Home automation is quickly picking up speed as the must-have consumer technology, and for good reason. From setting the alarm via smartphone to turning on lights automatically and programming the air conditioning, technology brings enhanced convenience, comfort and safety to consumers where they need it most—at home.
Many homeowners have already taken advantage of this technology, and more are joining the ranks every day. Homeowners planning to make the switch to a smart home should consider three factors: what system features are important, who is qualified to install the system, and how to select the right company for the job.
With technology evolving at such a rapid pace, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the possibilities. To avoid feature overload, homeowners should think about what they want out of their systems and how those features will fit into their budget and lifestyle. For example, if security is a major concern, a system with automated door locks and remote access to alarm controls would be near the top of the list. By thoughtfully creating a must-have list of components, a homeowner will be able to clearly communicate the vision of a smart home to a professional who can turn it into reality.
This leads us to an important point: Designing and installing a home control system is a task that’s best left to professionals. Enhanced systems can be complex, and should be installed by a licensed professional who is trained to understand the details of a customized system. By using a professional with expertise in home technology, homeowners will receive a well-installed system, along with personalized attention and training tailored specifically to their needs. They’ll also get continued support from experts.
John Knox, president of Knox Integrated Systems in Knoxville, Tenn., has been a security industry professional for more than 25 years, with more than a decade of experience providing interactive home control services to homeowners. Knox, who also serves as the president of the Electronic Security Association (ESA), says homeowners should pay special attention to the systems and providers they choose to enhance their homes.
“The idea behind home control is to make life simpler,” Knox said. “But when a homeowner chooses an inexperienced provider or products that won’t work correctly, they may be making their life more complicated. Homeowners need companies that can give them tech support whenever they need it.”
When a homeowner installs a home control system, a great amount of trust is placed in the provider’s hands. Not only will the system enable homeowners to easily control the everyday functions of the home– such as lighting and temperature– but it will be responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the residents.
That’s why security companies are a logical choice to handle these responsibilities. Their demonstrated expertise in the installation and operation of security systems makes them a natural choice when adding enhanced home services.
But, as Knox is quick to point out, not all security companies that offer home control services are created equal.
“Home control is not a ‘plug and play’ type of service,” he said. “Homeowners need to seek out security companies who have specialized training and experience in smart homes.”
To help create a personalized home control system, homeowners should enlist help from a SECURE+ integrator. SECURE+ integrators are a trustworthy group of professionals committed to a higher standard of expertise in security and home control. Homeowners can find a SECURE+ integrator in their area here. After narrowing it down to two or three SECURE+ integrators, homeowners should ask each company the following questions:
- How long has the company been in business?
- Can you provide references for previous home control work you’ve completed?
- Are your employees licensed to work on different systems, such as heating, air conditioning, and lighting?
- If your employees don’t have the required licenses, with which companies do you subcontract to do the work?
It’s also important that homeowners thoroughly read and understand the contract before agreeing to installation or service, Knox said. A professional, credible company will be open to questions and never try to rush through closing a deal.
With a little bit of imagination, a lot of planning, and some solid support from a skilled provider, homeowners can truly create a smart home that will give them what they deserve: a secure lifestyle with enhanced control and convenience for years to come.
Established in 1948, the Electronic Security Association (ESA) is the largest trade association representing the electronic life safety and security industry. Member companies install, integrate and monitor intrusion and fire detection, video surveillance and electronic access control systems for commercial, residential, industrial and governmental clients. In cooperation with an alliance of chapter associations, ESA provides technical and management training, government advocacy and delivers information, advice, tools, and services that members use to grow their businesses and prosper. ESA may be reached at (888) 447-1689 or on the Web at www.ESAweb.org.