says Tavares.
More and more devices are built with future-proofing in mind and are designed to be compatible with WiFi 6, 6E or WiFi 7. To get a great home automation experience, it’s been recommended that you add 5 Mbps for every 10 smart home devices you have and get a mesh router set-up that supports WiFi 6 and above.