London’s Smartest Homes
There’s no doubt about it – London’s homes are getting smarter by the year. Increasingly, the capital’s residents are turning to smart home technologies for comfort, security, and leisure. With architects increasingly offering integrated home automation as an essential part of new or refurbished buildings, and bouyant customer demand for upgrading their homes, we describe some of the technologies that are attracting widespread interest from London customers.
But first of all, let’s take a look at what we mean by smart home technologies. Smart homes, or automated homes, are homes where technology replaces the need for labour in the home, or enhances and distributes the various media systems we all use. A simple example of this is multi-room audio, where sound can be distributed throughout your home and you can enjoy your music wherever you go.
Smart to be dimmer
But it’s not all about home entertainment. There are far more practical technologies available to domestic customers. For example, automated lighting controls, one of the fastest-growing home technologies of the past five years, are fast becoming part of the fabric of new and refurbished homes. Even simple touches can make all the difference. One popular request is for a master lighting control panel by the front door so that all the lights in the home can be switched off at the touch of a single button whenever people go out.
With concerns for the environment, automatic dimming systems are becoming increasingly popular. Lighting automation reduces energy consumption straight away. Limiting maximum light levels to 90% makes hardly any difference to the human eye, extends bulb life and reduces energy costs. Dimmer systems can be configured to support LED, CFL and fluorescent lighting technologies, and can increase the efficiency of incandescent lighting.
If you want to make the most of the natural light in your home, there are control systems available which integrate with automated blind and shade controls. This means that you can pre-set the desired level of shade that you want, so that your blinds and curtains are operated automatically. So if you have a conservatory or attic room that overheats in the summer months, these systems could be the answer to your problem.
Lights, camera, action
Another growing trend amongst Londoners is the installation of home cinema systems. The days are fading when this was the preserve for those who could dedicate an entire room to a dedicated theatre – although we have installed these for our celebrity clients. If you use a strong projector and a screen which absorbs ambient light, your living room, games room or family den can be a great environment for a high quality integrated home cinema system and still be used for everyday activities. There’s also a growing demand for games-based set-ups, with some projector manufacturers developing solutions to bring the latest games to the large screen. Screens can either be hidden in the ceiling when not needed, or act as a wall-mounted feature with accompanying bespoke design.
The spread of integrated home cinema nicely illustrates another point; that you don’t have to have a 21st century home to enjoy 21st century technology. An increasing range of “retrofittable” products are now available so that you can sustain these sophisticated systems within your pre-existing electrical installation. These products significantly reduce the need for substantial alterations, meaning that, for many households, only a limited amount of re-wiring will be required.
And whilst we’re on the subject of screens, let’s not forget about TV. Techno-fiends will call this distributed media, but we call it giving you the freedom to have TV and audio streamed to any room in your home. Every home is different, but if this is something you’ve ever considered, why not contact us so that we can draw up a solution tailor-made for you. It is not always necessary to go through the disruption and inconvenience of installing extra phone points to stream your existing cable or satellite TV. Please do contact us to find out how we can assist you further.
Smart home, safe home, warm home
Away from the media glamour, there are some more prosaic uses for smart home technologies; in fact some of these are fairly well-established. Home surveillance and security systems have been a feature of London life for so long, that it’s easy to forget that these also fall within the domain of smart home technology.
It’s a sad fact of living in the capital that we find people increasingly turning to us for CCTV installations, enhanced security lighting and other features to protect their homes and family from harm. More recent developments in smart home security include infrastructure that will allow you to monitor your property here from a PC or PDA wherever you are in the world; on holiday, on business or even resident abroad.
Inside the home, there have been developments in heating technology too, which allow radiators, underfloor heating, and electric heating all over the house to be controlled from a single touchscreen control panel. This is ideal for larger households, particularly where it’s all too easy to forget to switch radiators off in unused rooms. Our customers who work from home find this useful too, allowing different parts of the house to be kept warm at different times of day. If bending down to adjust a radiator has become a problem, a conveniently located control panel eases the difficulty and contributes towards continued independence of living.
Smart about the future
One thing we can smartly predict about the future is that this article will probably be the most frequently updated on our website! The speed at which in-home technology has been adapted and taken up by customers is dizzying and we work hard to keep ourselves updated on current developments. Fortunately, our links with leading manufacturers mean that we can give all our electricians training to install new products and systems as soon as they come onto the market. In many cases this training can be bespoke, tailor-made to meet our clients’ demands.
Our other prediction is that sophisticated automated home technologies will become commonplace within the next few years. These technologies are already being designed into London’s newly-built luxury residences. The “retrofittable” products and systems are increasingly in demand, either as a part of general refurbishment or as stand-alone home improvements, in the affluent residential areas of London that we serve. Whether it’s to look after property, conserve energy or just expand opportunities for in-home entertainment, customers are becoming more aware of the choices new technology can give them. It’s more than a trend. It’s the way we’ll live tomorrow.
If we can help you with your electrical needs, please call us on 020 8451 0345 or send us a message.