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Get Smarter on Smart Homes

By Chris Burch

Applications in the home for “Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology” (SMART), having been in development over the past 20 years, have now reached a stage of exponential growth. Technology for the home is finally catching up with technology in other sectors of the economy. Companies such as Amazon (Alexa), Google (Home), and Apple (Home Kit) are creating smart home hubs and investing heavily to create next-generation products for homeowners.

What Smart Homes Do:
Smart homes provide homeowners with peace of mind, security, comfort, convenience, and energy savings. These objectives can be achieved by connecting and controlling everything in your home, including televisions, computers, printers, cable boxes, gaming consoles, sound systems, doorbells, lighting, robotic vacuum cleaners, swimming pool equipment, irrigation systems, security cameras, appliances (major and minor), thermostats, door locks (including garage doors), window blinds/shades, fireplaces, and so on. These components can be managed separately through individual apps or by a master smart home hub.

Examples of Smart Home Technology:
• Your wake-up alarm automatically signals your coffeemaker to start brewing. Your watch, which was also monitoring your sleep, signals to your coffeemaker that you need a little extra caffeine because you had a rough night’s sleep.
• Your smart refrigerator alerts you (through scanned bar codes) that your milk is about to expire and you are running low on eggs.
• As you get out of the shower, your smart mirror gives you the weather report and suggests what types of clothing you should wear.
• As you walk out the door, your home automatically adjusts the thermostat to save energy, shuts off all the lights, and locks all the doors.
You get the picture – the possibilities are endless.

What You Should Know If Building a New Home:
Currently, for many people building new homes, pre-wiring is an afterthought instead of a foremost consideration. According to John Fields, principal of Emerald Coast Com-Tech (based in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida), all homes not currently wired for SMART will have to be retrofitted at some future point. Given the prediction that almost every major electronic device/appliance in the home will become “smarter” in the days ahead, there will be an ever-growing demand for bandwidth. The existing wireless systems will be heavily taxed to handle the new loads. Fields recommends homebuilders hardwire in as many devices as possible. The key is to have the wires (Cat 6 or 6a that can support 10 Gbps and frequencies of up to 250 MHz) for things to run properly. Avoid bundling with the home’s regular electrical wiring, a common error which leads to electrical interference.

Install at least one access point on each floor to eliminate choke points or congestion from multiple streaming devices. All major internet service providers are working to keep up with the demand and eventually fiber-optic cabling will be the standard. Even if you are not a tech-savvy person or one concerned with potential privacy or security issues, you should not overlook the benefits of pre-wiring your home. Property appraisers are beginning to factor in allowances for SMART. According to Consumer Reports, there is a potential value
increase of up to 5% on resale value. According to Fields, the estimated cost to wire a smart home is about 1% of the overall construction budget…a wise investment. Another potential benefit of smart home technology is a reduction in insurance rates. For example, if you have an in-home SMART device that can detect a water leak, shut off the water supply, and alert you by phone, you lower the risk of extensive damage. If you are considering building a new home, you will be well-advised to make it a smart home
specifically wired to accommodate current and future technology offerings. This investment will immediately add value to your home and enhance resale value down the road. Schedule a consultation with a tech professional to discuss and design your smart home system.

Chris Burch, MBA, owns Grand Bay Construction, LLC, and has been building on the Emerald Coast since 2005. Grand Bay Construction seeks to not only set the standard in the Gulf Coast’s construction industry, but also surpass customers’ expectations.

Grand Bay Construction
CGC # 1509111
110 Logan Ln., Suite 3, Santa Rosa Beach, FL


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