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.
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+.
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:
- No need for wiring between devices. Wireless communication and devices connect into existing household electrical wiring.
- Quick installation times. Retrofit, wireless home automation is often done in days rather than the weeks it takes the wired systems.
- 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
Crestron Pyng provides a great Smart Home user experience.