Smart Home With Speed - #1DaySmartHome

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Smart Home With Speed - #1DaySmartHome

 Need For Speed

We now live in an era where speed is everything. Healthy meals cooked in 15 minutes, Norwich to London in under 2 hours and same day deliveries from online shopping are all examples of our need for speed. Super fast services have been the inspiration for the new home technology packages from Customised.

Smart Home with Speed

Historically, smart home installations have taken hundreds of hours to design, cable, install and calibrate. You also had to be in the process of a major renovation or a new construction project to run all the necessary cables. Customised have a long heritage in these kind of developments and know that large, luxury homes will continue to require the dozens of days needed to make them smart.

When we brainstormed the idea of Smart Home with Speed we set ourselves an ambitious target of creating a Smart Home in just one day. In less than 10 working hours in the average sized home we would have to undertake a home tech makeover that would result in all the major home services benefiting from a smart upgrade. We're delighted to share with you details of the One Day Smart Home.

The One Day Smart Home is a technology transformation of your home focusing on 7 key areas. Lighting, heating, security, home health, wi-fi, smart TV and multi-room music. Each of these areas get a boost of intelligence. Your simple light bulbs get a smart upgrade to energy efficient LED fittings with app control of colour and easy to create lighting scenes. The dumb thermostat gets the smart treatment to enable features like geofencing, voice control and intelligent heating schedules. High quality HD equipped video cameras and doorbells mean you've always got eyes on your home and alerts to your smartphone when people arrive. Information from your home like motion, humidity, temperature and air quality can be used to trigger notifications, turn on devices and help you track your living conditions. These first four key areas are conveniently controlled and managed with the Apple Home app, which is already loaded on all iOS 10 equipped Apple devices. One really cool feature of it being controlled by your phone is that you can even ask Siri to control your lights or adjust the thermostat temperature.

The final three elements of the One Day Smart Home cover connectivity and entertainment. Wi-fi coverage in your home is a genuine argument generator in some homes. We reduce wi-fi frustrations with wireless devices that cover the whole home. Having access to all your favourite TV and movie streaming services in one device makes time spent in front of your big screen a real pleasure. Apple TV provides the apps to make any TV smart. Music in every room of your home is a cinch with Sonos and this talented wireless music system brings your home to life with your favourite tracks and playlists.

Our new easy to access smart home packages merge professional installation with the best of DIY smart home products. You get everything setup by an expert, a full walk through of the system and access to an exclusive customer support service should you need any assistance. We've made sure that all the technology installed is supported for updates and that the system is expandable, allowing you to easily add tech to your home when you want more smart lightbulbs or additional rooms with Sonos speakers.

The One Day Smart Home is available with a fixed price of £2000 and is our entry level Smart Home with Speed service. You can call 01508 528964 or email demo@customised.uk.com to arrange a free survey for your Smart Home upgrade.

Customised are your local, CEDIA certified, home technology professionals.

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Empowering People with Disabilities using HomeKit and Siri

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Empowering People with Disabilities using HomeKit and Siri

I’m excited to share this blog with you, I’ve waited several months to be able to bring this together. The reason it took so long is because I needed two pieces of the Smart Home jigsaw to complete the puzzle. Both jigsaw pieces came from Apple and they’ve been around for a while but they’ve taken time to get to fit together; Siri and Apple HomeKit.

Apple are no strangers to Assistive Technology and since 2013 have offered Switch Control on Apple mobile and desktop devices. Switch Control helps you enter text, choose menus, move your pointer, and other functions all by clicking a switch. You can use a keyboard key, mouse button, trackpad button, joystick, or adaptive device as one or more switches.

Siri has been a well used resource for all Apple device users to set timers, call contacts, send messages and ask questions. It may have its critics, which voice assistant doesn’t, but as a personal voice gateway Siri handles everyday requests with ease.

HomeKit is a framework, developed by Apple, for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in your home. You can discover HomeKit accessories in your home and configure them, or you can create actions to control those devices. You can group actions together and trigger them using Siri and the Apple Home app.

For many people reading this blog post, the concept of using voice control to lower blinds, lock doors or turn off lights may seem like a nice to have or a luxury convenience. For a person with disabilities the combination of HomeKit and Siri is independence. The use of voice control for managing your home is empowerment.

One short voice command to your phone may set up the whole home for your arrival. For example, “Hey Siri, I’m Home” could first open the garage door, then turn on the hallway, kitchen and living room lights, then disarm the alarm system and finally unlock the front door. The automation options with Siri and HomeKit are a game changer for people living with disabilities.

We are still in the early days of HomeKit but there are currently around 50 devices which are compatible and they cover many of your homes requirements. There is an exciting range of innovative products controlling lighting, heating, security, electrical and entertainment services in your home and there is a steady stream of new connected devices being released for the HomeKit platform every month.

Customised have been working closely with the Works With Apple HomeKit range of products since their release and have put together several quick to install and easy to use Smart Home packages for any homeowner to start living with voice control of their home. We’d really like to show you how Siri and HomeKit is able to completely change how you operate and function in your home.

Customised are South Norfolk based Smart Home experts.

01508 528964

www.customised.uk.com/contactus

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Did we mention the price? Customised #SmartHome

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Did we mention the price? Customised #SmartHome

Consumer awareness of Smart Home technology is on the rise. In the past two to three years there have been hugely successful promotional campaigns by companies like Nest, British Gas and Philips with their security, heating and LED lighting devices. For many of you, these will have been the first Smart Home products you brought into your home. Products like these have enabled the control of your heating using your phone or given you the opportunity to have colour changing mood lighting, but for many this is where Smart Home had stalled.

It'll come as no surprise to you that hundreds of new Smart Home devices have followed in the footsteps of Nest and Hive and well known brands like Apple, Yale, Honeywell and Google are now some of the major players in the homes of the future. With the new wave of devices we also have some new features like voice control, geofencing (a digital perimeter around your home that will control devices if the perimeter is tripped by your smartphone) and single apps to control multiple devices.

An example of one app ruling them all is the Apple Home app. Apple introduced their HomeKit platform in 2014 to developers and in the subsequent years the platform was developed to be the framework for technology accessories to connect and communicate in the home. Many Smart Home devices now proudly wear the Works With Apple HomeKit logo and Apple Home supports voice control using Siri, geofencing and scheduled, automated events.

Customised have chosen Apple Home and Siri voice control to be the platform for our express Smart Home installs. As an example, our 1 Day Smart Home package (fully installed for £2000), combines the following products and services onto the Apple Home app:

Lighting by Philips Hue

Heating control with Honeywell

Smart sockets using Elgato Eve

Water leak detection by Fibaro

HD CCTV from D-Link

Home health monitor using Elgato Eve

In addition to all these fully installed home tech additions, our 1 Day Smart Home package also includes a far-reaching wi-fi hotspot, a Sonos Play:1 wireless speaker and an Apple TV for media streaming. The inclusion of Apple TV also enables control when you're away from home using your phone or tablet. Did we mention that the price includes installation?

To recap:

Voice controlled lighting and heating

Improved wi-fi coverage

HD CCTV

Movie and music streaming

Air quality and water leak monitoring

Apple Home control app

Installed in 1 day

£2000

Did we mention that the price covers installation, setup and customer handover?

Get in touch to book your free Smart Home Assessment.

Smart Home with Apple HomeKit

Smart Home with Apple HomeKit

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Smart Home Status Check - March 2017

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Smart Home Status Check - March 2017

Did you know that there is a takeover happening in your home right now? A technology takeover. Over the past decade the number of devices, gadgets, applications, screens and sensors used in our home life has grown enormously. It is only ten years since Apple launched the iPhone; this game changing mobile device took dozens of previously used gadgets and bundled it into one pocket sized tool to support our busy lifestyles. Since its launch the iPhone and other smartphones have been a gateway product for scores of other hi-tech products to enter our homes. Some provide entertainment and convenience and others bring comfort and security; products like speaker docks, LCD televisions, security cameras and thermostats. These products and similar others are a regular feature in our homes now.  For a long time these were solitary devices doing their own thing, but now these devices are internet connected and communicating with each other. They are the foot soldiers of the technology takeover. To recycle the now well known slogan used by the Ministry of Information, "Keep Calm and Carry On". The technology takeover is here to revolutionise and improve how you connect and live in your home. 

We’ve now reached a highly anticipated landmark for control of technology in the home, voice control. The Amazon Echo arrived, won over the sceptics and is now on track to becoming the first choice voice controlled home assistant for many. Google has launched the market alternative with Google Home, but Amazon’s willingness to collaborate with other software and hardware manufacturers has seen it pull away from the chasing pack, which also includes Microsoft Cortana and Apple Siri. Microsoft are predicted to concentrate their voice assistant services on businesses and busy professionals, and Apple, surprisingly, have yet to offer a cohesive offering combining Siri, Apple Music, Apple TV and HomeKit. Aggressive moves by Amazon and Google are making the gap for Apple to enter the market smaller and smaller. 2016 ended and 2017 started with voice control being a new interface in our clients Smart Home installations. It is now a recognised user interface to be factored into our designs. 

