Building A Smart Home From Scratch

Building A Smart Home From Scratch
August 10, 2016 SNH Editorial Team
Smart Home From Scratch

Over the course of 20 weeks Paul Lamkin with Wearable attempted to build a smart home from scratch in a rundown home that the writer was renovating. The attempt shines light on many of the best practices that homeowners should consider when installing smart tech and also making sure that it is “future-proofed” for years to come.

Through the experience, Lamkin noted some key considerations that we found particularly key for homeowners venturing into the smart home arena.

Don’t Go Completely Wireless

This is something we completely agree with. Smart home technology can really use up a lot of the available bandwidth in the home. If you rely too heavily on your homes limited WiFi signal you run the risk of frustration with poor performance and lagging response times.

As Lamkin noted, it’s important to install Cat6 cable throughout your home with plenty of access points (think as extreme as a port for every outlet and light switch). By doing this you enable more devices to connect directly to your home network while future-proofing your home for new devices that may not be on the market yet.

Beware Of The Overloaded Network

As mentioned above, this is the number one frustration for homeowners venturing into smart home technologies. They have overloaded their home network causing devices to slow their   responsiveness and degrade digital media quality.

The key is dedicated wireless networks for different types of devices. For instance keeping your wireless speakers on a separate network from your streaming movies. Or better yet, ensuring that your teenager’s gaming obsession doesn’t interfere with your ability to download those work files.

A well connected smart home may have up to 5-8 different access points using 2.4GHz or 5GHz signals.

Worry Less About Specific Platforms

We found this particularly interesting. We’ve come across a few instances where the battle of the big tech giants (Google and Apple) is beginning to impact ease of access to smart home tech. Each company offers their own connected device protocol and standards.

As this space continues to evolve, manufacturers will likely ensure their technologies works well across the various platforms. Philips is an example of this with their Philips Hue lighting smart tech. You can control those devices through a dedicated Philips app that is available across iOS, Android, Windows, and others. Philips has also made the decision to integrate with Apple’s HomeKit, and Google’s Nest – in other words Philips Hue works universally.

Working with an integrator, as we did with The Source Home Theater at The Greenwich House and our Crestron System, provides another avenue to bringing all of these systems together.

Begin With The Essentials

When first diving into this space, Lamkin suggests sticking with the essentials to start out with. Think of the mundane and boring — lighting, heating, security. These items may not be flashy, but you’ll be amazed how much they impact your quality of life in your everyday interaction with your home.

Avoid The Gimmicks

This one rings the most true, particularly with our experience in choosing and reviewing products. Connected devices are key, as well as smart tech that enhances your life. Consider this when you come across the gimmicks. Larkin notes a coffee machine that turns on when your jawbone notices you wake up may not be a must-have lifestyle improvement We’d add a refrigerator that provides you with weather alerts, or requires you to scan products in and out for a grocery list may not be either.

You can read more about Lamkin’s experience on Forbes: