Techs Who Connect, assess, educate, & install smart home technology for your living space & lifestyle on the North Shore
Frequently Asked Questions
* How often do smoke alarms need to be replaced?
If you don’t know, you are not alone. Many people don’t know that the answer is every ten years. Smoke alarms, like so many things in our homes, have an expiration date. A smoke alarm’s age can be determined by looking on the back or side of the device to see the date of manufacture. They should be replaced 10 years from that date (not the date of purchase or installation). Smoke alarms should be tested monthly and the batteries should be replaced when they begin to chirp, which is a signal they are running low.
According toUnderwriters Laboratoriesin the 1970’s, it would take about 30 minutes for a fire to take over a room. Today it can take less than 5.
Consider an upgrade to SMART ALARMS that can think, speak, and alert your phone if there is a smoke or CO problem. Ready to introduce technology to your fire prevention plan for additional peace of mind? Call us today to make a plan 978-969-0496!
* Does smart home automation raise the value of my home?
Simply put, smart home automation does raise the value of the home. An increasing number of current and future buyers want this technology in their next home. A tech savvy licensed real estate agent can help you understand how the technology you have positively impacts the asking price when listing your home. Voice control is widely recognized as the tech feature in the most demand. That demand is resulting from the sense of user friendliness, which comes from the location flexibility and the hands-free control. Pairing that digital assistant to other smart devices and demonstrating this type of technology to potential buyers will create a lasting favorable impression. All types of buyers are interested in smart home functionality, and as that interest increases so will the impact on home values.
* Is Smart Home Automation an Expensive Investment?
Any smart device that you implement in your home is going to come with some type of expense. Many of these devices will justify the investment in tangible money and energy savings while others have features that provide a convenience benefit.
If it is peace of mind you are after, starting small and building over time might work best for you. Begin with a doorbell camera or a thermostat then expand to lighting controls or even a garage door opener later. Smart home automation can be implemented in a rhythm that is most comfortable for you. The decisions are all yours!
* What is a Smart Hub?
A smart hub is the central device that enables all the different products (thermostats, door locks, garage door openers, lights, thermostats, etc.) to work together in a smart home. A hub isn’t required to use individual smart devices, but if you want to truly integrate the behavior of the various smart devices in your home it is a worthwhile investment, especially if you are blending devices from a bunch of different manufacturers.
* I want a smart doorbell; will it work in my home?
Smart doorbells work with doorbell systems that use mechanical chimes and run on AC power; these systems are the most common type. Mechanical chimes have the classic ‘ding-dong’ tone produced from a physical chiming mechanism. DC-powered mechanical chime systems, which are only present in about 1% of homes, are not compatible with most smart doorbells.
Slightly more common but certainly not wide-spread are doorbell systems with electronic chimes (also known as digital) that have a speaker and play a tune. These systems are often still compatible with smart doorbells if a diode is provided and installed at the chime. Check the manufacturer’s website to be sure that your existing doorbell system is compatible with the smart doorbell you are considering. Also keep in mind that any wired smart doorbell solution will have a minimum voltage requirement of at least 8 volts.
* I want a smart home…where do I start?
Start your journey with baby steps. Begin with small inexpensive devices that impact the in home experience that will integrate with other technology you bring home. If you enjoy the experience you can add more devices. Here are a couple of good choices to get you going:
· WeMo WiFi Smart Plug – you will be able to turn a fan, table lamp, holiday lights or any small appliance into a smarter version of itself.
· Amazon Echo or Echo Dot – this smart speaker with the built-in digital assistant “Alexa” is a great addition. It’s ability to control other devices you will implement is a big plus.
· Nest Learning Thermostat – at a slightly higher price point implement this device and realize some hard savings on your energy use.
* Can I implement smart home technology in my older home?
Even if you own an older home you can still reap the benefits from implementing smart home technology. Nearly all smart devices connect via wireless technology, so in fact the biggest challenge could be coverage and connectivity. While home automation wiring can conserve energy and enable greater reliability and performance, the cost simply isn’t justified in most cases. Wi-Fi extenders or connected devices that create a mesh network make implementation possible in nearly any space without requiring costly wiring/electrical work.
* Is my ceiling fan smart?
Most people don’t pay all that much attention to their ceiling fan regardless of the season. After all it’s either off or on and set to one of three speeds. Did you know that you can make your ceiling fan smart without spending any money on technology? In the summer you will want the fan to push air down from the ceiling so that you feel the airflow directly which provides a cooling effect. In the winter you will want a warming effect that you can achieve by having the fan pull air up and force that warm air near the ceiling back down. To realize these benefits simply flip the switch on the fan housing depending on the season; counter-clockwise for the summer and clockwise for the winter. So, while Alexa can’t make the ceiling fan switch for you, remember that some devices can be smart and increase your comfort without costing you any money.
* Do Smart Devices affect selling prices?
