Live Your Best Life with Smart Home Technology.
By Kate Rader
Since the day that Tripp Dailey bought his first surround system, he was hooked on home technology. As a high schooler, Tripp loved the way great equipment could transform the entertainment experience. Today, as the President of W. Harley Miller Systems and Contractors he still believes in that power but suggests that the newest automated technology can go well beyond entertainment to significantly improve quality of life.
His company specializes in planning and installing personalized smart home solutions that focus on other popular areas too, like comfort, security, energy use, and safety. Smart home technology is no longer just a fun “extra” that only the wealthy can afford—it’s become an important tool that benefits all members of the family.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE AUTOMATION
With the advent of voice-activated assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, security systems like Ring, and streaming devices such as Roku, Apple TV, and TiVo, we’re learning that automation can be exciting— and confusing. “There’s a distinction between true automation and just having a connected home,” Tripp says. “Many devices that you can get from Walmart & Lowe’s don’t provide true automation.”
Alexa, for example, can respond to requests, but automation can actively monitor systems within the home, suggest and automatically make modifications based on changing conditions like the weather or a specific activity, and then notify you of changes. Many homeowners start with a simple automated command like setting outside lights to come on and off at set times of the day and then increasingly add new tasks.
Trying to coordinate different devices by different manufacturers can not only be tricky but can also result in needing to use different apps to control each one. A centralized smart home operating system like Control4 is designed to be compatible with most brands, so it can actively communicate with almost every device in the house. The system runs on software that connects virtually to all the home’s technology and is accessed by a single control panel, smartphone, or even your voice.
“These systems evolved out of the old problem of having too many remotes to control your TV, cable, DVD player,” Tripp says. Now, we have too many apps doing the same thing. “Control4 brings it all together, so you have one place to go for all of that.”
SAFE AND SECURE
Security is one of the top considerations for many homeowners, with 63% of those surveyed by ComfyLiving.net (a website that provides information and resources for homeowners) wanting their smart home to include a smart security system. Security cameras have become particularly popular, says Tripp, and the wide variety of available options can provide different levels of coverage—from every angle of the house to one or two angles, like the front or side door.
But cameras aren’t the only technology that can provide a sense of security. Tripp says he has customers who leverage their automations to do even more. “One nice thing about these systems is they give you peace of mind,” he says. “Your system could monitor the status of lights and doors in the house and notify you if the kids leave the light on or the garage doors up. Or, each child could have a unique key code to unlock the door, so you’ll know if they came home or left, and at what time.”
One customer worried about how to monitor whether his elderly father was taking his medicine each day. A smart sensor installed on his father’s medicine cabinet sent him a daily text message to alert him when it was opened and closed.
CONTROLLING COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
It can feel magical when all the components of a smart home system are working together. The ability to monitor the time or weather and automatically adjust thermostats, dim interior light switches, or preheat your swimming pool seems like the stuff of the Jetsons. But today, smart home technology is only limited by our imagination.
Systems can be set to monitor a home or vacation property when owners are away and trigger a series of automated tasks that prepare perfectly for your arrival. A camera can sense your arrival down a long driveway and by the time you pull into the already opened garage, your lights will be on, TV tuned to your favorite channel, and thermostat set to the perfect temperature.
Comfy Living says that using a smart heating and cooling system can save up to 50% in home energy use—a savings that helps offset the $970–$3,310 the website averages people spend to make their home a smart one. Tripp says that his system is set to monitor the 2nd-floor thermostat in his home, which his kids are “always changing.” The system knows what his preferred temperature is and keeps it there. “It can also tell me how much they’re on the internet and turn it off at night when they should be sleeping.”
In addition to saving time and money, home automation can increase your property’s value, too. Things like safety and security, energy efficiency, and comfort and convenience are top considerations for home buyers and may even make your home likely to sell more quickly. According to an article published by Cornerstone Home Lending, a 2017 survey suggests that having smart home technology can increase home value by as much as 11%. Other data suggests that more than two-thirds of millennials would pay more for a connected home.
A MORE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE
More and more, people are spending free time at home, and technology can play a key role in creating integrated spaces that reflect homeowners’ interests. “You can put together a system that rivals a movie theater with 4K video, vibrant colors, and better audio,” Tripp says. “
We always think, ‘how can we make it so people are completely immersed?’”
Streaming devices like Roku, AppleTV, and Firestick—combined with phones, iPads, and computers—are making it easier than ever to cut the cord of cable TV. However, managing all that bandwidth can require planning. “We work with homeowners to understand what their parameters are and offer guidance on how to improve their network within the home through adequate wiring or boosting their Wi-Fi coverage,” Tripp says. “Sometimes you have an old home with plaster walls, and we find a solution.” His company also consults on new construction projects, helping to plan a system and then prewiring the home to ensure adequate infrastructure.
Businesswire.com reports that when it comes to smart home technology out of the box, consumers spend 2.5 hours seeking support for setup, and nearly one in four gives up and returns the item. Tripp believes the point of these systems is to make life easier and more convenient. “We try to keep it as simple as possible for people so that anyone from a kid to a 100-year-old adult can figure out how to use them,” he says. “We want everybody to be able to enjoy these experiences, and it will be a good experience if it’s done properly.”
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