Customised have been professional home technology installers since 2008 and we’ve charted the rise in the number of connected devices entering the home. The increase in devices results in an significant increase in traffic on the home network. For close to a decade we’ve waxed lyrical about the need for our clients to bolster their home network; this can often be one of the least expensive elements of their project. Hard-wired cable infrastructure, a robust router, a managed network and far reaching wireless coverage can often be the difference between home automated bliss and frustrated, unhappy customers. It’s easy to overlook the planning and design needed for the installation of technology in homes. Developers, architects and home owners are blinkered by wireless technology and readily throw up the classic comment of “Isn’t everything wireless these days?”. Poor preparation for technology can result in new homes being out of date from the moment the keys are handed over to the new owner.

The most exciting features of a Smart Home are the audio and visual systems. Ranging from multi-room music and hi-fi, to big screen televisions and surround sound cinema rooms, home entertainment is what brings a home alive. For over sixty years the television has been the focal point of family entertainment. Since the advent of television we've relied on broadcasters to schedule our viewing and set the times when we'd gather around our electronic window to the world. Nowadays streaming and downloading from the internet is how we access our favourite programs. Box sets and binge watching are broadband hungry habits and therefore it is vital that your home network is built to cope with the demands of multiple users accessing content from the internet. Video formats like UltraHD and 4K plus audio streams of High-Resolution music all add up to fully load your home network.

If audio and video systems are the nice to haves then security systems are the must haves. Figures from UKCrimeStats.com report an increase in burglaries in England and Wales from 35,130 to 37,396 from October to November 2016. Intruder alarm and CCTV systems still remain the best deterrent of crime against your home. Modern alarm systems now offer app notifications and remote connections for alerts and status, and CCTV has evolved to now provide UltraHD video quality and outstanding night time performance. DIY security products like indoor cameras and smart doorbells are easy to install security enhancements for your home; check out products from Nest, Yale and Ring for inspiration.

Automation and control of your homes lighting, heating, ventilation and blinds/curtains is the part of a Smart Home which generally requires the most planning, design and engineering. Customised are specialists in combining these services onto one common system. Think of the system that automates and controls them as your Home Operating System. We always recommend a hard-wired system for the management of these essential services in the home. In past years the systems that performed these tasks were generally very expensive and exclusive to luxury homes. Nowadays there are reliable options for every budget, there are even robust and secure options for wireless or retrofit automation systems and these can be very quick to install and setup.

The electrical wiring for most automation systems differs from traditional household wiring; the majority of systems take the approach of star wiring the lighting circuits back to central control locations, typically the consumer unit location. The light switch or control panel in the room would be provisioned with an extra low voltage (ELV) control cable and would not contain mains voltage, however mains power would be present at the light fitting or driver and consumer unit. The switches or control panels would all be interlinked by the ELV control cable in a daisy chain or bus wired layout. For more information on bus wired systems search for KNX, a global standard and protocol for automation systems and is used by hundreds of manufacturers.

In today's modern home, which has systems in place for controlling lighting, climate, entertainment, and shading, there is a lot going on behind the scenes that the homeowner is not capable of managing. Home automation systems do require regular updates, changes and maintenance to keep them performing at optimum levels. Updates to the system normally bring new exciting features like voice control or integration with new DIY products like doorbells or wireless music systems. A home automation system should be installed and commissioned by a certified professional installation company. Seek out your local CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association) member to plan your Smart Home project.  They adhere to industry standards, equipment specifications and workmanship levels and have proven insurances and trading histories. When choosing your installer request client testimonials, case studies and ask to visit previous projects or dealer showroom.

A Smart Home system could cost as much as your next car so give it as much research time as you would choosing your next car. There are a lot of options for your home technology at varying budgets; find the systems that suit your home, lifestyle and budget.

Customised are Norfolk based home technologists providing Smart Home consultation, design, installation and maintenance services.

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I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) - #JustHome Blog

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I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) - #JustHome Blog

More music themed blog titles from Customised. We've gone back to the 80's with this one.