Because widespread smart home technology is still new, the full effect the devices will have on home prices is incomplete. According to a 2016 Coldwell Banker smart home survey what is clear is that homeowners are willing to make a significant investment in the adoption of smart home technology. As expected millennial homeowners lead the way with 72 percent saying they would spend $1,500 or more to live in a smarter home; 44 percent of them say they would pay $3,000 or more to realize that smart home designation. Is there a buyer profile that might be willing to pay more for a home with smart technology? The clear demographic match for that is parents with children; 59 percent of them told Coldwell Banker they would pay more for a home that was labeled as a smart home.
* Does Nest just make thermostats?
While Nest stands out in the smart thermostat market with the popular Nest Learning Thermostat and the Nest Thermostat E, those are not the only products on their roster. The Nest Cam family currently includes four different options to meet varying consumer needs. The Nest Cam and the Nest Cam IQ both have an indoor and outdoor option. Furthering the peace of mind many homeowners seek, the Nest Protect can be a great addition to your smart home. It is the smoke and CO alarm that thinks, speaks, and alerts your phone. It comes in both a wired and long-life battery version, meaning it has a place in your home no matter what setup you have. If it’s a home alarm that has your attention, then Nest has you covered with their Secure solution. With motion sensors and alarm sensors for doors and windows, your smart home will be completely protected. Also coming soon, Nest will enter the smart doorbell market with the introduction of the Nest Hello. Marketing materials from Nest tout features far surpassing the existing choices in the marketplace. So, Nest is not just a smart thermostat company as their product suite reveals. There are also many other devices in other product categories that work with Nest, making it easy to see why Nest can be the backbone of a truly smart home.
* Does installing a Nest thermostat save me money?
This is one of the leading questions I hear from people interested in smart home technology. Indeed, what is the payback?
Some of the things that should be considered are:
What type of fuel does your system use?
How old is the equipment?
What is the efficiency rating of the HVAC system?
What do you consider a comfortable temperature?
Is your thermostat running heat, air conditioning or both?
Would you take full advantage of features like the home/away setting?
How well insulated is your home?
Given these factors, will the Nest thermostat save you money? The answer is yes. The payback depends on your needs and preferences. Nest has done studies showing that, on average, a smart thermostat annually saves 10% to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. I always tell my clients that if you regularly use the built in features, such as the ECO Mode and the Home/Away setting, you will beat those numbers easily.
* What is a Smart Device?
According to Wikipedia, “a smart device is an electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols such as Bluetooth, NFC, WiFi, 3G, etc., that can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously.”
Another way to define it is a version of a regular device that is connected wirelessly. For example, a traditional deadbolt lock needs to be manually turned open and closed either with your hand or by a key, while a smart lock can be controlled by an app on your phone over Bluetooth or remotely over your home network.
While smart locks are not something you encounter in most homes yet, one of the more popular smart devices is the Nest Thermostat. It has the capability to learn from the settings you manually apply to it. It also allows you to interact with it remotely by using an app on your smart phone. Soon virtually every device in your home will have a smart alternative.
* What is Geofencing?
Geofencing is the use of GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. An example would be for the garage door to open when your smart phone is detected within a certain distance from your home.
* What is a Smart Home Assessment?
The assessment includes an inspection of many systems to include HVAC, safety & security, lighting, technology including WiFi, and electrical & wiring to help determine what smart home devices fit best in your space with your goals and budget in mind. Examples of several items covered during the assessment are listed below: all of these are dependent on what types of devices interest you.
Smart thermostats are designed to work with 24 Volts AC coming from your furnace/cooling system. While the 24 Volts are not always required the devices are not compatible with 120 Volts AC at the thermostat terminals.
Smart door locks are compatible with most common brand name deadbolts. However, the deadbolt must be working smoothly and without friction prior to the installation. If your door is custom built or has glass panels, modifications might be needed before the device can be installed.
Some devices have components that require being plugged into a standard 120 Volt AC outlet. Often this location needs line of sight to the device and cannot be more than 8 – 10 feet away.
Smart lighting systems can replace many of the common switches found in homes. However, you may require extra components if a light or bank of lights is controlled from more than one location.
Smart cameras that plug into standard 120 Volt AC outlets will have cords that restrict their placement. A USB extension cord could be used to place a camera in a desired location that is farther away from the outlet.
A wireless home network with internet access is required for many smart products to operate. Many devices connect directly to the network, but some will require an accompanying hub to be connected to an open port on the router.
The signal strength of the wireless network is important for most smart devices. Sometimes a repeater or extender is necessary to bring an appropriate signal strength to an area of the home.
* Why should I have a Smart Home Assessment?
It is important to determine how smart home products will work in your home, where their optimal location will be, and whether modifications are necessary prior to installation.
* Is a Smart Home Assessment required?
While a assessment is not required for Smart Home Solutions to install any of the smart home products we support, however we highly recommend it in order to meet your goals with no unforeseen installation issues and in a timely fashion.
We look forward to talking with you about your choices. Smart Home Solutions LLC will install the smart home products you choose so they operate trouble free. Additionally, we will show you how to use the devices so that you can enjoy a smart home for years to come!