We are in the midst of a smart homes revolution, with the market witnessing a continued increase in the appetite for smart technology. But are there enough qualified electrical installers for the job and have homeowners really embraced the notion? Marie Parry, marketing director, Scolmore Group examines some of the key issues.
On the one hand technology is already an integral part of everyday life for many, in business, recreation and in our homes and the evolution of the smart home continues to gather momentum. Yet as an industry we are faced with a shortage of trained skilled professionals and for many electricians, smart home integration is unfamiliar territory. At the same time, according to a recent survey, there is a fear on the part of home owners to fully embrace the smart home revolution. A poll of 2,000 people by a leading UK price comparison website to garner opinion on smart home technology, revealed that 76% of Brits admitted to being ‘fearful’ of the smart homes concept, with unapproved data collection cited as the greatest worry. The research found that whilst the majority (77%) of Brits had heard of a connected home, only 6% claimed to know a lot about smart home technology. (203)
This overall situation presents opportunities for forward thinking electricians, who are in a prime position to introduce the idea of smart home technology to their customers, providing advice and educating the homeowner and at the same time using their skills to introduce a smart element to their client’s home technology requirement.
The advent of smart wiring accessories shows how far the humble plug and socket has come. It doesn’t seem that long ago that people started to want more and better sited wiring accessories - switches, switch sockets and dimmers for example - to cope with the increasing number of electrical equipment, such as computers and peripherals, AV, media and kitchen equipment. Today modern wiring accessories include combination media plates for a variety of multimedia ports, USB chargers and connectors.
Intelligent wiring accessories can help make homes smarter. There are products now on the market, like our Click Smart range, which are designed to make it easier than ever for installers to provide a smart upgrade to an existing wiring installation with minimum disruption. Click Smart has at its core accessibility and simplicity for the installer and end user and is designed to bring convenience, comfort, security, energy saving and ultimately more control for occupants and also offering business opportunities for switched on electrical contractors and installers.
Smart switches are devices used for controlling receivers and they consist of a retractive switch module and switch cover plate. They offer a range of solutions that enable the wireless control of receivers from a host of locations.
By looking at typical problems encountered while out on the job, installers can sell a simple solution to the end user and introduce an element of smart control. Here are four such scenarios we have outlined, where a smart switch can provide a solution.
1) Add an additional switch to an existing light without the need for cabling.
You need to make your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It’s difficult to see in the dark and you want to avoid disturbing anyone. The solution is to fit a smart switching module behind the light fitting you wish to activate in the bathroom and then add the switch controller to a convenient place in the bedroom. You can now easily turn the bathroom light on from the comfort of your bed.
2) Fix a flickering light by using a retractive switch instead of a rotary dimmer (wired)
The problem of continuous flickering when you switch on one of your lights with a rotary dimmer can be easily overcome using the multi-functional dimming receiver and a retractive switch. Replace the wired rotary dimmer with the retractive switch and add the receiver to the light fitting. This will instantly stop any flickering that may have occurred.
3) Introduce two-way dimming control from separate locations (wired)
If you have a 2-way switch upstairs and a dimmer downstairs you can turn the light on from the switch. Once dimmed with the rotary dimmer, there is no way for you to increase the brightness. You can only switch the lights on and off at the same brightness. This means you have to walk downstairs which can be hazard if the lighting is set at a low level. By using a multi-functional dimming receiver and two retractive switches, you will be able to dim from both locations, meaning no more risky trips down the stairs in the dark.
4) Add a switch to an outdoor socket for multiple appliances
There are many reasons you may want to add a wireless switch to an outdoor socket, for example switching a light, controlling an outdoor appliance / sprinklers or the ability to switch off power for security. By adding a smart switch and a receiver to the already powered socket, you will be able to control it from anywhere in your home.
The future is definitely smart and, as more consumers become switched on to the idea of being able to control heating, lighting and security in their homes, so the demand for electricians to install the products that will bring this control will continue to rise. If installers are put off by complicated and costly smart control systems, they can start with a back to basics system that offers all the control without the complexity, time, disruption and cost.
The installation of a system like Click Smart is simple & ï¬‚exible, with no additional cables or wall cutting required, making it ideal for installation within existing or newly constructed buildings. Receivers can be installed behind light ï¬ttings or into suitable installation boxes and can be utilised with existing wiring. Existing receivers can also be paired with a universal input switch which converts up to 4 push-button switches. With Click Smart, you can move switches freely, relocate them when required and switches can be mounted on glass, wood or walls etc. Smart Switches are mainly powered by battery, so do not require any wiring or additional power supply. With Click Smart you have complete control, and the range allows portable and remote control up to a distance of 200m. Manual and automatic control and adjustment of lights, on/off or lighting scene creation, as well as controlling shutters, blinds, gates, latches and garage doors are all possible.
Installers should take advantage of the training opportunities offered by manufacturers, as a means of tapping into this growing and lucrative market sector.
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