Home building and renovating in the UK luxury home market is showing no signs of slowing down. We get dozens of requests for quotes and consultations every month and the same postcodes regularly crop up in parts of Surrey, West London and Norfolk. Since the start of the year we have seen a definite spike in home technology installation requests, it's a great sign of consumer awareness and confidence increasing with technology in homes. Up until twelve months ago we had example average project costings to pass on to interested parties. It was a value that usually drifted between £30,000 and £50,000 for a whole house project covering design, wiring, audio/visual, network, lighting, heating and security systems, with a single, common control platform and an aftercare package. Sounds comprehensive but it often did not include motorised curtains or blinds, home cinema room system or access control of gates and doors. These options can easily push the price into £50,000+ territory, a massive buy in price to own and live in a Smart Home. Too much!

For 2017 and beyond, Customised have our sights on a new target, sensibly priced home technology options for any home, luxury or otherwise. Do you know what happens when we float £50,000 price tags around the table when discussing a new customers home technology options? Barriers go up, arms get folded, heads get shaken and eyebrows get raised (No Can Do). We have always aimed for attainable pricing and strive to introduce value throughout our projects but there were always elements of the legacy Smart Home setup that sent pricing skywards. Here are the main culprits:

  • Programming Labour - this is the time it takes to make System A to talk to System B or how long it takes to program a simple button that may turn off multiple lights etc. Some systems are ridiculously long winded to perform these procedures. We've ditched the systems that rely on intensive laptop time to get things setup for customers. We now use systems that are programmed using apps or ones that simply pair devices by scanning a barcode, saving you £1000's.
  • Whole House Lighting Systems - the ultimate luxury for a new home. One centralised system where any of the lights can either be dimmed, switched off/on, grouped in a scene or controlled by any keypad or app. When seen in action these systems are awesome, so powerful, but the price they command are a huge portion of the total budget. We now encourage clients to choose key rooms for lighting control, like open plan living spaces, and leave other areas in the home wired traditionally. BUT, prepare this traditional wiring for adding retrofit lighting controls later. We use systems that are able to blend wired and wireless lighting controls and which are easy to program and install, saving you £1000's.
  • Margin Heavy Systems - this will get me in trouble with my peers and suppliers but homeowners need to be aware that the majority of the professional Smart Home products come loaded with margin and in some cases it could be as high as 60%. There is a strong argument to say that the margin is to protect the installer when supporting the product with updates or service/fault visits. In reality though it's now most often used by installers to be able to negotiate with homeowners and give them headroom to drop their prices when hitting budget targets. We are weaning ourselves off this margin comfort blanket and are passing the savings on to our clients. To ensure the highest quality we have made well researched choices on all our product offerings based on reliability, are remotely accessible and are upgradeable. Saving you £1000's.

Customised now have the widest spectrum of home technology systems available that we've ever been able to offer. We've introduced new 1 hour install services for simple devices like thermostats, indoor cameras and wireless speakers, 2-3 day installations for retrofit home lighting systems into existing properties and still provide the full home automation and audio visual systems for the luxury homes market but at a more achievable price point and complete them in less time.

Customised are your local, CEDIA certified, home technology experts. We're here to guide you through all the home technology options available to you and your home.

Kris Gamble - Technical Director, Customised Ltd

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What’s Possible With A CEDIA Professional? #IAMCEDIA

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What’s Possible With A CEDIA Professional? #IAMCEDIA

This headline caught my eye whilst searching on the cedia.org website recently. 

What’s Possible With A CEDIA Professional? 

It’s been stuck in my head for a couple of days and inspired this blog because I don’t think home owners fully know what is possible when you work with a CEDIA home technologist.

Bringing the latest technology into your home is an exciting moment. Controlling a device with an app or using just your voice is a tech thrill. It’s become so simple to setup Smart devices yourself, current household favourites include voice controlled assistants, colour changing lightbulbs and intelligent smoke detectors among many others gadgets. During the setup of any of these additions to your home you likely went through a process of downloading a new app and following simple instructions until you got the go ahead to start playing with your new gadget. Part of the setup process happening behind the scenes was your broadband router giving your new device an address so that it can communicate on your home network. Do you ever think about how busy that box plugged into your telephone line gets? Really busy. Too busy sometimes, that’s why occasionally your Smart TV starts buffering, your music streaming pauses and video calls go all pixelated and sound robotic. Home networks deal with a lot of traffic and all your latest Smart device purchases only add to the congestion. All is not lost though, download delays could become a thing of the past by employing the services of a CEDIA professional. Your CEDIA home technologist will have your home network running at optimum speeds with some possible upgrades, changes to settings or relocation of devices.

