Take control of your home wi-fi #gadgetoftheweek

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Take control of your home wi-fi #gadgetoftheweek

Amplifi HD WiFi Router

Boost your home wifi and always know who is using your network with the Amplifi HD WiFi Router and app.  Set up a secure guest network without sharing your password.  Assign quiet time to limit internet access at bedtime!   

Contact us to book you FREE home wi-fi survey and find out how you can take back control of your router.

Customised are your Norfolk based CEDIA Smart Home experts. 

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Gadget of the Week 16/03/18

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Gadget of the Week 16/03/18

Sonos PLAY:5

If you love music the Sonos PLAY:5 is for you. The PLAY:5 is the largest and best sounding Sonos speaker, filling the biggest room with divine sound.  Stream your favourite tunes, internet radio, podcasts and audiobooks, control the volume or play music in different rooms, all via the Sonos app.

Available from sonos.com, £499

Customised are your Norfolk based CEDIA Smart Home experts.

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Gadget of the Week 09/03/18

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Gadget of the Week 09/03/18

Nest Cam IQ indoor

This indoor security camera knows a person from a thing.  Nest Cam IQ will alert you when someone is in your home, then zoom in to see who’s there, in crystal-clear video.  Have a conversation with whoever is at home with HD Talk.  Add continuous recording with Nest Aware.

Available from nest.com, £299

Customised are your Norfolk based CEDIA Smart Home experts.

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Keep warm while the #beastfromtheeast rages!

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Keep warm while the #beastfromtheeast rages!

Our latest Gadget of the Week, the Netatmo Smart Thermostat, will keep your home toasty warm in this cold weather!

Use 37% less energy to heat your home (www.netatmo.com) with the Netatmo Smart Thermostat. Netatmo replaces your existing thermostat, adding the convenience of app and voice control. Set schedules based on your habits, tell it when you are coming home from holiday, or turn the heating up before getting out of bed on a chilly morning! Works with Apple HomeKit.

Available from www.netatmo.com, £149

Customised are your Norfolk based CEDIA Smart Home experts.

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Self Building with Home Technology - #SelfBuild #SmartHome

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Self Building with Home Technology - #SelfBuild #SmartHome

In a new series of blogs from Customised, we are spending time with self builders to learn more about their experiences with home technology and where it may figure in their incredible projects. First up is Chris Vick and his oak framed new build in Surrey with high eco credentials.

Kris Gamble (KG) - Can you tell us what type of build you are undertaking? I’ve enjoyed following the progress on Instagram.

Chris Vick (CV) - a near passive, SIP's and oak framed selfbuild and I definitely mean “self” build, it’ll be ninety percent built by me and my wife. The project is also being filmed by Channel 4 "Building the Dream" and we are documenting the build on Instagram @chrisvick01.

KG - What were the main reasons for your decision to install cabling in the home to distribute and control home technology services?

CV - Having worked in IT for thirty years, I have always been interested in technology. My previous house renovation in 2002 was flood wired with Cat5e and Coaxial cabling for light, sound and video so it was always going to follow in a similar direction on this build. However, the amount of foil backed insulation in today's homes and especially a passive house means we are creating a equivalent of a huge faraday cage which does not help for wireless signal transmission. We have therefore flood wired the house with over 7km of Cat6 for control of all main, activity and mood lighting, heating, blinds, video, audio, CCTV, environmental systems and even the baths and showers can be activated with voice control. This approach not only covers us for today but also for connected home solutions as we moved forward. Did you know that you can even get a baby's mobile that keeps them entertained above their cot with movement, light and a camera all powered by just a single Cat6 cable?!

 

KG - Which systems are you installing for services such as lighting and heating, home security and internet distribution?

CV - Lights, blinds, audio and irrigation uses a control and automation system called Legrand Vantage. The CCTV and access control uses Hikvision products. Our multi-Room audio speakers are Monitor Audio throughout. Crosswater controls are being used for all connected showers and baths. Voice control using Alexa and Siri plus the addition of the Apple Home app will give easy management of Philips Hue coloured lights. Our internet, wi-fi and network switches are from Ubiquiti. One unique technology feature are the Smart mirrors which are my own design utilising the adaptable Raspberry Pi.

KG - You have a VERY hands on approach with your self build, which resources have you found useful in researching and choosing the right home technology for your home?

