Working In The #SmartHome Industry - @JobHop Interview


Julie Bishop from JobHop recently interviewed Anna Gamble, Director at Customised, for the JobHop Blog.

What is Customised?

Customised create smart homes and smart buildings.  We offer a full technology design and installation service to clients across East Anglia and London.  Our bespoke intelligent control systems control the multiple services now entering both residential and commercial properties, including lighting, heating, energy, security, audio, visual and internet, onto a common platform for ease of use.  

What are the benefits of having a smart home?

Energy saving - home technology can reduce your energy bills for heating, lighting and electrical appliance energy consumption.

Nest products generate a monthly energy and safety report for you.

Nest products generate a monthly energy and safety report for you.

Comfort & convenience - home technology is able to learn your habits for heating, lighting and entertainment purposes bundle that up in a mobile app that gives complete control when you are home or away makes it a great choice.

Nest Learning Thermostat brings style and function to your home.

Nest Learning Thermostat brings style and function to your home.

Security - home technology can be used to alert you when there is a fire or smoke detected and guide you to a safe exit. Intruders can be captured on high definition cameras with snapshots sent to your mobile devices. Get alerts from your home when the kids return home from school and even get contacted by your home if a burst pipe is detected.

Nest Protect sends smoke detection alerts to your smartphone.

Nest Protect sends smoke detection alerts to your smartphone.

Is it easy to convert a normal home into a smart home?

Yes it is easy to make your home smarter.  Ideally if the property is being renovated or extended you need to install Smart Home wiring, but there are also a range of retrofit products to raise the IQ of your home.

You can upgrade your existing heating controls to Smart controls. Internet connected thermostats provide more accurate control, remote control and learn your heating preferences. Check out Nest for smart heating.

Wi-Fi can easily be upgraded; leave the days of poor wi-fi reception behind in your new home. The simple and inexpensive installation of long range, secure wireless access points mean that no matter where you are in the property you'll have a strong signal.

To keep your electrical bills down, look at replacing old halogen lighting with energy saving LED bulbs. It may be a pricey outlay initially but the long term savings will make it worthwhile. To add some wow factor to rooms like the kitchen, lounge and garden look at installing colour changing LED lighting controllable by your mobile device.

An inexpensive remote control and app from Logitech can be the controller for your Smart Home.

An inexpensive remote control and app from Logitech can be the controller for your Smart Home.

Smoke detectors are unloved but vital devices in your home. An upgrade to internet connected detectors, like Nest Protect, will provide you with smoke and carbon monoxide detection in one device, notifications to your mobile device and tell you exactly where smoke is detected in the property.

Are all new builds smart homes these days?

On the whole new builds are as dumb as existing homes.  UK homes have hit rock bottom in terms of how they work with home technology but the good news is that it won't get worse. Across the UK thousands of businesses like electricians, electrical retailers, IT professional, alarm installers and audio & visual specialists are providing Smart Home installation services to home builders and designers.

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I read somewhere that by 2025 it will be quite normal for most people to have a smart home, is that true?

The past 12 months have seen the arrival of Apple, Google, Microsoft and many other household names in the smart home market.  All these newcomers have the ability to make the smart home inexpensive, uncomplicated and accessible to all, and they are about to start introducing devices into your home.  So in answer to your questions, yes, the smart home will become the new normal.

If everyone is rushing out to get their homes converted to smart homes then does that mean more electricians will be required?

Absolutely.  The role of the electrician will change in the future.  As consumers start to realise that the connected home does not have to cost the earth, they will need to turn to a reliable source to help them make an informed choice of what systems suit them best.

In turn, electrical contractors need to realise that the connected home is a far more long-term proposition.  Electrical contractors will be one of the go-to trades that consumers can turn to for advice, installation know-how and continuing support.  

Harpenden Electrical are ahead of the curve with their Smart Sparky service.

Harpenden Electrical are ahead of the curve with their Smart Sparky service.

Will designers be needed for the many people who’d like to convert their homes but haven't got that flair for design?

A smart home installer will design your smart home system, working with a lighting designer where necessary, to provide a smart home that meets your needs and wants.  Whilst most smart home installers will provide this service, as demand for the smart home increases, some installation companies will have and do have dedicated designers in their teams.  Whilst there are an increasing range of DIY smart home products on the market, to have a true integrated smart home, home owners will need the skills of a smart home installer and or designer.

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What other jobs are there in the smart home industry?

There are a range of roles within the smart home industry, both on site and in business or supporting roles.  On site you will find installers and programmers.  Supporting these guys and girls, are the smart home designers, lighting designers, electricians and the typical office staff in roles such as marketing, sales, finance, business management etc.  Within the industry, the manufacturers and distributors play an important role, with positions in sales, technical support and supporting roles.  The press also have a role in our industry, with dedicated publications and trade shows.

What type of person would fit into the smart home industry well?

Someone with an interest in technology is essential as is an eye for detail and design.  If you want to get into installation of smart homes, practical and problem solving skills will be essential.  A knowledge of IT networking would be advantageous for more technical roles.

Can you get a smart home apprenticeship?

Individual installation companies may take on trainees, but there is no approved apprenticeship scheme set in place at the moment.  This is something we are looking to change with LiveInstall, a community of installers we founded, going forward.  We would like to see a dedicated apprenticeship scheme to supply the industry with highly skilled enthusiastic installers entering the industry.

What tip would you give someone who wants to find out about getting a career in this field

The easiest thing to do is ask a local installer for some work experience.  Keep up to date with changes in technology, find out about all the elements of the industry, including electrical, networking, heating and audio visual.  A smart home installer will need many tools in his or her toolkit.

Anna Gamble


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