CEDIA Professional for Your Network.

It wasn't too long ago that television sizes ranging from 40 to 50 inches were regarded as BIG screens. Now displays that size are often found in kitchens, bedrooms and less frequently used reception rooms. In your main lounge or living room it’s quite common to see screens reach sizes of 65 inches or even 75 inches. You need big furniture to sit a TV that size on top. The best place for flatscreen televisions is on the wall. Choose the right spot, the ideal height and screw it to the wall. Easy? Not easy. Where is your power outlet? How are you connecting your games console or set top box? Are you happy with cables hanging loose from screen to source? Of course you aren't and this is another common situation where a CEDIA professional can take over. Your CEDIA home technologist will hide those HDMI and power cables and mount the screen securely. Quite often when your CEDIA professional is showing you how to operate your newly installed TV they’ll show you features you may not have known you had like the latest television and movie streaming apps.

CEDIA Professional for Your Entertainment.

Room heating and water heating accounts for more than half of the energy consumed in your home during a typical year. A typical household may have a programmer or scheduler that turns the heating on or off at certain times of the day. You may also have a thermostat in the hallway or thermostatic valves on your radiators. Heat up, cool down, heat up, cool down, often following the same schedule all year round. The thermostat has no idea how hot it is in the upstairs bedrooms and the radiator valves might always be left fully open, never regulating heat output to the room. Can your conscience take this huge waste of energy? Can your bank balance? A CEDIA professional can reverse this consumption trend. Internet connected thermostats learn your routines and sense when you are away from home. They will communicate with the radiator valves and other sensors in the home, to only send heat where it’s needed and more importantly not send it to where it’s not required. And of course, to feed your appetite for gizmos and gadgets, your heating controls will now be voice and app controlled. Exciting times.

CEDIA Professional for Your Energy.

CEDIA Professional for Your Technology.

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A Change Is Gonna Come - #SmartHome Blog

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A Change Is Gonna Come - #SmartHome Blog

Cost. The biggest barrier to owning a Smart Home.  Cost of the equipment, cost of the design, cost of installation and cost of programming smart home systems. It is these high costs that traditionally keeps home automation in only the most expensive UK homes. I'm going to call these the 1% of UK homes. In this fraction of the property market it's often the size of the properties that drives the costs up, more rooms, more lights, more TV's, more sensors and more wires. The other cost factor is the type of systems used to service these buildings. Powerful centralised systems like Crestron, Control4, and Gira, which are capable of controlling and monitoring much larger buildings than houses, they can also be used to automate shops, restaurants, bars and offices. Let's tag these systems with a £15,000+ price.

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A home this large needs a commercial-grade automation system. 

For the remaining 99% of UK homes these powerful and complex automation systems can do an excellent job of controlling them but when you try and fit these systems into homeowners budgets it becomes non-viable. Cost.

For a number of years there was not a lot of options for "real world" home automation but over the last 2-3 years there have been a new wave of sensibly priced home control systems making Smart Home a realistic option on new construction homes. Systems like Loxone or HDL Buspro take many of the features of the high cost systems, especially centralising lighting, and bring them to homeowners with pricing that can often be less than half the price of the high cost alternatives. More importantly these two systems also came with a dealer network of professional design, installation and programming businesses. I'll tag these systems with a price of £8,000+.

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Loxone Miniserver is the brains of the Loxone Smart Home. 

Again there is a strong argument to say that the Loxone and HDL systems do breakthrough into a large chunk of the 99% of UK homes, and Loxone has arguably become the number one systems for electricians and installers. But cost is still an issue and these systems are most suited to new construction projects and rely on regular installer intervention.

All the brand names mentioned are all best known for their placement in new construction projects, whether it's in single dwellings and apartments or housing developments and custom build luxury homes. Where these brands have introduced new options to homeowners is with wireless, retrofit versions of their home automation platforms. Crestron Pyng, Loxone Air, HDL Buspro Wireless and Gira KNX RF are all suited to any construction project and often fit around existing electrical wiring in any home. These wireless systems have lower installed price points for homeowners because of three main reasons: 

  1. No need for wiring between devices. Wireless communication and devices connect into existing household electrical wiring.
  2. Quick installation times. Retrofit, wireless home automation is often done in days rather than the weeks it takes the wired systems. 
  3. Easier to program. These new generation, wireless versions of wired systems are often programmed via an app or have a simple setup and do not need lengthy programming time.