CV - After using X10 in my previous home I have always been looking at what is next. Lots of research is crucial and by that I mean research other people using it and the professionals installing it, not the manufacturers of it. All manufacturers say their products are amazing but it’s the ease of integration and the outcome they provide that will define the experience you have. Social media can play a big part in your research as people are honest when something is great and especially honest when it is bad. I would consult with home technology companies who are willing to pass on advice or demonstrate home solutions for you that they have already successfully integrated in a home already.

KG - What would be one Self Build Home Tech Tip for anyone about to begin a new build project?

CV - Start thinking early about how you will consume technology not just the components that create it. You don't need a TV in every room. Create a space in the home for wellbeing, where you get lots of natural light. Think about the type of lighting you want not just the number of downlights. Choose LED bulbs which have good dimming performance. Cable, cable, cable if you can as it will make your home much more flexible to changes in technology. Then finally sit back and enjoy it all with some nice music, warm glow lighting, a book and a nice glass of something....

You can follow the progress of Chris’s self build at instagram.com/chrisvick01 and look out for the project on TV show Building the Dream.

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Smart Home Wiring

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Hikvision CCTV cameras for Home Security. 

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Home Security Made Easy

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Home Security Made Easy

Logitech Circle 2

Home security made easy.  Circle 2 is a 1080p HD home security camera with night vision and up to 180º field of vision.  Easy to set up, this indoor and outdoor camera can be wired or 100% wire free for mounting just about anywhere.  Works with HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Available from www.logitech.com from £169.99

Customised are your Norfolk based CEDIA Smart Home experts.

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Healthier Home with our Gadget of the Week 16/02

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Healthier Home with our Gadget of the Week 16/02

Netatmo Healthy Home Coach

Monitor the air quality in your home with the Netatmo Healthy Home Coach.  This smart assistant monitors humidity, air quality, temperature and noise, alerts you to potential problems and tells you how to fix them.  Glance at your smartphone to check if your home is healthy.  Works with HomeKit.

Available from www.netatmo.com, £89.99

Customised are your Norfolk based CEDIA Smart Home experts.
 

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Interview With A Homeowner - Part 1 - #RealWorld

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Interview With A Homeowner - Part 1 - #RealWorld

Real World Problems

What’s the state of technology in UK homes? It’s a question we regularly ask ourselves at Customised HQ. We come up with many answers and devise solutions to help our clients have a good experience with home technology.

To further our improvement of the services we provide we sought out a member of the public to ask about their views on the state of technology in their home. For some background, our interviewee is not a customer of Customised, she is a homeowner with 3 children and her and her partner both work full-time. They live in a small Norfolk village, fifteen miles south of Norwich.

We started by asking her what the demand was like for technology in their home.

“With three children aged between seven and sixteen, we have several smartphones, tablets and computers between us. Two of our kids enjoy gaming on Xbox and Playstation and our TV viewing habits are increasingly weighted towards streamed, on-demand content. We also have a wireless music system and voice assistant which we use daily.”

This amount of technology is fairly typical for a family of five. I asked her what were the common technology frustrations in the home.

“Our internet connection is not able to handle the demands, we have to always be mindful of who’s online and what we want to do. When one of our boys is gaming online we have to accept that no one else can stream TV, on occasions it becomes very slow to use social media or browse the internet.”


There are two factors which can be the cause here, broadband speed and wi-fi coverage. I asked if she knew her broadband speed and what handles the wi-fi coverage in their home.

“When we first moved in to this house our speeds were very low, around 2Mbps. At this time we really struggled with any online activities. However recently we have had an increase in speed to around 12 or 13 Mbps. We do find this fluctuates a lot during the course of the day. Our wi-fi signal comes from our BT Hub but it couldn’t service the whole home so we added a range extender. This is a frustrating piece of tech. We constantly have to reconnect to it and the speeds are definitely slower when you are connected to this.”


The download speeds that she mentioned are capable of handling the demand, but only just. The wi-fi coverage could be a major culprit. The range extender should be investigated, is it in the right place, is it the right product?

