Where to Start
You may want to build your smart home, or simply expand it, for a number of reasons. Maybe you see the potential to reduce your utility bills or you need a new security system. But maybe it's none of the above, you want a smart home for one reason...they're cool. That was my reason for building my own smart home several years ago.
Realizing why you are interested in smart home technology can help determine the best path for you when building a system.
Realizing why you are interested in smart home technology can help determine the best path for you when building a system. To use my experience as an example, being a huge tech geek, I was attracted to the variety of technology available and how I could integrate it in my home. This helped me make a few overarching decisions early on that would shape how I grew my home’s technology.
DIY v Integrator
There are hundreds of DIY-friendly systems on the market today, which is both a blessing and a curse. We’ll take a look at several systems, some DIY and other professionally installed, in more detail later in this series but for now, I determined that the Insteon platform would be the best system for my own home that allowed me to grow in the future. Arriving at this answer though was not an easy journey, taking well over a year of research and installing, uninstalling, then reinstalling numerous switches and devices from several different brands and systems.
The benefit of the DIY approach is you can, at least early on, move easily between different systems with relative ease until you determine what works best for you. But since you are piecing technology from different manufacturers together, you will almost inevitably find yourself connecting each device using additional third-party software or services. This leaves your system at the mercy of a handful of companies, any of which could change their policies at any given moment.
Case in point, popular third-party app Stringify was one of the go-to solutions for connecting devices from different manufacturers...until the service shutdown. This left users in a situation where their homes would no longer work as expected and sent thousands in search of another third-party service to reconnect their homes while hoping this didn’t happen again.
One of the reasons I chose Insteon as the basis for my system early on was the wide variety of devices available from one manufacturer which let me avoid, for the most part, the situation described above. Yes, since Insteon uses proprietary software, I am limited to using only the equipment they support, but they also offer a solution to the major needs of any smart home giving me room to grow.
In contrast to the DIY approach, there is the option to hire an integrator to build the system for you. Integrators almost always started as DIY’ers, spending hundreds of hours researching, experimenting, and learning about what works and what doesn’t. They can be considered experts in the field and because they are industry professionals, they now have access to more tools and systems that a consumer does not, no different than a professional electrician or plumber.
When you hire an integrator, you can expect them to guide you through the entire process while building a system that meets every need you have.
For us, the very first meeting with any of our clients is a consultation. During this initial visit, we demo some possible technology so everyone involved can see how the technology could work in their own home and they can physically touch and experience the different solutions. We also ask a ton of questions about how you use your home, your daily routines, what you want a system to accomplish, and what kind of equipment you have in your home.
Integrators can handle any need you have, from installing a single Nest Learning Thermostat or camera to installing a deeply-integrated, fully-featured, custom-designed home automation system.
Why choose an integrator when you can just buy hardware from companies like Nest, Ecobee,August, and others at your local Best Buy? That’s a great question and the best answer is this...just because you can buy a circuit breaker and wire from Home Depot, doesn’t mean you know how to install a new electrical circuit. In reality, installing a camera incorrectly doesn’t present the same safety hazard as an incorrectly installed circuit breaker but the point is the same, you don’t know what you don’t know. You could be investing in a product or system that doesn’t allow growth in the future or one that won’t actually meet your requirements without additional equipment. For some, this isn’t a concern, but for others, this is the exact reason to hire an integrator from the beginning.
So how do you decide which option, going DIY or hiring an integrator, is right for you? The following questions should help.
If you’ve decided that a DIY approach is the best for you, that’s fantastic. This series is designed just for you and will help guide you through all of the decisions and choices you’ll have to make while building your system. But, even if you’re still unsure, we’re here to help. We offer free in-home consultations where we’ll demo some of the products available to you and answer every question you might have.
Call us today to schedule