Wireless systems give you the ability to automate one room, one floor or one service in the home and allow you to build a whole house systems in steps. In the lead up to Winter 2016, Loxone UK launched the Winter Smart Home package that included retrofit tech to automate and control lights, heating and security. This package was advertised with an estimation of a one day installation by a Loxone dealer. App controlled home automation in one day, with an equipment package price point of under £3,000 heralded in a new era for professional Smart Home install.

That change in the professional sector is needed because the next crop of Smart Home options from Amazon, Apple, Samsung and Google is going to offer another and maybe cheaper option (under £2000) which will definitely be retrofit and wireless.

Kris Gamble - Customised Technical Director 

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Crestron Pyng provides a great Smart Home user experience.

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The Times They Are A Changin' - #SmartHome Blog

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The Times They Are A Changin' - #SmartHome Blog

A friend recently posted a picture on Facebook which showed Britain's first computer being delivered to a council office in England. In 1957, Norwich City Council took delivery of an Elliot 405 computer, it was used to process payrolls, perform accountancy duties and stock control. Sixty years of UK business computing has evolved so much that we now find ourselves in a cloud based, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) era.

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The Elliot 405 being delivered in 1957

In UK homes, computers and processors have been used to manage centralised services such as lighting control, heating and ventilation, air-conditioning, audio & visual and security systems. Typically these systems take up an enormous amount of space in a home. Small store rooms, plant rooms and valuable cupboard spaces can often be filled with equipment racks, wiring panels and electrical enclosures. For a 5 bedroom plus sized home it's quite common for the technology installer to commandeer several square metres of space.

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Huge Smart Home installation in luxury home

At Customised we understand the need for this amount of equipment in the very complicated and technically advanced luxury homes. It's unavoidable in homes that have dozens of rooms requiring hidden technology, the control gear has to go somewhere. 

In 2017, Customised are turning their attention to smaller, less complicated, every person homes. We're realistic and know that the average 3 bedroom house or 2 bedroom apartment does not have space for equipment racks and plant rooms. You have areas already reserved for technology, there is a boiler and heating controls location, designated spaces in rooms for a TV, a small area for a doorbell at the front door, light fittings and light switches are already in traditional places; we can't have a centralised lighting control system and finally you have your thermostats in their positions. Unless you are doing a major refurbishment in the home these locations are fixed and we have to work with where they are. Customised are experts at using the existing wiring in your home to install smart devices.

Key devices in the home can be made smart by Customised, here are our favourites:

Philips Hue white and colour changing light bulbs.

Sonos wireless multi room music system. 

Amazon Echo voice controlled home assistant. 

Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector. 

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Customised can't change the way homes are built or wired

We know that UK homeowners want to live smarter, technology plays a big part in our lives and adding smart home technology can bring greater pleasure, security and efficiency to our living spaces. The biggest stumbling block for homeowners is not knowing which tech is right for their home. There is a real lack of information on smart home products and the biggest problem is knowing what tech works with what. We don't want thirteen apps to control our home, ideally just one, maybe two and no more than three. Customised can help with this.

Book a free consultation with us, we're here to help you create a more efficient and easy to control home with connected technology.

 

Kris Gamble - Customised Technical Director

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Build Smart - Start Talking to Your Local @CEDIA_EMEA Member

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Build Smart - Start Talking to Your Local @CEDIA_EMEA Member

Build Smart

For close to a decade now we've been using smartphones, dozens of previously used devices all bundled in one pocket sized gadget. Every year your mobile phone evolves to offer better graphics, increased camera resolution, faster processor speeds and greater storage. Apps connect us with all our favourite social medias, on demand services and messaging platforms. Do you remember your first experiences with a smartphone? You very quickly forgot your old device that offered only a fraction of the conveniences your new phone brought.

Do you remember using a choke or manually winding your windows up or down in a car? A thing of the past. Car technology has evolved, nowadays they're stacked with features improving efficiency, comfort, safety and entertainment. Played a cassette recently in your car? Manufacturers of cars bring out new features at the same rate smartphone companies bring out software updates. We're well used now to the speed of tech evolution.

Let's turn our attention to UK homes. New homes built in the UK have experienced major changes over the past decade. Better insulation, improved air-tightness, zonal heating and, love it or hate it, massive increases in value.

