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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Please don't tear my house apart! #SmartHome #Retrofit with #Pyng

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Please don't tear my house apart! #SmartHome #Retrofit with #Pyng

Who doesn’t want smart home features in their houses nowadays?  UK homeowners are spending more and more every year on technology for their homes.  The use of home technology is now a proven method for saving energy in your home, making your home more secure and providing greater entertainment in our living spaces.

Recent home technology purchases by homeowners are generally given the term DIY or self installed devices.  Smart thermostats, wireless cameras and wi-fi boosters are common purchases.  They tend to give you an introduction to smart home living or provide a sticking plaster over an issue in your home.

DIY products are attractive because they are easy to buy off the shelf, don’t require professional help and are usually paired with an easy to use app.  However, with the continuing purchases of DIY devices, your smartphone or tablet becomes littered with home control apps and you start to notice that devices don't communicate with each other as you had hoped or were promised.

One of the main factors that forces homeowners to seek out DIY products is that they don't want to install new cables or mess around with the existing electrical, television or telephone cabling in their homes.  It’s hard to argue against this; who wants the disruption of trying to get new cables into the fabric of the building or trying to work out how to utilise the existing wires in the home?

Unfortunately in a lot of cases the homeowner will get frustrated with this scenario and revert back to multiple apps and more sticking plasters.  Instead they should seek out their local Home Technology Professional.  Customised offer a choice of systems that will control and manage your home.  These systems can be installed with minimal or no wiring, and one app to control your whole home.  We have solutions that stop the temporary fixes and have the flexibility and expandability to add new technology when it appears; something new is always on the horizon.

Our first choice system for the retrofit smart home is Crestron Pyng.  Pyng is a system that starts from the app.  The app is used for all the setup and configuration.  At the heart of a Pyng system is the Pyng Hub; it securely communicates with wireless light switches, thermostats, door locks, alarm systems, motorised blinds, audio systems and CCTV cameras.  All your home services are under control from the Pyng app or from conveniently installed keypads and touch screens.

Crestron Pyng puts the homeowner in charge of their lighting, heating, entertainment and security. New scenes, lighting timers and adjustments to the heating schedule can be done easily via the app, and the homeowner can control their home while they are away from the property.

Pyng is a system that merges professionally installed home technology and powerful, elegant home automation. But most importantly it’s an option for homeowners that will not see their home pulled apart to install the smart features and will make their home more secure, efficient and comfortable.

Learn more about Pyng here.

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Set The Scene With @CrestronInt #Pyng

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Set The Scene With @CrestronInt #Pyng

Home automation scenes make life better and more enjoyable in your Pyng home. Here our some of our customers favourite scenes. Get in touch for your Pyng demonstration.

Good Morning

Start the day right. As you wake up, Pyng makes sure the temperature is to your liking and any outdoor lights are all switched off. Pre-programmed settings allow you to prepare for your day ahead.

Dinner Party

Mood lighting and your favourite music creates the perfect ambiance for a romantic dinner for two or a lively gathering with family and friends. Press one button to set the scene for memorable evening.

Welcome Home

Never return to a dark and stuffy home again. With a tap of your smart phone or watch pathway lights illuminate your route to your front door. Inside, Pyng raises the shades, turns on the lights and adjusts the temperature.

Good Night

Are all the lights off? What about the outdoor lights? Instead of getting out of bed to check, just have Pyng set the alarm and make sure your home is ready for a great night's sleep.

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Future Homes with Customised, your local @CEDIA_EMEA members

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Future Homes with Customised, your local @CEDIA_EMEA members

Last night I asked my five year old son what a Smart Home was. He took his time before answering that in a Smart Home you can close the curtains using the light switch, doors open automatically without you using the handles and you can listen to music wherever you sit down. An impressive answer from someone so young but he knows what Customised does and lives in a home which has some Smart Home features. He proceeded to tell me that in some houses you can speak to the house to get it to do things. I’m always astounded by the tech savviness of kids but have to remind myself that they're growing up surrounded by touch screens, smartphones, digital signage and on-demand content and don't have memories of only a handful of television channels and waiting your turn to use the house phone. 

I often wonder what technology will be available in my sons’ home when he gets on the property ladder. Based on what housing developers are building today, if he was to buy a home built in 2016 it will be highly insulated, utilise renewable energy and have triple glazed windows. Excellent features that will help him run an efficient home but where are the connections for his tech? It’s difficult for home builders to keep up to date on the latest home technology developments, new products and trends are launched everyday. One way for them to keep abreast of the future home is to buddy up with their local CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) member. Your local CEDIA members are home technology professionals who can support the home builder to design, install and maintain the future ready home.