Cheap alternative upgrades could be a set of HomePlugs, providing internet over mains power cabling in the home, budget around £120 for this. Another would be to run inexpensive Cat5e or Cat6 ethernet cables to areas of the home and install wireless access points, the cost of this is higher due to the labour for installing cables but budget around £300 for a single access point install. Our final option to improve the wi-fi coverage would be the installation and set up of a MESH wi-fi system. A MESH kit from Amplifi costs from around £400 with the set up, a more expensive option, but the coverage this will give and provide a single wi-fi network for the home gives a great wi-fi experience. The Amplifi solution will also provide features like a Guest Wi-Fi Network for visitors to your home and offer easy to use parental controls for limiting internet time for specific devices or users.

We will follow up this blog with some of the insights we gathered from this homeowner on topics such as self installed technology and where to find a professional installer of tech.

Customised are experts at improving both the broadband speeds coming into your home and increasing the wireless coverage quality throughout your home.

Contact us to arrange a free consultation.

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How can Home Technology benefit your home?

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How can Home Technology benefit your home?

You've read about Home Tech or Smart Home Tech, you may even have a few home tech gadgets at home, but what is it like to live in a smart home?  What benefits can home tech bring to your home?

Our Home Tech Experience Centre, which opened last month, answers these questions.  Instead of reading about the benefits on a website or on the back of the box the home tech gadget comes in, you can get hands on in our Experience Centre.  

Open Monday to Saturday, you will be given a short demo of the tech we have featured, then we will hand over the controls!  Find out for yourself how easy professionally installed home tech is to use and how it can make your home more convenient, more controllable, more entertaining and save energy.

Here's a preview of the tech we have featured in our Home tech Experience Centre.

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Smart Home on the High Street - #HomeTech #Blog

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Smart Home on the High Street - #HomeTech #Blog

As a keen observer of where home technology products are being presented to homeowners, I notice advertising and sales of Smart Home tech all across social media, billboards, website ads and on the High Street. Major retail outlets are now allocating valuable store real estate to technology devices for the home. It’s so simple now to pick up a smart product whilst also buying your weekly groceries or a new outfit. I had to chuckle recently when I saw a vending machine for consumer electronics and it included an Amazon Echo Dot and Philips Hue Lightbulb as selection choices. It’s never been easier to bring tech home.

 

I need to stop doing it but I can’t help pretending to be a prospective buyer of Smart Home devices when I’m in the department store or shop. I don’t need the item but I’m intrigued by how a store assistant is selling the Home Tech Experience. So the tale normally goes that I’m looking for some new bulbs or I’m needing some security cameras that I can view on my phone.

 

Recently I visited a high end Hi-Fi and TV store who had Smart Home printed on their High Street facing windows and pavement placed sandwich board. I had ten minutes to kill before a dental appointment for a browse. I explained to the assistant that I wanted some voice control of lights, link up between my music/TV, lights, heating and motorised blinds. I took into account that this was a single brand selling store but the Smart Home graphics window indicated they would be able to help me with my enquiry.

 

The first response I got was that their products work with “Smart Home stuff”, then I was shown a voice controlled demonstration of music being streamed through speakers via a Google Home command. It failed to work after 3 attempts and their attention turned to the televisions in the store. I questioned the voice control issue and was told “It sometimes doesn’t work.”. The television display consisted of a playback of a corporate video showing a ultra-luxurious home with an awesome interior. The homeowner in the video pressed a button on a remote control and the blinds lowered. “This is what I want” I said, “which products are used for that?”

 

The video ended and I said this is what I was thinking about having. The assistant couldn’t tell me the brands used, how it works and how I could get more info. I asked if my electrician could come in and enquire about the wiring needed for the setup I described. This prompted a request for email details. I left my enquiry and closed the chat with his recommendation for a local installer of Smart Home systems.......he didn’t know anyone.

 

I left the shop with two opposing conclusions.

 

  • We are streets ahead at Customised when it comes to providing relevant and valued Home Technology advice when homeowners visit our offices or when we visit their homes for free surveys and consultations. We need to keep it that way by continuing to listen to homeowners and develop staff knowledge and experience.

 

  • Many homeowners are being put off Smart Home by bad initial encounters with people selling Smart Home services and products. I worry that adoption rates are reduced because of poor sales experiences, wrong products specified and sold, misunderstanding about living in a Smart Home and lack of installation support by the seller of the product.

 

I’m prepared to accept my experience in this store might be an isolated case, so I invite any retailers reading this to kick my ass in the comments below and to start a debate on the support for the buyers of home technology.

 

Like, share, tweet and favourite.

 

 

Kris

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