One part of the home that has not evolved to meet new, modern living standards is your household wiring. It's no exaggeration to say that the majority of new homes are wired no differently than they were back in 1997. Twenty years of unused telephone sockets, two decades of television points being stuck in the corner of the room, twenty years of aerial splitters lurking in the loft and two decades of service providers like BT or Sky installing ugly cabling on the outside of your house because no one had the foresight to consider where set top boxes or routers will go.

Over the next five years you are going to spend a lot of your household income on technology products and services. Most of this technology will be used in your home. So how future-ready is your home for UltraHD media streaming, internet connected kitchen appliances, virtual reality entertainment and voice controlled home assistants? If you think you won't have these things in your home you're sadly mistaken. Apple, Google, BT and Netflix, to name a few, will continue to push a connected lifestyle upon you. Some of you may have thought you'd have no use for a smartphone ten years ago.

The changes house builders need to make to stop producing dumb homes are not as drastic as you may think. Our four tips for designers and builders of new homes are easy to put into action.

  1. Start considering the amount of technology your buyers are moving into a house with. We regularly analyse household wi-fi networks and often count over twenty five internet connected devices.
  2. Seek out training courses or CPD presentations that provide easy to access content on smarter, connected living. RIBA and NHBC have both recently published articles and accredited courses related to Smart Homes.
  3. Speak to the existing tradespeople involved on your projects and listen to their views on how to make your homes smarter. They may already be involved in creating Smart Homes in the luxury or custom build market.
  4. Make the change to build Smart today. Stop the construction of dumb homes for your customers. You've introduced renewables, energy efficiency and innovative heating methods to your schemes over the years, it's time to introduce Smart Home to them.

Customised are Norfolk based, CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) certified home technology professionals . We offer free CPD presentations to architects, construction professionals and interior designers throughout the region. Get in touch to make the switchover to building Smart.

Customised CPD presentation in King's Lynn

Customised CPD presentation in King's Lynn

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Christmas Tech Takeover

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Christmas Tech Takeover

2016 has been an incredible year for home technology. New tech which has enhanced our entertainment, convenience and connectivity this year have included voice control gateways, virtual reality headsets and affordable 4K TV. On our recent smart home installation projects we've seen a huge increase in the amount of devices connected to your home broadband and experienced the issues this causes your "freebie" router supplied by your internet provider. This Christmas we're expecting to see record levels of internet connected devices under the tree or in your stockings. Is your router ready for them?

 

Popular festive tech gifts this year will be media streamers from Amazon, Apple and Google, games consoles from the usual suspects like Sony and Xbox and thousands of living rooms across the country will be treated to a 4K TV upgrade. I'm highlighting these particular products because they represent the most broadband demanding devices in your home. All of these products rely heavily on On-Demand TV apps to deliver your content and in a lot of cases this is in data sapping Full HD or Ultra HD formats. In most households nowadays, every evening, there will be at least one person connecting to a TV streaming service for their daily dose of their favourite box set or catching up with previous days TV. I'm sure you've already experienced what it's like when two or three people are streaming or downloading from the internet. It has a huge detrimental effect on your wi-fi connection and broadband speeds.

 

There are several methods for ensuring better connectivity for all the devices in your home. Some are simple but others require professional intervention by Technologists like Customised. Here's our tips for home tech harmony:

 

Invest in a new router. It will bring enhanced security features, better device management and improved wireless coverage.

 

Wire where you can. If a device has an Ethernet port then hard wire it to your router. Non-mobile devices like televisions, set top boxes and games consoles are prime candidates for a wired connection.

 

Get rid of range extenders. Seek out wireless access points or meshing wi-fi systems like Eero, Amplifi or Luma. A professional installer will improve wireless coverage in your home in a matter of hours.

 

Use dual frequency wi-fi. Recently purchased devices like smartphones, tablets or media streamers will now employ both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wireless technology. Make sure your router uses both speeds too.

 

Pester your provider. Don't take slow broadband speeds in your town or village lying down. Work as a community and harness the power of a crowd to pressure the service providers to improve connectivity in your area.

 

Seek out a professional. Instead of dabbling with your home tech and getting yourself into further tangles, employ the services of a Technologist. Use the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) website to search for a local professional in your area.

 

Customised are Norfolk based, CEDIA certified Technologists. From our base in South Norfolk we cover the whole of East Anglia.

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