CEDIA recently announced their insights and predictions for the home technology which will be commonplace in 2020, less than four years from now. Here are a few to look forward to:

  • Home broadband speeds will continue to double roughly every 12 months, with speeds possibly reaching as high as 16 times what they are today.
  • Input technologies will mature to include voice and gesture recognition, location, and personal preferences. In 2020, talk will be less about the ‘networked home’ and more about the ‘personalised home.’
  • Lighting solutions will change dramatically. An increasing number of lighting control and fixtures will be internet based and have the potential to run on extra low-voltage wiring such as Cat6 or Cat6A cable.
  • The intelligent kitchen will ensure you never burn another burger. Robotic arms will stir your sauce. Your worktops will become touch screens and sensors will shut off burners the moment internal meat temperatures hit the desired cooking preference.
  • Fibre optic will be the cable type to deliver your on-demand content as copper wiring struggles with 8K and 16K video resolutions. There will simply be too much data coming down the line for telephone and coaxial cabling.

Customised are your Norfolk based CEDIA members and can support you in your move to building smarter homes, get in touch to arrange your RIBA approved presentation on Designing Future Ready Homes.

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Make Your Home Smarter With #Crestron #Pyng

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Make Your Home Smarter With #Crestron #Pyng

Up early, home late, up early, home late, the Monday to Friday routine. There are never enough hours in the day, it’s time to get your home working smarter for you. Home automation with Pyng looks after the key functions in your home. From the convenience of your tablet you can adjust the temperature and set up your heating schedule, lock the front door at bedtime, arm your alarm system and even turn off all the lights. One app, complete control. 

Lighting Scenes with Pyng

Lighting Scenes with Pyng

Pyng doesn’t need an expert to make changes to your homes preferences. Once Customised have installed the wireless devices, the Pyng Hub and carried out the quick initial setup you have the ability to personalise your Smart Home using the Pyng app. Add a Dinner Party lighting scene to the Kitchen/Diner lights or even setup a Sunday morning scene which plays a radio station and opens the blinds a few hours later than your usual weekly routine, because with Pyng you also have control of the luxuries at home such as motorised blinds and multi-room music.

Your Music with Pyng

Your Music with Pyng

Boost the IQ of your home by adding Pyng and live in a more efficient, secure and relaxing home. Customised provide free Crestron Pyng home surveys, get in touch to arrange yours.

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Customised #SmartHome Tech Wall at @LOTG2016

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Customised #SmartHome Tech Wall at @LOTG2016

Customised are heading to Lunch on the Green this week with our Tech Wall to provide expert advice on home automation and smart home technology to the visitors of this charity networking event. Lunch on the Green is Clapham & Collinge's annual summer networking event in conjunction with Bright Yellow Marketing and in support of Break Charity. With plenty of local businesses exhibiting across all sectors, many offering special deals and delights, this fabulous fundraising event is a great opportunity to network with the Norfolk business community, whilst supporting Break Charity.

The three most common questions we are likely to face are:

What do you find people are generally asking for you to install?

Up until two or three years ago true smart home living was definitely for the preserve of the wealthy. Home automation systems carried large price tags. Thankfully those barriers are being removed by greater consumer awareness and household brandnames entering the market. Nearly all of our customers now ask for energy saving technology. With 60% of our household energy bills being accounted for by heating it seems obvious to start there. Smarter heating control from devices like the Nest Learning Thermostat, priced at £179, will start to reduce those bills. Heating your home shouldn’t be guesswork. The Nest Learning Thermostat gives you precise control of the temperature, creates a personalised schedule for your home and eliminates the need for a programmer. It gives you the tools you need to save energy. Simply.

What would you advise people to install when retrofitting?

We don’t always have the luxury of installing cables; wired systems are best suited to new build or major renovation projects. However, it would be advisable to speak with a professional installer to find out if home automation wiring is possible. A hard-wired cabled system brings superior performance over a wireless alternative. If you can’t run the cables then it is advisable to work on making your wireless performance as strong and secure as possible. Your wireless router is a prime candidate for an upgrade. Your router is the hub of your network, don’t expect the freebie router from your service provider to be fit for duty. 

Common retrofit options are made in lighting control with Crestron Pyng and HDL Wireless, curtain and blind automation using QMotion and multi-room audio with wireless music systems. Sonos has made the concept of accessing your music in every room a possibility in any home, new or old. Heos by Denon has recently appeared as a realistic alternative to Sonos, so have a listen to both before making your choice.

Are there any common errors people make when it comes to home automation?

Make the decision to have home automation in your project early; leave it too late and it may not be possible or be more expensive to install. Home automation wiring should be installed at 1st fix stage along with your electrical wiring and plumbing. Once the plasterboard is on the walls it is generally too late. Discuss it with your architect during the design phase. If the architect is not familiar with home technology seek out your local home technology installer or electrical contractor.

Customised are are your local CEDIA certified home technology professionals based in South Norfolk and provide consultation, design and installation of home automation systems.

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