Smart home technology has recently entered a new era of adoption, with appliances, ecosystems and wireless communications all attaining a level of commonplace within the home and office environment.
In Australia, for example, adoption of connected appliances grew 57 per cent in the past 12 months to a value $1.1 billion, according to research form Telsyte. And that’s only set to increase in the coming years, with the market forecast to grow to $5.3 Billion by 2023.
That said, like any technology, smart home technology continues to evolve and improve at a rapid pace. So, it begs the question when investing in smart home ecosystems and appliances, how can you future proof your smart home to ensure an investment now stands the test of time?
If you’re looking to embrace a smart home system that keeps pace with the improvements over the coming years, here’s a quick guide to what you should be on the lookout for.
In May this year, Telsyte release their latest report on smart home technology, noting more than 50 per cent of Australia’s total households had started the smart home journey, with at least one IoT@Home product installed by the end of 2018.
That statistic marked an increase of more than 30 per cent on the year prior, from around four million households in 2017, driven largely by the arrival of smart speakers to the Australian market.
“Amongst the five million IoT@Home adopters, Telsyte research finds around a quarter are considered “invested” in smart home technology, with at least five different IoT@Home products already installed in the home (e.g. cameras, smart plugs, smart lighting and smart appliances),” Telsyte continues.
“This figure is set to grow even further with Telsyte predicting the average household in 2023 will have 37 devices, around half being IoT@Home devices. At the end of 2018, the average Australian household had 17 connected devices, primarily made up of smartphones, computers, tablets and other gadgets.”
At Lera Smart Home Solutions, we’ve long been of the opinion that the concept of a smart home extends far beyond just the connected devices within it.
Rather, our philosophy is centred on the ecosystem that delivers a seamless smart home experience of intuitive and effortless living.
So, when we talk about future proofing the smart home, we’re looking at the nuts and bolts of infrastructure that will allow you to add the evolving devices and services to accommodate effortless and intuitive living long into the future.
Just like all things that are based on technology, smart home trends will come and go, appliances will improve and become more affordable and what’s new today will become commonplace tomorrow.
That’s why it’s critical to get your smart home ecosystem right in the first place.
You’re looking for a base system that you can add to over time as connected devices continue to evolve.
Ensuring you have the right base encompasses two important arenas – the way your home connects to the outside world, so you can control it from afar (connectivity), the way your devices communicate inside the property, independent of mobile or fixed internet (internal infrastructure).
Within the home and within society in general, connectivity is becoming more and more important. In terms of fixed internet, that connectivity is now often delivered through the National Broadband Network, offering greater volumes of data and higher speeds.
Soon it will be complemented by 5G, the latest mobile internet, which is tipped to also offer much faster speeds, increased bandwidth and the ability to connect more devices.
In the smart home, this connectivity offers a “bridge” to the home, allowing you to access information about what’s going on when you’re not there and control it from afar using an app or technology like your mobile phone.
Once you are in the smart home, a true ecosystem steps away from internet dependence and operates somewhat differently.
We’d argue this second level is the key area you need to get right.
There are a number of ways connected devices can communicate within a home. They can rely on a wireless internet router using Wi-Fi, connect via Bluetooth or use languages such as Z-Wave and ZigBee.
Both Z-Wave and ZigBee are mesh networks that can operate even when there is no connection to the internet.
Unlike Wi-Fi, which can become congested and lag when more devices are on the system, both Z-Wave and ZigBee actually become stronger (because each connected device acts as a path to transfer information, and the more devices you add, the more paths you have).
You can read more about how mesh networks work and the differences between the two here. However, at Lera, Z-Wave is our network of choice because of the security, reliability and future-proofing it offers.
At present, over 100 million Z-Wave based items are installed in homes worldwide, with over 2400 types of products currently available on the market.
Because every appliance using Z-Wave relies on the same proprietary technology, every single Z-Wave device has the capability of communicating with each other. Z-Wave further explains: “Z-Wave products are designed to work together even as new generations of products come to market”.
Critically, the fact the technology is licensed allows the security to be state-of-the-art. Z-Wave technology uses the same encryption as online banking making it the safe choice for your smart home.
To cut to the chase, Z-Wave is here to stay and is a smart home communication method of choice that allows people to easily add the technology to their homes, without altering the structure and to add compatible appliances at will.
This list of compatible appliances continues to grow and grow, meaning when you start with a Z-Wave ecosystem, you’re future proofing your home.
No matter whether a new fridge arrives on the market or you wish to change your lighting and add extra products, Z-Wave is the ecosystem that will accommodate the task.
Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.
We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.
You can learn more about transforming your house into a smart home here, access our smart home calculators here or contact us directly for further advice.