What image comes to mind when you hear the words “smart home”? For many of us, it’s the dream of having a home that does all of the things we never really wanted to do in the first place, à la the futuristic 1962 cartoon “The Jetsons.” The show painted a picture of what life could look like if the tasks we spend countless hours doing could someday be automated. For the Jetsons, all it took was the push of a button to clean the house or cook dinner for the family (if only).
It’s true. We are not quite living in the Jetsons’ reality. But thanks to advances in smart home technology, real-life home automation has come a long way since the ‘60s.
Today, customers are ready to build smarter homes. They don’t always have the exact picture of what that looks like, and that’s why they start by working with a company like ours.
Identifying Your Definition of Smart Home
Ask two people for their definition of a smart home and you’ll likely get completely different answers. However, at its core, a smart home uses technology to make your life more convenient, comfortable and enjoyable. For that reason, everyone has their own idea of how they’d like to integrate smart home technology into their home.
Maybe your house has 28 windows. You’d like to have smart shades that are automatically drawn each morning and released down every night, without having to physically go from room to room and manually adjust them. Or perhaps you’d like the ability to pull into your driveway after work to a home that’s already lit, but you don’t want to leave the lights on all day.
You might even be thinking about the experience you want to create for your guests. During a dinner party, you’d like to ability to control the songs that play, as well as to lower the volume of your speakers during a great conversation, with a simple voice command.
At Definitive, we begin each home automation project with personalized discovery, asking you questions that give us insight into why you want a more connected home and what is most important to you.
“While we have standard package recommendations for each smart home category, we are invested in going through the process of discovery with the client,” says Definitive President Craig Abplanalp. “We’re not in the business of trying to sell someone on what we would like for them to have or what we think they can afford. We want to fully understand how they plan to use the technology in their home.”
In some cases, customers come to us with something specific in mind. After hearing our customers’ goals, we’re able to assess whether that system will be a good fit or if another one might offer better performance in the long run.
Choosing Function Over Fad
By the end of 2017, there were an estimated 20.1 million smart homes in the United States, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence research. In 2021, that number is expected to reach 35.6 million. As home automation grows in popularity, it also helps to further drive innovation in smart home technology. But it’s important to always put function before fad.
“If you’re really pushing the boundary of what’s currently possible, the likelihood of something not working as desired increases dramatically,” explains Ryan Johnson, System Engineer at Definitive. He adds, “If you work with well-established technology that’s undergone real-world testing, there’s a greater chance the system will be reliable and perform as expected.”
Those are the types of systems that Definitive deploys: ones that have been proven, are stable and demonstrate value to our customers. Unlike your smart phone, smart home technology isn’t as easy to replace every couple years. You want it to last.
Controlling Your Smart Home Eco-system
There are two ways to control your smart home: multiple applications or a more centralized approach. We often get asked if it’s a good idea or a bad idea to run your home from an app. Our take? Neither. It’s simply a matter of preference.
To decide which approach is best for you, ask yourself how many systems you’d like to control in your home.
Here are some examples of systems in your home that can become automated:
- Music and Movie Systems
- Door locks
Certain smart home installations may require custom programming. If that’s the case, the same company who installed your system will likely also need to be the one who makes any desired changes or updates for you after the fact. But, if custom programming isn’t required, it’s certainly possible to have smart technology installed in your home that you can maintain yourself.
Making Your Jetsons Dream a Reality — Within Reason
After we understand your vision, your smart home installation project moves into the design phase. Our engineering team works to create a set of plans that meet your goals, while also taking into consideration the building plans, current infrastructure of your home, other trades, and demands of the equipment going into your home.
And, speaking of wiring, we’ll determine whether your automated devices should run on a wired or wireless network. When possible, our team recommends hardwired networks because they are more reliable and there are not as many factors that can affect performance.
When you run a wire from point A to point B, there are only a few things that can slow down the connection: a cut wire, poor quality cable, or switches. These issues can easily be avoided with a quality install and a well-designed system. Wireless networks can be more complicated, as there are numerous factors that can affect the signal and reliability. This planning and design process is key to a successful integration.
“You wouldn’t think of building a custom home without having a plan. You’d hire an architect to do the design, and then you order construction materials based on that.” says Ryan Johnson. “Unfortunately, a lot of people that do low-voltage implementation just kind of do it ad hoc. They just start pulling wire and hope for the best. There is value beyond getting a pretty set of drawings that show where all the wires go, you get a functional, well-built design.”
Once the plan is set, we have a thorough documentation process to capture every detail about your installation. We provide you with both a paper copy and a digital version, in order to ensure that everyone is on board with the work being done.
During the installation, changes may arise, which get documented, too. That way, when the project is complete, you can be certain that the work we did aligns with what was promised.
The People Behind the Project
Do you remember the Verizon commercials where an army of workers appeared every time a Verizon customer made a call? That’s a pretty good visual of what it’s like to work with Definitive — you have a team of experts in your corner.
For custom systems, the people involved in your project includes:
- Sales Consultant
- Engineering & Design Team
- Installation Team
Many of the people who fill these roles have worked at Definitive for more than 30 years. This gives us — and you — an advantage of having seen how technology has changed over the years in our customers’ homes.
One thing that hasn’t changed is our customers’ reactions to the finished product. They’re often surprised by just how well it performs.
“When our customers experiencing the final installation in their home for the first time, it’s such a gratifying experience. Often, it ends exceeding what the customer ever imagined — sounding better and performing at a level beyond what they originally thought it would,” says Ryan Johnson.
And there’s nothing that means more to us than a happy customer.