By Robert Gryczke
Most people, when they hear the words “Smart Home”, tend to think of futuristic high-tech homes. Robot vacuum cleaners and toasters moaning about their owners behind their backs. And while you’re getting that chocolate dessert out of the fridge, you actually have to justify to it that it’s all right to do so. But don’t worry, that’s not what it’s like! So what is it like, then?
Smart Home: Everything at your fingertips with intelligent building technology
Thanks to the networked technology in a Smart Home, you can automate the individual areas of the electronic installations and control them remotely. Including the blinds, light and entertainment. But in a Smart Home, building security and components such as the air conditioning, ventilation and heating can also be monitored, checked and optimised at a click.
You control the connected segments either with mobile solutions (smartphone, tablet), or stationary control modules that now, for practical reasons, (usually) also consist of a touchscreen. The “brain” is an element, the “server”, that monitors all the activities and provides you with feedback and error messages when necessary.
Although the networking has entirely practical benefits, for instance for living sustainably, above all it also increases the level of comfort in the home. Many systems allow you to programme light and sound scenarios. Cuddle lighting can be switched on with a click, while the same will also start your favourite jazz album and let the blinds down. A romantic setting at the touch of a button? Now, that’s smart!
Anything is possible: from a smart audio system to a smart kitchen
As well as overlapping components such as lighting, safety technology, blinds and so on, basically any room can be fitted with smart components. The subject of the smart kitchen is undoubtedly a topical one. We are at the point where the smart oven in your kitchen knows what you want to cook, and you can check its contents live using your smartphone. The major manufacturers such as Bosch and Siemens are working hard on new ways to turn the kitchen into a multimedial camp-fire. Away from being purely a workplace, and instead making it an entertainment bistro where all you have to do is touch a button to produce a fresh espresso, check the contents of the fridge and enjoy all sorts of entertainment electronics at the same time, such as Internet, the TV and so on.
Just search “Smart [room name]”, and you’ll see that the Smart Home is happening in every corner. A smart bed prevents snoring, measures your vital functions and changes the pressure points. And if you take a look at how intelligent smart bathrooms are, you’ll be wondering why we haven’t moved the centre of our lives there yet.
Living sustainably: save money in a Smart Home
However, what is really clever about a Smart Home is that automation allows us to live sustainably – and to save energy at the same time. For instance, if you fit movement sensors in the house, you’ll never forget to turn the lights out again. And even if you do, it doesn’t matter – they are switched off automatically. According to research, smart help with your heating can help you to save up to a quarter of your heating costs. In the best case, the Smart Home knows when the house is empty and how long it will take to heat it economically. Based on that, the Smart Home then combines the heating, blinds and other components. In some cases you can even do this by smartphone, while you’re out and about. You’ll be home in 20 minutes? Just select the temperature on your smartphone.
The wonderful Hendrik Hey explains the concept most succinctly in the following “Welt der Wunder” article. (Only in German)
Video: YouTube / Welt der Wunder
Because this technology can be added at any time, e.g. using remote technology, smart house components are also an alternative to energetic refurbishments and similar endeavours.
Retrofit or include in planning: when to opt for a Smart Home?
The good thing about smart technology is that it is flexible. Do you want to build a house – a Smart Home? Then get the architect and a system integrator together during the planning stage. Many Smart Homes are based on standard KNX. With this system, an additional line is laid with all the usual ones that is then accessible via sockets. This makes the installation of smart components much easier, and connects them invisibly to the existing electricity circuit.
By the same token, Smart Home remote technology is better for you if you are a tenant somewhere, or unable or unwilling to start making holes in the walls for other reasons. The sets usually consist of two components: the control + the drive segment. Many of them can be connected wirelessly. Remote systems require energy sources such as batteries. And when you move, you can simply pack the systems up and take them with you. Which is also smart!
As you can see, there’s nothing wacky about a Smart Home. With the right planning and / or advice, it will increase your comfort and help you to save money. What other Smart Home topics would you like to see addressed here? We look forward to your feedback!